Friday, August 23, 2013

History lite

One has to admire the ruthless, even carnivalistic cynicism of the makers of Downton Abbey: history is sanitized in such an obsessively careful way to be just enough to be saved into some semblance of realism by excellent acting and sharpish dialogue. Some viewers have enough background knowlegde to understand the essential unreality of the show, most probably don't. The more distant the epoch the easier the task of being credible without being true. The audience for this type of show wants a whiff of actual history, but nothing too unpleasant, too uncomfortable. Resulting in rather strange combinations of much fiction and little fact.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

And so the nest tree cried

I seem to be destined to introduce especially non-Anglo Saxon friendly Finnish novelists to the occasional native speakers reading this blog. Matti Pulkkinen is an inexplicably negleted writer of the post-war era - one of the absolute masters of Finnish prose. Probably it is this very singular greatness that has singled him out to this neglect and misunderstanding. A small country can't easily accommadate such artists, especially with such awkward (though admittedly largely mistaken) political views. Though of course I would also wonder whether his passionate summoning of the wilderness and the meagre, cruel North Karelian fields is enough to counter, to challenge the modern experience. In any case he is writing about the same subjects as T.S.Eliot, as Shakespeare was, about modern Western subjects though of course with such peculiarly eastern slant.

This will naturally remain a mystery to any non-Finnish speaker as there is no earthly way to translate the dialect filled text to any other language. Strange to think that such great, unlimited art will remain closed by language - I wonder what is the central cause here, maybe the precise relationship between the dialect (and its cultural context) and the official form of the language and the specific cultural context of this difference? (As you most certainly can in general translate great Finnish literature into other languages.)