Browsing by Author "Arvas, Paula"

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  • Arvas, Paula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Vilho Helanen (1899 1952) was a right-wing opinion leader in interwar Finland. But following the Second World War, the political situation in the country changed dramatically, and Helanen lost his job as well as his influential social station. He began to write detective fiction, and between 1946 and 1952 published seven novels (one had already been published in 1941). The novels protagonist is Kaarlo Rauta, a lawyer who acts as a private investigator. This doctoral dissertation analyzes the Rauta series from three different points of view. It investigates the extent to which the author s life and his strong political background appears in the series. The study also situates the series within Finnish society during and after the war. Finally, the study examines the Rauta series in terms of the genre conventions of detective fiction, that is, the study compares the Rauta series with other Finnish crime fiction and international crime fiction written during the 1940s. The Iron and The Cross Spider uses the term citizenship education when analyzing how Helanen implicitly continued his political teaching when writing crime fiction. The series includes a didactic register, which instructs the middle class in appropriate behaviour and manners, and the social roles entailed by gender. A special area of focus in this didacticism are norms of correct masculinity and femininity. The study devotes specific attention to the status of character in the series. The masculine detective and his beautiful wife are prominent, as is the fictive community and the tensions that criss-cross it. After the war, the Rauta series takes on a positive tone. Men can earn their place in society by fighting at the front, and after the war a homosocial bond exists between all the former soldiers. Women are shut out of the war experience. The detective hero has served in the war, but he is physically and psychologically untouched by it. The community is threatened by artists and immoral bohemians, but not the working class. Artists have affairs outside of marriage and abnormal sexual habits. The members of the upper class are also described as immoral in the series. Sadistic sexuality is often characteristic of the criminals, who are mostly femme fatales in the fashion of hard-boiled detective stories and film noir. Also, strong feelings have a negative connotation in the series, and showing them is forbidden behaviour. Men become criminals when they are insufficiently masculine or when they have not carried out their duty by fighting in the war. Helanen portrayed the communists, his political opponents from the 1930s, as criminals in his post-war series, but they were not openly represented as Russians or communists. Instead, Helanen used the cross spider as their symbol, a symbol which the readers of the time would recognize.