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Arto Tuovinen (1933-1968)

 

Finnish journalist, novelist, and translator. Tuovinen began his career as a juvenile books writer, but he also published spy novels with international flavor. Tuovinen's thrillers gained a critical success and became best-sellers, but he died too early, at the age of 35, and until the work of Ilkka Remes, he did not have successor in Finland in the field of fast-paced modern spy fiction. Tuovinen's hero was Boris Stolitsky, a devout and coldblooded servant of the Soviet intelligence, who had a weakness for vodka, beautiful women, and Western luxury.

"Stolitskyn kasvoille palasi ilmeetön kovuus hänen kulkiessaa Mir-kadun ylitse. Ihmiskunta pysyi samana. Kukin syntyi keskelle jotakin sen osaa, ja siihen hän kokemiensa mielihyvän tunteiden ja nautintojen myötävaikutuksella kiintyi. Hän alkoi kutsua omaa maapallon kaistalettaan isänmaaksi, vaikkei hänen isänsä olisi koskaan omistanut siitä maasta muruakaan, ja hän alkoi pitää kanssaan samaa kieltä puhuvia, samanlaisen syntymäsattuman tuloksia parempina ihmisiä kuin toisia." (from Muista minua tuonelassa, 1966)

Arto Tuovinen was born in Tammisaari, and educated in Helsinki at Vaasanrinne coeducational school. Before graduating, he wrote a short story that won the first prize in an a writing competition arranged by the culture association Nuoren Voiman Liitto (NVL). From 1953 he worked as a journalist for the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, then for the family magazine Seura, and from 1965 to 1968 he was a staff member of the newspaper Uusi Suomi. Tuovinen died following a long illness in Helsinki, on August 17, 1968. He was 35. In the wake of a boom in spy fiction, Tuovinen's Boris Stolitsky novels had the potential to make an international breakthrough but after his death effort to get them published in other languages were eventually abandoned. 

Tuovinen's first book, Me hiivimme öisin (1953), published by WSOY, came out when he was only twenty years old. This action filled story featuring two teenaged boy scouts, Lare and Tikku, was followed Lare panee toimeksi (1956), also dealing with the adventurous scout life. The latter was published by Karisto, which also published the juvenile novel Arpinaama ja Punapää (1957).

To familiarize with the subject of his novel Nyrkki ja Neliapila (1961), a story about three boys who escape from a reformatory school, Tuovinen interviewing boys and teachers living and working in a reformatory. Although in the background of the flight is an unjust teacher, Tuovinen is not criticizing the justice system. At the end the boys learn to respect the director of the institution, who turns out to be understanding and honest. " – Ja muistakaa, pojat, johtaja jatkoi puristettuaan myös Arvon kättä, – että jos teille joskus tulee vaikeuksia, te voitte aina tulla tänne tapaamaan minua tai vaikkapa kirjoittaa minulle. Minä olen aina valmis tekemään voitavani teidän auttamiseksi kunnon miehen pyrkimyksissä." (from Nyrkki ja Neliapila)

While working at the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, Tuovinen befriended Mauri Sariola, a criminal justice reporter at the Helsingin Sanomat. Sariola gained later huge popularity with his crime fiction, whereas Tuovinen specialized in thrillers and action novels after publishing two detective Commissaire Valanne books, Ei mitään menetettävää (1964) and Poikamiesten kotiliesi (1965).

In 1966 Tuovinen created his heroical Soviet born spy, Boris Stolitsky, who broke the typical concept of spy fiction in which good guys from the West confront bad guys from the East. Stolitsky, however, was modelled after Ian Fleming's James Bond. Tuovinen's protagonist went out for in search of adventures in three books. Stolitsky likes to drink vodka, he doesn't believe in Leninism or Buddhism, or the virgin birth, and his superiors in the KGB consider him a misfit.

"-– Minulla ei ole teille, herra Borman, muuta sanottavaa, vastasi Stolitsky, - kuin ne sanat, jotka olen hartaasti halunnut lausua teille jo kauan.
--– Tervetuloa Moskovaan, Bormann, sanoi Stolitsky."

-- (from Tervetuloa Moskovaan Bormann, 1967)

In Muista minua tuonelassa (1966) a Finnish construction worker, Pertti Vaaja, is found dead on the road to Murmansk. He has been a member of a right-wing organization. Stolitsky reveals a secred nazi organization, run by Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary who disappeared in the final days of World War II. Tervetuloa Moskovaan, Bormann (1967) continued the struggle between Stolitsky and the Nazi villain, whose organization, Das Reich, now threatens to destroy the northern hemisphere if Germany is not united. The last book and least successful in the series, Rhodoksella polttaa, Boris Stolitsky (1968), dealt with trading in arms. Rhodos, the scene of the story, had became a highly popular target for Finnish tourists. Critics considered the novel somewhat half-hearted.

