Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical source

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peeved
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by peeved » 03 Nov 2011 17:56

PBlitz wrote:Where Linna's hate for women auxiliaries stem from, I have no idea ???
Maybe Cpl Linna was embittered by a lack of success with the fairer sex; After all him being
the dirtiest man in the company (Tuntematon Rokka by Petri Sarjanen)
probably helped his case with the auxiliaries none.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Panssari Salama » 03 Nov 2011 18:06

peeved wrote:
PBlitz wrote:Where Linna's hate for women auxiliaries stem from, I have no idea ???
Maybe Cpl Linna was embittered by a lack of success with the fairer sex; After all him being
the dirtiest man in the company (Tuntematon Rokka by Petri Sarjanen)
probably helped his case with the auxiliaries none.

Markus
Dirty as per personal hygiene, or by mind? Or both? :milwink:
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Anne G, » 03 Nov 2011 20:46

PBlitz wrote: Where Linna's hate for women auxiliaries stem from, I have no idea ???
Linna as well as Rintala had a very conservative view of women: they were either madonnas or whores. The place of the "good" woman was at home and if came to the front, she lost her "purity". i.e. began to have promiscuisous sex which evidently was for a woman a greater sin than killing for men.

Perhaps more than that, Linna didn't so much describe an individual, real Lotta than the ideal of White Finland - the myth he wanted to smash.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Anne G, » 03 Nov 2011 20:57

PBlitz wrote: Given the extra toll reserves officers paid in casualties,
That was known beforehand from the German experiences in the WW1. That is told in his description of military sercice Siellä missä miehiä tehdään (There where men are made) by Mika Waltari. Waltari adds also that the "best families" were ready to give their sons. What he meant that reserve office were often students which wasn't common then. Waltari himself has a car accident while in the army and became a B-man.

In Nahkapeitturien linjalla by Paavo Rintala, there is a moving description how a 21-year ensign without life exprience at first feels himself insecure how he can lead grown-up-workmen, but how some of them help him in the beginning in Tolvajärvi.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 04 Nov 2011 00:04

Linna as well as Rintala had a very conservative view of women: they were either madonnas or whores.
There is, as I recall, only one lotta that has any kind of role in Unknown Soldier. She isn't described in a particularly flattering way, but that can hardly be taken as an expression of Linna's entire view of woman.

It is also worth remembering that In Petrosavodsk, Rokka, Hietanen and Vanhala befriend a local woman who is both well educated, intelligent, sexually virtuous and very sympathetic. The rest of what you mention must go on Rauno Mollberg's account.

With regard to the trilogy, Linna's woman are given the role that 99.9 pct. of women had at that time and in that social environment, and what else would you expect them to do? Work in the forest alongside the men? Even Jussi broke his back doing that. Or what about grabbing a gun and following the men into the trenches during the Winter War?

It was different times, and in my opinion Linna shows great respect for the incredibly hard and important work that women carried out in those days - which is more than most men did at the time and more than modern Feminists do nowadays.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Anne G, » 04 Nov 2011 09:16

Philip S. Walker wrote:
Linna as well as Rintala had a very conservative view of women: they were either madonnas or whores.
There is, as I recall, only one lotta that has any kind of role in Unknown Soldier. She isn't described in a particularly flattering way, but that can hardly be taken as an expression of Linna's entire view of woman.
The problem was there was only one lotta, so she became to represent all.
Philip S. Walker wrote: It is also worth remembering that In Petrosavodsk, Rokka, Hietanen and Vanhala befriend a local woman who is both well educated, intelligent, sexually virtuous and very sympathetic.
In other words, a virginal komsomol woman was comapared with a promiscuois lotta. That could call even a propagandistic view.

There is also a problem which was discussed in Ilkka Malmberg's serie in Helsingin Sanomat. Why has Vera not the town? Why is she friendly with the enemy soldiers - a thing that she could be punished after the war? Is she a spy? Was

Was Linna really so naive in this attempt to resist all he regarded as the Finnnish propaganda that he didn't understand this? Regarding a Ingrian POW he seems to, as he lets him say that there was no need to jail those Ingrians who haven't done anything-
Philip S. Walker wrote: With regard to the trilogy, Linna's woman are given the role that 99.9 pct. of women had at that time and in that social environment, and what else would you expect them to do?
Well, there is one woman who wants to do something else, even participate in politics Ellen Salpakari, and she is painted highly unsympathic because she isn't only a wife and mother.

