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

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Philip S. Walker
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 10 Dec 2011 16:59

@Jagala
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.
Sorry, I don't quite get this.
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.)
As I believe I've said before, the Danish translation leaves out some of Rahikainen's rougher remarks about the fairer sex. Of course, by using that term I am discriminating against men. Luckily that is still allowed, but who know what the future may bring. Conscription for women? Equal rights for men and women when deciding in matters of abortion? Who knows.

@Vaeltaja
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 thereabouts, probably should watch the document and actually try to listen to it.
Did you?

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

Post by Vaeltaja » 10 Dec 2011 18:33

Philip S. Walker wrote:
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 thereabouts, probably should watch the document and actually try to listen to it.
Did you?
Yes, and the comment above still sums it up.

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

Post by Jagala » 10 Dec 2011 23:26

Philip S. Walker wrote: Sorry, I don't quite get this.
My sentences are just as convoluted and my grammar is just as bad in Finnish as in English. Anyway, you did not seem to hesitate before assuming that the reason why captured Reds "sang" was that the Whites used torture during interrogation of their prisoners (just like the Gestapo did). I pointed out that according to "Red" literature the Whites were guilty of many things, but this was not one of them.

Since I didn't think it would have been wise to assume that this was so because the White interrogators were kept in line by strict orders from the high up or because they were on a morally higher plane due to their religious faith or some such factor, I proceeded to find possible differences between the situation in which the victorious Whites and the occupying Germans found themselves in.

Hope this helped.

Philip S. Walker
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" as a critical sour

Post by Philip S. Walker » 10 Dec 2011 23:53

@Jagala

Yes, I got you now - I hope. But why would anyone "sing" if they weren't under torture? And are you saying that the whole scene with Akseli in the camp is a misrepresentation of the general situation.

May I also add that I enjoyed your informative post on the whole and didn't stumble over any grammatical errors.

Regards, Vely

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

Post by Anne G, » 11 Dec 2011 10:56

Philip S. Walker wrote: But why would anyone "sing" if they weren't under torture?
The situation of the Reds were completely different than the members in the underground during the WWII. A few months ago, the Reds had had power and believed in the easy victory over the Whites. Now they were completely crushed and their leaders had abandoned them and fled to Soviet Russia. That caused a coplete mental breakdown.

It seems that the Reds didn't protest against the White interpretations about murders and robberies, nor they usually analyse the reasons of the rebellion.

Further, the Red propaganda had in the last days proclaimed that the Whites would kill all. After spending long time prisoned and hearing about the executions many lost their nerves. They weren't In such a state they couldn't think clearly if their own deeds could lead to the death sentence, but were ready to tell all to get out and save themselves.

On the other hand, those who were about their own fate, could from bitterness testify against their own comrades.

For further information see Mrko Tikka: Kenttäoikeudet (The fied courts) pp. 362-374.

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

Post by Anne G, » 11 Dec 2011 11:12

Jagala wrote: 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.)
Not at all, according to Tikka (Kenttäoikeudet), the Whites really wanted to investigate who had made what, especially the murders and robberies, and who had been in the position in command, and they also did so.

The White field courts had also other sources of information, even eyewittnesses, and they could compare the stories of prisoners.

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

Post by Anne G, » 11 Dec 2011 11:31

Jagala wrote: Since I didn't think it would have been wise to assume that this was so because the White interrogators were kept in line by strict orders from the high up or because they were on a morally higher plane due to their religious faith or some such factor, I proceeded to find possible differences between the situation in which the victorious Whites and the occupying Germans found themselves in.
I doubt both reasons.

Instead, there was a diffence in the Red side. The men in the occupied countries opposed the foriegn invader and were convinced that they had justice in their side. The Reds, on the other hand, had risen against the lawful government of their own country and the majority of the democratically elected Parliament. In November 1917, the congress of the Social Democratic Party was against the revolution and it was in made in January 1918 by the more radical Red Guards. Many Socialist joined it out of solidarity, not from conviction. Others didn't and warned that it would lead to the complete destruction.

