Critical Work in English on Finnish Literature
Finnish North American Literature Association
The list below provides an overview of work in this area and is not meant to be
comprehensive. Instead, it is meant to form a starting point of study.
Kemilainen, Aira. Finns in the Shadow of the "Aryans": Race Theories and
Racism. Helsinki: Finnish Historical Society, 1998.
Kemilainen's work examines the anthropological history of the Finns as they were
constructed as descendants of Scythians, Turanians or Mongolians. Her work
begins by reiterating questions that were posed regarding the origins of the
Finnish people and in an examination of the generation of race, linguistic, and
anthropological theories that helped to support long-running debates about the
origins of Finnish people. Finally, modern genetics solve the question and Finns
are located properly as "old Europeans." The implications of the real Finnish
origins are discussed in the final section.
Klinge, Matti. Let Us Be Finns: Essays on History. Helsinki, Otava, 1990.
Klinge's work reflects on Finnish and Nordic identity and "the forces behind
Finland's development into an independent state" (Back cover). His essays bring a
historical perspective to the study of Finnish culture.
Lewis, Richard. Finland: Cultural Lone Wolf. Yarmouth, Maine; Boston, MA; and
London, England: Intercultural Press, 2005.
Richard Lewis draws on his years of intercultural experience with Finland and
Finnish in this excellent text that seeks to explain clearly and in common terms the
customs and lifestyle of contemporary Finns. Lewis was knighted by President
Ahtisaari for his services to Finland that have spanned some fifty years.
Moyne, Ernest J. Raising the Wind: The Legend of Lapland and Finland Wizards
in Literature. Edited by Wayne R. Kime. Newark, New Jersey: University of
Delaware Press, 1981.
Ernest Moyne was scholar of Scandinavian cultural heritage in America. In this text,
he examines the manifestations of Finland and Lapland Witches in history and
English and American literature. It is a well-documented scholarly text.
Schoolfield, George C. A History of Finland's Literature. Vol. 4 of Histories of
Scandinavian Literature. Lincoln, Nebraska, and London, England: University of
Nebraska Press in cooperation with the American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1998.
This text is designed to provide a firm foundation in the history of Finnish literature
published both in Finnish and in Swedish. The text is divided into sections on
Finnish-language Literature, beginning with oral poetry and the Kalevala and the
Kanteletar, and moving through the various periods to culmination in the Period of
Independence from 1917 to 1960 and the Period of Independence from 1960 to
1990. The Finland-Swedish Literature begins with Jons Budde's Book and
continues through the periods of National Romanticism, the Sense of Minority, the
Age of Modernity from 1916 to 1960, and ending with the period of Startling
Growth from 1960 to 1990. Finally, the text culminates with a section on the
development of Children's Literature.
Varpio, Yrjo. Land of the North Star: An Introduction to Finnish Literature and
Culture. Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press, 1999.
This text introduces some of the "characteristic features of Finnish culture and
Finnish thinking and therefore also to the role that Finland's eastern, western, and
southern neighbours have played in the development of Finnish culture and
thought. The central role is given to writers and literature and to language and to
their role in shaping Finnish cultural and national identity" (Preface 7).
Virtanen, Keijo, Richard Impola, and Tapio Onnela, editors. Finnish
Literature in North America: Papers presented at the First Two Symposia on
Finnish Literature in North America. Turku, Finland: Institute of History, Cultural
History, University of Turku in association with the Finnish North American
Literature Society of Turku, 1994.
This text examines the reception of Finnish literature in North America. The intent
is to promote research and scholarship in this area of literature and to enhance its
scholarly reception. It also helps the scholar of Finnish North American Literature
to understand and identify the Finnish cultural elements in the Finnish North
American works that they study.