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!