Johannes Linnankoski
(Pseudonym of Johannes Vihtori Peltonen, 1869-1913):
Literature in English & Esperanto

Compiled by Ralph Dumain

Johannes Linnankoski

Johannes Linnankoski (1869-1913) - pseudonym for Johannes Vihtori Peltonen

Johannes Linnankoski - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Finnish Writers: Mr. Vihtori Peltonen (Johannes Linnankoski) (YouTube video)

Linnankoski, Johannes. The Song of the Blood-Red Flower [translation of Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta]; translated from Finnish by W. Worster. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company, 1921.

__________________. Ikuinen taistelu [Eternal Struggle] Porvoossa: W. Söderström, 1903. Finnish; no known English translation.

Meyer, John Jacob. “A Modern Finnish Cain,” Modern Philology, Volume 7, pp. 221-243.

Buchwald, Eva. Ideals of Womanhood in Literature of Finland and Russia 1894-1914. PhD dissertation, University of London.

Includes mention or discussion of Linnankoski’s Simson ja Delita (1911, ‘Samson and Delilah’), Jeftan tytär (1911, ‘Jephtah’s Daughter’), Kirot (1908, ‘Curses’), Ikuinen taistelu (1903, ‘The eternal struggle’), Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta (1905, The Song of the Blood-Red Flower, 1920), Excerpts on Ikuinen taistelu:

The male creative act is also given symbolic force in many portraits which are associated not so much with art directly, as with the process of original invention, such as in Andreev's Mysl' or Linnankoski's Ikuinen taistelu (1903, 'The eternal struggle'). The main protagonists in both plays seek to create an exceptional 'idea'. The thematic focus is on superior intellect and individual will, and reflects the defiant spirit of the artist. [214]

As with Eve and Adam, the difficult acceptance of knowledge often involves the concretization of sexuality. In both Andreev's Chërnye maski (1910, The Black Maskers, 1915) and Linnankoski's Ikuinen taistelu, the passions of the ego are projected as seductive and deceptive creatures in human, female form. [217]

Transition to the world of magic or dream in Sologub requires the presence of the witch-like mother. She is at the source of the creation of original idea.This dimension of woman in the cosmic structure is powerfully present in the works of Linnankoski. In his play Ikuinen taistelu, which retells the myth of Cain and Abel, the creative act is part of the struggle between good and evil. In an early version of the play, Cain believes he has ‘seen a strange glint in mother's eye: doubt, suspicion – suppressed anguish’. This is a hint of the knowledge Eve brought, and which marks Cain. Ada now takes on Eve's creative urge. She craves a more fulfilling destiny than the monotony of their harmonious existence, and experiences Cain's restlessness. Their relationship to creation remains very different however. In Act 2, Cain invents fire, an act which for him means 'to be a true hero' by which, 'the individual does not die either', as his act will live on after him. He insists that he is the initiator of his action, although Abel claims that he simply executed a God-given idea. Ada, later in Act 4, discovers her creative urge in the child she will bear. The child, which Ada suggests will be a boy, brings the hope of a new beginning. Cain, with his fire, and his subsequent act of murder, asserts his capacity for self-generated, invention. He attempts to recreate the original act of God, While in motherhood Ada will recreate Cain. [218]

In Linnankoski's play Ikuinen taistelu, the author uses a number of 'masked' men and women to represent the spirits of Lucifer tempting Cain to commit an act of evil. In his study of the work, Werner Söderhjelm describes the scene as the temptation of Cain by Lucifer's 'mostly female servants presenting different types of vices, recalling perhaps Dante's Inferno'. Söderhjelm thus draws attention to the female rather than the male spirits in his desire to convey both evil and temptation, qualities implicit in the female form since our knowledge of Eve. Söderhjelm is actually mistaken however. Linnankoski’s spirits are in fact dominated by men both in number and in number of lines of dialogue.

It is difficult to say whether Söderhjelm has been revealingly inobservant or observant in his remark. It is true that Linnankoski has not numerically shown a bias for woman as an image of evil. What he has done, however, is to create a visually more charismatic and emphatic image of sensuality in the female spirits. The spirits are described, with their gender specified, in the stage direction footnotes of Act 1. Some of the men as well as the women have visually dramatic costumes, such as the fiery red and yellow figure of the male Tulipunainen, whose name means crimson and who represents 'Hate' or 'Anger'. Nevertheless, the women's imagery is visually arresting in a specifically sensual manner. In the female spirit who has the most lines (and therefore stage presence) of all the spirits, Linnankoski deliberately plays on a familiar image of sexually related, female evil and temptation: Eve. The character Täti Liero, who represents 'Treachery', has a woman's head and a serpent's body. Her name also includes a reference to a worm (liero). The other female spirit with a central stage role is Hekumatar, whose name and function represent smouldering, sexual Lust. She is described as 'a young, magnificent woman almost naked with hair down to her knees like a gown'. In Act 2 she holds the stage with a dance and song. These are the two most dominant female spirits. The third, without physical description, is Repokorva (‘Fox-ear’) representing 'Curiosity'.

While the female figures signify Treachery, Lust and Curiosity, the male spirits who dominate the Act represent Pride, Conceit, Doubt, Hate, and Blasphemy. The pointedly sensual female presence therefore embodies the characteristics of Eve in her role as the temptation to the Fall. The male spirits reflect the elements of Cain's defiance of God's will and his determination to perform his own act of creation by inventing fire. More than simply muse to Cain's idea in this case, the feminine element is used to suggest the appeal of evil. The male spirits command the dialogue, the female the visual impression on stage. It is through the implication of an inherent pornography of the female form that evil becomes fused with desire (eroticism). It is this which Söderhjelm notices, whether intentionally or not. Thus he concludes that Lucifer's evil spirits are 'mostly female', a statement which is misleading, technically and literally, but then again not, metaphorically. The female form in Ikuinen taistelu is a metaphor for evil. It both provokes and symbolizes Cain's moral and creative degeneracy.

In Linnankoski's play, the feminine form exists as a supernatural image, which is distinguishable from the image of 'real' woman. The characters of Eve and Ada in the play are common stereotypes of ordinary, invisible woman: mother and wife respectively. [288-290]



Johannes Linnankoski

Batalo pri la domo Heikkilä

Batalo pri la Domo Heikkilä, tradukis Vilho Suonio Setälä.  Helsingforso: Eldona Akcia Societo Otava, 1919. 60 paĝoj  (Finna Biblioteko Esperanta ; 1)

La kanto pri fajr-ruĝa floro, tradukis E. Kuoppala kaj J. Jäntti. Kuopio: Finna Esperanto-Librejo, 1987.

Fejes, Márton. “Efektiviĝo de evolutendencoj de la beletra lingvo — laŭ analiza komparo de tri tradukoj el ‘La Tragedio de l’ Homo’,” Hungara Vivo, 1987, n-ro 2, p. 54-57.

Setälä, Vilho. “La tragedio de l’ homo—la eterna lukto,” Norda Prismo, 1969, n-ro 1, p. 9-13.

SHI Chengtai. Al horizonto de la historio de la homaro — pri “La Tragedio de L’ Homo”, Riveroj, 22, novembro 1998, p. 18-23.

Sőtér, István. “Imre Madách kaj La Tragedio de l’ Homo” en La Tragedio de l’ Homo: Drama Poemo de Imre Madách, tradukis Kálmán Kalocsay (Budapest: Corvina, 1965), p. 5-14, 253.

La tragedio de l’ homo—la eterna lukto” de Vilho Setälä

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