Vesa Karonen & Panu Rajala: Yrjö Jylhä, talvisodan runoilija [Yrjö Jylhä, poet of the Winter War]

11 December 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

jylhaYrjö Jylhä, talvisodan runoilija
[Yrjö Jylhä, poet of the Winter War]
Helsinki: Otava, 2009. 351 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-1-23840-9
€ 35, hardback

Yrjö Jylhä (1903–1957) was a poet and translator whose collection of poems entitled Kiirastuli (‘Purgatory’), published in 1941 after the Winter War, is one of the most popular works of Finnish verse. Jylhä served as commander of a Karelian army company during the Winter War. A certain sternness, melancholy and pessimism about life are considered to be characteristic of Jylhä’s writing. The author of this book, the first biography of Jylhä, had access to new source materials including letters written from the front. The war meant not only great change for Jylhä as a writer, but also a test of his own limits as a leader and a soldier among other men. After the war, Jylhä’s reputation began to wane – partly for political reasons, as people took a more dismissive attitude towards war poetry about the Finnish fatherland. Jylhä suffered from a serious illness and artistic frustration in his middle age, which led him to take his own life.

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