Live, Experience, Understand. The Life of Alex Matson
Alex Matson (1888–1972) is an important Finnish literary critic and essayist, whose literary reviews and collections of essays have made a vital contribution to the development of Finland's postwar literary generation. Born in Finland as the son of a sailor, Matson moved as a young child with his family to Hull in England, where he went to school. In the 1910s, he moved back to Finland, where he at first established himself as painter associated with the expressionist November Group, an important Finnish artistic movement at the time. In the interbellum, he moved from fine arts to literature. In the 1920s and 1930s, he published several novels, but more important was his work as transmitter of international literary ideas to Finland. Together with his first wife, Kersti Bergroth, he edited the literary journal Sininen kirja ("The Blue Book"; 1927–1930), which was inspired by the writings of John Middleton Murry and Katherine Mansfield. Sininen kirja is the most international literary journal in Finnish history to date and introduced Finland to the most significant modernist writers of the first half of the 20th century (Gottfried Benn, Jean Cocteau, Alfred Döblin, T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Paul Valéry, Virginia Woolf).
During the Second World War, Matson worked for the State Communications Agency, which was responsible for disseminating relevant information about Finland to other nations and for informing Finns of relevant developments abroad. It was also tasked with studying the prevailing mood among the population in Finland. In Matson's unpublished wartime diaries, one can see the first symptoms of a shift in Finnish culture away from Germany and towards Anglo-Saxon culture.
From the 1940s onwards, Matson recommended new English and American novels as a part of his work as reader for Finnish publishing houses, and he also translated works by Joyce, Hemingway and Steinbeck. With the help of a network of international literary critics, Matson became acquainted with New Criticism, which he introduced to Finland before it became established among academic researchers. He was often critical of academic literary studies, but his seminal essay works Romaanitaide ("On the Prose Novel"; 1947), John Steinbeck (1948), Kaksi mestaria ("Two Masters", on Tolstoy and Dostoevsky; 1950) as well as his impressive conversational skills were instrumental in introducing knowledge about the principles of the prose novel to several authors (including Väinö Linna, Lauri Viita, and Hannu Salama), and contributed to their views of literature. Matson emphasized the importance of reading and understanding high-quality literature for the wellbeing of society.Book Details
A Guide to Studying the History of Childhood: Multidisciplinary Perspectives and Methods
This edited volume is a handbook of research methodologies for the history of childhood. The history of childhood is a vibrant, multidisciplinary field that incorporates a rich variety of methodological approaches developed in disciplines across the social sciences and humanities, including archaeology, education, ethnology, literature, and history. The volume presents a collection of chapters that engage a range of different research traditions and employ different research material, conceptual tools, and methods of analysis for the historical study of childhood. In doing so, the volume attends to issues specific to the study of children and childhood, such as those related to research ethics and the theoretical complexities of defining ‘the child’ and ‘childhood’. While the central focus is on the history of childhood in Finland, the volume also includes international and transnational cases, contexts, and perspectives.Book Details
This collection of thirteen chapters answers new questions about rhyme, with views from folklore, ethnopoetics, the history of literature, literary criticism and music criticism, psychology and linguistics. The book examines rhyme as practiced or as understood in English, Old English and Old Norse, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Karelian, Estonian, Medieval Latin, Arabic, and the Central Australian language Kaytetye. Some authors examine written poetry, including modernist poetry, and others focus on various kinds of sung poetry, including rap, which now has a pioneering role in taking rhyme into new traditions. Some authors consider the relation of rhyme to other types of form, notably alliteration. An introductory chapter discusses approaches to rhyme, and ends with a list of languages whose literatures or song traditions are known to have rhyme.Book Details
Traumatic Memory in Contemporary Prose Fiction
This is the first study to examine Finnish trauma fiction in detail. The book discusses the novels of Katja Kettu, Sofi Oksanen, Elina Hirvonen and Emmi Itäranta, where historical and collective traumas meet stories of personal vulnerability. Traumatic Memory in Contemporary Prose Fiction addresses war traumas and marks left by terrorism, colonialism, domestic violence and sexual violence, and analyses the aspects of ecological trauma and future threats.
