Monday, May 28, 2012

Books on my nightstand

Hannu Olkinuora, Marit Ingves, Lia Markelin: Journalismin kohtalo mediamurroksessa. Överlevnadsstrategier för minoritetsmedier, med fokus på public service [The Fate of Journalism in the Time of Change in the Media. Survival Strategies for Minority Media, with a Focus on Public Service]. Helsinki: Magma-studie 2, 2012. This report was published today in a distinguished event with Hannu Olkinuora and Lia Markelin as presenters and Lauri Kivinen (CEO of the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) and Mikael Pentikäinen (editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat) as invited commentators. The fate of the traditional quality press is not as serious as we have thought, it is much more serious. - My comment: this global dilemma of the quality media must be solved, because quality press is necessary for society. Internet cannot replace the press, and new financial solutions are needed. Tabloidization is a desperate reaction which only prolongs the agony while the core audience (those for whom serious media means most) is lost. The relevance of the most serious core of the audience is more important than their number would imply because they are the most important opinion-leaders who influence others also about decisions about which media is worth following. Losing their respect and trust can be fatal.

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Kirjeitä 1: vuosilta 1877-1890. Oppivuodet, läpimurto, Sahalin [Letters 1: from 1877-1890. Apprenticeship, Breakthrough, Sakhalin]. Introduced, edited and translated by Martti Anhava. Helsinki: Otava, 1982. I cannot imagine a better introduction to Chekhov than this. The letter of Dmitri Grigorovich to Chekhov on 24 March 1886 "struck like a lightning" according to Chekhov's confession, and having received it he focused on more substantial work. The family letters are full of affection and inside jokes. The letters from the journey to the island of Sakhalin open up new perspectives. There are very nice appendices, including a memorable and affectionate by Konstantin Korovin, "An Encounter with A. P. Chekhov", a memoir from the year 1884.

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Suuret kertomukset I [The Great Tales I]. Translated by Ulla-Liisa Heino. Helsinki: Otava, 1961. A well edited volume which includes "The Steppe", the great turning-point in Chekhov's career, the story of the journey of a boy, a passage from the small world of the home to the big world. "Happiness" can be read as a kind of an introduction to it. And "The Fires" is in a certain (secondary) sense a continuation to some of its moods. "A Dreary Story" is a story of the self-reflection of an old professor; I think it may have inspired Ingmar Bergman in Wild Strawberries. "The Duel" at 150 pages is the longest tale in the collection; Chekhov's contribution to classic themes in Russian literature with Laevsky the passive Russian dreamer and von Koren the active Western-style man whose attitudes we would now call Fascist. "An Artist's Story (The House with the Mezzanine)" tells about the encounter of a landscape painter with two sisters, one of them socially active, the other art-oriented. These are all truly great tales, often with a certain perspective, but we cannot be sure that we are invited to identify with that perspective ("A Dreary Story"), and in "The Duel" there are several incompatible perspectives. A distinction is Chekhov's ability to identify both to the viewpoint of a child ("The Steppe") and an old man about to die ("A Dreary Story"). Reading Chekhov's tales this time I'm struck by the recurrent figure of the shallow woman ("A Dreary Story", "The Duel"). When there is an intelligent and active woman ("An Artist's Story") she is the most negative character. Chekhov always, since school days, defended Jews but in "The Steppe" the way the Jewish family is portrayed is not far from Gogol.

504. Счастье / Onni, 1887 [Happiness]
539. Степь. (История одной поездки) / Aro, 1888 [The Steppe. The Story of a Trip]
540. Огни / Tulet, 1888 [Fires]
549. Скучная история (Из записок старого человека) / Ikävä tarina, 1889 [A Dreary Story (From the Notes of an Old Man]
553. Дуэль / Kaksintaistelu, 1891 [The Duel]
586. Дом с мезонином (Рассказ художника)  / Taiteilijan tarina, 1896 [The House with a Mezzanine (An Artist's Story)]

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