Olof Enckell
Humanist of the day

Olof Enckell

Olof Enckell’s biographers divide his career into two parts: literary and academic. Both are significant, because as a novelist Enckell, along with his brother Rabben, was an advocate of Swedish modernism, while as a professor he was a notable scholar of Finland Swedish verse and considered the father of research into the Finnish poet and composer Elmer Diktonius. Enckell’s literary works display a strong sense of patriotism and a romantic longing for Karelia, where he made long sojourns just before the outbreak of World War II.

Olof Enckell

Olof Wilhelm Toussaint Enckell
Born March 12, 1900, Kurkijoki. Died June 11, 1989, Kaunianen

Baccalaureate 1917, Swedish Normal Lyceum; Master of Arts 1923, Licentiate 1949, PhD 1958, University of Helsinki

Amanuensis of Helsinki University Library 1921–23
Literary critic 1924–32, culture editor 1951–26, Hufvudstadsbladet
Professor of Swedish Literature 1950–67, University of Helsinki

Inspector (supervisor) of the student nation Östra Finlands Nation
Chairman of the Society of Swedish Authors in Finland 1938–43
Board member 1950–65, Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS)
Chairman, National Council for Literature 1953
Member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters 1957–89

Awards and honours:
Tollander award 1973
The Swedish Academy’s Finland Prize 1974


Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tiia Niemelä
Translated by Matthew Billington

Karl Enckell, professor of agricultural economics, and his wife, gymnastics teacher Vesta Charlotta Edgren, could perhaps never have guessed that of their four sons, Olof, Torger and Rabbe would have a visible influence on the cultural life of the young Republic of Finland in the fields of literature and painting.

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During the Winter War and the War of Continuance, Olof Enckell served in the state intelligence service and worked as a war correspondent for the newspaper Huvudstadsbladet. Enckell was already familiar with Finland’s border areas, as in 1938 he had hiked in the Karelian wilderness and had made the…

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