Johanna Oksala in her article "Pitääkö Linna polttaa?" ("Should Linna be burned", in Kirjoituksia Väinä Linnasta) points out that all Red men die heroically whereas the Red women die crying. In other words, men reperesent strenght, courage and freedom, women represent weakness, suffering and fear. Both are needed in order to show humanity, but why are characteristic divided according to sex?

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Vaeltaja » 04 Nov 2011 09:57

Precisely on the mark Anne G.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 04 Nov 2011 10:29

@Anne G
The problem was there was only one lotta, so she became to represent all.
Only if you really want her to. Until you brought it up, the thought had never occurred to me that this one Lotta was supposed to represent them all, and I don't believe it has been Linna's intention even for a moment. He has been much more occupied with simply making a very long and very complex novel work on a literary level, which is hard enough (believe me) even without having to take all kinds of different views among the readers into consideration.
In other words, a virginal komsomol woman was comapared with a promiscuois lotta. That could call even a propagandistic view.
It is you that is comparing them, not Linna. He just puts a nice woman into the story, someone he might even have met. I really can't see what's wrong with that, in fact I think it is totally brilliantly done. Furthermore, I don't find any justification for calling Vera "virginal" or "Madonna-like", just because she doesn't jump into bed with a bunch of enemy soldiers who have burst into her house but prefers to have a relaxed and friendly relationship with them, seeing that they're actually a bunch of very nice people.
There is also a problem which was discussed in Ilkka Malmberg's serie in Helsingin Sanomat. Why has Vera not the town? Why is she friendly with the enemy soldiers - a thing that she could be punished after the war? Is she a spy?
This is one of the most moving episodes in the whole novel, and Mollberg interprets it beautifully, including Vera's worry about the situation. It portrays how world politics invade little people's lives and disrupt them. In fact, that is the major theme of the whole novel and it would be poorer without this episode, not to mention how it could have been ruined if Linna had let some political agenda rule the proceedings in order to please modern Feminist readers or whatever it is you suggest he should have done.
Well, there is one woman who wants to do something else, even participate in politics Ellen Salpakari, and she is painted highly unsympathic because she isn't only a wife and mother.
As the Feminists always used to say, the problem was that for women to make their mark in those days (and to some extent even today) they had to be even more nasty and emotionally stunted than the men they were up against, and that is how Ellen Salpakari is portrayed. I think it is completely correctly done.
Johanna Oksala in her article "Pitääkö Linna polttaa?" ("Should Linna be burned", in Kirjoituksia Väinä Linnasta) points out that all Red men die heroically whereas the Red women die crying.
That was how people were brought up in those days, plus whatever it is that makes Finnish men extra hard as stone. I also think there is a basic biological element at play. These days we are told things have changed. Funnily enough, I have no problem with crying myself, it is the copious amount of women I am surrounded by who look like they absolutely despise me when it happens.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Anne G, » 04 Nov 2011 14:00

