Friday, 30 October 2009

A Man Called Haavikko

In Hbl, Pia Ingström reviews a new biography of the Finnish poet Paavo Haavikko. An excerpt from the review [my tr.]:
All autumn two men have been fighting in public over the spiritual estate of Paavo Haavikko. During Haavikko’s last year, his – self-appointed? – spiritual son Mauno Saari worked on his biography of the poet, in close cooperation with the aged giant. After his father’s death in October 2008 the fleshly son, Heikki Haavikko, tried to the last to prevent Saari from publishing the book, among other things claiming that as Haavikko’s heir he should share the copyright in the text, which is based primarily on Saari’s interviews with his father.

In a long article published in Helsingin Sanomat’s monthly supplement (October 3), Minna Lindgren describes the febrile attempts of Mauno Saari and his wife, Pirkko Turpeinen, to make themselves indispensable in the care of the increasingly ailing Haavikko... In a detailed interview for the weekly magazine Apu (October 7) Saari for his part tells how the son did his best to isolate his father from his friends Saari and Turpeinen during his final months.

The book, A Man Called Haavikko, appeared in early October, and Saari managed to include much of this autumn's public quarrel between its covers. The result is a sordid soap from the heights of cultural life, and a thrilling combination of high and low. Somewhere in the middle are a couple of hundred pages of the essay-like “conversational biography” the book was once intended to be, with Saari as administrator of Haavikko’s spiritual testament and chronicler of a life that contained both greatness and tragedy.
Hannu Marttila has more here.
See also in this blog: Finland as a question, Russia as reply

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