Archive for December, 1978

The Conference

Issue 4/1978 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Alamaisen kyyneleet (‘Tears of an underdog’, Karisto 1970). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

Dr Smith said that he did not believe that any immediate threat of an invasion from Space was likely to arise for some time. Observations to date had given no support to the view that any such preparations had been put in hand. Technically they were of course ahead of us, but in his opinion there was no cause for panic. Nor could he endorse the widespread but naive assumption that any confrontation with beings from Space must inevitably lead to war. If human beings had reason to feel threatened, it was from each other that the chief threat came. He urged the Conference to work for a situation in which every country would be preparing for peace rather than for war. He said he had no wish to sound sardonic, but that he had noticed that when war was prepared for, it was usually war that ensued. More…

On Erno Paasilinna

Issue 4/1978 | Archives online, Authors

Erno Paasilinna

Erno Paasilinna. Photo: Irmeli Jung

In one of his essays Erno Paasilinna speaks of a modern phenomenon, the ‘quasi-author’. A quasi-author is the kind of literary buff who writes for the papers, takes part in congresses, sits in panels and appears frequently on television. Wherever there is controversy, be it over the function of the President, the legality of strikes, the abortion laws, the evangelical movement or the present state of lyric poetry, the quasi-author is invariably to be found. Paasilinna atones for his irony by freely admitting that he is himself a typical specimen of the breed.

For the concept of the quasi-author Paasilinna refers us back to Ilya Ehrenburg, who noted in his memoirs that the profession of authorship had been undergoing a steady diminution of social and political influence ever since the early 30s. Since Ehrenburg’s day the process has accelerated: television, efficient communications, and the ceaseless output of ‘information’ by what amounts to a major modern industry, have finally toppled the novelist from the throne he successfully occupied for so long. The quasi-author has replaced him, availing himself of all the new media in the hope of achieving a more rapid and direct impact on the public – and perhaps also of preserving the traditional influence of the writing fraternity. Erno Paasilinna was born in 1935 near Petsamo (now Pechenga) on the Arctic coast: from 1922 till 1944 this region was part of Finland. Evacuated during the upheavals of the Second World War, the family was forced to lead the nomadic life of refugees, wandering across the Arctic wastes as far as Norway before they were able to find a settled home in Finland. Erno Paasilinna has not rejected the landscape or the traditions of his native area: he has edited four anthologies of extracts from early accounts of travel in Lapland. It was in Northern Finland, too, that Paasilinna completed his education (he attended the Lapland College of Further Education) and began his writing career. More…


Issue 4/1978 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kuolleet vedet (‘Dead waters’). Introduction by Aarne Kinnunen


A faraway tucked-away room
Leathery harness odour
An obscure carriage house
A mighty delay

And out through a narrow gate slipped childhood
And a pony cart was coming to get us 
                     swishing on the sand

White gloves on the coachman
and ornamented with a whip, the lash sounding
We were driving through spotted leaves
Lustre, dolour, lustre,
remembrance, snow

And suddenly the driver was gone
and nothing but hands were gripping the horse
and they were leading me I don’t know where. More…

On Eeva-Liisa Manner

Issue 4/1978 | Archives online, Authors

Eeva-Liisa Manner

Eeva-Liisa Manner. Photo: Tammi.

It is difficult to discuss Eeva-Liisa Manner’s poetry in isolation from her other writing. In both prose and drama she is a significant figure in Finnish literature, and, for instance, one of her plays – Poltettu oranssi (‘The burnt-out orange’) – had a nine-year run at the Tampere Workers’ Theatre.

Seen from one angle, a Manner poem is an opportunity to speak, to have a say on the day’s occurrences, such as the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Yet a poem of hers is always distanced. Perhaps it is mediated through the eternal myth of the East and West; or perhaps the events are seen from some altered perspective – from ‘a distant present’. Our own time may be seen, for example, from the point of view of the Cambrian Age. Myths and the animals associated with myth are consciously brought forward by the ‘I’ of the poems, always with a delicate irony. The horse is the most prominent and beloved of these beasts (the Creator ‘succeeded best’ with him), and he is identified with Jung’s animus. Discursive philosophy is not prominent in Finland. Finnish philosophers tend to be philosophers of science and technology – the purveyors of wisdom are the poets, and they are by no means bad at it. Taking a risk with the reader’s indulgence I could define Eeva-Liisa Manner as a philosophical poet­ meaning that her lyricism is charged with implication. The fine control of semantic content, as always in lyrical poetry, is achieved through her imagery and music; but her thematic centres, the problems she confronts, are seriously or ironically philosophical. In some of her poems, such as ‘A Logical Tale’. she may actually build up the lyric within an apparently tight case of thought; this is, of course, both a dig at philosophy and a philosophical point. Sometimes the digs are very hard. The nuances are many. More…