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|(Georg) Henrik Tikkanen (1924-1984)|
Swedish-language Finnish author and artist, art director of Sanoma Ltd. Henrik Tikkanen's breakthrough serie after some 40 books, Brändövägen 8 (1975, A Winter's Day / Snob's Island), Bävervägen 11 (1976), Mariegatan 26 (1977), and Georgsgatan (1980), depicted his own life, work and loves in satirical light. In these confessional novels the titles referred to the addresses where his family lived at the time. Henriksgatan (1982), a diary from 50 days in 1982, was loosely connected to the series.
"And the fact that Brändö [Kulosaari], like Switzerland, was never subjected to any serious bombing in the Second World War gradually made him feel almost like a citizen of a neutral state, even though of course he had his own preferences and antipathies. These he aired at the Stock Exchange Club, where each day he took his death-defying route over the narrow wooden bridge past two petrol tanks and a gasworks. Sometime he was in such a bad shape when he returned that, like the bold von Essen in The Tales of Ensign Stål, he had to be carried up the stairs." (Tikkanen about his father in Brändövägen 8)
Henrik Tikkanen was born in Helsinki, the son of Toivo Robert Tikkanen, an architect, and Kyllikki Ingeborg (Vitali) Tikkanen. His great-grandfather, Paavo Tikkanen, had been one of the founders the first major Finnish-language newspaper, Suometar, and his grandfather was the professor J.J. Tikkanen (1857-1930), who made a pioneering work in the Finnish art history.
As a boy, Tikkanen was a zealous patriot, joining the civilian defense corps at fourteen. With his brother Ulf, he began to contribute to the comics series Konrad, which was published in the newspaper Svenska Pressen between 1941 and 1944. In 1943 Tikkanen graduated from the secondary school. During the last years of the Continuation War, he served in the army as volunteer in the Nyland's Dragoons. His cartoons appeared in the magazine Korsulukemisto. Later his works were published in Aatami, Kuva, Ystäväni, Novellilukemisto 100, Viuhka, Helsingfors-Journalen, and Garm. After the war he studied art at the University of Helsinki (1945-47). Between the years 1947 and 1967 he worked as a journalist, columnist, and illustrator for the Finland-Swedish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. There he began to collaborate in 1950 with Benedict Zilliacus, whose poems, written under the pseudonym 'Bez', 'Jan' or 'J.', he illustrated. From 1967 Tikkanen was the art director at the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. He also wrote columns illustrated with his own drawings. His elegant line formed an essential part of the image of the newpaper. Its top cartoonists, Tikkanen, a leftist liberal, and Kari Suomalainen ("Kari"), a conservative, were opposite to each other, which the publisher, Aatos Erkko fully accepted.
As an artist Tikkanen had his first exhibition in 1947. In Finland he participated to exhibitions in the 1950s and 1960s. His works were also shown in Sweden, Denmark, and China. In 1980 he had an exhibition at Morley Gallery in London. Tikkanen's drawing were outlined with a light touch. He used only a few strokes to build his drawing, sometimes in hesitating, sensitive manner, sometimes with freely and firmly running lines. His erotic sketches illustrated among others Christer Kihlman's book De nakna och de saliga (1983) and his posthumously published collection of aphorisms Testamenttini elämälle (1992). Other subjects were façades of old and new buildings of Helsinki, scenes from his journeys, and people. The character of the Grim Reaper, violence, and death were Tikkanen's recurrent motifs.
Tikkanen's first book, Mr. Gogo kommer till Europa, came out in 1946. In the story an ape arrives in Europe as an African cultural attaché, and discovers that Western system leads to war, fascism, and insanity. He wrote in the 1950s several radio dramas, and enlarged his oeuvre into television plays in the 1960s. Tikkanen's first novel was Hjältarna är döda (1961). It depicted the life of artists and returning soldiers in Helsinki after the Continuation War.
Ödlarna (1965) explored the truth and myths of military heroism. War and heroism were themes in his pacifist novels Unohdettu sotilas (1974), 30-åriga krigen (1977, The Thirty Years' War), and Efter hjältedöden (1979). Tikkanen once said that he has two major themes, war and sex; his attitude toward war is negative but toward sex positive. In The Thirty Years' War Tikkanen took up the story of the Japanese soldiers, who was unaware that World War II had ended and was left behind on Guam and the Philippines. He transferred the scene and the protagonist, Viktor Käppärä, to the Karelian wilderness. Viktor, the name referring of course to victory, refuses to accept the fact that the war is over. In the sequel, Efter Hjältedöden, Viktor becomes a television star and is assassinated as he shakes hands with the Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme. Seven years after the publication of the novel Olof Palme was assassinated by an unknown gunman.
