Archive for September, 1991

Towards the empty page

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Authors

This autumn, a Japanese-made animated series about the inhabitants of Moomin valley will be seen on television screens across Europe and the United States; a range of merchandise including Moomin ice-cream, biscuits, back-packs and mugs is already available. As Moomin Valley goes commercial, Suvi Ahola examines in her essay the psychoses, sexual ambiguity and concern for personal freedom that lie at the heart of Tove Jansson’s children’s books

A quiet Sunday afternoon, some time in the first decade of this century, in one of the massive, handsome art nouveau tenement blocks of the Katajanokka district of Helsinki.

On the second floor of Luotsikatu Street 4 B two children are playing. The girl, two years older, advises her friend, a little boy, how to walk across the pile carpet in such a way that the snakes in the pattern won’t get him. Clutching a large handkerchief, the boy advances across the carpet in tiny steps, arms outstretched. The carpet’s brown garlands – the snakes – begin to writhe voraciously. Try and jump, the girl shouts. More…

How to win literary prizes

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Terveessä ruumiissa (‘In a healthy body’, Gummerus, 1990)

Later, as he mulled over the moments just before it all happened – with himself delivering his appreciative peroration to the prizewinner in the front row – the Chairman of the Prize Committee could recall no warning sign. Antti was tense, of course, but, considering his artistic sensitivity and the hundred-strong audience, there was nothing abnormal about that.

The Chairman was improvising from scanty notes: only the finishing touch was written out in full:

‘And so, with immense gratitude, we shall store up your many achievements in our hearts and minds.’ More…

Contradictory logic

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Authors

It is unavoidable, really, that in her new book, Umbra, Leena Krohn should have found herself addressing paradoxes. She has long examined the complexities of humanity: good and evil, life and death, the biological relation of Homo sapiens and other creatures with the world, the contrasts of life and the extremes of phenomena. Humanity is filled with paradoxes, but the most difficult of them all is the paradox of evil: does an evil-doer will evil because he must? Or must he do evil because he wills it?

Umbra is a doctor. He works in a hospital; some of surgery hours are spent at a clinic called Aid for the Overstrained and at a research centre whose name is Negative Influences, which cares for violent criminals: rapists, sadists, paedophiles. Umbra is interested in the compulsion of pleasure that drives his violent patients, in the shadow that swallows conscience, the suffering of knowledge of the truth. ‘Moral sensitivity is one of the human senses,’ Umbra ponders. ‘Most people have it. In the clinics patients it is absent. Perhaps they were born without it…’ More…

The Paradox Archive

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Umbra (WSOY, 1990). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

The Paradox Archive

Umbra was a man of order. His profession alone made him that, for sickness was a disorder, and death chaos.

But life demands disorder, since it calls for energy, for warmth – which is disorder. Abnormal effort did perhaps enhance order within a small and carefully defined area, but it squandered considerable energy, and ultimately the disorder in the environment was only intensified.

Umbra saw that apparent order concealed latent chaos and collapse, but he knew too that apparent chaos contained its own order. More…