Archive for December, 1980


Issue 4/1980 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An excerpt from Laturi (‘The explosives expert’, 1979). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

“It only took one good bash!” With tears in his eyes, chuckling and spluttering, Korppi, the sentimentalist, told the story of Linda’s love affair. Korppi hadn’t been an old codger then; like Chekov’s Versinin, he could have been dubbed the love-lorn major, although he was only a lieutenant for he had loved little Linda when he had been an officer guarding the refugees interned on Suursaari: interned not for their safety but for the protection of his country. “She loved getting parcels, oh yes, but she didn’t give a damn for me! And did I take what belonged to me?

Yes! No! I nibbled here and there but I never swallowed a whole bite … On the other hand, there were some who took a bite and swallowed it, one of them was called …”

“Selim!” shouted Enver.

Selim, that jelly. He was Korppi’s subordinate on guard duty, and had he known the other fellow had been flirting with Linda he would have killed her! But how could he have known? What took place under a clump of hills along a wooded lake shore… More…

On Daniel Katz

Issue 4/1980 | Archives online, Authors

Daniel Katz

Daniel Katz. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro/WSOY.

Daniel Katz (born 1938) is a member of Finland’s small Jewish community and the first Finnish writer to emerge from that background. The publication of his first book coincided roughly with the appearance in America of a wealth of Jewish literature. Katz has much in common with American Jewish writers, particularly in his parodies of conventional religious practices, but the Jewish community he writes about relates to the general social environment in a very different way. Writers like Philip Roth are concerned with a social group that is tightly hemmed in by its own claustrophobic boundaries, whereas Katz’s Jews, living alongside the reserved and at times withdrawn Finns, stand out as exceptionally extroverted and sociable beings; their Jewishness is not a fetter but their innate key to freedom. More…

Juhani Niemi on Väinö Linna

Issue 4/1980 | Archives online, Authors

Väinö Linna

Väinö Linna. Photo: WSOY

Väinö Linna fits squarely into one of the dominant patterns of twentieth century literary development in Scandinavia. Like many writers of the period, Linna came from a working class background and struggled to free himself from that environment through self-education. He had no special interest in politics but his natural leanings were moderately left-wing. He isn’t a ‘political’ writer as such, and it would be simplistic to apply labels to his views. His central interests, which directly affect his style, are a concentration on firstly, acute social observation and, secondly, social analysis. Through novels in this genre – and Linna is without doubt a master – the reader finds a world and all its influences, from the personal to the historical and economic dissected, the casings laid back, the true juxtapositions revealed.

The process can be powerful and effective and Linna’s major works Tuntematon Sotilas (‘The Unknown Soldier’, 1954, English translation 1957) and the trilogy Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’, 1960-62) have struck deep into the Finnish national consciousness radically influencing the way events in recent Finnish history have been viewed by a wide audience of readers. Both works have been enormously popular: the characters have so accurately caught the Finnish personality that they have become part of the nation’s mythology. More…

The strike

Issue 4/1980 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

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…