Sunday, December 18, 2016
Rautatie - Juhani Aho / Pertti Rajala
STORY: This is a classic Finnish novel from 1884 by one of the first writers to write in Finnish.
Matti and Liisa are a couple that live in a cabin in the middle of the woods far away from everything. They hear rumours that nearby a railroad is being built. They have no idea what a railroad or a train looks like or how it works. One day they decide to go experience the railroad firsthand.
The story is filled with many Finnish mannerisms (such as sauna and communication) and many comedic moments between the husband and wife.
PACE: This is a short book at 87 pages, and is broken down by chapters of about 7-8 pages each. There is often repetition in words and conversation and ideas, so the book reads fast, in spite of it being originally written long ago. Even though the book reads fast, the story itself is slow-paced, as few events occur over a long period of time. For example, many pages may be spent describing milking the cow, walking through the woods or even just thinking. This is an easy book to pick up and put down or to read straight through.
I read each chapter in about 20-30 minutes, including looking up vocabulary in a pocket dictionary.
LANGUAGE: The vocabulary and grammar is easily understood, even if you don't understand every word or how certain grammar works. There is a lot of repetition of words and phrases, so new words can be learned by review or figured out through context. The "translator" deserves much credit for making this classic accessible to readers; I can imagine the original to be much more challenging. After reading this version, I believe the original would be a lot easier to read and understand.
I used a pocket dictionary while reading this book, and learned some new vocabulary while reading. My dictionary didn't have every word, but those it lacked I was able to figure out or guess from context and it did not get in the way of reading or understanding the story at all.
I recommend a level of at least B1.1 to read this book.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: This is a Finnish classic and therefore a must-read. It is filled with Finnish history and culture and descriptions of nature. The comedic situations are very enjoyable and you will laugh out loud. It's a reasonably easy read but with enough new words that you will learn something through reading. I highly recommend this book.