Kārlis Skalbe (1879-1945) was a Latvian writer, poet and politician. Skalbe is most known as an author of beloved Latvian fairy-tales and poems. Already in an early adulthood Skalbe was interested in literature, reading texts of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky. Skalbe received a teacher’s diploma and worked as a second teacher at the Ērgļi school for couple of years. Skalbe was politically active and was a member of an illegal political organization “Troubadours of Vidzeme”. As a result he lost his job as a teacher and established a magazine “Kāvi” in 1905. Publishing texts in favor of the revolution was the reason for legal proceedings against Skalbe. In 1906 Skalbe emigrated to Switzerland, Finland and then Norway. In 1909 Skalbe returned to Riga where in 1911 he was arrested, spending two years in prison. Kārlis Skalbe worked as an editor in several newspapers and in 1916 became a member of The Latvian Riflemen Battalion. In 1920s Skalbe was a member of the first parliament of Latvia and later a member of the Saeima. In 1940 Skalbe became a member of the Soviet Latvian Writers Union and during the German occupation time (1942-1944) he was the editor in chief of “Latvju Mēnešraksts” magazine. In 1944 Kārlis Skalbe emigrated to Sweden and passed away a year later.
Biki buks #31. Rudens [Bicki Book #31. Autumn]. Riga: Liels un mazs, 2014.
Biki buks #25. Jaunās egles [Bicki Book #25. New Spruces]. Riga: Liels un mazs, 2013.
Ģiģis brauc uz miega muižu [Ģiģis Goes to Sleep House]. Riga: Liesma, 1969.
Klusuma meldijas [Silence Melodies] (1941)
Zāles dvaša [Grass Breath] (1931)
Vakara ugunis [Evening Lights] (1927)
Pēclaikā [Post-mortem] (1923)
Daugavas viļņi [Waves of Daugava] (1918)
Sapņi un teikas [Dreams and Legends] (1912)
Sirds un saule [Heart and Sun] (1911)
Emigranta dziesmas [Songs of an Emigrant] (1909)
Veļu laikā [At the Time of Ghosts] (1907)
Zemes dūmos [Within Earth's Smoke] (1906)
Kad ābeles zied [When Apple Trees Blossom] (1904)
Cietumnieka sapņi [Dreams of a Prisoner] (1902)
Pie jūras [By the Sea] (1898)
Kačeiša patmalis [Cat's Mill] (Latgalian language). Riga: Latvijas Mediji, 2017.
Märchen [Fairy-tales in German]. Riga: Jāņa Rozes apgāds, 1997.
Ziemeļmeitas vēdeklis [Northern Girl's Fan]. Riga: Zinātne, 1989.
Mazā Māra [Little Māra]. Riga: Latvju grāmata, 1941.
Garā pupa [Long Bean] (1937)
Muļķa laime [Fool's Luck] (1932)
Pasaka par vecāko dēlu un citas pasakas [Tale of the Oldest Son and Other Tales] (1924)
Kaķīša dzirnavas [Cat's Mill] (1913)
Pasaka par zelta ābeli [A Tale About The Golden Apple Tree]
Ziemas pasakas [Winter Tales] (1913)
Pazemīgās dvēseles [Humble Souls] (1911)
Ezerieša meita [Daughter of a Lake Man] (1907)
Kā es braucu Ziemeļmeitas lūkoties [How I Sought the Northern Girl] (1904)
Pasakas [Fairy-tales]. Riga: Dienas Grāmata, 2019.
Mūža raksti VII [Texts of the Lifetime VII]. Riga: Apgāds Mansards, 2015.
Mūža raksti VI [Texts of the Lifetime VI]. Riga: Apgāds Mansards, 2013.
Runas un raksti [Speeches and Articles]. Riga: Jāņa Rozes apgāds, 2008.
Mūža raksti, 1—12. [Texts of the Lifetime]. Riga: Elpa, 2001.
Pasakas (izlase) [Selected Fairy-tales]. Riga: Zvaigzne ABC, 1998.
Pasakas (izlase) [Selected Fairy-tales]. Riga: Atēna, 1998.
Neko mazāk [Nothing Less. Collection of Opinions]. Riga: Likteņstāsti, 1997.
Dzīvības siltums (stāsti un tēlojumi) [Wormth of Life (stories and depictions) Riga: Liesma, 1980.
Pasakas [Fairy-tales]. Riga: Liesma, 1979.
Klusa gaisma [Silent Light]. Ann Arbor: Ceļinieks, 1972.
Saules vārdi (dzejas izlase) [Collection of poems Words of Sun]. Riga: Liesma, 1969.
Pasakas [Fairy-tales]. Riga: Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1957.
Dzeja [Poems]. Riga: Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1957.
Raksti, 1—6. (1952 - 1955)
Kopoti raksti, 1—10. (1938 - 1939)
Kopoti raksti, 1—5. (1922 - 1923)
Raksti, 1—2. (1906 - 1910)
Books to fall for
Fairy tales (Pasakas)
Skalbe’s fairy tales hold a similar place in Latvian literature as those of Hans Christian Andersen do in the literature of Denmark. Although frequently fantastical, with their kings, princesses, talking animals and enchanted trees, Skalbe’s tales were not really aimed at children and often have dark endings. Despite the sadness and darkness that often prevails in Skalbe’s stories, he promotes a fundamentally humanistic view of existence, showing a deep concern for ethical issues and the proper treatment of others.
He was a deceptively complex writer: although he was known as “the king of fairy tales”, his stories differ from what most Western readers would consider to be “fairy tales”. His most popular and famous tale, Kitty’s Windmill is the story of a windmill-owning cat who is forced to pawn his windmill to pay for his daughters’ dowry, before taking to the road. He encounters various misfortunes on his travels, eventually ending up at a palace where he is able to comfort a king who has fallen into a state of despair after the death of his wife. Skalbe’s works remain popular with Latvians of all ages and backgrounds, as was confirmed in 2014 when Kaķīša dzirnavas was selected as the nation’s best-loved book in a national survey.
Video about the museum of Kārlis Skalbe // skaties.lv [LV]
Valda Čakare, Kabatas formāta eposs Ģertrūdes ielas teātrī, review of the play "How I Sought the Northern Girl" based on Kārlis Skalbe fairy-tale // Online magazine Satori, 2016 [LV]
Roze Stiebra, Skalbes kaķītis iziet spēcīgu dzīves skolu, nevis vaimanā, analysis of Cat's Mill // Latvijas Sabiedriskie Mediji, 2014 [LV]
1943, Anna Brigadere Award
1936, Culture Fund Award for story Wizard's Heart
1927, Culture Fund Award for poetry collection Evening Lights
1926, The Order of the Three Stars
1914, Riga Latvian Society Award
1913, Riga Latvian Society Award