Truth and Justice
Truth and Justice I-V, written in 1926–1933, is a pentalogy
A pentalogy is a compound literary or narrative work that is made up of five distinct works, just as a trilogy is made up of three works, and a tetralogy of four...

 by Anton Hansen Tammsaare
Anton Hansen Tammsaare
Anton Hansen Tammsaare , born Anton Hansen, was an Estonian writer whose pentalogy Truth and Justice is considered one of the major works of Estonian literature and "The Estonian Novel"....

, considered to be his most famous work, and one of the foundational works in Estonian literature
Estonian literature
Estonian literature refers to literature written in the Estonian language The domination of Estonia after the Northern Crusades, from the 13th century to 1918 by Germany, Sweden, and Russia resulted few early written literary works in Estonian language. The oldest records of written Estonian...


Tammsaare's social epic captured the evolution of Estonia from tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

ist province to independent state. It was based partly on the author's own life and centered on the contrast between the urban bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 and hard-working peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

ry. The protagonist, Indrek Paas, moves from a farm to a city, witnesses revolutionary upheavals, tries to find peace in marriage and the bourgeois life-style, but returns disappointed to his roots for a new start.

Book description

The book series can be seen as a thorough overview of developments of Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

n society from about 1870 to about 1930; it presents an epic panorama of both the rural and urban societies of that era. Tammsaare's primary conception was that under the then-applicable conditions, reaching a harmony of both truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 and justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 is impossible, and thus, while many characters will seek it, none will reach this destination.

According to Tammsaare, the first volume of Truth and Justice depicts man's struggle with the earth, the second with God, the third with society, the fourth with himself and the fifth ends with resignation. Tammsaare's view was skeptical, in general he saw things as a natural scientist would, his approach being biological rather than psychological. Although the work was deeply rooted in Estonian life, it dealt with many contemporary literary and philosophical issues. With Truth and Justice Tammsaare gained a reputation as one of the most original thinkers and novelists in northern Europe. The last two volumes especially contained more reasoning on the struggle for truth and justice than autobiographical material.

In Truth and Justice Tammsaare draws an ironic portrait of urban intellectuals who have absorbed bourgeois mores and abandoned their moral principles. The novel was written in a time which saw the rise of dictators - Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 - and the decline of truth and justice. Indrek, the protagonist, is not a man of action, but through his life story Tammsaare examines the same humanistic ideals of the early 20th century as Romain Roland, Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

 and John Galsworthy
John Galsworthy
John Galsworthy OM was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include The Forsyte Saga and its sequels, A Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter...

 do in their works. In the first part Indrek is actually a minor character, while the protagonist is his father, Andres Paas with his first wife Krõõt, who dies after giving birth to their first son. Andres, who wants to defend what he considers right, eventually loses his vision of right and wrong, and manages to cheat his archenemy, Pearu. In the second part Indrek enters a private school in a town, actually Tartu
Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the...

, although Tammsaare doesn't mention its name. Indrek falls in love with Ramilda, the daughter of the school director. She dies of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 and Indrek is expelled from the school after writing an atheistic article. In the third part Indrek participates in the revolutionary events of 1905 but is terrified by its frenzy. The fourth part is set in independent Estonia. Indrek has married Karin; they have two children. After he finds out that Karin has been unfaithful, he nearly kills her. Indrek is released on probation. Karin dies in a traffic accident. In the fifth part Indrek returns to his native village.

Part One

Volume I gives a generalized overview of life in Estonian village and farmers battle against nature in the last quarter of 19th century.
From a great number of characters, two stand out. Two contrasting men – unique and powerful types, each of whom manifests the characteristics of the Estonian peasant. The whole character of Vargamäe Andres and his destiny is deeply elaborated artistic generalization of the individual peasant's life and struggle under harsh conditions in North-Estonian rural landscape.
After arriving to his new home, Andres finds himself next to a devious neighbor Tagapere Pearu. At first Andres doesn’t take Pearu’s tricks too seriously, but soon Pearu turns out to be as persistent in his grit as Andres is in hard work, and Andres starts to become more and more stern. He starts to fight Pearu with his own means but the tragic mistakes in his own personal life he is unable to fix. Soon Andres becomes more of a somber despot than Pearu ever was. As he sees his ideals failing, Andres searches consolation in Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 but becomes more and more self-contained. Pearu on the other hand seems to enjoy a easygoing life. 1905 revolution affects Andres and his family in horrible ways. Now Andres also looses faith in God.

Part Two

The action, based largely on the author’s own memories, takes place in the private grammar school of Mr. Maurus in the early years of the 20th century. The main hero, Indrek, son of Andres, is a young man from the country who comes to town to study. In Maurus’ school he meets a colorful variety of teachers and students of different nations and becomes familiar with new ideas and ways. He is much influenced by the revolutionary opinions of some of the teachers, as well as by the manipulations of Maurus, whom he later blames for having taught him how to tell lies.

The second part of “Truth and Justice” has often been named “man’s battle with God”. Indrek, having come from a strong religious background of rural regions of the time, starts questioning the existence of God. He falls deeply in love with Maurus’ only daughter Ramilda, and when she dies of tuberculosis, Indrek renounces God, publishing an article in the school paper, which gets him expelled.

Part Three

Volume III deals with 1905-1907 revolution. It conveys moods of masses and episodes of fight. On the decisive moment of the revolution, the main character Indrek remains a bystander.

Part Four

Fourth book is a story about the basic conflict between husband and wife, man and woman, during the early years of the Estonian Republic. A decade has passed since the end of the First World War and the Estonian War of Independence, and people of the new republic try to follow the European trends, sometimes forgetting the old traditions. It is a world of freedom and democracy, but also a world of mortgages, real-estate and fishy business affairs.

While Karin, Indrek's wife, wishes to be a part of the rising bourgeois society, Indrek thinks that salvation and meaning of life can be found only in hard work. The inability of husband and wife to understand each other creates a dramatic conflict with unexpectedly tragic consequences.

Although written in the beginning of 1930s, the story appears incredibly up-to-date in today’s Estonia.

Part Five

In part five, events take place on the countryside once more. Here the life is being observed roughly half a century after the events in the first book. In a simple lifestyle and hard work, the protagonist can finally rediscover his inner balance.


Andres’ nemesis Pearu is not evil in his heart. Though he is restless in harassing his neighbour and is motivated by jealousy and need to compete, he has also a brighter side - he can be kind, friendly and grand. He enjoys life as a game, bickering and contest. Right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lie are only means in the game of swank.

Mister Maurus

Mister Maurus is an archetypal school teacher character, inspired by Hugo Treffner
Hugo Treffner
Hugo Hermann Fürchtegott Treffner was the founder and first director of the Hugo Treffner Gymnasium in Tartu, Livonia, Russian Empire, and an important figure in the Estonian national awakening.- Biography :...


The character appears primarily in the second part of Tammsaare's pentalogy.
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