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Kersti Juva

Kersti Anna Linnea Juva
Born September 17, 1948, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts, 1972, Master of Arts (English Philology), 2002, University of Helsinki

Finnish Translator of classic English authors, children’s literature, contemporary fiction, detective fiction as well as plays and radio dramas



Best known Finnish translations: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and works by Shakespeare, Jane Austen and A.A. Milne.

State Prize for Literature, 1976 (for Taru Sormusten Herrasta ~The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien and Ruohometsän kansa ~ Watership Down, Adams) and 1986 (for Hobitti ~ The Hobbit, Tolkien and Paperimiehet ~The Paper Men, Golding)
Finnish Cultural Foundation, Special Commendation, 2006
Arts Professor, 2008
Honorary Doctorate, University of Eastern Finland, Faculty of Arts, 2014

Photo: Sami Kero/HS
Written by Kersti Juva and Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

An Academic Home

My connections to the University remained strong, albeit my studies less so. I had taught a course for a couple of years back in the 1980s at the Finnish department of the University of Helsinki; it was the very same course I had been on myself and my ‘sponsor’ had been my teacher, Eila Pennanen. I have also taught courses at the English department and at other Finnish universities. During these years an entirely new field, translation studies, has developed, and I have had the opportunity to get to know the people involved.

Krista Varantola from Tampere and Ritva Leppihalme from Helsinki started to persuade me to get down to working on my Master’s thesis. In 2001 I took a four-month break from translating, sat in the libraries of Helsinki and Oxford, and eventually finished my thesis, which was based on a translation of mine: A Bumpy Ride. Translating non-narrative elements in Tristram Shandy.

The song of the PhD thesis sirens, however, has fallen on deaf ears. Although research is both inspiring and developing, a heavy academic citation apparatus is not tempting to an artistic soul. To my joy, the academic community has been tolerant of lighter texts as well. My article ‘Kotimaani ompi suomi’ ('There'll always be a Finland’) in the collection Suom.huom. has even been used as course material. These days I often cross the Senate Square and proudly look upon my Alma Mater. The building is so beautiful, too, that in the afterword to my translation of Pride and Prejudice I wrote: “Reading Jane Austen, attention is drawn to the structure of the sentences. To an unaccustomed eye they may look convoluted, but on closer reading a carefully designed balance arises from the text. Sentences are often divided by a semicolon, on either side of which the words are elegantly aligned. It makes me think of a Georgian mansion, or the neoclassical main building of the University of Helsinki.”

Outside the University’s Main Building. Photo: Mika Federley.​
Outside the University’s Main Building. Photo: Mika Federley.​


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