Archive for December, 2000
Extracts from the novel Aura (Otava, 2000). Introduction by Mervi Kantokorpi
He was born in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland the year the world caught fire. He learned to read the year of the revolution, and spoke two languages as his mother tongue border – language and enemy language, as he often used to say. He was proud of only one of his languages; the other, he loved secretly. He spoke one loudly, the other softly, almost in a whisper.
At night, on the telephone, he spoke far away – you could see it, even in the dark, from his expression, his half-closed eyes sometimes breaking into song. It was so beautiful and soft that I wept under the blankets and hated myself because of the effect that language had on me.
Stinking tinker Karelian trickster Russian drinker, little Russky’s dancing in a leather skirt, skirt tears and oh! little Russky’s hurt.
Count to ten, he said. But count in Finnish. Or Swedish, that’ll baffle them. And if they call you a Swedish bastard, it’s not so bad. I’ve taught you the numbers in Arabic and Spanish, too, but I don’t think you’ll be able to remember them yet. More…
Extracts from the novel Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (‘Not before sundown’, Tammi, 2000). Interview and introduction by Soila Lehtonen
A youngster is asleep on the asphalt in the backyard, near the dustbins. In the dark I can only make out a black shape among the shadows.
I creep closer and reach out my hand. The figure clearly hears me coming, weakly raises its head from the crouching position for a moment, opens its eyes, and I can finally make out what it is.
It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I know straight away that I want it. More…
An extract from Sotaromaani (’A war novel’, 1954): the italicised passages denote text omitted from the original edition of Tuntematon sotilas (1954; The Unknown Soldier) and now published for the first time in Sotaromaani (2000). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
‘Battalion-at-tention!’ The battalion, gathered in a snowy clearing, froze to attention. Major Sarastie produced a sheet of paper and started reading from it. The men listened, a little perplexed. They already knew what had happened. What was the sense of reading to them about it. Two men had been executed because they had refused to return to their sentry posts. After they had heard about the execution, some had tried to chase down the military policemen who had performed it. Luckily, they had not been able to catch up with them; after all, they had been the least culpable parties to this crime.
Poems from Elävän mieli (‘A mind alive’, WSOY, 1999). Introduction by Lauri Otonkoski
In sparser gusts of wind
metaphors sough through the mind,
spinning as on the much-frequented
boulevards of a great park.
Even one’s most private thoughts are as common
as public transport, what a relief,
as shared as our anatomies and our bacteria,
for there is only one thread in the skein of the Norns
and the same fabric is always being woven
from the whims of fate: is that not a relief?
Treacherous individuality suffices only
for a fingerprint.
Metaphors always the same,
but constantly born anew
like a mind alive. More…