Sunday, October 10, 2010

Flag Day! Aleksis Kivi Day

Today is Aleksis Kivi Day in Finland and I am sure the flags are flying in Turku.

Aleksis Kivi is one of the great literary founders of Finland. His gritty novel, Seven Brothers, caused a stir because it was written and published in Finnish. The first Finnish novel! My husband calls it the Ur Novel. He has actually read it!

Aleksis Kivi was born in 1834 as Aleksis Stenvall. He changed his name to the Finnish word kivi - stone - as part of the Finnish nationalist movement. It is an apt name because he is the bedrock of Finnish literature. He is credited with creating written Finnish. Before Seven Brothers, there was very little written Finnish. You can read more about the development of written Finnish here on my blog.

You can read more about Kivi here. It is striking to realize that after creating a literature that would lead to the recognition of Finland as an independent country, he died at the young age of 38. The article also explains that he never made it overseas, but he did make it to Turku!

Turku was a cultural center in Kivi's lifetime and remains a cultural center today. If you want to read more about Turku or plan your next Finnish vacation you can read the New York Times article about Turku as the 2011 European Capital of Culture here.

Turku still has a major role in the literary life of Finland. Writers are seemingly everywhere. I ran into Reijo Mäki in Turku. I would also see Riku Korhonen striding out of the library or through the kauppatori. Riku Korhonen was recently awarded a European Union prize for literature for his novel Lääkäriromani.

And here is a little video from a movie about Aleksis Kivi. I believe the music is Sibelius and it is shot in what I would say is the UR Finnish landscape!


  1. It is an apt name because he is the bedrock of Finnish literature.

    you put that so well :)

  2. Never heard of Aleksis Kivi, But you gave me idea of him.Seems like great.Looking forward to read more about him and his work.I am glad that Turku is now considered as the 2011 European Capital of Culture here.Nummisuutarit play is associated with Aleksis Kivi?Because i heard from my friends mouth about it.I ma not able to recall it properly.

    turku finland tourism

  3. Ranjeet, Nummisuutarit is a play by Kivi. In English, The Heath Cobblers, I think. It also seems to be called The Wedding Dance. It was first produced in 1864. Here is what I found on the web:


    From "The Heath Shoemakers": Esko's first and last intoxication
    Käänt. David Barrett et al.
    Teoksessa Tompuri, Elli (toim.), Voices from Finland: an anthology of Finlands verse and prose in English, Finnish and Swedish
    Helsinki 1947

    Heath cobblers: a comedy in five acts

    Käänt. Douglas Robinson
    St. Cloud 1993

    Kivi's most important literary works could be considered as beginning in the mid 1850s, with the play Nummisuutarit (The Wedding Dance) and ending with the play Margareta, which was published in 1871. The play Nummisuutarit, which came into being as the result of the development of the Finnish language, was awarded the State prize for literature in 1865 and is still today the most frequently performed play ever written in Finnish.

    Please let me know if you go to see the play.

  4. Ranjeet,

    Everything I posted in the comment about the play was from this website: