Väinö Linnan Tuntematon sotilas konfliktiromaanina : normistojen taistelu
Väinö Linna's novel "The Unknown Soldier" (1954) aroused more debate than any other work to date in Finland. A particular object of debate was his depiction of the Finnish soldier. Linna consciously set about destroying the myth of the idealistic Finnish soldier figure of J. L. Runeberg's 'Ensign Stool'. In thus doing, he assumed a position of conflict against the prevailing attitudes to the Finnish soldier. Väinö Linna's novel, however, also contains a powerful structural conflict. The progress of the plot relies integrally on the conflict inherent in it. His method in this regard is dialectical. A frame of reference for the conflict in the novel, as well as a code explaining it, is to be found in the dichotomy of official and unofficial norms and their observation in a military unit as set out in Knut Pipping's doctoral thesis in sociology "The Company as a micro-society" ( 194 7). Pipping's population is exactly the same as Linna's: both writers examine principally a machine gun company comprising mainly soldiers doing their military service in the socalled Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union in the period 1941-1944. The similarities in their respective observations are striking. Linna's conflict is most relevantly to be seen in his description of Finnish patriotism, the Finnish soldier and his enemy. In all of these Linna deviates significantly from the officially normative image. Linna's point of view is that of the rank-and-file, the common man dressed in military uniform. Yet Linna does not question the justification of Finland defending herself. Similarly it would be unjust to accuse the soldiers of "The Unknown Soldier" of a lacking patriotism, since, despite their grumbling and despite their criticism of idealistic values, they do their duty. Together with the changes that have taken place in the cultural atmosphere of post-war Finnish society, the ideological conflict of the novel has lost its pointedness. Yet this pointedness is retained in the structural conflict of the novel. A composition based on powerful conflicts is also typical of other works by Linna. ...
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