Lukemisesta ja klassikoista – Reading and Classics

Olin itse lapsena kovin kranttu lukija. Opin lukemaan hyvin aikaisin, mutten jotenkin vain innostunut kirjoista. Ihastuin lukemiseen vasta lukioaikoina, jolloin ahminkin pino tolkulla suomalaisen kirjallisuuden klassikoita Waltarin Appelsiininsiemenestä ja Sillanpään Nuorena Nukkuneesta Lehtosen Putkinotkoon.

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Elwoodin rantakaistale – Elwood beachside

Olen yhä kovin kranttu lukija. Jos kirja ei tempaa minua mukaansa heti ensimmäisiltä sivuilta en ole riittävän pitkäjänteinen lukeakseni kirjaa loppuun. Tällä hetkellä ahmin Virpi Hämeen-Anttilan ”Tapetinvärinen” kirjaa, joka on muuten oivallinen kerronnallinen pläjäys. Se kertoo tarinaa naisesta ja hänen ystävästään, mutta on vaikeaa sanoa kuka on hullu ja onko ystävää edes olemassa, kerrassaan koukuttavaa kerrontaa. Muutama luku on vielä jäljellä enkä malta odottaa kuinka kirja päättyy.

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Tyttäreni on hyvin samanlainen. Häntä on vaikea saada innostumaan kirjojen lukemisesta. Mitkään modernit kirjat moderneine printtikuvineen eivät häntä kiinnosta, hän tykkää klassikoista ja maalatuista kauniista kuvista. Vein tyttäreni kirjaston tarinatuokioon viime perjantaina enkä ole nähnyt häntä niin tylsistyneenä aikoihin. Siellä luettiin jotain tyhjänpäiväistä kalakirjaa, jossa ei ollut juonta sitten lainkaan. Tyttäreni on vaativa kuuntelija ja vain harvoin valikoidut kirjat kiinnostavat häntä. Näitä ovat klassiset suomalaiset Aino-kirjat, Muumi -kirjat ja ranskalaiset Babar-kirjat. Babar on ehdoton hitti ja ne ovatkin kielellisesti varsin haastavia ja tarinoiltaan mielenkiintoisia. Lisäksi erityinen lempikirja on vanha klassikko ”Pikkulilli Isojalka”, joka oli myös omassa lapsuudenperheessäni se ykköskirja.

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Aino kirjat – Finnish Aino classics

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Pikku Lilli Isojalka – Little Lily Bigfoot

Viime viikonloppuna menin täällä muutaman kuukauden välein järjestettävälle lasten vaate ja tavarakirppikselle. Sieltä löysin ikivanhat klassikot Pinokkion, Hannun ja Kertun sekä Jaakko ja Pavunvarsi -kirjan. Kirjat olivat kauniisti klassisesti kuvitettuja 3-5 vuotiaille suunnatulla tekstin määrällä. Ostin kirjat muutamalla dollarilla ja jestas mikä hitti ne ovatkaan olleet siitä saakka. Niitä on luettu, aamuisin, päivisin, iltaisin, jatkuvasti, yksin ja autettuna. En ole koskaan nähnyt tytärtäni niin haltioituneena. Siispä vanhat klassikot iskevät. Eikä ihme, niissä on noitia, jotka syövät pikkupoikia, jättiläisiä, jotka syövät ihmisiä, taikapavunvarsi, henkiinheräävä puunukke. Jotakin niin paljon enemmän kuin Peppa Pig tai Maisa Hiiri.

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Read with Mummy -library for 3-5 year olds.

En tiedä tuntuuko teistä muista samalta, mutta uusista tarinoista puuttuu sitä hullua mielikuvitusta sellaista todellisuuden pakoa. Lisäksi monet moderneista kirjoista ovat hyvin sensuroitua ja sellaista pumpulitarinaa. Toista ovat vanhat klassikot: Hannun ja Kertun isä hylkää lapsensa metsään, Jaakon äiti on leski, Pinokkion isä on lapseton ja vaimoton ja toivoo kovasti lasta. Elämän raadolliset kuvaukset ovat osa näitä tarinoita. Ne herättävät kysymyksiä ja saavat lapsen miettimään. Lisäksi pelottavat noidat ja jättiläiset tai joutuminen valaan vatsaan ovat kiehtovia lapsen mielessä.

