Literature

Internationally, Svenskfinland is probably best known for its contributions to literature. Of course, Moomin is by far the largest export of Finnish literature, but it is far from the only one. In 2019, poet Tua Forsström was elected to The Swedish Academy as the first Finnish member ever, while Kjell Westö won prizes in both Finland and Sweden for his novels which were also translated into English.

The oldest Finnish-Swedish literary celebrities were active during the 19th century: the national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s (1804-77) poem Fänrik Ståls sägner is one of the Finnish literatures classics, were also the text for Finland’s national anthem Vårt land origins from. Zacharias Topelius (1818-98), for his part, was a versatile writer who today is mainly remembered for his stories but who was also a professor and newspaper editor.

During the first half of the 20th century a number of Finnish Swedish poets and modernists were active. Among them Edith Södergran (1892-23) is undoubtedly the most famous. Her poem Vierge Moderne from 1916 has become a classic that is still praised for its feminism. Other feminist classics are Märta Tikkanen’s novel Män kan inte våldtas (Men Can’t Be Raped,1975) and poetry Århundradets kärlekssaga (The Love Story of the Century, 1978). These have recently been rediscovered by a new generation and published in new editions.

Other popular Finnish authors include Claes Andersson, Jörn Donner, Monika Fagerholm, Lars Huldén, Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Merete Mazzarella, Lars Sund, Sanna Tahvanainen and Maria Turtschaninoff.

Writing competitions such as the Arvid Mörne and Solveig von Schoultz competitions for poetry and the Hans Ruin competition for essays inspires and motivates amateurs as well as professionals to write their own texts. The Swedish Literary Society in Finland works to preserve and spread knowledge about Finland’s Swedish culture.