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Helena Ruuska

Marja Helena Ruuska
Born May 7, 1958, Heinola

Master of arts 1984 (Finnish literature), licentiate 1995, PhD 2010, University of Helsinki
Qualified as a comprehensive school teacher 1980, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish language and literature 2009–, University of Helsinki, the Normal Lyceum of Helsinki
Publishing manager 2001–09, Otava publishing house
Lecturer in Finnish language and literature 1994–2001, Kruunuhaka secondary school
Class teacher 1980–94, City of Helsinki

Publications, awards and special achievements:
Eeva Joenpelto. Elämän kirjailija, 2015
Marja-Liisa Vartio. Kuin linnun kirkaisu, 2012

Textbooks and teaching material:
Kärki 7, teaching material for Finnish language and literature, 2015
Aleksis 7–9, teaching material for Finnish language and literature 2002–15
Piste 1–3 and 4–6, teaching material for upper-secondary school Finnish language and literature 2005 and 2006

Literary reviews in various newspapers, most recently Helsingin Sanomat 2009–

Positions of responsibility:
Vice-chairman of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers 2012–
Member of the national curriculum working group for the primary school teaching of Finnish language and literature 2012–14

Photo: Pertti Nisonen / WSOY
Written by Helena Ruuska (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My dream

I dream of new challenges.

My late father was a passionate reader of biographies. “Get a life of your own” I thought, and I only appreciated literature, made-up lives.

Much later, at my post-doctoral party, the non-fiction all-rounder Pirjo Hiidenmaa observed that no biography of Marja-Liisa Vartio yet been written. Well should one be written? What by Me? I hadn’t even read many biographies.

Nevertheless, I charged right in to literary biographies. I want to read and understand entire works, scour archives and interview the author’s acquaintances and those that have studied his or her works.

I feel alive when from scattered notes I find the thread and the big picture starts to form. My agenda is clear: I want to bring classics within the reach of new readers and help them understand the times and customs from which novels and poems have sprung.

I also dream of researching this area of non-fiction. There are still many important biographies as yet unread, not to mention theoretical studies. The new keeps one alive.

In summer, Helena Ruuska likes to blow away the cobwebs by sailing.


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