A profoundly tragic tale about love, resentment and alcohol abuse
Aaltonen arrives at a remote Finnish farm seeking work. The so-called stranger comes from the city, where his former life was worlds apart from the humdrum of the Finnish hinterlands. The farm is managed by an unnamed, strait-laced woman who lives with Alfred, her alcoholic husband who she keeps locked up in the bathroom. Although the farm was originally purchased in an attempt to save Alfred from the evils of the city, his wife soon realises that the evil she wanted to save her husband from lies deep within his soul.
Aaltonen and Alfred’s wife find common ground and spend a happy summer together but, before their relationship has a chance to blossom, Alfred manages to precipitate unthinkable tragedy. The book takes both erotic and violent turns, passing thoughtful and philosophical comments on both human nature and the banality of life. Its publication in 1937 was met with moral outrage from its readers.
Waltari submitted A Stranger Came to the Farm to WSOY’s novella competition anonymously and won. When his book Never A Tomorrow was awarded second place and the jury learned that both works were by Waltari, he had to withdraw the latter.
A Stranger Came to the Farm has been adapted for film twice: first in 1938 by Wilho Ilmari and then in 1957 by Hannu Leminen.
Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnus opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.
A Stranger Came to the Farm, 1937
The Epilogue, 1938
Arabic (Hilmi Murad 1956)
Croatian (A3DATA 1999)
Czech (Svetovy 1941 / Knizni Klub 2004 / Euromedia 2012 / Hejkal 2016), rights reverted
Dutch (Van Holema & Warendorf 1942)
Danish (Jespersen og Pio 1939 / Grafisk 1953 / Borgen 1973)
English (G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1952), rights reverted
Estonian (Eesti kirjastuse kooperatiiv 1938 / Eesti Raamat 1984)
French (Gallimard 1995)
German (Bruckmann 1943 / Neff 1977 / Lubbe 1980)
Greek (Kaktos 1993), rights reverted
Hungarian (Dante 1941 / Fatum-Ars 1993)
Hebrew (Poalim 2005), rights reverted
Italian (Sperling & Kupfer 1942 / Garzanti 1954)
Latvian (Zelta Abele 1942)
Norwegian (Aschenhoug 1939)
Polish (C&T 1994)
Romanian (Literatura Universala 1969)
Spanish (José Janes 1958 / Luis de Caralt 1958 / GP 1959 / Plaza y Janes 1977)
Swedish (Schildts 1937)
1937, Winner of WSOY’s Novella Competition
“…a masterpiece, a unique journey into the hearts of men, which slowly builds an inescapable fate. One of the most significant novels I’ve read lately, classic in its simplicity.” – Saliot Thomas, World Literature Forum
“…effective, striking, in many ways. Yet in spite of the sparseness and compactness of the book [Waltari] manages to make it almost lush, or purple, in some of its passages.” – Saturday Review