Finland 100: The Silent Decades

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
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Original language: Finnish
Translated to: Estonian
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Even though Finland preserved its independence in the upheavals of the Second World War, it is not to say that political tensions of the post-war period did not have an effect on the country. There is even a special term to describe Finland’s balancing act between the West and the East: finlandisation. The Finnish diplomat Max Jakobson writes that during the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Finnish President Mauno Koivisto would not allow Finland to take part in the meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Copenhagen. According to Koivisto, the declaration in support of the independence of the Baltic States, drafted by Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, was ‘too provocative’. The difference of opinion between Ellemann-Jensen and Koivisto reflected the difference of the geopolitical positions of the two countries, Jakobson writes. So Koivisto really did not have it easy! How did the political situation affect the literary relations between two kindred peoples – and to what extent were they untouched by it? This issue will be explored by a group of formidable female authors: writer and journalist Tuula-Liina Varis (1942), whose wonderful memoir Kilpikonna ja olkimarssalka talks about her passionate and complicated life with the Finnish poet Pentti Saarikoski; the writer, translator and politician Maimu Berg (1945), whose collection of short stories from last year is a highlight of recent Estonian literature, and writer and translator Sirpa Kähkönen (1964), whose historical novels with a focus on social issues have made her one of the most important Finnish authors today. The panel is moderated by Venla Hiidensalo and organised in collaboration with the Union of Finnish Writers.

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