If the sadness could smoulder… The occupation of Czechoslovakia as seen by the Finnish poet Eva-Liise Manner

Anxiety, hopelessness, the arrival of barbarians, the smell of gun smoke. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 shocked the whole world and was recalled even in foreign literature. Eva-Liise Manner, a famous Finnish modernist poet, has expressed her feelings about this unfortunate event with her collection of poems named If the sadness could smoulder. It was dedicated to her friend Václav Havel, whose plays she was translating into Finnish in 1960’s and about whom she, in the first days of the occupation, had only fragmentary and non-authenticated news. The context of her collection and the response it received from Finnish society along with her special relationship with Czech culture will be presented by translator Michal Švec and historian Barbora Skálová. The discussion will be supplemented with readings from the collection, for the first time since its publication also in Czech language.

The event will also see an introduction od Czech translation of Runoilian talossa, (In the poet’s house), Helena Sinervo’s biography of Eeva-Liise Manner.

The event takes place in cooperation with Václav Havel Library and the Embassy of Finland in Prague as a part of the year-round project of the Scandinavian House in Prague called “Nordic literature in the heart of Europe in 2018” supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall.