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New Finnish Grammar (Dedalus Europe 2011) Paperback – September 1, 2011
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About the Author
Judith Landry was educated at Somerville College, Oxford where she obtained a first class honours degree in French and Italian.She combines a career as a translator of works of fiction,art and architecture with part-time teaching. Her translations for Dedalus are: The House by the Medlar Tree by Giovanni Verga,The Devil in Love by Jacques Cazotte,Paris Noir:The Weeping Woman on the Streets of Prague by Sylvie Germain and Smarra & Trilby by Charles Nodier.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Diego Marani's book New Finnish Grammar, a man is found on a Trieste quay, unconscious with obvious head wounds. When he regains consciousness he appears to have no memory, or language, to all intents and purposes he has become an empty vessel devoid of all that we would perceive necessary for an individuals identity, in fact the only thing that marks him in any way is a name-tag inside the seaman's jacket he's wearing, with the Finnish name Sampo Karjalainen and a handkerchief embroidered S.K.
He is taken to a hospital ship that is anchored nearby & administered to by a doctor who's origins are Finnish and it is he who recognises the name as that of a native of his homeland. The doctor (Petri Friari) has a troubled past with his native land due to the way his parents, particularly the way his father, was hounded by his fellow countrymen, then put to death as a communist traitor. All of this feeds into the way the doctor proceeds to help the man now known as Sampo, whom he sees as a version of himself & he takes on the task of restoring Sampo to the man he believes he is, by reacquainting him with what he perceives is his native tongue and then by repatriating him to Finland, with a letter introducing him to a fellow doctor.Read more ›
The central character is called Sampo Karjalainen. He is found clubbed unconscious by some assailant in Trieste. That Finish name - drawn from Finnish mythology - is sewn into his seaman's jacket, but he has lost all memory of who he is and all understanding and use of language. In the Trieste military hospital he is found by the Finnish born Dr Petri Friari, who is serving in the German army: he had fled his country in 1918, after his father had been killed as a suspected communist during the Finnish civil war which was won by the Whites. Though an exile from his country, Friari still feels a profound love and identity with it. He feels an obligation to help Sampo to recover the Finnish language and begins to teach him; he has not got very far when he arranges for Sampo to be sent, early in 1944, to a military hospital in Helsinki, where, surrounded by other Finns, he hopes Sampo's recovery of his language will be speeded up. In that hospital a caring army chaplain, Pastor Olof Koskela, takes on the job of teaching Sampo. The hospital is Sampo's base, but he can spend as much of his time outside it as he likes (one of the many things in the book which seems unlikely).
We understand from the Preface that Sampo has died when Dr Petri himself goes back to Helsinki in 1946 and finds a manuscript written by Sampo. Its transcription, filled out with Petri's occasional emendations and comments, makes up most of the book.Read more ›
We are near the end of the Second World War. A sailor, gravely injured, shows up in a hospital in Trieste. He has lost all memory and even the ability to speak. The only clue to his identity is the jacket he is wearing which bears the inscription, Sampo Karjaleinan, a Finnish name. The doctor treating him happens to be a Finnish exile, desperately guilty at abandoning his homeland as well as acutely homesick. He begins to teach the sailor Finnish and arranges for him to be sent back to Helsinki (which itself is at war with the mighty Soviet Union.)
There Sampo meets a Lutheran pastor Olof Koskela, who continues his linguistic education while teaching him the roots of Finnish identity and culture with special emphasis on the national epic, the Kalevala. The question is, can the pastor, as well as teaching Sampo Finnish, also teach him to be a Finn? Can he restore to a man without memory a sense of personal and national identity?
Memory, the author tells us, is inseparable from words which draw things out of the shadows. The Finnish word for the Bible, we're told, is the same as the word for grammar. And Finnish grammar is notoriously knotty and impenetrable with its numerous declensions and conjugations unknown in other tongues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A strange mystery about people doing their best in difficult circumstances.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
The concept around which Diego Marani's "New Finnish Grammar" is built is a very clever one, but I felt he allowed too many socio-cultural discursions to bog things down. Read morePublished 5 months ago by keetmom
This is an excellent book. The story is engrossing, and the setting brings the reader to the heart of the narrative. Read morePublished 11 months ago by S. Marshall
Very slow and esoteric. The author wanders all over and by the end you don't really care what happens. He was trying to be "cool" I think, but this failed. Read morePublished 11 months ago by ESM517
The theme of reading books that revolve around amnesia continues. Why I keep reading these books, I don't kow, but this is certainly one of the more interesting ones doing the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kiwiflora
This book tickled my interest in all things Finnish, in language and its acquisition, and in our conception of identity. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Tim W. Jollymore
A few years ago I got into a rather intense discussion along the lines of whether there is any association between the currency used by a country and their population's feeling of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by BookerTalk
This a truly original contemporary novel, combining elements of the historical novel, prose-poetry (even in translation), romance and even thriller. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Stebbo