Kovan internet etsinnän tuloksena löysin samaan ihanaan klassikkokirjasarjaan kuuluvat Ruma Ankanpoika, Tuhkimo, Punahilkka ja Lumikki sadut. Tilasin ne välittömästi! En malta odottaa, että pääsemme nauttimaan lukuhetkistä näiden klassikoiden parissa.

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I have always been a very fussy reader. I learned to read really early but I was not interested in books. It was not until high school years when I started reading without someone forcing me and during those years I read through all the Finnish literature classics I could get to my hands from literature Nobel prize winner F.E. Sillanpää to Mika Waltari classics.

I am still a very fussy reader, if the book does not attract me right from the beginning I have no patience to read it through. Currently I am reading a Finnish novel written by Virpi Hämeen-Anttila called ”Tapetinvärinen” (The Colour of a Wallpaper). It is genius. It tells about a female author and her relationship with her childhood friend but whilst reading the story a reader starts suspecting either of the ladies is mentally crazy but it is hard to tell which one and whilst the book approaches the end reader starts suspecting maybe the friend does not even exist…The book is extremely captivating and I cannot wait to read the last few chapters I have left.

My daughter is very similar to me. It is hard to find books that she is interested in reading. I took her to the story time at the local library last week Friday and I have never seen her so bored. The story they read was extremely boring modern story about fish with no storyline or exciting plot. My daughters favourite books are Finnish classic Aino books, Moomin books and French Babar books. She also loves the old classic ”Pikku Lilli Isojalka” (Little Lily Bigfoot) that is a story about a tiny witch with big feet. This used the be the hit book in my childhood as well.

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Babar books..We have borrowed almost all Babars they have in the local library.

Last weekend I went to the children´s second hand cloth and book market and I found the old classics Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk for only a few dollars. The books are part of the Read with Mummy library for 3-5 year olds and the illustrations in the books are so beautiful and classic. They have been my daughter´s favourite ever since. We have read them in the morning, during the day and evening, she has been reading them by herself and with us. It is clear these old classics are everlasting. The witches who eat little boys, ogres who eat human, wood puppets who become alive. So much better than Peppa Pig or Maisy Mouse.

I don´t know if you feel the same way but the modern stories seem to lack that endless imagination. Everything is very protected and marshmallow. Old stories have the sad side of the life visible. The father of Hansel and Gretel left children to the forest for wild animals to find as they had no food to eat. Jack´s mum is a widow, Pinocchio´s dad is lonely and sad without a wife and child. These cruel details raise questions and make children think. In addition to this witches and ogres are intriguing for small children, safe fear through the books.

After the long internet hunt I found Cinderella, The Red Riding Hood, Ugly Duckling and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that are part of this same library. I bought them all and cannot wait to read these classics with my daughter. As a tip if you live in England you can buy these books so cheaply on Amazon, under a pound or maybe one or two. I warmly recommend. They are so well illustrated and just the perfect amount of text for toddlers!

No doubt I am enjoying my maternity leave!

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A bit over 37 weeks and a bit over 2 weeks to the due date.

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Book tips for Christmas holidays

Lately I have been trying to make an effort and read a bit more. I used to love reading before the baby but the past two years has been tricky and I have not been able to find much time for books. I have been either too tired to read or there has been someone small who makes sure I cannot sit down and concentrate on a book.

Since having the baby I have noticed one thing in terms of my book taste. Before the baby I used to read rather heavy and thought provoking novels, I used to love French existentialists like Sartre and de Beauvoir. Now I am more keen to read funny, comical and cheerful books. My latest read has been The Rosie Project.

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This book is hilarious and gives you guaranteed laughter. The book has a male narrator, the main character is an Asperger personality. He is extremely smart but his social skills are miles from what regular people would think is ”normal” or ”appropriate” behaviour. I don’t want to reveal any story details here but it is worth mentioning that the book concentrates on his wife finding project that from every aspect is just extremely entertaining. I recommend Rosie Project for anyone’s holiday read. The book has been the second funniest after the newest Bridget Jones Mad about the boy book.

Whilst I am writing about my favourite reads maybe I could list some of the best books I have read..

