Search results for "Edith Södergran"

Coolness and warmth

21 April 2011 | Reviews

Bo Carpelan. Photo: Irmeli Jung

The coolness on the mountain
streams of water, black forests
in the west a growing light
foreboding sleep

These lines are from Gramina, the twenty-second and last collection of verse by the Finland-Swedish poet Bo Carpelan, which appeared last summer.

The short poem captures much of what was typical of Carpelan’s poetic style: a visually sharp and objective image which juxtaposes the world we see with a sense of something different, undefined. Time the unstoppable, which changes everything, was his central theme, and it also figures here.

Carpelan (1926–2011) made his debut in 1946 and was hailed early on as a renewer of the modernist tradition that in Finland began in the early 20th century with Edith Södergran (1892–1923) and Elmer Diktonius (1896–1961). He combined the Finnish-Swedish heritage of reflective nature poetry with imagistic stimuli from Swedish- and English-language modernism. More…

A new publishing company – and old

23 December 2011 | In the news

In the early months of 2012 Finland’s two old and time-honoured Swedish-language publishers, Schildts and Söderströms, will merge.

Söderströms will buy Schildts, whose owners (two non-profit associations, Svenska folkskolans vänner and Finlands svenska lärarförbund) will acquire a nearly 20 per cent share in the new company. The largest share in Schildts & Söderströms will be held by the art association Konstsamfundet (24 per cent), while the company’s third major owner will be Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland (15 per cent).

Both publishers have been operating with a loss in turnover of approximately half a million euros, though at the same time investment capital has brought them almost the same amount. Textbook publishing has been profitable for both, while general literature has been published at a loss.

With a turnover of slightly over six million euros, the new Schildts & Söderströms will employ a workforce of nearly 50.

Holger Schildt founded the Finnish-Swedish publishing house of Schildts in 1913. Its most internationally famous and best-selling fiction writer is the mother of the Moomins, Tove Jansson (1914–2001). Edith Södergran, Runar Schildt, Bo Carpelan and Robert Åsbacka are, for example, Schildts’ authors.

Werner Söderström founded the company that bears his name in 1878. Now known as WSOY, it originally published both Finnish and Swedish-language literature; the firm of Söderström & Co. was founded in 1891 for the exclusive publishing of Swedish-language literature. Söderström’s authors have included Gunnar Björling, Jörn Donner, Monika Fagerholm and Kjell Westö, among others.

It is thought that the merger may lead to a reduction in the number of fiction and poetry titles published – but there are also hopes that there may be an improvement in their quality.

Facing catastrophe

31 December 1995 | Archives online, Authors

Mirjam Tuominen (1914–1967) was 
one of the stronger, yet relatively
 neglected voices of European modern
ism. Had she lived in France or Germany and had belonged to the literary
 traditions of either of those countries 
(traditions which she admired and 
knew well), one imagines that her fame
 might have spread more widely.

As it was, belonging to the Swedish-
speaking minority in Finland, Mirjam
 Tuominen wrote her works, both 
poetry and prose, in Swedish (and, very occasionally, in Finnish). Though they 
show the influence of the Finland-
Swedish literary tradition, in particular
 that of Edith Södergran, they also
 demonstrate that Mirjam Tuominen
 had read very widely outside that
 tradition – the influence of other 
Nordic writers such as Karin Boye and
 Cora Sandel is evident, but so also is
t hat of Friedrich Hölderlin, Marcel
 Proust, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka,
 Simone Weil and Sigmund Freud. More…

Finlands svenska litteratur 1900–2012 [Finland’s Swedish literature 1900–2012]

6 November 2014 | Mini reviews, Reviews

ekmanFinlands svenska litteratur 1900–2012
[Finland’s Swedish literature 1900–2012]
Red. [Edited by] Michel Ekman
Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland / Stockholm: Atlantis, 2014. 376 pp., ill.
ISBN 978-951-583-272-6
€35.90, paperback

