Google Doodle pays tribute to Minna Canth – the Finnish writer and social activist of nineteenth century

By: | Updated: March 19, 2017 2:22 PM

Born on this day in the year 1844, Ulrika Wilhelmina Canth started her writing career while managing their family business and taking care of seven children as a widow.

Google pays tribute to Minna Canth today on her 173rd birth anniversary. (Pic courtesy: Google)

Google pays tribute to Minna Canth today on her 173rd birth anniversary. Canth was a Finnish writer and social activist. Born on this day in the year 1844, Ulrika Wilhelmina Canth started her writing career while managing their family business and taking care of seven children as a widow. She was a notable realist and naturalist writer during the 1880s and 1890s. Her writings deals with issues pertaining to women’s rights, expression and realisation of aspirations; different from the culture that prevailed during that time; making her a controversial figure in the 19th century. Nevertheless, she strongly supported her perception. Her stories deals with the phrase “realism of indignation”.

Though she began her career with the play ‘Murtovarkaus’, her play ‘The Pastor’s Family’ was best known. Apart from these, ‘The Worker’s Wife’ (Työmiehen vaimo) written in 1885 and Anna Liisa in 1895 are some of her other notable works. In The Worker’s Wife, the protagonist Johanna is married to Risto who is an alcoholic and wastes all of Johanna’s money. She was helpless, as legally her money belongs to her husband – Risto. This play outraged a scandal during its premiere and within few months the parliament had to enact a law on separation of property.

The play ‘Anna Liisa’ deals with the apathy of a fifteen-year-old girl who got pregnant without getting married. Later, she kills the infant in panic, to hide her pregnancy. However, when she wants to marry her fiancee, she is blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend and his mother; as they threaten her to reveal all her dark secrets if she disagrees to marry her ex-beau. Ultimately, she confesses the truth and decides not to marry her ex and rather attain peace by getting imprisoned.

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Minna Canth’s works have not been widely translated. Her book ‘The Burglary and The House of Roinila’ was translated into English by Richard Impola. She has received an established place among Nordic realists and in the Finnish literary history. Her first biography was written in 1906 by Lucina Hagman, one of the pioneers in the women’s rights movement in Finland, and her works and life are constantly studied.

Canth has received an established place among Nordic realists and in the history of Finnish literature. Lucina Hagman penned down the first biography on Minna Canth in the year 1906. Canth is considered as one of the pioneers in the women’s rights movement in Finland. Her writings and life are studied widely and has gained acceptance. Her plays are performed in theatres and works are read at schools.

She is the first woman to receive ‘flag day’ by her name, as 19th March has been celebrated as the ‘Day of Social Equality’ in Finland since 2007. A statue of her has been erected in the home museum in the town of Kuopio and a stamp has also been issued by her name canonising her as a major name in the Finnish history. Her plays and writings have inspired the theatre artists immensely. Minna Canth is one of the few 19th century writers from Fiinland who is very much alive in Finnish theatres even today.

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