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Markku Envall

Markku Sakari Envall
Born July 28, 1944, Hämeenlinna.

Bachelor of Arts (Comparative Literature), 1968, Master of Arts, 1971, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1976, Doctor of Philosophy, 1987, University of Helsinki

Acting Assistant (Comparative Literature), University of Helsinki, 1970–1978

Assistant, Finnish Literature, University of Helsinki, 1982–1992

Senior Research Fellow, Academy of Finland, 1991–1994

Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church Award for Literature, 1987

Finlandia Prize for Fiction, for Samurai nukkuu (‘The Samurai is sleeping’, WSOY 1989), 1990
Annual award for an aphorism collection ( Ja Job antaa anteeksi (‘And Job forgives’, WSOY 2005), 2006

Samuli Paronen prize, 2009

Merit prize, WSOY publishers, 2009

Olga and Vilho Linnamo prize, 2010

Nominee, J. L. Runeberg prize for literature, 2012 ( essay collection Toinen jalka maassa, ‘One foot on the ground’, 2012)

Photo: Pertti Nisonen
Written by Markku Envall and Tero Juutilainen (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

From literary scholar to author

Markku Envall entered the University of Helsinki in the autumn of 1964. His main subject was comparative literature, and he specialised in aesthetics, which was then formed part of the subject. He also took theoretical philosophy. After graduating, he worked as Acting Assistant in Comparative Literature and then moved to teach Finnish Literature. In 198 he defended his doctorate on Finnish aphorisms. He also wrote a monograph on Mika Waltari’s novels during a period as Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Finland before changing careers to become a full-time writer.

Markku Envall’s main forms of expression are aphorisms and essays, but he has also published poetry, a novel and radio plays. His aphorisms have been characterised as traditional and philosophical. Alongside the condensed form of aphorisms, he has started writing ‘fragments’, the longer form of the genre. As an essayist, Envall has taken on many topics, ranging from literature to the fundamental questions of life, education, religion, good and evil, life and death, and social issues. His style is atraightforward, his outlook sceptical, his approach rational.


Translated by Olli Silvennoinen

Revised by John Calton

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