Dödens Venedig (1973) was an example of Tikkanen's highly developed sense of the macabre. The book about Venice demonstrated his view of the town as the symbol of an overrich and dying western culture. Tikkanen's autobiographical serie, starting from Brändövägen, goes through his childhood, his father's alcoholism and the suicide of one brother. The next to volumes focused on his growing dependence on drink, his Continental journeys with the left-wing poet Arvo Turtiainen, his marriage, and career in newspapers.
The titles of the books refer to his addresses on the different periods of his life: Brändövägen is in the elegant upper-middle-class area, the second, Bävervägen, is a bedroom suburb, Mariegatan is in the center of Helsinki, and Georgsgatan is where the theater was located in which his play was produced and where lies the gallery in which an exhibit of his graphic work is to be held. The third part dealt with the author's marriage to Märta Tikkanen, one of Finland's most-read contemporary authors in Scandinavia and Germany. Märtä Tikkanen gave in 1978 a bitter account of their life together in Århundradets kärlekssaga (The love story of the century). Tikkanen himself did not much blame his wife for his shortcomings. His alcoholism Tikkanen considered inherited.
Märta Tikkanen has combined in her work feminist views with personal revelations, and used her own life as material for her pamphlet novels and poems. She emerged in the 1970s as one of the leading northern advocates of women's liberation. Nu imorron (1970) and its sequel Ingenmansland (1972) followed the life of Frederika, who refuses the injustices of a male-dominated society. Män kan inte våldtas (1975, Manrape) was widely translated and made into a film (1978) by Jörn Donner. In the story a woman, who is raped by a man whom she has accompanied to his apartment, triumphantly inflicts a counterrape on her assailant. In Århunsradets kärlekssaga (1978, Love Story of the Century), a collection of prose poems with a narrative thread, Tikkanen gave an account of her marriage with Henrik Tikkanen, his drunkenness and complaints about her emotional coldness and aggressiveness. The book and a subsequent dramatization appealed to female audiences who shared similar experiences. Sofias egen bok (1982) was a chronicle of the illness and treatment of her younger child, afflicted with minimal brain dysfunction. In Rödluvan (1986) Tikkanen analyzed her childhood and used themes from mythology and fairy tales. Arnaía, kastad i havet (1992) examined the character of Penelope in a new way. Två: scener ur ett konstnärsäktenskap (2004) is an honest account of her stormy marriage with her famous husband, a Finnish Strindberg. Emma & Uno: visst var det kärlek (2010), was a family story about Tikkanen's grandparents. For further reading: Kärlekens paradis: konflikten mellan kärlek och konst i Henrik och Märta Tikkanens litterära dialog by Matilda Torstensson Wulf (2021); De oerhörda orden: en bok om Märta Tikkanens författarskap by Siv Storå (2020); "Borde hålla käft" en bok om Märta Tikkanen by Johanna Holmström & Märta Tikkanen (2020); Måste försöka skri-: en brevbiografi by Märta Tikkanen (2019); Vers une théorie du roman postnormâle: féminisme, réalisme et conflit sexuel chez Doris Lessing, Märta Tikkanen, Stieg Larsson et Virginie Despentes by Heta Rundgren (2016); Kaksi: kohtauksia eräästä taiteilija-avioliitosta (alkuteos: Två. Scener ur ett konstnärsäktenskap) by Märta Tikkanen (2004); 'Confessor Literature and the Tikkanens' by George C. Schoolfield, in A History of Finland's Literature, ed. by George C. Schoolfield (1998); Naisten galleria, ed. by Salme Saure (1985)
In addition to novels and memoirs, Henrik Tikkanen published travel books from his wide journeys in Europe, illustrated books, aphorisms, and short stories, and wrote teleplays for Suomen Televisio and Yleisradio (YLE). He received several awards, among them Eino Leino Association Award (1975), and the State Literature Award (1976, 1983). Tikkanen's last work was the autobiographical Renault, mon amour, (1983), in which the seriously ill author depicted his relationship with his favorite car, Renault. Tikkanen died in Espoo on May 19, 1984.
For further reading: Ihmisen ääni by Henrik Tikkanen (1978); Århundradets kärlesksaga by Märta Tikkanen (1978); Henrik, ed. by Märta Tikkanen et al. (1985); 'Confessor Literature and the Tikkanens' by George C. Schoolfield, in A History of Finland's Literature, ed. by George C. Schoolfield (1998); Kaksi: kohtauksia eräästä taiteilija-avioliitosta (alkuteos: Två. Scener ur ett konstnärsäktenskap) by Märta Tikkanen (2004); Henrik Tikkanen, piirtäjä by Erik Kruskopf (2004); Tikkanens blick: en essä om Henrik Tikkanens författarskap, livsöde och personlighet by Johan Wrede (2012); Terävää jälkeä: Henrik Tikkasen ajankuvia 1967-1972 by Henrik Meinander (2021); Kärlekens paradis: konflikten mellan kärlek och konst i Henrik och Märta Tikkanens litterära dialog by Matilda Torstensson Wulf (2021)