Philip S. Walker wrote:
The problem was there was only one lotta, so she became to represent all.
Only if you really want her to. Until you brought it up, the thought had never occurred to me that this one Lotta was supposed to represent them all, and I don't believe it has been Linna's intention even for a moment. He has been much more occupied with simply making a very long and very complex novel work on a literary level, which is hard enough (believe me) even without having to take all kinds of different views among the readers into consideration.
I didn't invent this, it was felt by many woman at that time. Then their hurt feelings were put easily aside, but nowadays we see that Linna, though he describes men well, knew only a little about women and undestood even less.
Philip S. Walker wrote:
In other words, a virginal komsomol woman was comapared with a promiscuois lotta. That could call even a propagandistic view.
It is you that is comparing them, not Linna. He just puts a nice woman into the story, someone he might even have met. I really can't see what's wrong with that, in fact I think it is totally brilliantly done. Furthermore, I don't find any justification for calling Vera "virginal" or "Madonna-like", just because she doesn't jump into bed with a bunch of enemy soldiers who have burst into her house but prefers to have a relaxed and friendly relationship with them, seeing that they're actually a bunch of very nice people.
I don't think it was a coincidence. Either Linna was opposing the Finnish war-time propaganda about the enemy and/or he was shielding from his men by only mentioning (one is a pimp) but not actually describing how their real relationships with local women were.
Philip S. Walker wrote:
There is also a problem which was discussed in Ilkka Malmberg's serie in Helsingin Sanomat. Why has Vera not the town? Why is she friendly with the enemy soldiers - a thing that she could be punished after the war? Is she a spy?
This is one of the most moving episodes in the whole novel, and Mollberg interprets it beautifully, including Vera's worry about the situation. It portrays how world politics invade little people's lives and disrupt them. In fact, that is the major theme of the whole novel and it would be poorer without this episode, not to mention how it could have been ruined if Linna had let some political agenda rule the proceedings in order to please modern Feminist readers or whatever it is you suggest he should have done.
However beautiful a scene, this is supposed to be a realistic novel. Why would we then be allowed to ask why Linna makes such a non-realistic scene? As a contrast or an ideal? That's okey.

Yet, it's not a political agenda to know basic facts: either Vera was acting of her own will in which case she was punished after the war about treachery, or she had been left in town on purpose, i.e. in order to spy.
Philip S. Walker wrote:
Johanna Oksala in her article "Pitääkö Linna polttaa?" ("Should Linna be burned", in Kirjoituksia Väinä Linnasta) points out that all Red men die heroically whereas the Red women die crying.
That was how people were brought up in those days, plus whatever it is that makes Finnish men extra hard as stone. I also think there is a basic biological element at play. These days we are told things have changed. Funnily enough, I have no problem with crying myself, it is the copious amount of women I am surrounded by who look like they absolutely despise me when it happens.
But in reality it wasn't so: there were men who pleaded for mercy, and there were woman who didn't cry.

In Kenttäoikeudet (Kenttäoikeudet) Marko Tikka tells that many Reds weren't very heroic after the defeat: they f.ex. told about the acts of their comrades that got them death sentence, but they didn't save themselves by this.

Also in Unknown Soldier, Linna makes those two that are sentence to death very heroic. in reality they didn't behave like that at all.

Of course Linna had a right to desctibe just as he pleased. It's only that we can't take all in his novels at face value.

The author Hannu Raittila says that Linna's soldiers are much more urban and modern than the real soldiers were, and that's just the reason they became so dear to the Finns moving from the country to town.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 04 Nov 2011 15:39

@ Anne G.
I didn't invent this, it was felt by many woman at that time.
If they thought that the Lottas had been more important in the War and should have been more present in the novel, I can appreciate the feeling. However, if "Unknown Soldier" was to be turned in that direction - which I agree would be interesting - is would be a completely different book and not the book that Linna wanted to write - or maybe even could write even if he wanted to. It doesn't work to blame writers for not writing the books we want them to.

With regard to the trilogy, I think the problem some people might have lies in Linna's sympathy for a certain kind of women that are not fashionable today. Unlike today's Feminists who claim such woman were practically living in slavery, Linna shows us that they - or at least some of them - actually felt proud about their role and their work. This wasn't recognised at the time, and it is still not recognised. But Linna is nothing if not a believer in giving credit where credit is truly due - and that is what he does here too, bless him.

