Mika Waltari
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704 pages

From Father to Son: The Helsinki Trilogy

Isästä poikaan

Mika Waltari’s trilogy about Helsinki.

Waltari was a third generation Helsinki native and had set his first two novels The Grand Illusion (1928) and  The Orange Seed (1931) in the capital city. Waltari further explored the image of Helsinki in the trilogy From Father to Son (1942).

After The Orange Seed, Waltari was looking for something new, and devised a large-scale plan: a series of novels dealing with the history of his own family and with the builders of Helsinki. The attempt was a test of maturity and also an effort to satisfy the demands for national themes presented in this period.

In this series of novels, Waltari uses the history of his own family, taking minor artistic liberties. The trilogy spans three generations and the protagonists are united by the ambitious search for their own paths and a shared longing for a sense of peace. They were modelled after Gustaf, Toimi and Mika Waltari himself, the last volume being a belletristic early memoir.

The trilogy depicts the rapid social mobility in the Finnish society from the middle of the 19th century up to the years of publication. It also describes the development of the individual, the development of the Finnish intelligentsia and the transformation of Helsinki throughout the years.

The Helsinki trilogy was initially published in three separate volumes entitled The Man and the Dream (1933), Soul and Flame (1934) and Burning Youth (1935), abridged to a trilogy by the author and published under the collective title From Father to Son (1942). The trilogy won Mika Waltari two State Prizes for Literature (awarded for Soul and Flame and Burning Youth, in 1934 and 1935) and strengthened his position in the front rank of national authors.

From Father to Son remains as relavent today as it was upon publication.

Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnum 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.

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