Tikkanen, Marta

Tikkanen, Marta
   A Finland-Swedish novelist, Tikkanen came from a well-connected Finland-Swedish family and trained to become a teacher of Swedish. While working as a summer intern at a Swedish-language newspaper in Helsinki, she met and later married the writer Henrik Tikkanen, and their relationship has provided the bulk of the material for her creative work. Tikkanen's first novels were apprentice pieces. Nu imorron (1970; Now Tomorrow) and Ingenmansland (1972; No Man's Land) deal with a couple, modeled on the Tikkanens, and their stormy relationship, including the social conditions that enable such marriages. Vem bryr sej om Doris Mihailov? (1974; Who Cares about Doris Mihailov?) further examines the relationship between private tragedies and the social apparatus that exists in order to prevent them.
   The novel that made Tikkanen's reputation bears the provocative title Man kan inte valdtas (1975; tr. Manrape, 1978) and tells the story of a rape victim who stalks her rapist, eventually succeeding in raping him as an act of revenge. This book was hotly debated, and it was clear that Tikkanen had developed into a writer of stature. Her reputation was further strengthened by Arhundradets karlekssaga (1978; tr. The Love Story ofthe Century, 1984), which was widely translated. Written in a lyrical prose verging on the prose poem, it was a response to Henrik Tikkanen's presentation of their marriage in his own work, essentially refuting his views of it. But Tikkanen also admits that she has a share of the blame for their marital problems, and this admission lifts the book above the level of most confessions of this type.
   The Tikkanens had a daughter who suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (referred to as Minimal Brain Dysfunction in Finland), and in her next book, Morkret som ger glädjen djup (1981; The Darkness That Gives Joy Its Depth), Tikkanen fused her story with that of a Finland-Swedish writer, Josef Julius Wecksell, who spent the last 40 years of his life in a mental hospital. In Sofias egen bok (1982; Sofia's Own Book) and Onskans trad (1987; Tree of Wishes) Tikkanen further discusses her daughter's diagnosis and treatment in such a manner as to be of help to other parents in the same situation. A later book about the topic was Sofia vuxen med sitt MBD (1998; Sofia as an Adult with Her Minimal Brain Dysfunction).
   The novel Rodluvan (1986; Little Red Riding Hood) uses the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood as a background for an analysis of Tikkanen's own childhood. In Tikkanen's version of the story, the girl runs away from a loving and secure home in order to pursue the wolf erotically; she essentially moves in with him. After the novel Storfaångaren (1989; The Great Hunter), which is set in Greenland, Tikkanen found a detail in Greek myth that she used as a framework for the novel Arnaia kastad i havet (1992; Arnaia Thrown into the Sea), in which she rewrote the story of the patient Penelope, the wife of Odysseus.
   Tikkanen's Personliga angelagenheter (1996; Private Matters) uses traditional narrative rather than the prose poem form employed in her other recent novels. TvaScener ur ett konstnärs aktenskap (2004; Two—Scenes from a Marriage of Artists) is Tikkanen's most recent analysis of her life with Henrik Tikkanen.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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