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Earliest known image of Aleksis Kivi. Drawn in 1873 almost certainly by Albert Edelfelt.
10 October 1834|
|Died||31 December 1872
|Notable work(s)||Seven Brothers|
Aleksis Kivi ( pronunciation (help·info)), born Alexis Stenvall, (10 October 1834 – 31 December 1872) was a Finnish author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (Finnish title: Seitsemän veljestä). Although Kivi was among the very earliest authors of prose and lyrics in Finnish language, he is still considered one of the greatest of them all.
Aleksis Kivi was born at Nurmijärvi, Russian Empire, into a tailor's family. In 1846 he left for school in Helsinki, and in 1859 he was accepted into the University of Helsinki, where he studied literature and developed an interest in the theater. His first play was Kullervo, based on a tragic tale from the Kalevala. He also met the famous journalist and statesman Johan Vilhelm Snellman.
From 1863 onwards, Kivi devoted his time to writing. He wrote 12 plays and a collection of poetry. The novel Seven Brothers took him ten years to write. Literary critics, especially the prominent August Ahlqvist, disapproved of the book, at least nominally because of its "rudeness" – Romanticism was at its height at the time – but maybe also because it was written in the southwestern dialect of Finnish, while Ahlqvist himself preferred the northeastern dialects of his homelands. The Fennomans also disapproved of its depiction of not-so-virtuous rural life that was far from their idealized point of view, and his excessive drinking may have alienated some.
In 1865 Kivi won the State Prize for his still often performed comedy Nummisuutarit (translated as Heath Cobblers by Douglas Robinson). However, the less than enthusiastic reception of his books was taking its toll and he was already drinking heavily. His main benefactor Charlotta Lönnqvist could not help him after the 1860s. Physical deterioration and the development of schizophrenia (suspectedly caused by advanced borreliosis) set in, and Kivi died in poverty at the age of 38.
In 1995-1996, Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara wrote an opera about Kivi's life and works. In 2002 director Jari Halonen's movie The Life of Aleksis Kivi (Finnish title: Aleksis Kiven elämä) premiered in Finnish cinemas.
Kivi in English
- Impola, Richard A., trans. Aleksis Kivi, Seven Brothers (Finnish translation of Seitsemän veljestä). New Paltz, NY: Finnish-American Translators Association, 1991.
- Matson, Alex, trans. Aleksis Kivi, Seven Brothers (Finnish translation of Seitsemän veljestä). 1st edition, New York: Coward-McCann, 1929. 2nd edition, Helsinki: Tammi, 1952. 3rd edition, edited by Irma Rantavaara, Helsinki: Tammi, 1973.
- Robinson, Douglas, trans. Aleksis Kivi's Heath Cobblers and Kullervo. St. Cloud, MN: North Star Press of St. Cloud, 1993.
- Douglas Robinson, trans., Aleksis Kivi's Heath Cobblers and Kullervo (St. Cloud, MN: North Star Press of St. Cloud, 1993).
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Aleksis Kivi|
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- Aleksis Kivi page maintained by Nurmijärvi municipality
- Works by Aleksis Kivi at Project Gutenberg
- Text of Seven Brothers in Finnish
- Nummisuutarit - digital critical edition (in Finnish). Eds. Jyrki Nummi (editor-in-chief), Sakari Katajamäki, Ossi Kokko and Petri Lauerma. Finnish Literature Society, 2011.