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News

110th Birth Anniversary of writer Martti Larni

23.09.2019

On September 22 there was the 110th birth anniversary of the famous Finnish writer, publicist, satirist Martti Larni Johannes (1909-1993). Not only Finnish, but also Russian readers were well acquainted with his work. Many years of friendship and cooperation connected him with Mikhail Sholokhov.

Martti Larni was born on September 22, 1909 in the town of Pakila, near Helsinki. He began his literary work as a poet and translator of French, Scandinavian poets. Martti's early poems were published in 1926. The writer used to publish his works both under his own name (Martti Laine - until 1942, after being replaced by Larni) and under the pseudonyms - Aslak Nuorti and Dan Astaire. In 1944 the novel “The Respectable Poor and Their Motley Company” was published, in 1945 the novel “Impatient Passion”, and in 1948 the novel “Heaven Descended to Earth”. Starting with his early works Larni come out with sharp criticism of the bourgeoisie, ridicules the blind worship of the West.

The international fame to the author came with the lampoon novel “The Fourth Vertebra, or A Swindler Despite Himself” (1957; Russian translation, 1959), a satire on the American way of life. This novel was preceded by two time periods spent by Martty Larni in the USA (in 1948-49 and 1951-54, Larni went to the United States, worked as an editor in a publishing house).

In the 1960s, the works of Martti Larni gained popularity in the Soviet Union. Mikhail Sholokhov contributed a lot to it. Sholokhov met Martti Larni in Finland in 1962. Alexey Borodavkin, a translator, who was present at all the writers' meetings, remembered: “By that time Mikhail Sholokhov along with Larney’s feuilletons knew the fourth lampoon novel “The Fourth Vertebra”, the literal translation of which was already spreading around Moscow’s readers and literary clubs at that time, causing a continuous laughter” (“Our Heritage”. 2005. No. 74). Soon, their acquaintance grew into a real friendship. The eldest daughter of the writer, Svetlana Sholokhova, notes the spiritual affinity between her father and his Finnish friend: “In Finland, how many times went there, the father met with Martti Larni. A peculiar sense of humor brought them closer. Larni had paradoxical thinking. They were sincerely close, talked a lot, joked, their conversations were always interesting”.

Martti Larni and his wife Viola also visited Mikhail Sholokhov in stanitsa Vyoshenskaya more than once. In his memoirs about the time spent in Vyoshenskaya, Larni wrote: “Mikhail as a whole corresponds to the idea that I created from his works: I see him as a person who lives a deep emotional life ... I fully understand Mikhail Sholokhov’s love for Don, its nature and people. For him, the Don region is not just a mighty water stream, not fertile black soil or barren sands on the banks of the river. The Don region for him is a living organism. Mikhail Sholokhov is a patriot, and therefore he fully understands my patriotism. This leads us to mutual understanding and respect for the values dear to each of us” (“Investiya”, August 25, 1963).

Martti Larni was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Finland, the highest state award “For Finland” for cultural figures. He died at the age of 83, in 1993, in Helsinki. The works of the writer are popular in the 21st century, and his aphorisms have taken root in many languages of the world. These are his words: "Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel."

Lidia Slyusarenko