„Great stories” of a small nation – self-presentation constructed through folktales

The article discusses how rumours and legends work together in creating national and personal identity. The subject matter is a narrative cycle centered around so-called stories of descendence. According to these stories, a number of famous people such as Harry S. Truman, Benito Mussolini, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Boris Yeltsin, Boris Becker, Ayrton Senna da Silva, Lady Diana etc are either Estonians or have Estonian ancestors. Following these stories through many different sources and material (archival texts, memories, diaries, literature, media, popculture) we can observe how vibrant this discourse has been and still is today. We may take these stories with a grain of salt, but these legends and rumours certainly articulate the beliefs and wishes of Estonians as well as provoke debate about the described events, their credibility and interpretation.