This history of Finland-Swedish literature is an updated version of the second volume of Finlands svenska litteraturhistoria (eds. Johan Wrede and Clas Zilliacus, 1999–2000), and it concentrates on the period from 1900 to 2012, with much new critical material relating to the years after 1975. Some 20 contributors under the editorship of Michel Ekman provide a diverse and inclusive overview of a literature that embraces poetry, prose fiction, children’s writing, essays and drama. The book traces the story of Finland-Swedish literature from the ‘fresh start’ of the turn of the 19th century, through the experiments of modernists like the poets Edith Södergran and Elmer Diktonius, to the work of present-day novelists like Monika Fagerholm and Kjell Westö. However, the emphasis throughout is on general lines of development rather than on individual authors’ careers. The authors discuss the relationship between the work of Finland’s Swedish-language writers and their Finnish-language counterparts in a perspective that not only views the minority literature as a part of the Finnish whole, but also considers it as a bridge between the literatures of Sweden and Finland – the subject of a concluding essay by Clas Zilliacus. The material is presented in essays subdivided in a readable way that combines factual information with critical and historical analysis.

An intimation of Paradise

31 December 1984 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Paratiisiaavistus (‘An intimation of Paradise’, 1983). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

Satu Salminiitty (born 1959) has published only one collection of poetry since her first appeared in 1981, but with these two volumes she has achieved considerable success. She writes with a fine rhetoric using language and rhythm that are far removed from those of spoken Finnish. Religious pathos has a prominent place in her work, and her poems often derive from praise, prayer or even magic incantations; Salminiitty is a creator of vision who trusts to her metaphysical intuition, a quality not generally discernible among today’s Finnish poets. Equally rare is her lively faith in the goodness and beauty of people and of the world. A conscious rejoinder to materialism, pessimism and fear of the future can be read in her poems. More…

Out of Ostrobothnia

31 December 1992 | Archives online, Authors

This summer saw the publication of Hid (‘Coming here’), the third part of Gösta Ågren’s verse trilogy, which studies and describes the poets roots in Finland-Swedish Ostrobothnia. For Jär (‘Standing Here’), the trilogy’s first part, Ågren was given the 1989 Finlandia Prize, his country’s most prestigious literary award. The second part, Städren (‘The cities’), appeared in 1990.

In a letter to his English publisher, Ågren himself recently commented: ‘I have been working on the three collections for nine years, since 1984. They are, in a way, autobiographical. That is why the titles are formed according to the dialect of my home region. Normally they should be “Här”, “Städerna” and “Hit”.’ More…

Debt to life

28 May 2014 | Authors, Non-fiction

Kaarlo Sarkia (1902–1945). Photo: Ivar Helander (The Literary Archives/Finnish Literature Society)

Kaarlo Sarkia (1902–1945). Photo: Ivar Helander (The Literary Archives/Finnish Literature Society)

Joie de vivre, dream, death, love: Kaarlo Sarkia’s rhymed poetry made him one of the Finnish classics, even if he only had time to publish four collections. Like several unfortunate poets of the first half of the 20th century – among them Edith Södergran, Saima Harmaja, Katri Vala, Uuno Kailas – he died of tuberculosis. Poems from Unen kaivo (‘The well of dreams’, WSOY, 1936)

From the point of view of both form and content, Kaarlo Sarkia’s poem ‘Älä elämää pelkää’ (‘Don’t be afraid of life’, 1936) is among the best examples of Finnish poetry. It crystallises several typical themes and features of his work: a declamatory absoluteness and existential courage, a faith in beauty, and the presence of death.

Don’t be afraid of life,
don’t shut out its beauty.
Invite it to sit by your fire,
or should your hearth expire,
to meet it outside is your duty.
– – –
More…

Poetry and Patriotism

31 December 1985 | Archives online, Authors, Essays

J.L. Runeberg. Painting by Albert Edelfelt. 1893.

J.L. Runeberg. Painting by Albert Edelfelt. 1893.

Much revered, but little read today, Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877) is famed for his patriotism and glorification of war in a just cause. Yet Finland’s national poet did not write in Finnish, and never heard a shot fired in anger. It is, perhaps, time for a reappraisal.

What did he himself think about becoming a national poet?
Enjoyed it, probably? Who wouldn’t!
Did he write what he wanted and let
the people find their own interpretation?
Or did he write what he believed
the people expected
of a national poet?