Politically Tuovinen's hero was not in conflict with Finland's foreign policy regarding the Soviet Union. By character, Stolitsky was a cosmopolite with a gun. All the Stolitsky novels were published by Gummerus, which also published Ian Fleming's books. "What is so interesting to look for in these imitations is how cultures adapted different elements of Bond to suit their own current national concerns – reflecting, perhaps, what kind of Bond an Italian ir a Finn might imagine himelf to be." ('Wanting to Be James Bond' by Slexis Albion, in Ian Fleming & James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007, edited by Edward P. Comentale, Stephen Watt, and Skip Willman, 2005, p. 206)

The serialized story Santa Maria - kohtalon laiva, which appeared in Seura, was based on a true event, the hijacking of the Portuguese luxury cruise liner Santa Maria in January 1961. One crewman died in the raid, and several others were wounded. This work was Tuovinen's first international action thriller, but it has never been published in a book form, nor was Henry A. Zeiger's extended account of the incident, The Seizing of the Santa Maria (1961), translated into Finnish. After Tuovinen's death it took over thirty years before a Finnish writer used successfully international bestseller formula and settings. Ilkka Remes's novel Pääkallokehrääjä (1997) took its influence from Tom Clancy, spy novels, and science fiction. It was followed in 1998 by Karjalan lunnaat, which established Remes as the forefront thriller writer in Finland.

As a translator Tuovinen focused on such writers as John Dickson Carr, Peter Cheyney, James Hadley Chase, Mickey Spillane, and Ian Fleming, who also influenced his own writing. All the Peter Cheyney translations came out in the Salama series of detective fiction, published by Gummerus. Besides mystery novels, Tuovinen translated non-fiction, among others Gordon Lonsdale's memoirs, and Philippe de Vomécourt's history of the French Resistance during World War II. Together with his fiancée Marja Lempinen, a journalist at the newspaper Uusi Suomi, he translated in 1961 Birger Lövgren's travel book Mölyapinoita ja viidakkointiaaneja.

For further reading: 'Mies joka toi toimintajännärin Suomeen' by Tapani Bagge, Ruumiin kulttuuri (3/2018) - Other Finnish mystery and thriller writers: Mauri Sariola, Marton Taiga, Outsider, Tauno Yliruusi, Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, Pentti Kirstilä, Juha Numminen, Leena Lehtolainen, Reijo Mäki.  Note: The Bulgarian novelist Andrei Gulyashki invented in the 1960s an ace Russian spy named Avakum Zakhov. Gulyashki's book, Zakhov Mission (1966), was among others translated into Finnish and English. Compared to Tuovinen's hero, Zakhov was a much more proletarian figure, whose main mission in life seemed to be to destroy agent 07, a "decadent but handsome agent of a corrupt Western power."  

Selected works:

