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The various aspects of home

Valev Uibopuu's exile years

Keywords: exile, Estonian exile literature, Estonian diaspora, correspondence, home

Writer Valev Uibopuu (1913–1997) lived in exile from 1943 until his death. During the whole exile period he held an active correspondence, especially with Estonians living in Estonia and with members of the Estonian diaspora, as well as with his first wife Tuuli Reijonen, who lived in Finland. These letters lay the foundation to this article, which is focused on his changing experience of home in exile. Thus I tried to find out what home meant to Uibopuu, how his concept of home developed in exile and how Uibopuu began to feel at home in Sweden, what kind of desires he related to home, how these desires were realized and what kind of senses of belonging and being an outsider he felt in exile. The hermeneutic approach has helped me to go through the letters.

Uibopuu lived in several apartments during his exile years. He lived in Stockholm metropolitan area until 1954 when he moved to Lund after a short stay in Helsinki. In Lund he lived until his death. During the first years in exile Uibopuu’s home was mentally still in Estonia, while home in Sweden meant above all a concrete dwelling providing a roof over his head, shelter and safety. But during the decades-long refugeehood the new and unfamiliar situation developed into a secure and familiar one. Home, which before refugeeness had been clearly in Southern Estonia, was divided into three different areas of life (which though were bundled together): home in Sweden (private apartment, wife, work, everyday life and Estonian diaspora), home in South-Estonia based on nostalgic memories (years before the Soviet period, family, relatives, landscapes of South-Estonia, private family house) and the Republic of Estonia after regaining its independence (national community and Estonian cultural milieu – something Uibopuu fought for all through the exile years and the things on which he built his national identity). Besides these three areas of home, Finland became an important place too (his first wife, friends, the Finnish language).

So Uibopuu’s homes were made up of places, social relationships, identities, memories and stories. While in exile, Uibopuu had to reflect on his place and meaning of home more than he would have done back in Estonia, which led to a keener awareness of the notion.

Anna Hukka (b. 1989), MA, University of Helsinki, doctoral student of History and Cultural Heritage (Yliopistonkatu 3, 00014 Helsinki), anna.hukka@helsinki.fi

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