Pia gave we this maxicard commemorating Aleksis Kivi, originally Alexis Stenvall, (1834-1872), was a Finnish national author and poet, creator of modern Finnish literature. His major novel, Seitsemän veljestä "The seven brothers" (1870), the classic of Finnish culture, has been translated into several languages. Aleksis Kivi was born in Nurmijärvi on the 10th of October 1834 to a rather poor family with three sons. His father Eerik Johan Stenvall was a tailor but a relatively educated man, his mother Annastiina, came from a smith's family. In 1846 Kivi went to Helsinki to continue his education and studied Swedish, which was a necessity for matriculation and for further studies.
In the house where Kivi was living, the master had a wide library and soon Kivi got to know works from authors such as Shakespeare, Cervantes and Byron. Kivi fell in love with his masters daughter Albina Palmquist, who later moved to Denmark. This relationship probably gave influence to Kivi's female characters in several of his plays. Kivi finished his secondary school in 1857 and was admitted to the University of Helsinki in 1859. The classics of literature and theatre were his interests. The same year he made his first play, Kullervo, which was based on the Kalevala, The Finnish National Epic.
In Helsinki, Kivi made friends with leading Finnish speaking personalities such as J.V. Snellman, Elias Lönnrot, Fredrik Cygnaeus and Emil Nervander, who were also his supporters, Snellman also economically. Kivi wasn't very keen on studying, and spent more time writing and drinking than in university. After winning a competition held by the Finnish Literature Society, for his play Kullervo (1859), he had enough money to continue writing in Nurmijärvi and in Siuntio. Charlotta Lönnqvist, who is considered his biggest supporter, helped him along and during that period he published 12 plays, a collection of poems and a play Nummisuutarit "The Heath Cobblers", which won the State prize in 1865. Kivi's friend and supporter, theatre director Kaarlo Bergbom, made many of his plays known to the public.
This epoch-making period, which started in 1863, dedicated Kivi to his mission in life as an author. The novel Seitsemän veljestä "Seven brothers" published in 1870, received scathing criticism from the Finnish professor August Ahlqvist, who characterized the book as a blot on the name of Finnish literature, from its realism, humor and language, which he found too offending and vulgar. With this critic and disparagement, Ahlqvist totally blackened his reputation, and became a symbolic example of oppressiveness against artistic freedom. For Kivi's susceptible nature, this critic was a prime cause for his mental collapse later on.
The last years of his life, apart from his constant financial difficulties and breakdown, Kivi also suffered from schizophrenia, and received treatment in the mental hospital of Lapinlahti in Helsinki. Aleksis Kivi died at the young age of 38 on December 31st, 1872 in Tuusula, where his brother had taken him to spend his last months. The statue of Aleksis Kivi is erected in front of the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki, next to the railway station.
On the stamp issued on 10.10.1984 has been printed “The Song of My Heart”, a poem by Alexis Kivi.