Pekka Tarkka: Joel Lehtonen 1. Vuodet 1881–1917 [Joel Lehtonen 1. The years 1881–1917]

13 August 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

joel.lehtonenJoel Lehtonen 1. Vuodet 1881–1917
[Joel Lehtonen 1. The years 1881–1917]
Helsinki: Otava, 2009. 431 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-1-23229-2
€ 37, hardback

The early years of the author Joel Lehtonen (1881–1934) were harsh ones: he was the illegitimate child of a mentally disturbed mother who abandonded her six-month-year baby in the forest. Fortunately Joel was adopted by a cultured clergyman who supported his education, making it possible for him to find a career in journalism and writing. The author and critic Pekka Tarkka published his doctoral dissertation on the changes in Joel Lehtonen’s view of human character in 1977. In this new book, the first general account of Lehtonen’s life and work, he presents an interesting view of the writer’s contradictory personality. Lehtonen’s travels in France, Italy and Switzerland strengthened his knowledge of foreign languages and his interest in Romance culture essential to his translator’s work. Lehtonen’s novels and short stories are often set in his home province of Savo, which he depicted through many phases of its social development. His most popular novel, Putkinotko, was published in 1919–1920. The first volume of Tarkka’s biography ends with Lehtonen’s writing in 1917 of the novel Kerran kesällä (‘Once in summer’),  about a composer returning to Finland from abroad just as the Finnish Civil War is about to begin.

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