Author: Väinö Linna
An extract from Sotaromaani (’A war novel’, 1954): the italicised passages denote text omitted from the original edition of Tuntematon sotilas (1954; The Unknown Soldier) and now published for the first time in Sotaromaani (2000). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
‘Battalion-at-tention!’ The battalion, gathered in a snowy clearing, froze to attention. Major Sarastie produced a sheet of paper and started reading from it. The men listened, a little perplexed. They already knew what had happened. What was the sense of reading to them about it. Two men had been executed because they had refused to return to their sentry posts. After they had heard about the execution, some had tried to chase down the military policemen who had performed it. Luckily, they had not been able to catch up with them; after all, they had been the least culpable parties to this crime.
An extract from Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’), part one, chapter five. Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
Tähti, the rectory’s black carriage-horse, trotted from croft to croft, flashing his white spats. In the sledge, behind the driver, was the rector’s wife, wearing her husband’s heavy fur coat and sitting up very straight.
She began at Koskela. Jussi had finished his rent-work for the week, so she had to drive out to the croft. The little sleigh-bells tinkled so prettily that the boys overcame their shyness and came outside to marvel. These were quite unlike the simple, tinny ‘jingles’ that the old crofters had on their sledges: there was a whole row of bells attached to each half of the smart leather harness-saddle, and they sang out pleasantly and musically every time the highly-strung thoroughbred moved or even quivered. Vilppu could hardly claim to belong to the same species as this splendid creature. The boys had never before seen Tähti at such close quarters. He had wonderful blue-black eyes, and a soft pink muzzle. More…
An extract from Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’), chapter 3, volume II. Introduction by Juhani Niemi
With banners held aloft, the procession of strikers moved towards the Manor. It was known that the strikebreakers had arrived early and that the district constable was with them. Just before reaching the field the marchers struck up a song, and they went on singing after they had halted at the edge of the field. The men at work in the field went on with their tasks, casting occasional furtive glances at the strikers. Nearest to the road stood the Baron and the constable. Uolevi Yllö’s head was bandaged: someone had attacked him with a bicycle chain as he left the field at dusk the evening before. Arvo Töyry was in the field too, the landowners having agreed that those who had got their own harrowing and sowing done should lend the others a hand. Not all the men in the field were known to the strikers. The son of the district doctor was there they noticed, and the sons of several of the village gentry, as well as the men from the smallholdings. More…