Canth, Minna

Canth, Minna
   A Finnish novelist, short story writer, and dramatist, Canth was Finland's most significant playwright after Aleksis Kivi and one of its most outspoken realist social critics, writing on themes similar to those of Henrik Ibsen and Amalie Skram in Norway. Canth began her literary career as a widow with seven children to support, and her own experience of life's harshness no doubt influenced her literary work.
   Canth's first dramatic efforts were two comedies, Murtovarkaus (1882; The Burglary) and Roinilan talossa (1883; In the House of Roinila). Her social criticism comes to the fore, however, in Tyomiehen vaimo (1885; A Worker's Wife), in which she speaks out against alcoholism and a husband's control of his wife's property. The wife in the play, Johanna, is married to a man who drinks up the money she brought into the marriage and steals the cloth she has contracted to produce for two women of the middle class, who, as a matter of course, abuse her when she is unable to deliver it because of her husband's irresponsibility.
   The feminist message is also present in the novel Hanna (1886), in which the life of a young girl—and that of her mother—is contrasted to that of her brothers and father. Canth's criticism of the unequal distribution of wealth is continued in both the story Koyhaa kansaa (1886; Poor Folks) and the play Kovan onnen lapsia (1888; Misfortune's Children), in which she, like Amalie Skram, also takes aim at the treatment of mentally ill people. Her novella Kauppa-Lopo (1889; The Peddler Lopo) contrasts the indifference of the well-to-do with the kindness of the scorned peddler. Intergenerational conflict is the theme of the play Papin perhe (1891; The Parson's Family), in which the minister father somewhat belatedly realizes that core Christian values apply to his conduct in his home.
   Canth's play Sylvi (1893), written in Swedish, has a title character that in some ways looks like an extreme version of Nora in Ibsen's play Et dukkehjem (1879; tr. A Doll's House, 1880). Sylvi is treated like a doll and a child by her much older husband, falls in love with another man, poisons her husband in order to be free to remarry, and does it without understanding that what she has done is against the law. She is dumbfounded when her new lover rejects her as a criminal. In the play Anna-Liisa (1895; tr. 1997), on the other hand, Anna-Liisa's fiance stands by her when she voluntarily confesses to a crime from her youth and is willing to take her punishment.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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  • Canth, Minna — ▪ Finnish author in full  Ulrika Vilhelmina Canth , née  Johnsson  born March 19, 1844, Tampere, Russian Finland died May 12, 1897, Kuopio  novelist and dramatist, a late 19th century leader of the revival of the Finnish vernacular and Realist… …   Universalium

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  • Minna Canth — Portrait of Minna Canth by Kaarlo Vuori Born 19 March 1844 Tampere, Finland Died 12 May 1897(1897 05 12 …   Wikipedia

  • Minna Canth — gemalt von Kaarlo Vuori …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Canth — Canth, Minna, geborne Johnsson, finnische Schriftstellerin, geb. 1844 in Tammerfors als Tochter eines Arbeiteraufsehers, gest. 1900 in Kuopio, wo sie seit dem Tode ihres Gatten (1879), des Seminarlehrers H. F. Canth, ihre große Familie durch ein… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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  • Canth — Der Begriff Canth hat mehrere Bedeutungen: Der Nachname der finnischen Schriftstellerin Minna Canth. Die bis 1930 gültige Bezeichnung der schlesischen Stadt Kanth; heute Kąty Wrocławskie in Polen. Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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