Eila Pennanen
Humanist of the day

Eila Pennanen

Eila Pennanen dreamed of becoming a Finnish language researcher. This was not to be her primary vocation however. Instead she became an influential figure across a whole range of literary and cultural fields. Her career, spanning fifty years, resulted in fifty works and over a hundred Finnish translations. Pennanen was also an astute critic of literature and culture. Passing on her knowledge and skills to the next generation of translators and literary types was, for Pennanen, a matter of honour.

Eila Pennanen

Säde Eila Talvikki Pennanen
Born February 8, 1916, Tampere. Died January 23, 1994, Tampere.

Master of Arts, University of Helsinki, 1940
Librarian diploma, 1947

Writer, critic, translator
Archivist, advertiser, librarian, WSOY Publishing house, 1943–1952
Editorial secretary, Parnasso journal, 1952–1957
Lectured on literary translation to Finnish students at the University of Helsinki in the 1960s and 1970s.


Väinö Linna Prize, 1990
The Union of Finnish Writers’ Award for Merit, 1990
Kiitos Kirjasta ('Thanks for the Book') medal, 1969
Pro Finlandia literary award, 1968
Aleksis Kivi Award, 1965
Mikael Agricola Award, 1962, 1971
City of Tampere Writer’s Prize, 1954, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1988
State Prize for Literature, 1946, 1949, 1955, 1962, 1964
Kalevi Jäntti Prize, 1945

Photo: WikimediaCommons
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by
John Calton

Eila Pennanen became the editorial secretary of the Finnish literary magazine Parnasso in 1952. This enabled her to acquaint herself with the newest currents in European literature. Pennanen also took it upon herself to bring them to the Finnish reading public as a critic and a translator.

According to Pekka

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