Archive for June, 1997

Word as gospel

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Prophetic tones have entered Gösta Ågren’s work since he won the Finlandia Prize in 1989. In his collection of poetry, Timmermannen (‘The carpenter’, Söderströms, 1996) he brings new life to St Mark’s gospel, that universally known archetypal folk-tale of the West, like the church painters of the Middle Ages.

Ågren nevertheless leapfrogs over his base text, with its overwhelming meaning: not satisfied with illustrating the Bible in a suitable form for modem people, he uses Jesus’s story as a springboard toward universally human questions. He reaches the living quick of the myth. The reader must listen carefully to his lines, for even the Pharisees did not understand the proofs of Christ’s identity. ‘Every miracle is an answer, / and they did not have a question.’ More…

The prisoner and the prophet

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Timmermannen (‘The carpenter’, Söderströms, 1996). Introduction by Jyrki Kiiskinen

The greatest message

Reader, love is
a secret, waiting
for wind, not a choice
between loving or not.
As commandment, degraded
to demand, it will soon be
fanatic like a wound,
a form of hate. How
could a secret
become reality
without dying? Every
decree destroys its region. Made a law
goodness turns
into the protecting
skin, with which the good
touches everything. A demand
for understanding, that,
which we call wisdom,
makes of wisdom
an armour, a cold
father around us.
The real communication is
his life. Against evil stands
the tale of a face.
How could such a secret
become real
or die? More…

The miracle of the rose

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Naurava neitsyt (‘The laughing virgin’, WSOY, 1996). The narrator in this first novel by Irja Rane is an elderly headmaster and clergyman in 1930s Germany. In his letters to his son, Mr Klein contemplates the present state of the world, hardly recovered from the previous war, his own incapacity for true intimacy – and tells his son the story of the laughing virgin, a legend he saw come alive. Naurava neitsyt won the Finlandia Prize for Fiction in 1996

28 August

My dear boy,

I received your letter yesterday at dinner. Let me just say that I was delighted to see it! For as I went to table I was not in the conciliatory frame of mind that is suitable in sitting down to enjoy the gifts of God. I was still fretting when Mademoiselle put her head through the serving hatch and said:

‘There is a letter for you, sir.’

‘Have I not said that I must not be disturbed,’ I growled. I was surprised myself at the abruptness of my voice.

‘By your leave, it is from Berlin,’ said Mademoiselle. ‘Perhaps it is from the young gentleman.’

‘Bring it here,’ I said. More…

From life to life

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Taivas päivystää (‘Sky on duty’, WSOY, 1996). Introduction by Tero Liukkonen

Flitting from dream to dream. Vanishings.
And you can’t even look.
What you looked with has been taken.
Then there’s more you know.
How helpless you are.
Then you know what Bottom meant
awake from his dream and trying to remember
what he’d lost. Then he did wake.
‘Man’s but a patched fool,’ he said,
‘if he’ll offer to say what methought I had.’

                                                                          Everything had gone topsy-turvy
                                                                          but she just went on feeling
                                                                                      she was hanging her head,
                                                                          she just went on feeling she was searching the lawn
                                                                                                   for a four-leaf clover,
                                                                          and the lawn had covered everything up
                                                                          and not a soul was troubling her.  More...

Desire and revulsion

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Perhaps there is an economics of comprehensibility that runs directly counter to the thesis that a new form makes possible a new content.  Olli Jalonen’s novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996) is an entirely conventional story about women, men and marriage. The manner in which he tells it is, however, unconventional.

The result is an involved but never off-puttingly difficult novel that keeps its promises of a psychological suspense and complexity, even partly using them to motivate its form. More…

The guest book

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract rom the novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996). Introduction by Pia Ingström

Late at night before going to bed An Lee had turned off all the lights, opened the large bedroom window, breathed the cool air. She had done this often. It made it easier to fall asleep. It was enough to look outside for a moment and to breathe in slowly, and at the same time the bedroom air freshened and changed for the night.

Then she had closed and locked the window, drawn the curtains, and switched on the dim wall light. It might be nice to decorate the space between the double windowpanes with wooden animals, she had thought, not for the first time. They had had some at home, her mother had been a collector of such things. Almost all of them pink and lemon yellow, a whole zoo between the windows, only the panther had been pitch-black, and on one of the elephants the pretty grey color had been scratched and splotchy on one side. More…

And yet, after decades

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

If Mirkka Rekola had received the recognition she deserved in the 1960s, and not only gradually during the 1980s, the history of Finnish poetry would look different. She is among our central modernists.

Rekola has been trampled underfoot twice by the politics of the literary world. In the 1950s she unknowingly chose the wrong publisher, the conservative Werner Söderström, when the avant garde were on Otava’s list. In 1962, with the increasing politicisation of literature, the cult figure of the younger generation, Pentti Saarikoski, attacked Rekola, considering her an example of the poetry that was to be discarded. More…