Archive for March, 2000

Upstairs, downstairs

Issue 1/2000 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Harmia lämpöpatterista (‘Trouble with the radiator’, Gummerus, 1999). Introduction by Tero Liukkonen

The view

From here, I can see straight into their bedroom. The thin man chases the red-haired mountain of lard; round and round the room they go: the man is swinging something in his hand, I can’t see what, while the lard-mountain squeals until the man throws her onto the bed. The same thing happens every night; I can’t see the bed. Too low, and I wouldn’t want to, besides; lewd ugly makes me sick that I can even think of it.

Downstairs a young man is always watching TV, sitting there motionless all evening. The blue flickers, never turns on the light, a young man. He has long, slender legs and arms, but his face I can’t see, it’s too dark. There are painting tools on his window sill. More…

How many worlds?

31 March 2000 | Authors, Reviews

Veronica Pimenoff

Photo: Jukka Uotila

Veronica Pimenoff’s novel Maa ilman vettä (‘A world without water’) recalls in a startling way the time when the founding father of Nordic literature, Georg Brandes, urged readers to ‘make problems a matter of debate’ and when Henrik Ibsen’s plays The Pillars of Society and A Doll’s House provoked widespread debate about money and property, gender and marriage.

The tradition of problem-centred literature in the Nordic countries from the end of the 19th century onward has hardly been studied, but it could certainly be made visible by tracing a line from Brandes to August Strindberg and thence via the working-class literature of Sweden and Finland to, for example, the feminist fiction of recent decades. More…

Still alive

31 March 2000 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Maa ilman vettä (‘A world without water’, Tammi, 1999)

The window opened on to a sunny street. Nevertheless, there was a pungent, sickbed smell in the room. There were blue roses on a white background on the wallpaper and, on the long wall, three landscape watercolours of identical size: a sea-shore with cliffs, a mountain stream, mountaintops. The room was equipped with white furniture and a massive wooden table. The television had been lifted on to a stool so that it could be seen from the bed.

The bed had been shifted to the centre of the room with its head against the rose-wall, as in a hospital. Between white sheets, supported by a large pillow, Sofia Elena lay awake in a half-sitting position. More…

Taking a line for a walk

Issue 1/2000 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Paul Klee, who is often cited as a pioneer of abstract art, often gave his works names associated with literature. We do not know whether these names arose before he began work, or only as he looked at the finished painting. Probably both.

Klee was well-versed in literature and also wrote himself. In addition to his essays and diaries, he wrote music and theatre criticism. He was also a professional musician, playing the violin in various ensembles. His literary and musical background is clearly visible in all Klee’s work. It is difficult to consider him a purely abstract painter in the traditional sense of the word. Paradoxically, the pioneer of abstract art defies a strict categorisation as abstract or figurative. Behind almost all his works lies a figurative and literary development. And of course music, its transposition into painting.

Klee was in the habit of writing the name of the work, in his fine handwriting, along the bottom edge of the painting, and underlining it. This suggests that he did not consider the associative power of the name of the work trivial or insignificant. It was not, however, intended to direct the viewer, and often the name functions in counter-point to the content of the image. The viewer is both directed and led astray. He sets out to seek correspondences between image and title but finally uncovers his own imagination.

This is an invitation to play. Not so much with the associations and experiences of the artist, but with those of the viewer. Bo Carpelan has accepted the invitation. It is, to my knowledge, fairly rare for a poet to take as his muse the names of an artist’s works. And apparently without particularly examining the works. The wrapping-paper is recycled. Such recycling creates, in his book Namnet på tavlan Klee målade (‘The name of the picture Klee painted’, 1999), a frankly tropical atmosphere, although some of the names of Klee’ s works are transposed directly into Finland-Swedish surroundings. The tropical gaudiness of the poetic images is born with the help of continual metamorphoses. They recall, unbidden, the masterpieces of African recycling in which the renaissance of some worn-out object is celebrated – for example, an empty sardine tin is miraculously reborn as an oil lamp. More…

A smell of the sea

Issue 1/2000 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Namnet på tavlan Klee målade (The name of the picture Klee painted’, Schildts,1999; Kleen taulun nimi, Otava, 1999; Finnish translation by Jaakko Anhava). Introduction by Hannu Väisänen

Old harmony

You see an old street and stop outside a gate to a shadowy inner courtyard. An oak tree grows there, its crown stretches towards the light. How big it is! On a bench underneath it an old couple sit looking at you. They are trying to discover what you once were. Beside them lies an old lute, like a large, gleaming fruit. You go over to it, pick it up, play a chord. The old woman and the old man look at you without surprise. It has all happened once before, after all. Not much more is needed, only a deep silence. The oak tree murmurs, the old couple have gone, you sit there with your wife and see someone entering the courtyard. Do we know him, you say. But scarcely have you finished your question than the courtyard is empty again, a moment in eternity. More…

Short cuts

Issue 1/2000 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews, Reviews

‘For me, writing is an irrational and intuitive process’, says the young writer Tuuve Aro (born 1973). ‘I do not decide or plan in advance what I want to say; the text carries me onward as I go’.

Tuuve Aro strikes one as cheerful and intelligent, a self-assured and resolute young woman. She relates to her new role as an author just as naturally as she describes the genesis of her short-story collection Harmia lämpöpatterista (‘Trouble from the radiator’, Gummerus, 1999). For Aro, writing has long been a tool to figure herself and the world, but she has never felt the compulsion to gather her writings into a book. But when a certain sort of text had accumulated sufficiently, it was time to send the manuscript to a publisher. More…