Go Back

Hannu Riikonen

H. K. (Hannu) Riikonen
Born August 3, 1948, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Roman literature) 1970, Licentiate 1972, PhD 1978 (comparative literature), University of Helsinki

Professor of comaparative literature 1997–, University of Helsinki
Acting teaching and research assistant in Roman literature 1971–74, University of Helsinki
Acting assistant professor of literature 1974, University of Jyväskylä
Part-time lecturer in comparative literature, 1974–79, University of Helsinki, Helsinki Summer University
Acting assistant professor of comparative literature 1975, University of Helsinki
Docent in the history of literature 1978–95, University of Helsinki
Acting assistant professor, assistant professor and acting professor of comparative literature 1979–93, University of Turku
Professor of comparative literature and aesthetics 1994–97, University of Helsinki
Head of the Department of Art Studies, 1998–2001, vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts 2007–09, University of Helsinki

Research themes:
Influence of Greek and Roman culture, the history of Finnish translations, the history of science and learning, Pentti Saarikoski, Olavi Paavolainen, James Joyce and Ezra Pound

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland, badge of merit for 30 years service, Silver Medal of the University of Helsinki
Member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and the Finnish Society of Science and Letters

Written by H. K. Riikonen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Literary Genres and Individual Authors

During his career, H.K. Riikonen has also been interested in the history of literary genres. In addition to an English language work on Menippean satire, he has written the short work Mikä on essee? (‘What is an Essay?’), and together with Sari Kivistö the book Satiiri Suomessa (‘Satire in Finland’). Individual authors who have been of special importance to him include James Joyce, Pentti Saarikoski and Olavi Paavolainen. He wrote the first Finnish introduction on Joyce’s Ulysses, and has subsequently written several articles on the author.

Riikonen has written two books on Pentti Saarikoski, the Finnish translator of both Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s The Odyssey, and he has also edited and annotated four of Saarikoski’s books, two alone and two together with Janna Kantola. His interest in Olavi Paavolainen arose when as a student he attended a course given by Kai Lahtinen. One of his written assignments for the course later became Sota ja maisema (‘War and landscape’), a book dealing with the writings of Paavolainen during the Second World War. In 2014, Riikonen published a literary biography of Paavolainen.

In an Irish pub with central Irish authors in the background. Photo from the home archive of H.K. Riikonen.

Riikonen has also focused on the study of 20th century modernism, and in collaboration with his Nordic colleagues he has edited three collections of essays on the topic. He has regularly attended international conferences on authors such as James Joyce and Ezra Pound.

An article on the fans of Tex Willer, published in the 'Yliopistolainen' magazine in June of 2003.

Although his research is focused on classics from around the world, Riikonen is also particularly fond of popular literature and entertainment, from Donald Duck to Tex Willer and from crime fiction to westerns. He has found this indispensable in his work when supervising master’s theses on popular literature.

Hannu Riikonen reading Donald Duck with his father in Savonlinna in the 1950s. Photo from the home archive of H.K. Riikonen.


Go Back