Paavo Haavikko (1931-2008)

The versatile Finnish author Paavo Haavikko is highly regarded for his modernist poetry and his work in many other genres.

Black and white portrait of Paavo Haavikko portrayed in 1960.
Finnish writer Paavo Haavikko portrayed in 1960. Photographer unknown. Source: Universitat de València (Public domain)

Paavo Juhani Haavikko, born in Helsinki in 1931, was a Finnish author of poems, novels, short stories, aphorisms, radio and stage drama. His roots were in modernist poetry, and he made his debut with the collection Tiet etäisyyksiin (The roads to far away) in 1951.

In the 1970s he widened his field from esoteric modernism to economic pamphlets and company histories, also writing the libretto for Aulis Sallinen’s opera Kuningas lähtee Ranskaan (1974) (The King Goes Forth to France).

Haavikko drew inspiration from Finnish folklore and the Kalevala, as illustrated by the television drama Rauta-aika (1982) (Iron Age). He kept an intellectual distance to the political elite, preferring to side with the common man; however, he wrote President Urhu Kekkonen’s biography, Vuosisatani (1981) (My Century).

Haavikko also had a parallel career as a businessman; he was literary director of publishing company Otava, 1967-1983 and the owner of Art House, another publisher. He died in Helsinki in 2008.


Further Reading:

  • K. Laitinen, Literature of Finland: An Outline (Helsinki: SKS, 1994).