1939 : Frans Eemil Sillanpaa

1939 : Frans Eemil Sillanpaa

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“for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature”



September 16, 1888

Place of birth


Hameenkyro, Finland



June 3, 1964

Place of death


Helsinki, Finland







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1939


Frans Eemil Sillanpaa (born 16 September 1888 Hameenkyro, died. 3 June 1964 in Helsinki) – Finnish novelist and novelist, winner of the Nobel Literary Prize for the year 1939, which – with justification for the jury – has received a “deep penetration in force of the Finnish peasants and exquisite describe their morals in the bond with nature “. Author realistic, saturated lyricism of the spirit of the humanistic novels, are embedded mostly in airtight rural places known Fransowi Eemil Sillanpaa from childhood. Despite the realism of the novel Finnish writer, presented their picture of life in rural areas is often raised to the rank of mystical and kosmogonicznej. Eemil Sillanpaa strong emphasis on the issue of Unity of all, a feeling of perfect union of man and the universe, which manifests itself in the simplest direct contact with the nature of the human being. In novels such as Sun Life (1916) and August (1941) lives in rural areas is at once touching Unio Mystica; platonicznym ancient symbol of intimacy with God, back to lost Raju, which is bezczas, excellence and fullness of experience in both individual and Universal existence. A separate category are the late Frans Eemil Sillanpaa novels, which have emerged on the basis of personal experiences related to the author’s mental collapse and a momentary loss of talent to clerical. These works – przesiakniete typically dekadenckim mood of melancholy, despair and nihilism – mainly in favor of the “burned” artists are deprived of hope and the people of the margin of society.


Works in Finnish:

  • Elama ja aurinko – Helsinki : Kirja, 1916

  • Ihmislapsia elaman saatossa – Helsinki : Kirja, 1917

  • Hurskas kurjuus – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1919

  • Rakas isanmaani – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1919

  • Hiltu ja Ragnar – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1923

  • Enkelten suojatit – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1923

  • Maan tasalta – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1924

  • Omistani ja omilleni – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1924

  • Tollinmaki – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1925

  • Rippi – Porvoo : Soderstrom, 1928

  • Kiitos hetkista, Herra … – Helsinki : Otava, 1930

  • Nuorena nukkunut – Helsinki : Otava, 1931

  • Miehen tie – Helsinki : Otava, 1932

  • Virran pohjalta – Helsinki : Otava, 1933

  • Ihmiset suviyossa – Helsinki : Otava, 1934

  • Viidestoista – Helsinki : Otava, 1936

  • Elokuu – Helsinki : Otava, 1941

  • Ihmiselon ihanuus ja kurjuus – Helsinki : Otava, 1945

  • Poika eli elamaansa – Helsinki : Otava, 1953

  • Kerron ja kuvailen – Helsinki : Otava, 1954

  • Paiva korkeimmillaan – Helsinki : Otava, 1956

  • Kootut teokset – 8 vol. – Helsinki : Otava, 1988-1991

Translations into English:

  • Meek Heritage / translated by Alex Matson – New York : Knopf, 1938 – Rev. transl. by John R. Pitkin, New York: Knopf, 1938

  • Fallen Asleep While Young : the History of the Last Offshoot of an Old Family Tree / translated by Alex Matson – London : Putnam, 1933 – Also publ. as The Maid Silja : the History of the Last Offshoot of an Old Family Tree – New York : Macmillan, 1933

  • People in the Summer Night : an Epic Suite / translated by Alan Blair – Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1966


1939: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Per Hallstrom, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, at its regular meeting on December 14, 1939

The diploma of a Nobel Prize has just been given to you and you have heard the reasons which led the Swedish Academy to accord this distinction to your literary work. These reasons are very briefly stated on this parchment, but you have been deprived of the many homages which would have been paid you at the ceremony of the distribution of the Nobel Prizes.

These homages you will find equally in our company, in the simplicity characteristic of our gatherings, but with the same warmth as that which you would have received in the festival room on the day of the ceremony. None of us knows your Finnish language; we have been able to appreciate your works only in the translations, but no doubt exists about your mastery as a writer. This mastery is so great that it appears clearly even in a foreign attire. Simple, brief, objective, without the least affectation, your language flows with the clarity of a spring and reflects what your artist’s eye has seized. You have chosen your motifs with the greatest delicacy and, one could almost say, with a sort of timidity before what is immediately beautiful. You wish to create beauty from what exists in everyday nature, and the manner in which you can do it often remains your secret. It is not at the writer’s desk that one sees you work but before the easel of the watercolourist, and, over your shoulder, one often accustoms one’s eye to see in a new manner. Sometimes, when painting spaces and clouds in the light of a summer day, you forget the fear that you have of a too favourable motif and you then employ the musical art with the hand of a master. This characteristic trait, your fondness for the simple and the typical, you show also in your description of man. This description takes pleasure in rendering the everyday life of the peasants, strongly attached to the earth from which it draws its strength. When it is a question of deeds, you show an equal mastery, and the effect is produced only with the simplest means.

Concerning your most celebrated work, you have said some words which no one else could have found: Everything that touches Silja is generally of a magnificent insignificance. No artist can go farther in the desire to remain respectfully faithful to the reality of things. Thus you have represented your people, without the least finery.

At the present moment, even the name of your country is significant everywhere. As simple as you see them, your people find themselves a prey to fateful powers, heroically great in their indomitable courage, faithful to their duty to the very end, to the death which they confront without trembling. In our thanks for what you have given, our thoughts go still further; they go, with all our admiration and the emotion which grips us, to your people, to your nation.

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