Vienna, 16 October 2009 Press release

Austrian decoration for Mati Sirkel

The well-known Estonian translator and specialist in German studies, Mati Sirkel, was presented with the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art

Tallinn, 16 October 2009 – On 14 October 2009, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art was awarded to the famous Estonian translator and specialist in German studies, Mati Sirkel, by Austrian Ambassador Dr. Angelika Supe-Berchtold at a formal reception at the Austrian Embassy.

The guest list included high-ranking politicians and diplomats, journalists, well-known authors and translators.

Mati Sirkel translated all of Franz Kafka’s literary texts into Estonian. In addition, his excellent translation of Robert Musil’s 1611-page novel“The Man without Qualities”made this major literary work accessible to an Estonian audience. Mati Sirkel also translated writers such as Heimito von Doderer, Fritz von Herzmanovsky-Orlando, Elias Canetti, Alfred Kubin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Peter Handke, Ilse Aichinger and Elfriede Gerstl, thus making their works known to a broader Estonian public.

Sirkel is regarded as the best translator of literary works from German into Estonian. He always provided his translations of Austrian masterworks with a comprehensive preface and epilogue as well as comments. They were collected and published in two volumes, and meanwhile have come to be considered an important reference book on Austrian literature.

But Mati Sirkel is among Estonia’s outstanding translators from other languages as well. He has also translated literary masterpieces from English, contemporary Greek, Swedish and Dutch.

Mati Sirkel was born in Paide, Estonia. After completing his degree in German studies and literary theory at the University of Tartu, from 1972 to 1976 he contributed to the academic work at the Institute for Literature and Language in Tallinn. After working as an editor for Periodika Publishing House from 1976 to 1979, he began his career as a literary translator in 1982. In 1989 he was admitted to the Estonian Writers’ Association, whose President he was from 1995 to 2004. He has been working as a free-lance translator ever since.

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