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Reviewed by:
  • Biografiskt lexikon för Finland: Republiken, 3: A-L., 4: M-Ö by Henrik Knif, et al.
  • George C. Schoolfield
Henrik Knif, et al. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland: Republiken, 3: A-L., 4: M-Ö. Helsingfors: SLF, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2011. Pp. 922-1911.

The great project is now at an end. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1: Svenska tiden of this biographical handbook (in Finland's other language) was reviewed in Scandinavian Studies (2009; 81.2), Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 2: Ryska tiden in Scandinavian Studies (2010; 82.4). The concluding pair covers figures falling largely within the almost a century of Finland's independence (from December 6, 1917). Finnish-speakers now predominate; many of their entries, translated, have been taken over from the nine volumes (6,000 entries) of Suomen kansallisbiografia (2003-2007), hereafter Sk, as well as entries on those Suecophones who found their way into that monumental set.

About one hundred new entries, by and large Finland-Swedes, have been added—from the physician Herman Adlercreutz (a name forever prominent in Finland's annals!) to Hugo Österman, son of a Helsingfors police constable and commander of the heroic force on the Karelian Isthmus during the Winter War, having replaced the Fennomaniacal Aarne Sihvo. The demarcation lines can be a little bewildering: Sophie Mannerheim (1863-1928), the legendary nurse, landed in Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 2, her brother Carl Gustaf (1867-1951) is front-and-center in volume 4. The author of both articles (Sk, BlF) on the Marshal is the bilingual Matti Klinge, Sk's general editor and himself a veritable Mannerheim of scholarship.

The browser finds himself devising all sorts of illusory (if not crazy) genethlialogical schemes. The 1860s produced not only titans, Sibelius (BlF 2) and Mannerheim, but presidents of the new republic, Ståhlberg (BlF 2) and Svinhufvud (BlF 4). The 1870s were rich in births of architects in spe, Sigurd Frosterus, Eliel Saarinen, Lars Sonck, Gustaf Strengell, and still another president, Kyösti Kallio, who fell dying into Mannerheim's arms outside the Helsingfors railroad station on December 19, 1940. The 1890s flowered with original genius that would attain international [End Page 517] attention, the architect Alvar Aalto, Elmer Diktonius, Edith Södergran. (The nation's most widely read author, Tove Jansson, would not come along until 1914.) Fast-forwarding to the 1900s, one finds a cluster of musical names, Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952), known to American concert audiences (willing or not) for her electronic music; Barbara Helsingius (b. 1957), songstress, composer, and Olympic fencer; and Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958). (Speaking of music: where is Tom Krause [b. 1934], the bass-baritone surely worthy of ranking with Kim Borg [1919-2000] and Jorma Hynninen [b. 1941], both taken over from Sk?) Karita Mattila (b. 1960)—an American household word, thanks to the Met's manager Peter Gelb—is the baby of the musical lot. Movies? The brothers Kaurismäki (1955, 1957) are here, and the editors have rightly slipped in the great pioneer of Swedish film, Mauritz Stiller (1883-1928), "Mosche Stiller" from Helsingfors's semi-ghetto, separated by some pages from his great and good friend, Alma Söderhjelm (1870-1949), Finland's first female professor and younger sister to Werner Söderhjelm (1859-1931), BlF 2, prodigious scholar and Finland's first ambassador to Sweden.

The net is cast wide. Alphabetically next-door neighbors are Nazi Germany's war-time ambassador in Finland, Wipert von Blücher (1883-1963) and the leader of Finland's Jewish community, Scholem Bolotowsky (1922-2002): a non-commissioned officer in the Continuation War, he must have bumped into his German co-belligerents on the Karelian front. BlF does not shy away from sensation: see the take-over from Sk of Minna Craucher (1891-1932), "petty criminal" and "political intriger," murdered—evidently for squealing on the proto-Nazi Lapo Movement—in her apartment beside sedate Mechelingatan, an event whose literary and cinematographic reflections are listed in enticing detail. Eyolf Georg Matts-son—from a well-to-do Åland family, alleged bank-robber, brigade-chief in the Red Army, and survivor of forced labor in Kazakstan's coal-mines and Siberia's work...


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