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||Olli (1889-1967) - pseudonym for Väinö Nuorteva - surname until 1919 Nyberg|
Finnish journalist, humorous columnist, who wrote 42 years for the conservative newspaper Uusi Suomi. Väinö Nuorteva is best known for his 10.000 sketches published under the pseudonym "Olli". Among his most popular fictional characters is the anarchistic Black-Bearded Man (Mustapartainen mies), who is always in conflict with bureaucracy and trivial cultural phenomenon.
"Syntyi nuorena, tuli vanhemmalla iällään ns, jokapäiväiseksi pakinoitsijaksi. Etsiessä syitä jälkimmäiseen onnettomuuteen voinee havaita, että alun alkujaan ensimmäisen kipinän sytyttäjänä oli Mäntsälän vapaaehtoinen palokunta." (Olli in Aleksis Kivestä Olavi Siippaiseen, ed. by Martti Haavio, 1944)
Väinö Nuorteva was born Väinö Albert Nyberg in Mäntsälä. His father,
Karl Emil Nyberg, was a pharmacist. When Nuorteva was 14, his father
died, and the family moved to Helsinki. While still at school, he started to write plays and dream of becoming a playwright.
In 1910 Nuorteva entered the University of Helsinki, where he studied folklore. He participated in student's club activities, gaining fame as an actor and writer of short plays. Some of these early pieces were published in the magazine Nuori Voima., which then commissioned him to write humorous sketches. After receiving his M.A. in 1914, Nuorteva began to prepare his doctoral thesis, dealing with "comical elements in folkpoetry". From 1914 to 1922 he contributed to several publications, incuding Ylioppilaslehti (Student magazine), Uusi Päivä, and Iltalehti. In accordance with the patriotic spirit of the time, he changed officially his name to Nuorteva in 1919.
Nuorteva buried his plans to finish his thesis in the early 1920s. He edited only a collection of folk tales about legendary "simpletons" or "noodleheads", entitled Hölmöläiset (1924). In 1925 he married Ebba Erika Lindroos; they had two sons, both of whom made a distinguished career at the University of Helsinki.
"Maailman menoa katsellessa näyttää siltä että asiain kehittäjät ovat teroittaneet järkensä tahkojuustolla." (from 'Hok- ja haksahduksia' in Pilkillä pilkkaillen, 1965)
The pseudonym "Olli" made its first appeared in 1914 in Ylioppilaslehti, which published 33 of Nuorteva's pieces. In 1922 he moved to the National Coalition Party's main organ, the newspaper Uusi Suomi, where he worked as a columnist until his retirement in 1964. During this period, he wrote over 10,000 humorous sketches, many of which were later collected in book form. His first book, Mustapartainen mies herättää pahennusta (The Black-Bearded Man gives offence), came out in 1921. It was a collection of his humorous pieces, starring The Black-Bearded Man, an individualist par excellence, and his alter ego. The stories were illustrated until 1938 by Toivo Vikstedt (1891-1930) and then by Erkki Koponen (1899-1996), who joined the staff of Uusi Suomi in 1927.
The Black-Bearded Man is a troublemaker, and the ultimate
horror of every bureaucrat and conformist. Usually Olli introduced him with the phrase, "Good, said The Black-Bearded
Man, day." The character featured in 65 stories. He could be seen as a forerunner to Tove
Jansson's Little My, Väinö Linna's Antero Rokka, and the folk artist
M.A. Numminen. With his irritating behaviour he test the boundaries of
etiquette and custom. Other popular characters, to be laughed at or
laughed with, were "my friend and roommate Kalle Niemeläinen,"
an inventor of many unpractical ideas, the senior accountant Jakari, and the poet Otso Kirjosiipi (Oswald
Scribalwing), who is devoted to his art without any success.
