Panu Rajala: Naisten mies ja aatteiden. Juhani Ahon elämäntaide [A ladies’ man of ideas. Juhani Aho’s art of living]

26 January 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Naisten mies ja aatteiden. Juhani Ahon elämäntaide
[A ladies’ man of ideas. Juhani Aho’s art of living]
Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. 441 p., ill.
ISBN 9789510374412
€ 35, hardback

Of Juhani Aho (1861–1921) it is said that he created what have proved to be the most enduring descriptions of how traditional Finland began to be modernised; his most famous book is the novella Rautatie (‘The railway’, 1884) which portrays the arrival of the railway in the Finnish countryside. This new biography also shows once again how many international influences can be found in the work of Aho, who is often called a national author. Aho was active in student politics, and as a newspaper journalist. He was nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize twelve times, but for various reasons, some of them connected with language politics, lobbying on his behalf was not successful. Aho developed Finnish prose, bringing to it realism and impressionistic style. His experiences during a visit to Paris in 1889 form the basis of his novel Yksin (‘Alone’), which caused a stir in part because of its erotic flavour. This book by the author and literary scholar Panu Rajala provides a versatile insight into Aho’s personal story, the world of his ideas, his opinions on art, and his complex relationships.
Translated by David McDuff

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