May I ad that my wife finds him absolutely spot on in this regard, as well.
I don't think it was a coincidence. Either Linna was opposing the Finnish war-time propaganda about the enemy and/or he was shielding from his men by only mentioning (one is a pimp) but not actually describing how their real relationships with local women were.
Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways. Whatever the reason behind this, it works fantastically well in print and on the screen.
However beautiful a scene, this is supposed to be a realistic novel. Why would we then be allowed to ask why Linna makes such a non-realistic scene? As a contrast or an ideal? That's okay.
Once you really dig into Linna's novel it is actually extremely "unrealistic" on many points. The kind of compromises you have to make with realism in order to compose a long historical collective novel are truly frightening. The best you can achieve in that direction is to be realistic on an overall level.
But in reality it wasn't so: there were men who pleaded for mercy, and there were woman who didn't cry.
As always I very much appreciate the sources and quotes you give, but I don't think it is reasonable to cling on to this one point. It sounds to me like the author you mention has some kind of personal paranoid agenda against the male sex and is desperate to prove that it fits poor old Väinö Linna, one of the greatest writers of all time. Next time I suggest she tries going out with a man that's less good looking. We're usually much easier to get along with.
In Kenttäoikeudet (Kenttäoikeudet) Marko Tikka tells that many Reds weren't very heroic after the defeat: they f.ex. told about the acts of their comrades that got them death sentence, but they didn't save themselves by this.
I won't go into this. Danes have a strict rule about people in the War: We do not judge anyone for what they did or didn't do under torture.
The author Hannu Raittila says that Linna's soldiers are much more urban and modern than the real soldiers were, and that's just the reason they became so dear to the Finns moving from the country to town.
Interesting point. Still, that is just another necessary compromise that goes with writing a historic novel.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Anne G, » 05 Nov 2011 20:14

Philip S. Walker wrote:
In Kenttäoikeudet (Kenttäoikeudet) Marko Tikka tells that many Reds weren't very heroic after the defeat: they f.ex. told about the acts of their comrades that got them death sentence, but they didn't save themselves by this.
I won't go into this. Danes have a strict rule about people in the War: We do not judge anyone for what they did or didn't do under torture.
It wasn't a result of torture but evidently many Reds were so crushed by deafeat that they told "all".

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 05 Nov 2011 20:56

It wasn't a result of torture but evidently many Reds were so crushed by defeat that they told "all".
Says who?

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Panssari Salama » 13 Nov 2011 14:40

"Finnish Myths - The Finnish Soldier" is airing today at 5 PM at Yle Teema.

Väinö Linna's work especially considered.

I am not able to watch but will try to catch it in Yle Areena later.

Should someone be able to comment on the document please do.
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Vaeltaja » 13 Nov 2011 16:37

I did watch parts of it, actually from YLE Areena, and the main point - regarding the 'Unknown Soldier' - seemed to be the different values placed on different versions of the 'Unknown Soldier'. From pacifistic 'War novel' to less sensational 'Unknown Soldier' and from there to patriotic film version of Edvin Laine and from there to yet again to pacifistic film version of Rauni Mollberg. Or something there abouts, probably should watch the document and actually try to listen to it.

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Jagala » 14 Nov 2011 08:26

Philip S. Walker wrote:Says who?
It is quite possible that the Whites felt less constrained or inhibited than the Gestapo about using torture during interrogation of their prisoners, but the funny thing is that although there is no shortage of descriptions of harsh and violent treatment by captors and guards, you don't find too many instances of methods of enhanced interrogation in Red historiography.

The reason for this is probably quite simple: the Whites were in no urgent need for information about secret plots, undercover organisations, leaders or connections. They felt they were in overwhelmingly superior situation, they were in complete control and their ready answer to any question was: when in doubt, shoot the bastard! (Cf. the treatment of underground Communists in the hands of the State Police during the Continuation War.)


As for the picture of the "Lottas" allegedly painted by Linna. Women, especially those who had served during the war, may have objected against the description - not necessarily because it was inaccurate or untruthful as an individual case, but because Linna (in their opinion) turned it into a generalization - but it was the men in the older generation, the staunch defenders of pre-war conservative values who raised the loudest public outcry. V.A. Koskenniemi, the venerable and influential literary critic, demanded that Lotta Kotilainen must be edited out of the book. (And for the first edition of the Swedish translation published in Sweden, Linna rewrote the chapters, albeit in an unmistakably ironic tone.)

When "Sissiluutnantti" by Paavo Rintala was published a few years later, 41 generals (ret.) signed an open letter condemning the book (and its author). Rintala famously commented by mockingly expressing his surprise: "I never knew we had so many retired generals!" Fairly soon, the times changed, as did the sensibility of the "general readership" it was not until the late 90s that the modern version of feminism, centered around the Gender Studies depts. of universities, appeared here that Linna and Rintala again became the subjects of similar "close reading".

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