Annamari Sarajas
Humanist of the day

Annamari Sarajas

Annamari Sarajas forged a significant career as a journalist and academic. As a journalist she played a key role in the development of cultural journalism in the press and as a researcher she wrote impressive works of literary history that combined hard fact with a reader-friendly style of presentation. As both a journalist and a professor, Annamari Sarajas’s guiding principle was a holistic approach to culture.

Annamari Sarajas

Born October 12, 1923, Nivala. Died January 3, 1985, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1948, Licentiate 1956, PhD 1957, University of Helsinki
Docent in literary history 1957–66

Editorial secretary 1949–50, Näköala
Publication officer 1948–56, Werner Söderström Oy
Editor in chief 1963–64, editorial board member 1965–68, Valvoja
Arts editor 1957–61, head of culture 1965–66, Uusi Suomi
Senior research fellow 1962–64, National Research Council of the Humanities
Research associate in aesthetics and modern literature 1956–60, Professor extraordinary 1967–68, professor of Finnish literature 1968–85, University of Helsinki

Board member 1946, Student Union of the University of Helsinki
Board member 1947–48, National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL)
Board member, vice chairman 1973–80, literature committee chairman 1980–, Finnish Literature Society
Member 1968–77, Supervisory Board of the Finnish Cultural Foundation
Member 1974–, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters

Suomen kansanrunouden tuntemus 1500–1700 -lukujen kirjallisuudessa (‘Knowledge of Finnish folk poetry in 16th to 17th century literature,’ doctoral dissertation, 1956).
Elämän meri (‘The sea of life,’ 1961)
Viimeiset romantikot (‘The last romantics,’ 1962)
Pohjoisen Suomen kuvaajia (‘Depicters of northern Finland’) in the book Suomen kirjallisuus V (‘Finnish literature V,’ 1965)
Suomalaista proosaa Lehtosesta Sillanpäähän (‘Finnish prose from Lehtonen to Sillanpää,’ 1966)
Tunnuskuvia: Suomen ja Venäjän kirjallisen realismin kosketuskohtia (‘Symbols: points of contact between Finnish and Russian literary realism,’ 1968)
Lumituisku - venäläinen aihelma (‘The blizzard – a Russian motif,’ 1970)
Orfeus nukkuu (‘Orpheus sleeps,’ 1980)

Photo: SKS
Written by Tiia Niemelä
Translated by Matthew Billington

Annamari Sarajas had a significant impact on the development of cultural journalism in the Finnish press. During her student days, immediately after World War II, she was an active participant in the student union movement; she belonged to the board of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki in 1946 and the board of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and its foreign affairs committee for its 1947–48 term of office. She was also the editor of Ylioppilaslehti. The cultural line taken by the newspaper was personified by Sarajas, and people spoke of “Annamari’s salon.” She turned the newspaper’s arts section into a forum for promising young writers and persuaded the likes of Eino S. Repo, Kai Laitinen, Tuomas Anhava, Kyllikki Wehanen (later Villa) and Jouko Tyyri to write for the newspaper.

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Annamari Sarajas was appointed professor of Finnish literature by President Urho Kekkonen on June 28, 1968. At the time of her appointment, Sarajas already had experience of the duties of a professor; she had worked as professor extraordinary of literary history for the past year, before which she had substituted for professorial posts in both aesthetics and modern literature and Finnish literature for many years. Thus, this woman of the press already had a rather imposing academic career behind her.

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