Sofi Oksanen is a literary sensation. Born in Finland in 1977, to a Finnish father and an Estonian mother, she writes in Finnish but calls herself a Finnish-Estonian writer. As a declared feminist, she speaks openly about men’s violence against women and Putin’s rule in Russia.
The Language Debate in Finland
Súsanna Helena Patursson one of a number of women writers in the national movement. She wrote the first Faroese theatre play, Veðurføst (Layover Because of Bad Weather), which was performed in 1889. She encouraged women to participate in the public discussion forum, to get an education, and she instructed them as to how house and home should be organised. She edited and published the first Faroese women’s magazine, Oyggjarnar (1905-08; The Islands), making housekeeping, interior design, and cooking recipes a national and political issue.Among Paturssons female successors may be counted women such as Billa Hansen, Andrea Reinert, and Maria Mikkelsen. While these women travelled out into the world in order to learn, get ideas and, not least, experience, Johanna Maria Skylv Hansen’s writing took her back to the old rural community.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the ‘sons of the people’ formed a united front against the bourgeois culture and ‘decadence’, and a new popular realism entered Danish literature. And the daughters of the people – well, they too embarked on new paths, and a few tried their luck as authors.These women writers cannot be seen as a group in the same way as the rural male writers can. They were isolated women dotted around Denmark, and for most of them writing was a sideline to the work that put food on the table. On the other hand, their rural origin meant that they had some material in common. Acquisition of a written language meant personal liberation for women from the lower classes – a way out of the trammels of class and the anonymous gender.
From Rhymes to Reforms in Iceland
The post-1814 world was a different place. The dual realm Denmark-Norway was dissolved, and Norway entered a union with Sweden. Women’s diaries from the period tell of daily life under the dramatic historical changes. One direct motivation for the women to write their memoirs was often the next generation’s wish for first-hand knowledge of the past.The oldest of the memoir-writers chronicle everyday life and the march of history, and often speak directly to their children or to other close relatives. These reminiscences are intended for the private sphere; they have no literary ambitions. Other memoirists had the public domain in mind. The best-known of these was Camilla Collett. Her work Amtmandens Døttre sounded the starting signal for women authors, and was Norway’s first major realist novel.
In earlier times the folktales known as “Narrationes Lubricae”, salacious stories, were narrated by adult informants in the rural areas of Norway, in the villages. There are many women registered among the adult informants. The crude stories were/are by no means the sole reserve of male company.We know the names of approximately two-thirds of those who narrated the comic erotic material, and of these exactly one half are women. This is perhaps surprising. Many consider the folktale and, one would have thought, the cruder type in particular, to be more of a male-centric form. We connect female informants primarily with ballads, in which music and aesthetics are in the foreground.