Nonino International Prize 1995

Jaan Kross

“The fool of the Czar” by Jaan Kross is a great novel coming from a peripheral and secluded world, often ignored in European conscience, but extraordinarily rich of cultural traditions. Having his roots in the composite crucible of his Estonia – where several civilizations meet, the Finno-Ugric, the Baltic, the Scandinavian, the Russian and the German ones – Jaan Kross has written a powerful novel, which is also a dramatic parable of the relations between the intellectuals and the power – a reality that the writer has lived personally during the eight years of the deportation in Siberia at Stalin’s times. Evidently persuaded, like Svevo, that life is original, and more original that the novel invention, Kross tells a true story with real characters, but he recreates it with fantastic power and poetic intensity. The story of his colonel Timoteus von Bock – the victim of his emancipator and liberal projects, declared mad, imprisoned and controlled with obsessive perfidy – becomes a symbol of the irrepressible dream of freedom and, at the same time, of the ambiguity of life, on the background of a natural and historical landscape masterly portrayed in its charming and multiform complexity.

The prize will be delivered by Claudio Magris