"Tämä keksintö on nykyajan siunauksellisin keksintö. Se tietää rauhan palaamista maan päälle. Ihmisten hermojen tyyntymistä. Tuhansien ihmishenkien pelastumista, turvaa raajarikkoisuutta ja onnettomuuksia vastaan. Kaasujen saastuttaman ilman puhdistumista. Tämä on 100 kertaa parempi keksintö kuin lentokone, joka kulkee ilman moottoria. Tämä keksintö on autonkuljettaja, joka kulkee ilman autoa! Tämä on kaikkiruokainen ja juo mitä tahansa paitsi vettä. Vaadin patentin!" (from 'Ilman' in Kuusi tusinaa, 1947)
During the Soviet aggression against Finland in World War II, Nuorteva's columns were patriotic. With humour as weapon, Nuorteva contributed to the Finnish war effort with such collections as Pisteet lopussa (1941), Vot, iivana : 29 juttua neuvostoryssistä (1942), and Vastikekastike 45 jutukkeesta (1943). He caricatured the Russian people and mocked the Soviet system. Noteworthy, during the reign of Nazism, he did not show interest in criticizing Germany or the Nazi leaders. In postwar Finland, these three propagandist books were considered "politically incorrect". Thus they ended up being removed from library shelves, among some three hundred other works, when the Allied Control Commission, led by the Soviets, supervised the implementation of the armistice. Nuorteva's forbidden books were not reprinted until 2009.
Re-situating himself in the changed political conditions, Nuorteva found the target for his parodies
everyday life, human weaknesses, the social pretensions of the middle
class, modern art, the uses of language in newspapers and ordinary
speech. Occasionally the piece was written in the form of a play.
Generally he avoided touching topical or political issues, but
examined the world from the viewpoint of an anarchist conservative.
In spite of Nuorteva's right-wing political position, his books enjoyed
a wide popularity among all kinds of readers, from liberal to
conservative. In spite of his incredible output, Nuorteva said in an
interview that he was a painfully slow writer. The last sentence was
the most important. Usually Nuorteva worked out the text in his head
before he put anything on paper.
In 1953 Nuorteva received The State Award, and in 1964 he became a professor h.c. Nuorteva's humorous shorts stories with their linguistic jokes have inspired a number of Finnish columnists. His works have been analyzed in academic studies and reprinted several times after his death in Helsinki on February 2, 1967. In the 1960s, Olli's sketches were also adapted for television. In 1990, the Black-Bearded Man, played by Kaarlo Juurela, appeared in a TV series.
Kirsti Manninen has noted in her study Ollista Bisquitiin (1987), that Olli's central form of essay during his years at the Ylioppilaslehti was an absurd short play. Olli was fascinated by breaking the norms of language. He could emphasize his apparent objectivity and distance by using minute details and numbers: "Yhdistyksen 3.452 jäsenestä oli ensimmäisessä kokouksessa läsnä 8, toisessa kokouksessa 9, kolmannessa 33 ja neljännessä 23. Siinä neljännessä kokouksessa valittiin yhdistykselle puheenjohtaja." (from 'Pieni Surullinen tarina', Ylioppilaslehti, November 23, 1916) According to Manninen, Olli's playful deviations from the norms of language became early a concept and a yardstick for the following generations of essayists. In spite of the difficulties to translate Olli's verbal somersaults into other languages, his sketches have appeared in German and Estonian translations.
For further reading: Satiiri Suomessa by Sari Kivistö & H.K. Riikonen (2012); 'Ridiculing the Demon: The Comical Image of Lazy, Stupid, Ineffective, Helpless, Uncultured Russians During the Winter War 1939-1940 in Finland' by Vesa Vares, in Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Information Warfare and Security, ed. by Josef Demergis (2010); Kansallisgallaeri: suuret suomalaiset, Vol. 4, ed. by Allan Tiitta, et al. (1996); Ollista Bisquitiin by Kirsti Manninen (1987); Suomalaista huumoria Ollista Bisquitiin, ed. by Timo Tiusanen (1978, 2nd edition); Verbien monitulkintaisuus Ollin kielessä ja nykysuomessa by Jorma Vuoriniemi (1974); Ollin kieli nykysuomen kuvastimena by Jorma Vuoriniemi (1973); 'Olli' in Aleksis Kivestä Martti Merenmaahan: suomalaisten kirjailijain elämäkertoja (1954)