Hannu Salama Kai Laitinen - Essay

Kai Laitinen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[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 naturalism. [Minä, Olli ja Orvokki] is written, perhaps still more consciously, in the same style. As before, Salama often makes use of dialogue, skillfully reproducing the shades of colloquial language. Especially splendid are the drinking scenes—a description of a summer night party in a country villa, and a report on a trip to Stockholm by a group of drunken Finnish tourists.

The novel has been critized by some reviewers for being too long. This is partly true, but on the other hand, the repetition of a few scenes and idle talk is a conscious trick of the writer. The book is composed like a screw, and this structure also expresses something essential of the life and situation of the characters. (pp. 624-25)

Kai Laitinen, "Finno-Ugric and Baltic Languages: 'Kenttäläinen käy talossa'," in Books Abroad (copyright 1968 by The University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 42, No. 4, Autumn, 1968, pp. 624-25.