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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.
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
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
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."