Book Review | Envall’s essays divide life sharply, the power of literature weaker – Pledge Times



Markku Envall: The Cold Pen War. WSOY. 250 s.

Markku Envallin essay books could be considered old-fashioned at first glance, especially if compared to the flashy, personal style of younger essayists in recent years.

This is actually an illusion. Born in 1944, Envall is in some places more personal than many others. He relies specifically on his own experience, even when reading other people’s books. And sharpness just means a matter of perspective.

Individuality can also be limiting for an experienced Envall. When he writes about his relationship to alcohol, about how he left it altogether, he only talks about his own life and the situations in which he himself has been present.

When born in 1986 Antti Hurskainen writes in his book Grief doesn’t work on the same subject, he draws on previous generations and Finland’s alcohol policy in recent decades. Like a good essayist belongs.

Envall on the other hand, the boundary between his essays is very strict. Although he is a literary scholar by profession, he saves literary references for later when writing about phenomena such as loneliness and friendship. Like a good essayist belongs.

That’s when Envall is at its sharpest. He determines point by point what friendship is and what it is not.

The use of the word has expanded to such an extent that it is almost depleted of its meanings, Envall writes, and continues in Swedish with the usual use of language: “good friend” and “best friend” are just words flattened into phrases. Best Friend ”is a questionable hierarchy of a group of friends. He who has many friends has many kinds of friends and friendships ”.

Envall often writes more about these life phenomena than about the authors. He then uses the training of the specifying reader better for life itself than for books. Essays Ian McEwanin From sweet hunger and observations Kafkan production remain rather incomplete, rather than diary entries. Instead Tolstoin War and peace and Alice Munron the short stories evoke something like passion in an otherwise cool analyst, a desire to turn as many sides of the story as possible.

Instead, a few essays leave you feeling like you could go on. Eino Leinon Helkeles could open up more prospects for the ideological world of the early 20th century, especially the stubborn Nietzscheanness of the proud host Ylerm. Indeed, this idea took over the sector in Europe in an incredible way at the time, and it seems that it still has an impact. And Leino had Nietzsche’s book with him when he did Helkants wrote.

Envall writes a lot about believing and praying. He again makes many fruitful observations: “We choose a new dogma and replace it with the observation of the waking state. This builds a surprising scenario in which the atheist and the believer are on the same side and there is a mystic opposite them. ”

Envall’s sympathies are vividly on the side of the broad mystic. As an essayist, he is no mystic, rather a matter-of-fact disaggregator, sometimes a short-sentence bear. Some essays could have expanded the history of ideas and Biblical in the direction of the doctrine of explanation.

Equally, after reading the whole book, you feel like you have received a package that clearly articulates the phenomena of life. There is genuine wisdom involved, even words of comfort from loneliness, among other things. In the end, Envall can also quote the authors: Mika Waltarin according to loneliness “sensitizes to receive everything that moves in time”.


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