Quiet strength

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Eeva Tikka (born 1939) is an explorer of what lies under the surface, the secret strata of the human mind, who reveals the whirlpools that are generally hidden between the ordinary and the conventional. The themes of her collection of short stories, Haapaperhonen (‘The butterfly’, 2002) are death and relinquishment.

Tikka originally trained as a biology teacher and worked in teaching for a couple of decades before becoming a full-time writer in 1982. She has published more than 20 volumes, comprising novels, collections of short stories, poems and children’s stories. The children’s stories are illustrated by her sister, Saara Tikka.

The writer, who lives in northern Karelia, has gathered critical acclaim and awards, but she is a quiet person who shuns publicity. Among her best novels are Pojan paluu (‘The son’s return’, 1993), which describes the re1ationship between a mother and her son, violence, guilt and innocence. She has depicted people, families that are invisibly divided (Punainen härkä, ‘The red bull’, 1977), a young boy’s death (Hiljainen kesä, ‘The silent summer’, 19790 and a handicapped child (Aurinkoratsastus, ‘Sunride’, 1987). In extreme situations, darkness and light take measure of one another, but the writer finds a quiet strength that goes beyond suffering. She has, indeed, cited Dostoyevsky as one of her favourite writers.

Lohikäärmekylpy (‘Dragon bath’, 2000) is a sharp study of two ageing women. One is a capable survivor, the other a withdrawn character, but which, in the end, is the stronger when life tests the friendship? A sense of nature, an almost mystical communion with the forest, water, plants and stones, is important in Eeva Tikka’s work. It is at its clearest in her children’s stories and poems. Her poetry also carries a Christian, religious imagery.

‘There are questions to which answers cannot be found; they must be pondered. The inexplicable interests me, and this theme runs through most of my books,’ Eeva Tikka said once, when I interviewed her. ‘In poetry, the pondering of the mystical dimension is at its freest, open, because this is the nature of poetry. But in prose, too, the story is, as it were, of lesser importance, because writing is carried by other depths and dimensions.’ she commented.

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