This article deals with the unpublished manuscript „Bathseba” (1909) by Aino
Kallas. According to former research, in particular to professor Kai Laitinen’s
works (1973 and 1995), this manuscript was considered as totally lost. In fact, in
her letters to Kai Laitinen, Aino Kallas had personally convinced him of having
destroyed the manuscript decades after writing it. However, the author of the article
was lucky to find this „lost” manuscript in the Estonian Literary Museum,
Tartu, Estonia, in February 2008. In fact, the copy of the manuscript had already
been delivered to Finland, to the Finnish Literary Society, in 1984, but no one had
checked the microfilm until now. „Bathseba” is an exception in Kallas’ oeuvre: it is a verse drama, set in a biblical
milieu. The play is based on the tale of Bathseba found in the Old Testament.
It is a triangle story between King David, Uriah and his wife Bathseba (2 Sam.
The main reason for not publishing „Bathseba” was a negative critique written
by the author and director Jalmari Hahl. Hahl considered the use of biblical
themes out-of-date and the wording of the play infelicitous.
The article evaluates the possible reasons for Hahl’s negative critique from
today’s perspective. Considering the historical context, the use of biblical themes
was quite popular at the turn of the 20th century. A comparison of „Bathseba” to
Kallas’ published works reveals that Bathseba as the main character notably
resembles the ambivalent female figures of Kallas’ later works, especially the
heroines of the Surmaava Eros trilogy. Also, the conscious use of biblical pastiches,
allusions and quotations in „Bathseba” are distinctive of Kallas’ published works.
Using the means of current (inter)textual analysis, it is possible to discuss Kallas’
„failure” in „Bathseba”, and assess the significance of the work today.