[Kenttäläinen käy Talossa ("Kenttäläinen Visits a Farm") and Minä, Olli ja Orvokki ("I, Olli and Orvokki")] are well-written, personal works. Kenttäläinen käy talossa contains several studies of lonely or misunderstood persons…. In the central short story, which has given the title to the book, one meets several persons from [Salama's] novel Juhannustanssit. In two important short stories, the protagonist is a writer, to some extent identified with Salama himself; they are excellent stories on a writer's depression period and show indirectly how wounded Salama has been by the process [of his indictment and sentencing for blasphemy]. (p. 624)
[Minä, Olli ja Orvokki] could be considered a report on human evil and corruption. Olli is a rich playboy, coaxed by the "I" and his rival to invest his money in their enterprises. Everybody plays with double cards, hiding unpleasant facts, trying to show himself in as positive a light as possible. All the persons live in the air of flattering, lying, and lack of confidence. One central theme is the relation of the "I"—also a writer—to his parents and old friends. In the end, the "I" suffers defeat and leaves the city, beginning a new vicissitude in his life, understanding that the persons who break down leave behind "mourning, a little light."
Juhannustanssit ["A Midsummer Dance"] had struck many readers with its frank...
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Salama certainly does not romanticize his Tampere communists [in Siinä näkijä missä tekijä]. They are rough and tough; every second word they use is a bad one—but then Salama has long been an acknowledged and dogged master of obscenity. And his communists are unreliable—there is even a double agent.
The title of this book is an apothegm from old Finnish law which implies that there is no crime without an eyewitness. The sabotage and other disruptive activities of the Finnish communists during World War II are constantly revealed to the police. This makes the story exciting enough. And there is a certain fascination in the deathbed apologia of Jaska, the traitor who has been leaking information yet claims he has tried to protect his fellow communists. The style of this long section is rambling and Faulknerian; perhaps long-windedness is unavoidable in Salama's monumental, brick-upon-brick style of writing.
An impressive feature of this book is the author's method of revealing character. Many of the chapters are written from the point of view of a handful of central figures. This gives opportunity for contrasting—even contradictory—pictures of their own and each others' personalities. It is not a new approach, but it is masterfully handled here. One must admire the skill with which Salama has drawn the complex threads of his theme together, as well as the thoroughness, patience and courage with which...
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Hannu Salama's work and his development as a writer reflect the relationship between literature and society in Finland. Salama was born in 1936 in the industrial city of Tampere, which since the fifties has been Finland's second literary capital—the retreat of the realists, of those opposed to the Helsinki modernists. Earlier Tampere writers like Lauri Viita … and Väinö Linna … represent the "proletarian writer" type in Nordic literature….
Hannu Salama did not join the Tampere group. Having dropped out of school, lonely and fearing hereditary schizophrenia, he shut himself up in the attic of his proletarian home in order to learn to be a writer…. He was able to view his own unusualness objectively in his first novel Se tavallinen tarina (The Usual Story; 1961), which describes how a young girl is driven to mental illness. The work can be interpreted in terms of R. D. Laing's existential psychology, for it describes how depersonalization is encouraged in everyday life, especially in a family with a history of schizophrenia, to the point where the sensitive individual is forced outside the organizational lines of society.
By 1963, after the publication of three works, Salama began to enjoy an established position as one of Finland's promising young modernists. But the following year he published Juhannustanssit (A Midsummer Dance), a "well-made" novel telling the story of ritual midsummer...
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