Earliest known image of Aleksis Kivi. Drawn in 1873 almost certainly by Albert Edelfelt.
10 October 1834|
Nurmijärvi, Grand Duchy of Finland
|Died||31 December 1872
Tuusula, Grand Duchy of Finland
|Notable work||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 in Nurmijärvi, Grand Duchy of Finland, 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 theatre. His first play was Kullervo, based on a tragic tale from the Kalevala. He also met the famous journalist and statesman Johan Vilhelm Snellman who became his supporter.
In his schooltime Kivi read world literature from the library of his landlord, and while he studied in the university, he saw plays by Molière and Schiller in Swedish theatre of Helsinki.
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. Ahlqvist wrote ""It is a ridiculous work and a blot on the name of Finnish literature" The Fennomans also disapproved of its depiction of not-so-virtuous rural life that was far from their idealized point of view, and Kivi's excessive drinking may have alienated some.
In 1865 Kivi won the State Prize for his still often performed comedy Nummisuutarit ('The Cobblers on the Heath', 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 the early 20th century young writers Volter Kilpi and Eino Leino raised Kivi to the status of national icon. Eino Leino - and later Väinö Linna and Veijo Meri - also identified with Kivi's fate as an author.
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 (English translation of Seitsemän veljestä). New Paltz, NY: Finnish-American Translators Association, 1991.
- Matson, Alex, trans. Aleksis Kivi, Seven Brothers (English 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.
- Sihvo, Hannes (2014). "Kivi, Aleksis (1834 - 1872)". The National Biography of Finland. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Liukkonen, Petri (2008). "Kivi, Aleksis (1834 - 1872)". Authors' Calendar. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
- 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|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aleksis Kivi.|
- Aleksis Kivi page maintained by Nurmijärvi municipality
- Works by Aleksis Kivi at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Aleksis Kivi at Internet Archive
- Works by Aleksis Kivi at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- 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.