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Honorary Doctorates

Selected eight recipients of honorary doctorates from our faculty

Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Born June 4, 1867, Askainen. Died January 27, 1951, Lausanne, Switzerland
Honorary doctorate 1919

Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Born April 26, 1865, Pori. Died March 7, 1931, Stockholm
Honorary doctorate 1923

Otto Manninen
Born August 13, 1872, Kangasniemi. Died April 6, 1950, Helsinki
Honorary doctorate 1927

Frans Emil Sillanpää
Born September 16, 1888, Hämeenkyrö. Died June 3, 1964, Helsinki
Honorary doctorate 1936

Ilmari Kianto
Born May 7, 1874, Pulkkila. Died April 28, 1970, Helsinki
Honorary doctorate 1957

Lennart-Georg Meri
Born March 19, 1929, Tallinn. Died March 14, 2006,Tallinn
Honorary doctorate 1986

Esteri Hellen Vapaa-Jää
Born August 24, 1925, Kärkölä. Died November 22, 2011, Espoo
Honorary doctorate 1994

Mirkka Elina Rekola
Born June 26, 1931, Tampere. Died February 5, 2014, Helsinki
Honorary doctorate 2000

Photo: Faculty of Arts
Written by Tero Juutilainen and Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Matthew Billington

Otto Manninen—Spartan Poet

Otto Manninen was a pioneer of Finnish poetry and a notable translator of poetry into Finnish. He became the leading writer of concise Finnish poetry of his time. His poems have been described as Spartan and tightly bound knots of words.

Manninen was born in 1872 in Kangasniemi, the eldest son of a family of farmers. He began his studies at the Mikkeli Lyceum, where he matriculated in 1892. This was followed by a wide variety of studies at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Imperial Alexander University. As a student, Manninen made the acquaintance of the future literary giant Eino Leino.

In 1897, Manninen completed a bachelor’s degree which included a wide range of studies. That same year saw the first publication of his poetry in various anthologies and newspapers. After graduation, the young poet spent 1899 and 1900 on a study trip to Sweden, Germany, France and Italy. During his travels Manninen actively studied languages and was greatly influenced by European poets.

Manninen published his first collection of poetry exceptionally late, in 1905, when he was already 33 years old, and only three other collections would follow. In 1907, Manninen married Anni Swan, whom he had known since his Mikkeli days. Swan became Finland’s first truly notable author of books for children and young people since Zacharias Topelius.

The poet Otto Manninen with his bride Anni Sawn. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Over the years there was little variation in the themes of Manninen’s relatively limited output. He was mainly concerned with the duality of human life: joy and beauty on one hand, inequity and transience on the other. In 1947, The literary scholar Yrjö Oinonen summarised Manninen’s poetry in the following manner: “written in a folksy tone with a symbolic style and a tendency to say much with few words.”

If Manninen’s own output remained limited, he more than made up for it with his voluminous translations of poetry into Finnish. The authors he translated include Runeberg, Ibsen, Homer, Goethe, Molière, Sophocles and Euripides. Manninen liked to use old, even archaic, expressions and phrases in his translations, which hints at his deep understanding of language and his profound erudition.

Manninen’s translations have attracted both praise and criticism. For example, Edwin Linkomies considered his translations too ornate and byzantine. His translation of The Tales of Ensign Stål was one such work of needless complexity, no doubt partly explaining the greater popularity enjoyed by Paavo Cajander’s translation. Nonetheless, other Runeberg translations by Manninen have received near universal praise. His translations of Homer have also been considered excellent, and they have been lauded for their accuracy and pithy hexameter.

Between 1910 and 1911, Manninen embarked on another long study trip, this time to Italy and Greece. Soon after he succeeded Cajander as Finnish language teacher at the University of Helsinki. Manninen was made a professor in 1925, and the University of Helsinki awarded him an honorary doctorate for his literary merits in 1925.

Otto Manninen photographed by Eino Leino in 1903. Photo from the Eino Leino Society in Kainuu.


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