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Viola Capkova

Finnish Women Writers as Translators and Mediators of Writing by European Women at the Turn of the 18th and the 19th Century

In my presentation, I will offer some insights into the ways Finnish women writers mediated (in their translations, book reviews, or in their original works) writing by women writers from other European countries in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. I will outline a broader overview with more examples, but shall concentrate on two cases: the Realist-Naturalist writer Minna Canth (1844–1897), and the Symbolist-Decadent writer L. Onerva (1882–1972).

Both these writers contributed (as translators, critics and as creative writers) considerably to the way Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism and Decadence were received, understood and developed in Finland. Canth and Onerva engaged in intense dialogue with the 19th century European literature (mostly French, but also from other European countries, namely from Scandinavia), focusing, in their own works, on the "women's question" and on topics concerning life of women. They developed Finnish variants of genres as the Naturalist "melodrama of demand“ or the Decadent artist novel. The most apparent intertextual dialogue in Canth's and Onerva's work happens with texts written by men, as it has been traditionally emphasized in literary criticism; also the works translated by them into Finnish were mostly (though not only) works authored by men. The more careful intertextual analysis of Canth's and Onerva's writings shows specific traces of influence by and confluence with the texts by women writers from other European countries and their strategies to shape and develop the above mentioned genres.

SvD, September 2011

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