Jump to: navigation, search

Abstract Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

Portrayal of a woman writer: Aino Kallas’s biography of Lydia Koidula (1915)

In my paper I will highlight women writers functioning as cultural mediators between small cultures at the turn of the 20th century by presenting the case of Aino Kallas (1878–1956), a Finnish-Estonian woman writer. Born to a nationalist, distinguished, educated home in Finland, and married to an Estonian folklorist in 1900, her case interestingly shows women writers’ activities in the cultural life of these nations. After moving to Tartu in 1903, Kallas chose an active role as a mediator between her two home countries as she picked up the material for her literary work from the legends and ballads of Estonian culture, but wrote in Finnish and for both the Finnish and Estonian public. She became a canonised, important literary figure both in Finland and Estonia.

In my paper I will take a closer look on the biography she wrote on the Estonian nationalist poet Lydia Koidula. It carries a strong nationalist tone in it, but it can also be read from a perspective which allows us to look at the ways Kallas constructed her literary identity against women’s literary traditions. In this psychological and quite modern biography, Kallas relates her own literary crisis closely to the life of Koidula. The biography offers an interesting example on women’s early biographical traditions and shows the ways women used biography as a means to write women’s history.

AsK, October 2012

Personal tools