Mati Sirkel

Mati Sirkel

Mati Sirkel
(b. 12. X 1949) is a translator from German.

Sirkel was born in Paide, educated at Rakke and Tallinn, and studied German philology and literary theory in the faculty of history and languages at State University of Tartu. He worked at the Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, and at the Soviet concern Desintegraator; since 1982 he is a professional translator. He has been a member of the Writers’ Union since 1989; from 1990 to 1995 he was its external secretary and deputy chairman, from 1995 to 2004 its chairman. From 1993 to 1996 he was a member of the board of the European Writers’ Congress. He was a member of the Wellesto cultural grouping.

Sirkel is chiefly known as one of the best translators of German-language literature in Estonia, who has, among other things, translated all of Franz Kafka’s works. In addition to fiction, he has translated academic works, such as Johan Huizinga’s ‘The challenge of cultural history. Selected articles, essays and speeches’ (2013), and has translated Lennart Meri’s ‘Presidential Speeches’ into German. He has written thorough forewords and afterwords to the works he has translated. A selection of his literary work is offered in Orva-aastad: valik ees-, vahe- ja järelsõnu tõlgetele ning mõned lehelood (‘Recess Years: Selected Forewords, Notes and Afterwords to Translations, Plus Some Newspaper Aarticles, 2004) and Uued orva-aastad (New Recess Years, 2009).

Sirkel has been awarded the Order of the White Star, Class V (2001) and the Order of the National Coat of Arms, Class IV (2006), the Literature Endowment annual award for the translation of Kafka’s Hiina müüri ehitamisel. Kõik lühemad ja lühilood (‘Building the Wall of China: All the Short Stories’, 2002) and Robert Musil’s ‘The Man Without Qualities’ and other books (2006), the translation prize of the Republic of Austria (2002), the Austrian state prize for translation of works of fiction (2005), the Austrian Cross of Honour in Sciences and Arts (2009), the Friedrich Gundolf prize for promoting German culture abroad (2013), and the Estonian National Culture Award for the translations of Klaus Militzer’s ‘History of the German Order’, Werner Bergengruen’s ‘In Heaven and on Earth’, Hermann Broch’s ‘The Death of Virgil’, and Thomas Bernhard’s ‘The Old Masters’ (2014).

A. K. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Essays and articles
Orva-aastad: valik ees-, vahe- ja järelsõnu tõlgetele ning mõned lehelood. Tallinn: Tuum, 2004, 239 lk.
Uued orva-aastad: kommentaarium. Tallinn: Tuum, 2009, 220 lk.
Vanad vastuseta küsimused: esseed, intervjuud, kõned. Tallinn: Tuum, 2014, 190 lk.
Goethe-aeg ja mõnda: esseed, saatesõnad, intervjuu + Schleiermacher. Tallinn: Tuum, 2019, 152 lk.