Lars Huldén, 1978

 

It would not be inappropriate to begin a collection of thoughts about Finland’s ‘national poet,’ Johan Ludvig Runeberg, with a biblical text, Second Samuel, 1:25: ‘How are the mighty fallen!’ Runeberg does not own the position he once did, either in the world at large or in Scandinavia; even in his home land his exceptional grandeur has been reduced or, horribile dictu, smiled at. More…

A portrait of Elmer Diktonius

30 June 1982 | Archives online, Authors

Elmer Diktonius

Elmer Diktonius at his home in Kauniainen (Grankulla). Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Elmer Diktonius, one of the leading Finland-Swedish modernists of the 1920s, was a revolutionary poet, prose-writer and critic who also tried his hand at composing. Professor George Schoolfield, whose article on Diktonius appears below, appends his own translations of several of the lyrics: a filler selection is going to be published in the United States, Recently Professor Schoolfield has been working on a biography of Diktonius which he hopes to publish soon.

The literary fate of the Finland-Swedish modernist Elmer Diktonius (1896-1961) has not been an altogether happy one. Saluted early and late in his career as Finland’s Strindberg and as a possible rival to Mayakovsky in the contest for the greatest lyricist of the revolution, Diktonius would seem, surely, to deserve a place on the world’s literary stage. Yet the attention he has received outside the north has been mostly unwitting: the writers of program notes quote his description of the Silbelius Fourth, ‘the bark-bread symphony’ without knowing its source, the collected concert-reviews of Opus 12: Musik (1933). Surveys that might have introduced him to a larger public are silent. The chubby Pelican Guide to the European Literature of Modernism ignores him; the Penguin Book of Socialist Verse omits him from its 134 specimens of the lyric left; and Ulrich Weisstein’s volume of Expressionism as an International Literary Phenomenon does not have him in its chapter on ‘Expressionism in Scandinavia’, although he would qualify – as the Swedish scholar Bill Romefors has proved – as the major northern heir of German expressionism. More…

Against the grain

30 June 1983 | Archives online, Authors

Gösta Ågren

Gösta Ågren. Photo: Studio Paschinsky

Gösta Ågren (born 1936) represents at least two qualities highly characteristic of Finland-Swedish writers. He was born and grew up in a part of Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia – in the immediate vicinity of the two small coastal towns of Uusikaupunki (Nykarleby) and Pietarsaari (Jakobstad) – which has been the home of many of the most important Finland­-Swedish authors, from Runeberg and Zacharias Topelius through Mikael Lybeck and R. R. Eklund to Evert and Lars Huldén. And like Rabbe Enckell, Oscar Parland and others, Gösta Ågren comes from a family closely associated with literature – two of his brothers, Erik and Leo, are also writers, as was his sister Inga, who died young.

Otherwise Gösta Ågren is an author who in all important respects has gone his own way, often in opposition to the establishments, literary and otherwise, in southern Finland and Helsinki. More…

Earth, tree, wind

30 September 2005 | Authors, Reviews

Kirsi KunnasLeena Kirstinä on the iconoclastic and pioneering poet – for children and adults – Kirsi Kunnas

Fifty years ago the poet Kirsi Kunnas liberated Finnish children’s poetry from its boring didacticism: she revived ancient nursery rhymes, fables and epigrams that can parody human frailties and fabricate fairy-tale social criticism. Her hilarity, brilliance and linguistic virtuosity have charmed readers of all ages.

A post-war Finnish modernist, Kunnas (born 1924) published her début volume, Villiomenapuu (‘Crabapple tree’, WSOY), in 1947. In the 1950s her children’s volume, Tiitiäisen satupuu (‘The Tumpkin’s wonder tree’, 1956), rejuvenated children’s poetry. Her translations of the classical English nursery-rhymes in Old Mother Goose helped her to enhance the ways of writing fantasy, humour and nonsense. More…

All the grace

21 February 2013 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Huhtikuu (‘April’, 1932), Sateen jälkeen (‘After the rain’, 1935), Hunnutettu (‘Veiled’, 1936), Kaukainen maa (‘Distant land’, posthumous, 1937; all published by WSOY). Introduction by Vesa Haapala

ON THE SHORE

The wonderful pale clouds
cross the sky like wings.
Quiet and enchanting
the open water sings.

