Author: Finland can be an example for Estonia in many ways

Frans Emil Sillanpää's
Frans Emil Sillanpää's "Fallen Asleep As Young" Source: Klassikaraadio

The second program of Tõnu Õnnepalu's book series "Recognitions" is dedicated to the novel "Fallen Asleep As Young" (1931) by the only Finnish Nobel laureate Frans Eemil Sillanpää. Among other things, Õnnepalu also reflected on the points of contact between Finnish and Estonian life.

The main character of Sillanpää's novel, Silja, is the last child of a family, who loses her home and parents, serves strangers and dies on a beautiful summer day. Although the book is about the fate of an orphan and the activity takes place during the Finnish Civil War, Õnnepalu said that the novel has a charming, bright storyline.

"Sillanpää's work focuses on the Finnish Civil War and the world of the deprived, the poor, the incompetent. In the novel, we see the Civil War through the eyes of a young girl who does not belong to either side. Sillanpää himself is from a poor family, but has climbed the ladder with the help of his education. He is no longer among the poor, but he cannot be fully identified with the "better" society of which he is now a part," Õnnepalu said.

"It seems that by the 1930s long novels had exhausted themselves, after Proust and Joyce there is not much left to say in the great novel, although they are still written today. Before and after the Second World War, the short, ascetic novel flourished, and Sillanpää's novel is one example of that. Reasonably, Sillanpää also became the only Nobel Prize winner of the Finns in 1939," he said.

"Finnish literature has been very close to us through the ages, just like the country is close to us. More than any other country, Finland could be a direct example to us in many things. The Estonian government could have this kind of department, the Finnish Imitation Department, which would investigate how is life organized there. Unfortunately, Estonia hasn't really followed the example of Finland."

"Fallen Asleep As Young" is literature from a past, lost world, but in some mysterious way, it still has a fresh and exciting effect. And it is also real summer reading, a summer novel."

Tõnu Õnnepalu's series "Recognitions" will be on Klassikaraadio on Sunday at 9.05 a.m. and on Wednesday at 21 p.m.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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