Dialecticity in Harald Peep’s literary studies

Keywords: Harald-Heino Peep formerly Professor of Estonian Literary History and General Literary Studies at the university of Tartu, Socratic dialectic in literary studies, stilistics as a border area between traditional rhetoric, eloquence and poetics, topical problems in 20th-century Estonian lyrical poetry

Professor Harald-Heino Peep (1931–1998) was a long-time professor of the latest history of Estonian Literature at the university of Tartu. The main emphasis of his studies was on the literary process as shared creativity. Gradually, he also delved into the methods of studying literature, seeing their common part in following the fate of words applied figuratively in the works of poets connected only conditionally, if at all. This perspective was inspired by Socratic dialectic as it was understood in the 1960s, notably, as an attempt to dispense with postulative poetics in favour of historical poetics. The latter mostly involves mythopoetic thinking and its manifestations in early but also in medieval epics. Harald Peep changed the angle by juxtaposing the structure of an artistic text with parameters of a spoken text (e.g. of the text presenter’s address to the audience). Accordingly, he treated topics not as poetic commonplaces but as a line of demarcation between the poet as the chosen one and the plebs (the common mob), where one of the tasks of the poet is judgement.


Peeter Olesk (b. 1953), Honorary member of Estonian Literay Society (Vanemuise 19, 51014 Tartu),