My top 10 reads (these are not in order by the way as I was not able to decide):

1. Puhdistus (Purge) writted by Sofi Oksanen, also made as a film. Historical and extremely thought provoking.  It tells Estonian and Russian relationships from female perspective. Rough read but the Finnish language is lyric and the book is amazingly well written. The book has been translated into English.

2. Nuorena Nukkunut (The Maid Silja) written by F.E. Sillanpää, the Finnish author who got Nobel Prize for literature back in 1930s. This book is telling touchingly about Finnish rural world back in early 20th century. The book has been translated into English.

3. Pilgrimage (Pyhiinvaellus) by Paulo Coelho. I am not a big fan of Coelho but this book was amazing.

4. Memoirs of a dutiful daughter (Perhetytön muistelmat) by Simone de Beuvoir. I loved this book, it is philosophical, tells about Paris back in 20s and 30s and gets reader to know Simone de Beauvoir’s character. This hit me hard in my 20s as I found so many personality similarities to de Beauvoir. This book gave me an urge to travel, see the world, be feminist and fight for my dreams.

5. The lady of Camellias (Kamelianainen) by Alexandre Dumas. I have always been weirdly fascinated by 19th century underground world, life of courtisans. This book is written with old beautiful language.

6. The Lover (Rakastaja) by Marguirite Duras. This book is just fascinating, touching and captivating.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dorian Grayn muotokuva) by Oscar Wilde. Classic.

8. Putkinotoko by Joel Lehtonen, a Finnish classic without comparison.

9. Appelsiinin siemen by Mika Waltari. This book touched me so hard when I was 19 that I wrote my essay in the matriculations examinations (A-levels) on this novel. It is about young love, a ballad for youth, encouragement to live your life like no tomorrow. Suuri Illusioni (Great Illusion) by the same author is amazing too. Waltari is famous for his world best selling novel The Egyptian, also made as a movie.

10. Sokkopeli by Virpi Hämeen-Anttila. A great, well written thriller, a perfect holiday read.

Now my next funny book is ”Beauty. What it is and how to retain it.” First published in Britain in 1873.  Guaranteed laughter but interesting too. What did a lady think and advise back in 1870s!

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Elegia by Eino Leino -Eino Leinon Elegia

It is unvbelievably nice to be surrounded by my own culture. I know it may sound lame but there is so much ”Finnishness” as I call it that cannot be explained to people who are not born and raised in Finland. Some of these things are music, poems and literature. Despite this I will try today, explain a bit of it and share something with you.

Last night I watched ”Vain Elämää” (trans. ”Life Only”)  series on TV with my sister. It is an amazing concept. The series has seven Finnish musicians appearing in it. They spend the whole day and evening  together and each episode concentrates on the music of one of the artists. They talk about their feelings, the musicians explain how they ended up writing the songs, what they experienced in their lives at that time. It is touching, the songs open up so differently when you hear the stories. Some songs that you throught would happy songs were written in the middle of anxiety, fear and desperation. It is also so impressive to see different versions of the classic songs that are familiar to every Finn. Sometimes the songs are like different songs as they are intepreted so differently from the orginal. I have had tears in my eyes when watching the episodes. Particularly shaking was the episode where the poem from my most formative years of high school was intepreted. The song is based on the poem of Eino Leino, famous Finnish poet. Here is the new version of the song intepreted by Paula Vesala from PMMP. Here is the original song intepreted by Vesa-Matti Loiri.

 I loved Finnish language lessons, literature and writing. I guess I went through the period in my life when I was reading books every minute of my life and I was dwelling in the emotions, writing was to express them. I still remember sitting in the class room back in 2002. My mother language teacher was a musician herself, she was in the music group called ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” (trans. ”Bitter Virgins”). It was cold and dark winter day. She was wearing her cool looking leather trousers, she had black hair, strong black eye make-up and purple cardigan as usual. She stood there in front of the class room and started to pronounce this poem called Elegia. It describes youth and how it appears to you when you are older and you look back in time. I was young then but I was still able to imagine how this text would touch and feel when you are older and reading it. Like Finnish poems typically it is full of sadness, simplicity and melancholy but it is so lyric that later on it was written as a song too. I wanted to share this text with you. Finnish poetry is pretty rough.