The study combines the latest discussions on cultural memory studies and trauma theory with critical perspectives offered by feminist criticism and research in transnationalism. It illustrates how cultural narratives, literary conventions and aesthetic strategies regulate and produce traumatic experiences. Traumatic memory is not only a phenomenon dealing with the past, but it involves a wide range of individual, cultural, ecological, political and economic dimensions.Book Details
Why the Kalevala and not the Kanteletar? The Kalevala Society’s 101st Yearbook maps the processes of canonizing and marginalizing in traditions, cultural heritage and literature by focusing on the fringes of cultural ideals and norms. How and using which criteria have researchers, artists and materials of cultural production been lifted up or pushed aside? What kind of nations would have emerged if writing the nation had rested on the alternatives: the marginal rather than the canonical genres? A look into the blind spots and fringes of culture and research reveals the endless movement in and between hierarchically positioned spheres of culture. Listening to margins changes not only the canon but also the idea of canon.Book Details
The Art of Sofi Oksanen’s Novels. Narrative, Ethics, Rhetoric
Sofi Oksanen is the most visible and widely discussed Finnish author of the 21st century, yet her novels have gained less attention than her public performances. This study shifts the focus from the author’s persona to her literary art, proposing to read Oksanen’s fiction from the methodological viewpoint of the rhetorical theory of narrative. Accordingly, Oksanen’s six novels published to date – Stalinin lehmät, Baby Jane, Puhdistus, Kun kyyhkyset katosivat, Norma, and Koirapuisto – are considered as examples of authorial rhetoric and ethics, as narrative and textual constructions, and as affective readerly experiences. Instead of only following the rhetorical theory’s emphasis on character, plot, and progression, however, the study develops a new kind of narrative rhetoric, which also pays attention to language and politics. In the study, Sofi Oksanen emerges as a feminist narrative artist, who employs fiction as a serious rhetorical resource in order to say something worthwhile about the past history as well as the contemporary world.Book Details
Thinking about the Other. Historical and Cultural Perspectives on Encountering Otherness
Human lives are crucially shaped by encounters of otherness – or, rather, various othernesses. This book explores the ethical challenge of developing an appropriate and respectful relation to other human beings by analyzing a number of historical and cultural cases of relating to the other. The topics range from barbarism, racist stereotypes, female rhetoric, and vampires to philosophical analyses of Finnish writers like Eino Leino and Väinö Linna, and from lyrical depictions of pain to an “antitheodicist” reflection on Primo Levi’s Holocaust writing. A chapter on what it means to take a critical distance to other human beings in the context of the covid-19 pandemic concludes the volume. The authors approach these diverse issues (which are all aspects of the same basic problem of understanding and acknowledging otherness) from the perspective of an interdisciplinary humanistic reflection integrating literary analysis and philosophical argumentation.Book Details
Finnish Outsiders. The Narration of Existential Feelings in Prose Fiction of the 1950s
This study explores the narration of existential feelings, or feelings of being in the world, in post-war Finnish prose fiction. The book presents five case studies which address modern individuals’ struggles in boundary situations of their lives. Rigorous readings of the works of Kerttu-Kaarina Suosalmi, Lassi Nummi, Marko Tapio, Tyyne Saastamoinen and Eeva-Liisa Manner all show the influence of French existentialism and its predecessors on post-war Finnish modernism for the first time in literary studies. The outsider figures and their experiences of the absurd, which have enticed the cultural imagination since ancient cults and the Book of Job, connect to the atmosphere of shared melancholy in post-war Finnish culture and society.
The study participates in the rich contemporary debates on the effects of literature by focusing on less-discussed aspects of bodily feeling, affect, emotion and mood in late Finnish modernism. The book’s methodological contribution to narrative theory is that it combines a phenomenological analysis of reading with a rhetorical theory of narrative and politically informed, multidisciplinary emotion studies. The five case studies show how modernist outsider prose fiction in Finland resorts to irony, metafiction, allegory and the imaginative to generate ethically challenging narrative tension and an ambivalence of negative and positive emotion in readers. The opposing impulses of the aesthetic response produce an openness of interpretation. This openness provides us with the possibility of a more complex cultural understanding of emotion and ethics in the lives of strangers within literature and outside it.Book Details
Kalle Päätalo through the eyes of researchers
The Finnish novelist Kaarlo (Kalle) Alvar Päätalo’s (1919–2000) main work, the Iijoki series, consists of 26 novels (comprising ca. 17 000 pages) and was written in 1971–1998. In this book the text corpus in Kielipankki concerning Päätalo’s works is introduced to the readers, as well as the possibilities of digital text mining.
This book includes scientific articles concerning the works of Kalle Päätalo. It also gives ideas for the research that can be carried out in the future. The authors of this book are researchers in the fields of history, linguistics and literature, respectively. The research results presented in this book speak for the fact that the Iijoki series is a significant source material for future research, for example from the point of view of oral history, language variation, metalanguage, swearing and the reader’s reception. The possibilities for future research seem to be quite plentiful.Book Details