Archive for December, 1989

Looking back on a dark winter

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the autobiographical novel Talvisodan aika (‘The time of the Winter War’), the childhood memoirs of Eeva Kilpi. During the winter of 1939–40 she was an 11-year old-schoolgirl in Karelia when it was ceded to the Soviet Union and the population evacuated

Time is the most valuable thing
we can give each other

War’s coming.

One day my father comes out with the familiar words in a totally unfamiliar way, while we’re sitting round the kitchen table eating, or just starting to eat.

He says to mother, as if we simply aren’t there, as if we don’t need to bother, or as if listening means not understanding. Or perhaps they’ve simply no other chance to speak to each other, as father’s always got to be off hunting, or on his way to the station, and mother’s always cooking. More…

The Knife

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

First performed in 1989 at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Veitsi (‘The knife’, 1984) is set in Helsinki. The opera is composed by Paavo Heininen and the libretto is by the novelist, poet, playwright Veijo Meri. Veitsi is not a traditional opera, but ‘music-drama’. Introduction by Austin Flint


(Pamppu takes Havinen and the Poet to the Publisher’s office)

Hello there, you great novelist!
This is really a surprise,
as though you’d blown the door off its hinges.

These pages are terrific. Take a look at them. More…

Death of a poet

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Articles

Over the last two decades, contemporary Finnish opera has not only become popular at home but has emerged as a significant force on the international music scene. Aulis Sallinen’s The Horseman, The Red Line and The King Goes Forth to France, and Joonas Kokkonen’s The Last Temptations all had their premieres in the 1970s and 1980s and have already earned respected places in the repertory of the Finnish National Opera and the Savonlinna Opera Festival, where performances are sold out months in advance.

The visit by the National Opera to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1983 attracted widespread attention from press and public alike, and its productions of The Red Line and The Last Temptations were for the most part enthusiastically received. Finnish opera earned further international prestige from the joint commissioning of Sallinen’s The King by the Royal Covent Garden Theatre in London and the Savonlinna Festival, and from later performances by companies in Germany and the United States. More…

Face to face

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Authors, Fiction, Prose

Daniel Katz interviewed by himself

I’m awaiting Daniel Katz surrounded by the wooden walls of his study, in what was formerly an old corn-shed.

‘For me,’ his wife confides, ‘he knocked together a study out of a stall in the cowshed.’ Then she withdraws to her cowpen, where she’s translating Bellman’s songs from Swedish.

Through the study window I can see a bit of eastern-Uusimaa forest, the village lane, and the corner of the family’s reddle-daubed peasant hut. A little distance away, like this, the boarding looks in better shape than it does close-up. The family dog, a Lapphund, is lying on the sofa and keeping a trained eye on me: with no reindeer to herd, he’ll make do with me. More…

The house in Silesia

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Talo Šleesiassa (‘ The house in Silesia’, 1983). Read the interview

We set off, my brother-in-law and I, at the beginning of September. The tourist season was already over, and on the Gdansk ferry there was stacks of room for my brother-in law’s Volvo and the two of us.

We’d driven from his home on the shore of Lake Mälar to the ferry port at Nynäshamn, about fifty miles south of Stockholm. We’d driven in an atmosphere of cheerful resolution, accelerator down, but going steadily. The resoluteness was due to my brother-in-law’s decision after forty years’ absence to visit his childhood home. If it was still standing, that is – or whatever of it was.

‘Oh the house is definitely still in place there all right,’ he said: ‘I’ve got that sort of tickly feeling in my arse.’ It was a direct translation from the German – German humour of the vulgar variety centring round the bottom. More…