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Professor Martens' Departure
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Professor Martens' Departure

(Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed #7)

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Widely read in Europe, the Estonian novelist Jaan Kross is considered one of the most important writers of the Baltic region, and is an often-named candidate for the Nobel Prize.

His new historical novel, Professor Martens’ Departure, is written in a classic elegiac style reminiscent of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, and it evokes the complex world of czarist Russian
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by The New Press (first published 1984)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  131 ratings  ·  11 reviews


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Jim Fonseca
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great historical novel about a real person, Friedrich Martens (1845-1909), an Estonian-born Russian diplomat who was a key negotiator for the Russian Czar. For example, he helped negotiate the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War with Teddy Roosevelt’s administration at Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1905.

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Martens was involved in establishing the World Court at The Hague and the International Red Cross organization.

The book is a fictionalized but very factual biography. Unlike a traditional bio
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Jan-Maat
How do you write about things that you love? More to the point how can you write about the books that you love and succeed in sharing with other readers what about them captivates and enriches you?

A book and its reader are a relationship and the resulting love can be as inexplicable to the onlooker as any that we see between apparently mismatched people. I once tried to persuade my mother to read The Blue Flower but saw the look in her eyes when I had got as far as explaining that the poet Nova
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Beth
A few chapters into this book, I was scrambling for Google. What I discovered is that this novel's protagonist, Professor Martens, was a real historical figure, an international law expert in the Russian court of the early 20th Century. He was an important figure in numerous important international treaty negotiations. This novel, set late in his life, takes us with him on a train trip from his small village toward a rendezvous with his wife and official meetings with other diplomats in St. Pete ...more
Jennifer W
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
One of the better books on the 1001 books to read before you die list. It was well written. Though very little happens during the course of the story, I was always eager to get back to Professor Martens and his story. Professor Martens played an important part in Russia's history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His father, also Professor Martens played important roles some 80 years earlier. At times it was difficult to keep them apart as our professor Martens experiences flashbacks or ...more
Sowmya
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was my journey time book for the past 4,5 months. My first Estonian novel too. Very interesting and insightful. Several historical figures and events figure prominently in this historical fiction based on the life of a real person. This is a book I would definitely re-read after sometime. There is a lot of history and context which I sometimes did not get (which is why I gave it 3 stars instead of 4) - but a great read nevertheless. Reminded me a lot of Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries". ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very difficult book to read in the sense that there is so much detail that you absolutely must give this story your full attention, and not everything is spelled out for you in terms of the book's underlying message. It is one of those novels you really must think about while and after you're reading it. If, however, you want a very good work by an Estonian author, this is it. I've already ordered two more of Kross's books - he is a very gifted writer. I think my only criticism of this book wo ...more
Patrick Robitaille

*** 1/2

In this historical fiction, we follow the final journey of Friedrich Martens, Estonian international law specialist and diplomat of the late Czarist era, on the 7th June 1909 (Julian calendar) by train between Pärnu and St. Petersburg. He died suddenly at the Valga train station. During the trip from Pärnu to Valga, he reminisce about various events affecting his life, from his career successes and setbacks to his relationship with his wife, Kati, and his infidelities, also including th

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Robert
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it

If Professor Martens’ Departure had to be made into a film , I would definitely resurrect Ingmar Bergman to direct it. The plot of this book is so Bergman-esque that images of his films kept popping in my head.

Professor F.Martens is returning to his native land of St. Petersburg from Estonia. On the lengthy train ride he reflects about his life , his affairs and his achievement. He also tries to see parallels between his life and another F. Martens who lived in Germany a century earlier ( the bo
...more
DoctorM
Jul 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia
One of the most acclaimed Estonian novels of the twentieth century. A melancholy read, with layers of detail and intricate characterisations.

The story is sombre and slow-paced. Professor Martens, Estonian-born, a specialist in the minutiae of international law, is summoned out of retirement to consult with the ministry in tsarist St.-Petersburg. Outside his train window, the revolution of 1905 is in progress. And very slowly, very hesitantly, Martens comes to realise that he's devoted his life t
...more
Malcolm
There are pundits who think Kross should be a Nobel laureate: they're right. This is a marvellous tale of life in the service of the Russian empire, and of being Estonian in that empire. I read it in Estonia, which added a piquancy, although it lacks the satirical edge of The Czar's Madman.
Mart Lepanen
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Martensi ärasõit'' further solidifies my belief that Jaan Kross is Estonia's greatest literary treasure.
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Estonia's best-known and most translated writer is Jaan Kross. He has been tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature on several occasions for his novels, but did in fact start his literary career as a poet and translator of poetry. On his return from the labour camps and internal exile in Russia, where he spent the years 1946-1954 as a political prisoner, Kross renewed Estonian poetry, giving it n ...more

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