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  • Writing of a Different Class? The First 120 years of Working-Class Fiction in Finland

    Elsi Hyttinen, Kati Johanna Launis

    Chapter from the book: Nilsson M. & Lennon J. 2017. Working-Class Literature(s): Historical and International Perspectives.


    In the article, literary scholars Elsi Hyttinen and Kati Launis discuss the first 120 years of working-class literature in Finland, from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. The writers claim that, in Finland, there exists no canon that could unproblematically be referred to as the working-class tradition. Rather, there is a tradition of uneasiness and heated debate provoked by every attempt at pinpointing such a continuum. What is, can, or should be considered as working-class fiction has been disputed for more than a hundred years already, with no end in sight. In Finland, the arguments mostly revolve around questions of truthfulness. Working-class literature is expected to be a truthful depiction of a worker’s worldview, which, as it happens, is supposed to naturally be concordant with socialist class theories. To make this articulation look natural, the debaters have time and again turned to the figure of the author. However, as this article shows, working-class fiction never simply existed as a reflection of some self-evident class-bound reality. Rather, the history of working-class literature is a history of definitions and counter-definitions, an amalgamation of political and literary histories, national tendencies and transnational influences, politically motivated wishful thinking and conventional and convincing portrayals of working people. What has been regarded as “authentic” has throughout this history been represented as something only about to emerge.

    How to cite this chapter
    Hyttinen E. & Launis K. 2017. Writing of a Different Class? The First 120 years of Working-Class Fiction in Finland. In: Nilsson M. & Lennon J (eds.), Working-Class Literature(s). Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bam.d

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Additional Information

    Published on Dec. 13, 2017


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