Youth fading like a rolling stream,

strings of gray push from the golden beam.

In vain, O in vain try I and seize the hour;

no joy in friends, my wine’s going sour.

 

Gone are my proud days of will.

My spirit burned; now it lies still.

From all vales I rose; O why see I not another mile?

My heart’s wish: less pain but a humble while.

 

O true I know, peace there is deep in the mold.

The path of a seeker did no mellow rest hold;

stormy clouds cloaking the sun going down,

a fainting red burns like the deepest wound.

 

Gone in the sea is the blossom of my dreams.

I’m a penniless man; dear the price of the song, it seems.

My all I gave, but a while did I brave,

a grave heart did the gold of my dreams pay.

 

Tired I am, O my heart to the depths!

More it is than a man and he takes?

Or I’m of them with the will and no more?

All winnings void, yield an undying throe.

 

So for none did I bear all trouble and ail,

broken chains, burnt dearest ships of sail?

Now I did fall when the demand was my all?

Freezing to ice, scarred to answer the call?

 

Hopeless the struggle to the divine gate,

heavenly song to its child coming too late.

Queen the winter tears me down with these quills.

In the quiet of the gorge this dying beast stills

(Finnish original by Eino Leino)

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Rakastan ”Vain Elämää” sarjaa. Konsepti on oivallinen. On uskomatonta kuinka musiikki voi aueta uudella tavalla, kun kuulee tarinan laulun synnystä. Itselleni yksi koskettavimpia kappaleita sarjassa on ollut Vesa-Matti Loirin alkuperäinen tulkinta Eino leinon runosta Elegia. Se oli yksi nuoruusvuosieni koskettavimmista kirjallisista teksteistä. Kun kuulin Paula Vesala version kyseisestä kappaleesta kylmät väreet kulkivat ihoani pitkin. Muistan yhä kuunnelleeni alkuperäistä versiota toistolla ollessani 18-vuotias ja tunnelmoidessani nuoruutta ja sen katoavaisuutta. Rakastin  äidinkieltä ja kirjallisuutta koulussa. Opettajani kuului ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” yhtyeeseen ja oli melkoinen taiteilija sielu. Muistan yhä, kun eräällä tunnilla pimeänä talvipäivänä hän lausui luokan edessä Eino Leinon Elegia, jota seurasi hiljaisuus. Eihän nuoruutta voisi koskettavammin juuri kuvata.

Haihtuvi nuoruus niinkuin vierivä virta.

Langat jo harmaat lyö elon kultainen pirta.

Turhaan, oi turhaa tartun ma hetkehen kiini,

riemua ei suo rattoisa seura, ei viini.

 

Häipyvät taakse tahtoni ylpeät päivät.

Henkeni hurmat ammoin jo jälkehen jäivät.

Notkosta nousin. Taasko on painua tieni?

Toivoni ainoo: tuskaton tuokio pieni.

 

Tiedän ma: rauha mulle on mullassa suotu.

Etsijän tielle ei lepo lempeä luotu,

pohjoinen puhuu, myrskyhyn aurinko vaipuu,

jää punajuova: kauneuden voimaton kaipuu.

 

Upposi mereen unteni kukkivat kunnaat.

Mies olen köyhä: kallit on laulujen lunnaat.

Kaikkeni annoin, hetken ma heilua jaksoin,

haavehen kullat mieleni murheella maksoin.

 

Uupunut olen, ah, sydänjuurihin saakka!

Liikaako lienee pantukin paatinen taakka?

Tai olen niitä, joilla on tahto, ei voima?

Voittoni tyhä, työn tulos tuntoni soima.

 

Siis oli suotta kestetyt, vaikeat vaivat,

katkotut kahleet, poltetut, rakkahat laivat?

Nytkö ma kaaduin, kun oli kaikkeni tarpeen?

Jähmetyn jääksi, kun meni haavani arpeen.

 

Toivoton taisto taivaan valtoja vastaan!

Kaikuvi kannel; lohduta laulu ei lastaan.

Hallatar haastaa, soi sävel sortuvin siivin.

Rotkoni rauhaan kuin peto kuoleva hiivin.

(Eino Leino)