  • Me hiivimme öisin: partiomuistelmia, 1953
  • translator: H.J. Kaeser, Uskalias Totti, 1954 (original title: Rädd är jag inte!)
  • Lare panee toimeksi: partiolaiskertomus, 1956
  • translator: John Dickson Carr, Itsemurhien salaisuus, 1957 (original title: The Case of the Constant Suicides)
  • translator: John Dickson Carr, Kuiskaava kuolema, 1957 (original title: He Who Whispers)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Myrkkykukka, 1958 (original title: Poison Ivy)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Savua ilman tulta, 1958 (original title: I’ll Say She Does)
  • Arpinaama ja Punapää, 1958
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Hiljennä kurveissa, 1959 (original title: Lady, Behave!)
  • translator: Erle Stanley Gardner, Karannut ruumis, 1959 (original title: The Case of the Runaway Corpse)
  • translator: Joseph Chipperfield, Musta raivopää: kadonneen virran laaksin ori, 1959 (original title: Dark Fury - Stallion of Lost River Valley)
  • translator: Margery Allingham, Kuolema kulkee sumussa, 1960 (original title: The tiger in the smoke)
  • translator: Otto Wendel & Curt Falkenstam, Kuolleiden on puhuttava, 1960 (original title: De döda måste tala)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Levätään vasta haudassa, 1960 (original title: Never a Dull Moment)
  • translator: Jørgen Bitsch, Ulu - maailman päätepiste: matkoja Borneon viidakoissa, 1960 (original title: Ulu - verdens ende)
  • translator (with Marja Tuovinen): Birger Lövgren, Mölyapinoita ja viidakkointiaaneja: moottoripyörän ja raivausveitsen voimalla New Yorkista Tulimaahan, 1961 (original title: Bland vrålapor och djungelindianer)
  • Nyrkki ja neliapila: kertomus 12-16-vuotiaille, 1961
  • Santa Maria - kohtalon laiva, 1961 (Seura 13-14/1961 & 19/1961)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Viski tekee vallattomaksi, 1961 (original title: Another Little Drink)
  • translator: Robert McCloskey, Homer Price, lännen poika, 1962 (original title: Homer Price)
  • translator: Simon Rattray, Kuoleman ympyrä, 1962 (original title: Dead Circuit)
  • translator: Frederick Sondern Jr., Mafia, rikoksen veljeskunta, 1962 (original title: Brotherhood of Evil - the Mafia)
  • translator: Philippe de Vomécourt, Unohdetut urhoolliset: kertomus Ranskan vastarintaliikkeestä vuosina 1940-1945, 1962 (original title: Who Lived to See the Day)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Veljet, mikä tyttö, 1962 (original title: You’d Be Surprised)
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Kiinalaisia kurveja, 1963 (original title: Can Ladies Kill?)
  • translator: Kenneth Cook, Pimeyden kahle, 1963 (original title: Chain of Darkness)
  • translator: Gavin Maxwell, Saukkoystäväni, 1963 (original title: Ring of Bright Water)
  • translator: Mickey Spillane, Yö, 1963 (original title: The Deep)
  • Ei mitään menetettävää, 1964
  • translator: Peter Cheyney, Kerran se kirpaisee, 1964 (original title: It Couldn’t Matter Less)
  • translator: Helen MacInnes, Tehtävä Venetsiassa, 1964 (original title: The Venetian Affair)
  • translator: Netta Muskett, Anna takaisin eilispäivä, 1965 (original title: Give Back Yesterday)
  • translator: Mickey Spillane, Käärme, 1965 (original title: The Snake)
  • translator: James Hadley Chase, Oli kaunis kesäaamu, 1965 (original title: One Bright Summer Morning)
  • translator: Marten Cumberland, Tappaja rampin takaa, 1965 (original title: Hate Finds a Way)
  • Poikamiesten kotiliesi, 1965
  • translator: Ian Fleming, Timantit ovat ikuisia, 1966 (original title: Diamonds Are Forever)
  • translator: Dick Francis, Varma kuin kuolema, 1966 (original title: Dead Cert)
  • translator: Mickey Spillane, Verinen auringonnousu, 1966 (original title: Bloody Sunrise)
  • translator: Mickey Spillane, Aikamoinen nainen, 1966 (original title: Day of the Guns)
  • translator: Ian Fleming, Elä ja anna toisten kuolla, 1966 (original title: (original title: Live and Let Die)
  • translator: Ian Fleming, James Bond Istanbulissa, 1966 (original title: From Russia, with Love)
  • translator: William Garner, Joukkotuho, 1966 (original title: Overkill)
  • translator: Gavin Maxwell, Kalliot pysyvät, 1966 (original title: The Rocks Remain)
  • translator: James Hadley Chase, Lähtöjuhlat, neiti Blandish, 1966 (original title: The Flesh of the Orchid)
  • translator: Gordon Lonsdale, Neuvostovakoilija: 20 vuotta salaista palvelua, 1966 (original title: Spy, Twenty Years of Secret Service)
  • Muista minua tuonelassa, 1966
    - "Tavallista laajamittaisemminsuunnitelty ja sommiteltu kotimainen jännitysromaani, jossa samaan aikaan tapahtumia kehitellään sekä itä- että länsirajojemme tuntumassa, ja jossa sankarina on vaihteeksi neuvostoliittolainen salainen asiamies, tosin melko paljon ammattiveljensä James Bondin kaltainen erehtymätön ja kylmä ammattilainen... Kokonaisuutena tämä kansainväliseen poliittiseen jännitykseen rakentuva muotijännäri on mukiinmenevä." (Kerttu Manninen, Arvosteleva kirjaluettelo 6/1966)
  • translator: James Hadley Chase, Isojen poikien leikit, 1967 (original title: This Is For Real)
  • Tervetuloa Moskovaan, Bormann, 1967
    - "Tuovinen on lehtimiehenä keksinyt kansainvälisen politiikan ja 'kylmän sodan' piiristä pari, kolme tekijää, joiden varaan on mukava rakentaa jännistysromaaneja... Tuore keksintö on myös neuvostoagentti Stolistsky, joka tässä nyt jo toista kertaa on silmäkkäin Bormannin kanssa tasaveroisena vastustajana... Vilkkaasti kansainvälisessä maastossa etenevä agenttithrilleri, jonka ei tarvitse hävetä vertailuja vastaaviin ulkomaisiin." (Kerttu Manninen, Arvosteleva kirjaluettelo 6/1967)
  • translator (with Eero Raassina): James Hadley Chase, Armoton pikkumies, 1968 (original title: The Way the Cookie Crumbles)
  • Rhodoksella polttaa, Boris Stolitsky, 1968
    - "Oletettavasti lukuisat suomalaiset Rhodoksen kävijät lukevat tämän kansainvälisenasekaupan sokkeloista juoniaineksensa noutavan agenttiromaanin jo pelkästään paikallisvärinkin vuoksi. Me muut koemme hienoisen pettymyksen aikaisempiin Stolistsky-kirjoihin vertailtaessa. Ammattitaitoista, mutta jollakin tavoin innotonta työtä, eikä sankarikaan tunnu oikein olevan vedossa." (Kerttu Manninen, Arvosteleva kirjaluettelo, 6/1968)
  • translator (with Eeva Tuovinen): Patricia Moyes, Totuus nukkuu sikeästi, 1969 (original title: Johnny Under Ground)


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