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Airootsi – the literary mindscape of Lauri Pilter

Ever since his first book Lauri Pilter has associated his narratives with personally meaningful places. Gradually his interlacing of fact and fiction has caused a network of real places develop into a literary mindscape fictitiously called Airootsi. In real landscape its counterpart could be seen in the Noarootsi peninsula, Western Estonia. Noarootsi is also the initial name of Pilter’s mindscape. Gradually, however, some odd place names start appearing, which blurs the possible correspondence between literary and real geography.

In the framework of different interpretations of landscape, literary mindscape and Umwelt, the article analyses the literary mappings of Noarootsi and the gradual transformation of the area into the fictitious Airootsi in Pilter’s oeuvre. Four Pilter’s books are examined, namely, three novels in stories: Lohejas pilv („Dragonish cloud”, 2004), Retk Rahemäkke („Up to Mount Rahemägi”, 2010) and Aerudeta köisraudteel („On a funicular railway without oars”, 2012), and the collection Vilekoor ja teisi jutte („The booing chorus and other stories”, 2014). Pilter’s portrayal of the Noarootsi peninsula, his choice of places and characters, his rendering of natural impressions, down to the attainment of an extensive overall view, differs across the four books, deepening step by step on the way to his personal mindscape. The aim of this study is to explicate how visual selection and purpose are at work in the literary rendering of a real landscape, how that landscape develops into a mindscape, what its main features are and how Pilter’s character goes about creating his own network of experience. This network is manifested in emotional rambling episodes, where the surroundings are mapped in great detail and very sensuously, which is exactly how a real landscape, renamed as Airootsi, is transformed into a personal mindscape.