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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 most cherished task

Helena Ruuska began studying Finnish literature at the age of 19, and she remains on the same path. Aside from teaching, over the years Dr Ruuska has written literature reviews for the publications Parnasso, Uusi Suomi, Suomen Kuvalehti and Helsingin Sanomat. In her opinion, a critic is also similar to a teacher. Inevitably, a critic gives advice on what and how to read.

The work of a critic has been like a university of literacy. The critic first becomes absorbed in the text and then writes scattered comments in the margins. S/he likes or dislikes the book. In the analysis phase, paper is needed for taking notes, as is a professional attitude to the work that is read. Good literature is not always according to one’s personal tastes.

Helena Ruuska at the book signing of Marja-Liisa Vartio’s biography.

Writing a review is about interpretation and deepening understanding. Dr Ruuska admits that her work as a critic has continued because of this phase, despite all her other work. The annual autumn book releases have attracted and hooked me year after year.

Dr Ruuska wrote her doctoral dissertation on Marja-Liisa Vartio’s novel Kaikki naiset näkevät unia (All Women Have Dreams), fell in love with the author and subsequently wrote a her literary biography, Marja-Liisa Vartio. Kuin linnun kirkaisu (2012). It seems that Dr Ruuska will remain on the same path, as this autumn will see the release of her biography of the writer Eeva Joenpelto, Eeva Joenpelto. Elämän kirjailija. She has given herself until Christmas to decide who she will write about next.

Helena Ruuska’s biography of Eeva Joenpelto, which will be released in autumn 2015.



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