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Earliest known image of Aleksis Kivi. Drawn in 1873 almost certainly by Albert Edelfelt.

Aleksis Kivi (About this sound pronunciation ), born Alexis Stenvall, (October 10, 1834 ‚Äď December 31, 1872) was a Finnish author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (Finnish title: Seitsem√§n veljest√§). Although Kivi was among the very earliest authors of prose and lyrics in Finnish language, he is still considered one of the greatest of them all.

Aleksis Kivi was born at Nurmijärvi, Finland, to a tailor's family. In 1846 he left for school in Helsinki, and in 1859 he was accepted to the University of Helsinki, where he studied literature and developed an interest in the theater. His first play was Kullervo, based on a tragic tale from Kalevala. He also met the famous journalist and statesman Johan Vilhelm Snellman.

From 1863 onwards, Kivi devoted his time to writing. He wrote 12 plays and a collection of poetry. The novel Seven Brothers took him ten years to write. Literary critics, especially the prominent August Ahlqvist, disapproved of the book, at least nominally because of its "rudeness" ‚Äď romanticism was in its forte at the time ‚Äď but maybe also because it was written in the south-western dialect of Finnish, while Ahlqvist himself preferred north-eastern dialects of his homelands. The Fennomans also disapproved of its depiction of not-so-virtuous rural life that was far from their idealized point of view, and his excessive drinking may have alienated some.

In 1865 Kivi won the State Prize for his still often performed comedy Nummisuutarit (The Cobblers on the Heath). However, the less than enthusiastic reception of his books was taking its toll and he was already drinking heavily. His main benefactor Charlotta Lönnqvist could not help him after the 1860s. Physical deterioration and the development of schizophrenia (suspectedly caused by advanced borreliosis[citation needed]) set in, and Kivi died in poverty at the age of 38.

In 1995-1996, Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara wrote an opera about Kivi's life and works. In 2002 director Jari Halonen's movie The Life of Aleksis Kivi (Finnish title: Aleksis Kiven elämä) premiered in Finnish cinemas.

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Aleksis Kivi

Aleksis Kivi (October 10, 1834 - December 31, 1872), born Alexis Stenvall, was a Finnish author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (Finnish title: Seitsemän veljestä).


  • What is that land of hill and dale
    That is so beautiful,
    The land aglow with summer days,
    Land with the northern lights ablaze,
    Whose beauty all the seasons share,
    What is that land so fair?

    There many thousand lakes are bright
    With twinkling stars at night
    There many kanteles resound
    And all around make hillsides sing
    And on the golden heath firs ring:
    That is the Finnish land.
    • The Finnish Land
  • To fall asleep in your embrace,
    Land of our dreams, what bliss,
    O you our cradle, you our grave,
    You the new hope we ever crave,
    Peninsula so beautiful,
    Finland for aye our all!
    • The Finnish Land
  • Grove of Tuoni, grove of night!
    There thy bed of sand is light.
    Thither my baby I lead.
    Mirth and joy each long hour yields
    In the Prince of Tuoni's fields
    Tending the Tuonela cattle.
    Mirth and joy my babe will know,
    Lulled to sleep at evening glow
    By the pale Tuonela maiden.
    Surely joy hours will hold,
    Lying in thy cot of gold,
    Hearing the nightjar singing.
    Grove of Tuoni, grove of peace!
    There all strife and passion cease.
    Distant the treacherous world.
    • Grove of Tuoni
  • Now dig my grave
    Beneath the bay willows' boughs
    And with blackness cover it over again,
    There for evermore
    Go from my domain:
    I wish to slumber in peace.
    • Weariness


  • Min√§ el√§n.
    • Translation: "I'm alive." or "I live."
    • Last words

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