Interlitteraria (Jun 2013)

The Dialogue with Hamlet: Paul-Eerik Rummo’s “Hamlet’s Songs” as an Example of the Existential Paradigm in Estonian Culture

  • Anneli Mihkelev

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 1


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The article demonstrates different meanings of the motif of Hamlet in the Estonian culture. Hamlet as a literary figure has been very important and influential, a symbol of will and a fighter in a hopeless situation. Paul-Eerik Rummo’s poem “Hamlet’s Songs” (1964) forms the centre around which revolve not only written texts but also many such cultural texts as theatre performances and music, all connected by allusions to Hamlet. Rummo’s poem is one of the most innovative poems from the 1960s in Estonian literature. The generation of the 1960s was influenced by several important contemporary theories, including existentialism. Many young writers systematically undermined the Soviet regime in their works. The use of the motif of Hamlet reveals a similarity between the existential and romantic rebellions. Rummo’s dialogue with Hamlet in his poem expresses optimism in a hopeless situation in a way different from Shakespeare’s.