Author: Markku Envall


Issue 4/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Aphorisms from Pahojen henkien historia (‘A history of evil spirits’, 1986). Markku Envall’s essay on aphorism

Do not set out in the wrong mood, at the wrong moment, for the wrong place.

Learn to distinguish these from one another, for it is an impossible task.

Do not admit to changes in yourself, say rather that your associates vary.

And that your relationships are changeable. But do not say this of yourself.

Not knowing a person should not be regarded as sufficient reason for not making his acquaintance. More…

The aphorism reborn

Issue 4/1986 | Archives online, Authors, Essays, Non-fiction

Markku Envall. Photo: Pertti Nisonen

Markku Envall. Photo: Pertti Nisonen

With the passage of time a literary genre may continue, change or disappear. During the 1960s it was widely believed that the Finnish aphorism was dead. Modernism, which had consolidated its victory during that decade, was not favourable to the genre, and not one of the central figures of the post-war generation had touched the genre. Nevertheless, phoenix-like, the aphorism rose from the ashes, and by the 1970s it was strongly in evidence again, thanks, in the main, to just four writers, Mirkka Rekola, Paavo Haavikko, Samuli Paronen and Erno Paasilinna.

The renaissance took place between 1969 and 1972; in 1969 Mirkka Rekola’s first book of aphorisms was published, followed in 1972 by Paavo Haavikko’s. Rekola now has three books of aphorisms to her name, Haavikko four. The other two major aphorists have published one volume each. There have been a few other collections of aphorisms have appeared, but their authors are ‘merely’ aphorists, while these four are recognised as major authors in other fields too.

What was new in the renaissance of the aphorism? The question is easiest to answer in respect of the three men; Rekola is in many ways an exception. There were two major new features, one concerning meaning, the other form. The subject matter of the new writers was broader than the wisdom and teachings about life encompassed by the traditional aphorism. Their main subjects were nothing if not ambitious; the nature of the world, the progress of history, the structure of society. More…

Master of Satire

Issue 1/1981 | Archives online, Authors

Henrik Tikkanen

Henrik Tikkanen. Photo: Schildts & Söderströms

Henrik Tikkanen (born 1924) comes of a cultured Swedish-speaking family: his father was an architect, his grandfather an eminent art historian. But it is not only linguistically that Tikkanen belongs to a minority: in a land famous for epic he expresses himself in epigram and satire; in a land of lakes and forests he is an unashamed city-lover; in a land addicted to military virtues he stands out as a pacifist; in a land of books he writes for the newspapers. And in one of his autobiographical novels he confesses that he lacks the sentimental streak that motivates everything that is ever done in Finland.

For a Finnish author, Tikkanen has an exceptionally close relationship with the daily press. He earned his living as a working journalist, initially with Hufvudstadsbladet, the leading Finnish newspaper in Swedish, and later with Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest of the Finnish papers. After serving in the war it became his ambition to be Finland’s ‘best and only’ newspaper artist: he certainly achieved it. As a columnist and documentary feature writer who is at the same time a brilliant wit and coiner of epigrams, and who illustrates his own text, he still has no equal; indeed it would be hard to think of anyone who could even rank as a competitor. More…