Antoine Chalvin is a professor in the French National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) and a translator of Estonian literature into French. He has translated, among other books, novels by Viivi Luik, Emil Tode, Jaan Kross, short stories by Arvo Valton, Mehis Heinsaar, and the Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg.
During his residence in Tartu, he will write a 144-page book about Estonians for the French publishing house Ateliers Henri Dougier. The book will consist of a series of portraits of remarkable Estonians, whose activities, ideas or lives reflect typical features of Estonian society, Estonian culture or Estonian mentality. Writing these portraits will require preliminary fieldwork, to establish the final list of personalities to be dealt with, to meet these people in their own living or working environment and interview them in Estonian. The texts will take the form of literary essays based on the interviews and on the information collected on location. Antoine Chalvin considers that Tartu is the ideal location for such a job, because several people he’s planning to interview live either in Tartu or in South Estonia and because it is, according to his words, “a much quieter and nicer place than Tallinn and for that reason more suitable for intellectual work”.