Archive for December, 1992

Out of Ostrobothnia

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Authors

This summer saw the publication of Hid (‘Coming here’), the third part of Gösta Ågren’s verse trilogy, which studies and describes the poets roots in Finland-Swedish Ostrobothnia. For Jär (‘Standing Here’), the trilogy’s first part, Ågren was given the 1989 Finlandia Prize, his country’s most prestigious literary award. The second part, Städren (‘The cities’), appeared in 1990.

In a letter to his English publisher, Ågren himself recently commented: ‘I have been working on the three collections for nine years, since 1984. They are, in a way, autobiographical. That is why the titles are formed according to the dialect of my home region. Normally they should be “Här”, “Städerna” and “Hit”.’ More…

The return of Orpheus

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

from Hid (‘Coming here’, Söderströms, 1992). A Valley in the Midst of Violence, a selection of poems by Gösta Ågren translated by David McDuff, was published by Bloodaxe Books of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1992. Introduction by David McDuff

No poet can endure
being dead, a sojourn without
meaning and method. He needs
order and rhythm. His poems
are really laws. He
always turns back
from the underworld, which resembles
the everyday.

The darkness hides the screams
around him, when
the way begins. The sun is
only black heraldry, only
a cavern in the sky
of stone, and he sees
it, without being blinded. More…

Dreams of freedom

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Authors

Maria Jotuni‘s first short stories appeared at the beginning of the century, as the successful campaign for women’s suffrage was being waged in Finland. Jotuni (1880–1943) was no suffragette, however, although both her short stories and her plays subject women’s lives, and, in particular, women’s grasp on their own lives, to constant examination.

In Jotuni’s work, women live under a triple burden: they seek their identities in relation to men, conventional mores and their own dreams. These relations are not linear, but often displaced, or inverted, as is demonstrated by the names of two of her plays: Miehen kylkiluu – ‘The rib of man’ – and Tohvelisankarin rouva – ‘The wife of a henpecked husband’. More…

As in a dream

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Kun on tunteet (‘When you have feelings’, 1913). Introduction by Irmeli Niemi

‘No, they’re not rich, those Kolehmainens, not rich at all. Even the house is a bit on the small side.’

‘So how did you end up there? That’s one thing I’ve often wondered about.’

‘How did I end up there? Well, it must have been my fate.’

‘You sure weren’t looking to get rich.’

‘No, I sure wasn’t. Got married when I had to.’

‘Had to. You can’t tell me it had to be to him. You, with suitors in every size and shape. All you had to do was pick out the best, but no, you just up and take off with somebody from out of town, and a poor man at that.’ More…

Invisible cities

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Essays

Extracts from Leena Krohn’s collection of essays, Rapina ja muita papereita (‘Rustle, and other papers’, WSOY, 1989).

Past me hurries a man in a rustling anorak. He pushes a card into a crack in the wall. There is a whirring noise, a door opens and, shoulder first, he pushes his way into a cramped room. At eye-level is a black screen, and under it a group of buttons. On the buttons is printed: Cash. Statement. Balance. On an empty button someone has written: Holdup. A question appears on the screen, and deserves our undivided attention: Do you wish to continue with another transaction?

We do! We certainly do. The mild warmth that suffuses the automatic bank pleases me, too. Why shouldn’t it? The warmth of the machine, the heat of money, is itself one of the forms of human energy secreted by the city, however stunted and primitive it may seem as it oozes from the depths of the metal cabinet. More…

Irreverent laughter

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Authors

Eeva Tikka, prose-writer, poet and story-teller, seeks her material in the most everyday subjects, the countryside of middle Finland, and the internal landscapes of middle-aged and middle-class people. But she is no simple kitchen-sink realist: she places here and there challenging and dangerous will o’the wisps, passions, jealousies, disappointments, terrors. The austerely calm surface of life cracks, breaks and deepens.

Tikka (born 1939) is a biologist by training, and she scatters her scientific knowledge liberally through her narratives. As such, the presence of the landscape is nothing new in Finnish literature, but for Tikka nature is more than an ornament or an object of lyrical reverie: it is a motor and contributory factor to action, an arrogant foe or a tender earth-mother. More…


Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Pythonin yö (‘Night of the python’, Gummerus, 1992). Introduction by Kaija Valkonen

I feel as if the disintegration has already started. I do not want it, I am not yet ready. And I do not want to discuss it with the doctors; I know that they would not understand, and the thing I am talking about has nothing to do with my state of health. It is not an illness; it is something more insidious. It occurs under the cover of health. It is a deception.

It is hard to say when it started, but whenever I try to remember, a certain day comes into my mind. It can hardly be the beginning, how could disintegration start with joy? But it was a day that contained many elements of dissolution: a strong wind, the ice breaking, quickly moving clouds. At one point I picked up an old tub in the corner of the shed, its hoops fell off and it collapsed, ringing. More…