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||Ralf (Thomas Friedrich) Parland (1914-1995)|
Writer and journalist, whose brothers Henry Parland and Oscar Parland, also gained fame as writers. With Bengt Holmqvist, Harry Järv, Göran Schildt, Sven Willner, and Henrik Tikkanen, Ralf Parland was a representative of the generation, who returned from the war without illusions and without the old system of values on which the pre-war Finland had been built. He has been called both modernist and timeless mystic. From the late 1940s Parland lived in Sweden. He received the Nils Ferlin award in 1989.
"Like a bell's hollow blow
Ralf Parland was born in Vyborg into a family with a distant English background. His father Oswald Parland was an engineer and bridge builder, who worked for the Russian civil service. Parland's mother Ida Maria came from a Baltic-German family, the Sesemanns, prominent in Vyborg's history. At the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, the family moved to Finland. After graduating in 1932 from secondary school in Kauniainen, Parland studied at Technical High School, but dropped his studies and became a full-time writer.
In his early works he shared Henry Parland's light style and ironic view. His first book, Busch, a collection of short stories, appeared in 1934 and was followed by Ebonit in 1937. Parland also contributed music – he played violin – and other columns to several magazines, among others Nya Argus, Stocholms-Tidningen, Dagens Nyheter and Perspectiv. In 1938 he married the toy designer and writer Eva Aline Wichman (1908-1975); they divorced after seven years and Parland married Heli Gestrin (1901-2006). His third wife from 1960 to 1965 was the Swedish artist Helga Henschen (1917-2002), who had been married to German-Swedish author Peter Weiss.
As a poet Parland continued to explore the modernist vein of Elmer Diktonius and Gunnar Björling with his book Avstånd (1938). Diktonius was his neighbour in Grankulla and Parland spent a good deal of time with him in his youth. In his postwar production Parland moved away from Diktonius's influence, becoming more abstract.
Like his younger brother Henry, Parland filled his poems with images from jazz, natural sciences and technology, but often with pessimistic undertones. He also contributed to the publishing house Holger Schildts' new cultural magazine, a quarterly, which had liberal editorial policy. In 1939 Parland started his career as translator with Marcu Valeriu's Machiavelli, renessansmänniskan och maktfilosofen. Other translation's from German and Finnish include Goethe's Den unge Werthers lidanden (1949), Robert Musil's Tre kvinnor (1957), Eeva Kilpi's novel Tamara (1974), Daniel Katz's novel Orvar Kleins död (1978), and Peter Rosei's Von Hier nach Dort (1980).
During World War II Parland took a critical stand on Finland's policy, and opposed the war against the Soviet Union. With Lars Hjalmarsson Dahl and Atos Wirtanen he translated into Swedish Olavi Paavolainen's diary from the years 1941-44, Finlandia i moll (1947, Gloomy soliloquy), which had caused after its publication considerable controversy due to its hidden anticipation of the defeat of Germany – then Finland's ally – and criticism of the Greater Finland ideology, a taboo subject during the Continuation war.
In the late 1940s he joined the leftist literary association Kiila (Wedge) with Oscar Parland, Thomas Warburton and a number of other Swedish-speaking Finnish writers. Parland left Finland for Sweden in 1948, and thereafter spent most of his time in that country, publishing poems and short stories with Orwellian science fiction themes (Eros och elektronerna, 1953; En apa for till himmelen, 1961). With these works he took distance to modernism, but he had already revealed in Abel y Aifairs sånger (1941) his interest in myths, and in Mot fullbordan (1944) his interest in China and India.
Parland become a well-known figure among the so-called Klarabohemerna, writers, journalists, and artists, who spent their time in Klara in the central part of Stockholm. Music remained an important part of his life, too. When the Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich won in 1958 the Sibelius Award, Parland interviewed him for the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
Hymner från Santsche-pi (1959) was an
antiutopia, with connections to the James Hilton's more simple story of
Shangri-La. "Jag är kommen till Santsche-Pi / att lärä er oberördhetens
broderskap / det blå medvetandets sanning: / Varen rör / för detta
viddrag från tingen! / Ty det är icke ni / det är vinden genom er." Parland's dystopic science fiction culminated in I: en
roman om förhävelsen (1973), a prose expansion of the Santsche-Pi
myths. Sonat för fallskärm och kalebass (1964) showed the
author's affection for Russian culture. Parland's short stories were
usually sketchy. Like his brother Oscar, he returned in several works
into his childhood milieu, among them Hem till sitt hav
(1957) and En hundpredikan (1966). Ralf Parland died on May
22, 1995, in Stockholm. He was buried at Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm.
For further reading: Femtio år finlandssvensk litteratur by Thomas Warburton (1951); Modern finlandssvensk litteratur by Bengt Holmqvist (1951); 'Hem till sit hav: Livskänslan hos Ralf Parland' by Sören Fallberg, OOB 73 (1964); 'Ett folk som blött' by Johan Wrede in Den Svenska Litteraturen, Vol. 6 (1990); 'Bohemer - mer eller mindre' by Sven O. Bergkvist, in I Klarabohemernas värld by Sven O. Bergvist and Dan Mellin (1993); 'A Brilliant Eclecticism: Ralf Parland' by George C. Shoolfield, in A History of Finland's Literature, ed. by George C. Schoolfield (1998); "Jag strängar min buk och spelar de skimrande tarmvredssonater" by Marit Lindqvist, in Nya Argus, 90 (1997); Finlands svenska litteraturhistoria. Andra delen: 1900-talet, ed. by Clas Zilliacus (2000)