Kallas, Aino Julia Maria

(1878-1956)
   A Finnish novelist, short story writer, and playwright, Kallas was born in Finland but married the Estonian folklorist Oskar Kallas; his service as an Estonian diplomat brought her to several European capitals, including a 20-year residency in London. One of the few Finnish writers from the early 20th century whose works were widely translated, she wrote for a large audience but was not much associated with other Finnish writers and did not greatly influence the development of Finnish literature.
   Kallas's move to Estonia took her from a country that had enjoyed a high degree of liberty to one that was still suffering from the influence that Germany and Russia had exerted on it. The lives of the common people had been marked by serfdom, which Kallas described in two volumes of short stories, Meren takaa (1904-1905; From Beyond the Sea). In the story "Haat" (The Wedding), a young bride wants to kill the local lord, who has demanded his "first night right" from her, thus taking her away from her husband on her wedding night. Another story tells about the wife of a merchant who leaves home while in the middle of baking bread. She follows a group of people to Tallinn, believing that a white ship will come and take her to freedom. Later the smell of bread restores her to her senses and she returns home. The short story collection Lahtevien laivojen kaupunki (1913; The Town of the Departing Ships) shows the influence of symbolism. Efforts to remedy Estonia's lack of a national culture are vividly portrayed in the short novel Ants Raudjalg (1907), which tells the story of a man whose efforts end in defeat as he leaves the country in order to find work in Russia.
   Kallas's most important works are three novels that portray the effects of a great passion and take place in Estonia in the 16th and 17th centuries. She uses archaic language and sentence structure— which she had experimented with in the short story collection Vieras veri (1921; Strange Blood)—in order to achieve the appropriate mood. Barbara von Tisenhusen (1923; tr. 1925, 1927, 1975) tells the story of a young Russian noblewoman who falls in love with a man of inferior rank. They elope and experience great happiness, but she is caught and killed by her family. In Reigin pappi (1926; tr. The Clergyman ofReigi, 1927, 1975) the wife of a pastor, the narrator of the book, falls in love with his assistant. She, too, is caught and killed. In both of these cases, love has transgressed social boundaries and must be punished. Forbidden love is also punished in Sudenmor-sian (1928; tr. The Wolf's Bride, 1930, 1975), in which a woman becomes a werewolf and finds happiness with the local pack and by consorting with the forest demon. She has transgressed the boundary between the natural and the supernatural and is killed by a silver bullet, fired from her husband's gun.
   Kallas's best-known play, Bathseba Saarenmaalla (1932; tr. Bath-Sheba ofSaarenmaa, 1934), was successfully adapted as an opera. Her journals have been published (1952-1956), as has some of her correspondence, with the title Kolme naista, kolme kohtaloa (19881989; Three Women, Three Fates).

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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