All in all, it was a great leap to the people who had raised to obey the authorities, to rise againts them. Of cours, the years 1899-1917 had learned them a lot, but still the revolution attempt became as a surprise. Unlike Lenin, the Finnish Social Democrats had been confident that they can get power by lawful means, as their share of the votes increased in elections - until the crushing defeat in the fall 1917.

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

Post by Philip S. Walker » 11 Dec 2011 12:24

@Anne G

I'm sure you are aware that what you are describing here is classic alpha male behaviour in the absolute extreme. Tough, tough, tough, until they suddenly break down and throw everything to the wind.

Seems we are constantly running into this "all or nothing" syndrome. If so, is it a result of natural selection in an environment - physically and politically - where only such people could survive?

Linna seems to suggest that.

Regards, Vely

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

Post by Anne G, » 11 Dec 2011 12:47

Philip S. Walker wrote: I'm sure you are aware that what you are describing here is classic alpha male behaviour in the absolute extreme. Tough, tough, tough, until they suddenly break down and throw everything to the wind.

Seems we are constantly running into this "all or nothing" syndrome.
Well, no.

As I said, most of the Social Democrats weren't at all eager to make a revolutution, and therefore they missed the best opportinity, during the general strike in November 1917, for which Lenin severely scolded them.

Also, many bourgeois people weren't at all eager to make Finland independent - untill, after the October revolution and afraid of Russia reigned (to their mind) chaos and abarchy, they weren't forced to do so.

Even the Reds fought to the bitter end.

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

Post by Philip S. Walker » 11 Dec 2011 16:01

@Anne G

You forget that Finnish Social Democrats never have been and never will be "True Finns". They are a bunch of "reservesvenskere". :D

Thanks for your views on this anyhow. I actually didn't know about the 1917 opportunity that was missed etc.

Regards, Vely

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

Post by John Hilly » 12 Dec 2011 13:48

Philip S. Walker wrote:You forget that Finnish Social Democrats never have been and never will be "True Finns". They are a bunch of "reservesvenskere". :D
"Er sagte kein einziges Wort" - Heinrich Böll! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Juha-Pekka :milsmile:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" - new translation

Post by Lotvonen » 06 Dec 2012 15:00

Newspaper "Turun Sanomat" reports today: Penguin Books has purchased translation rights to Linna´s book. It is to be published in Penguin Classic series.
The new translator is Mr. Liesl Yamaguchi, working for his doctorate in Princeton and living in Finland for now. He is assisted by several experts of different areas.
This is good news indeed, the old "translation" from 1957 is incredibly bad. My only fear now are eventual americanisms by the translator.

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

Post by Jagala » 06 Dec 2012 16:50

A small correction: it's Ms. Yamaguchi. Liesl is a diminutive of Elisabeth. She began studying Finnish during her Fulbright year 2006-2007.

"The Unknown Soldier" will be her first major translation. Apparently someone at Penguin was convinced she is up to the task, It will not be easy to handle the whole range of dialects or the many levels of the narrator's voice, though.

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

Post by John Hilly » 07 Dec 2012 12:15

It will be my "must buy" if it is of any good! :)

Juha-Pekka :milwink:
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Re: Väinö Linna's novel "Unknown Soldier" - new translation

Post by CanKiwi2 » 14 Jan 2013 19:41

Lotvonen wrote:...the old "translation" from 1957 is incredibly bad. My only fear now are eventual americanisms by the translator.
Speaking of translations, when Rokka joins the company, in my old English version, he turns up with his friend Wolf's Paw - Private Wolf, and he gets called "Paw". Can anyone tell me his name in Finnish? He seems to be the only character whose name has been translated to English and it's been bugging me for a while..... and is there any background to this that I'm missing? As to why he's called "Paw".

...........Nigel
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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