The sand has grown weary
of the waves’ caressing play.
Now come in perfect quiet,
now come here, right away…

17.3.1930 More…

A family affair

24 October 2013 | In the news

Finnish_Poets_front_coverSix Finnish poets, edited by Teemu Manninen – a poet himself – is the tenth volume in a series of bilingual anthologies bringing contemporary poetry from around Europe to English-language readers.

One of the poets introduced is a Finland-Swede, Matilda Södergran, whose poems are presented in their original Swedish alongside the English translations. The other poets, all of whom write in Finnish, are Vesa Haapala, Janne Nummela, Henriikka Tavi, Katariina Vuorinen and Juhana Vähänen. Their translators are Emily & Fleur Jeremiah, Lola Rogers and Helen R. Boultrum.

In his introduction Teemu Manninen briefly outlines the developments of contemporary Finnish poetry around the turn of the 21st century. The poets chosen were born in the 1970s and 1980s; their work could be characterised variously as experimental, surrealist, minimalist and ironic.

According to Manninen, during the last couple of decades, a ‘do-it-yourself’ culture has sprung up among people interested in performing poetry, organising independent festivals and clubs, and disseminating their work via the Internet. New, cheaper methods of publishing printed books have also contributed to a growing interest in poetry and to its popularity. Even so, contemporary poetry is not something that attracts large crowds; people involved in this sort of ‘literary activism’ tend to know each other well.

So, ‘in Finland, poetry is a family affair,’ notes Manninen. ‘The familial communality has to be acknowledged if one is to understand the kind of poetry currently being written in Finland….’ It mostly lives and thrives independent of large publishers, newspapers and literary prizes.

The anthology series is entitled New Voices from Europe and Beyond; it is published in the UK by Arc Publications in co-operation with Literature Across Frontiers.

Briefcase man

31 December 2000 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Aura (Otava, 2000). Introduction by Mervi Kantokorpi

He was born in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland the year the world caught fire. He learned to read the year of the revolution, and spoke two languages as his mother tongue border – language and enemy language, as he often used to say. He was proud of only one of his languages; the other, he loved secretly. He spoke one loudly, the other softly, almost in a whisper.

At night, on the telephone, he spoke far away – you could see it, even in the dark, from his expression, his half-closed eyes sometimes breaking into song. It was so beautiful and soft that I wept under the blankets and hated myself because of the effect that language had on me.

Stinking tinker Karelian trickster Russian drinker, little Russky’s dancing in a leather skirt, skirt tears and oh! little Russky’s hurt.

Count to ten, he said. But count in Finnish. Or Swedish, that’ll baffle them. And if they call you a Swedish bastard, it’s not so bad. I’ve taught you the numbers in Arabic and Spanish, too, but I don’t think you’ll be able to remember them yet. More…

A light shining

28 July 2011 | Essays, Non-fiction

Portrait of the author: Leena Krohn, watercolour by Marjatta Hanhijoki (1998, WSOY)

In many of Leena Krohn’s books metamorphosis and paradox are central. In this article she takes a look at her own history of reading and writing, which to her are ‘the most human of metamorphoses’. Her first book, Vihreä vallankumous (‘The green revolution’, 1970), was for children; what, if anything, makes writing for children different from writing for adults?

Extracts from an essay published in Luovuuden lähteillä. Lasten- ja nuortenkirjailijat kertovat (‘At the sources of creativity. Writings by authors of books for children and young people’, edited by Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen; The Finnish Institute for Children’s Literature & BTJ Kustannus, 2010)

What is writing? What is reading? I can still remember clearly the moment when, at the age of five, I saw signs become meanings. I had just woken up and taken down a book my mother had left on top of the chest of drawers, having read to us from it the previous day. It was Pilvihepo (‘The cloud-horse’) by Edith Unnerstad. I opened the book and as my eyes travelled along the lines, I understood what I saw. It was a second awakening, a moment of sudden realisation. I count that morning as one of the most significant of my life.

Learning to read lights up books. The dumb begin to speak. The dead come to life. The black letters look the same as they did before, and yet the change is thrilling. Reading and writing are among the most human of metamorphoses. More…