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||Kauppis-Heikki (1862-1920) - pseudonym of Heikki Kauppinen|
Finnish self-learned author with a rural worker's background. Kauppinen's stories are generally considered among the best of Finnish folk writers. Kauppinen depicted country people, especially women of the Northern Savo.
"Minulla on aluperin ollut semmoinen ajatus, ettei kirjallisuudella saisi olla mitään näkyvää tarkoitusta, vaan että sen tulisi puhua puhuttavansa melkein sanattomasti, ikäänkuin luokse hiipien. Minä en jaksa käsittää, että ihmisille tarvitsisi sormella osoittaa, että katso tuohon. Senvuoksi minua on moitittu siitä, ettei minun kirjoistani tahdo löytää ydintä, vaikka sitä hakemalla hakee." (from Valitut teokset by Kauppis-Heikki, 1973)
Heikki Kauppinen was born in Iisalmi, the illegitimate son of Tiina Loviisa Remes, a widow, and Pekka Karppinen, a tenant farmer, who died in 1910. Tiina Loviisa worked as a servant, toiled at her spinning wheel, and sold clothes. Heikki's childhood was poor. When there was not enough food, Tiina Loviisa ate herself bread made of bark and gave her son bread made of real flour. In 1873 she married a widow, Samuli Partanen. Kauppinen worked hard at his stepfather's house – he was 11 years old, but during this period he learned to write. In 1877 he was hired as a farm-hand for the the Protestant minister H. Th. Brofeldt, who was Juhani Aho's father. Kauppinen's mother died of typhoid in the same year. In the new surroundings he began to read poems and composed his own early verses. "I read and read, and it was as if I was moved into another world. The great main room, where there was nobody else at the time, became a fabulous place. It was now the home of the muses..." (from 'Ihanin muistelmani', 1898)
In 1884 Kauppinen was employed as a stand-in elementary school
teacher, and from 1887 he was a teacher at a circular school. However,
the minister Brofeldt, who had helped Kauppinen to make a new career as
a teacher, did not understand his aspirations to become a writer.
Encouraged by Juhani Aho, Kauppinen made his debut as a writer in 1884
with the short story 'Äidin kuoltua' (After mother's death), which was
published in the magazine Valvoja. Among Kauppinen's other supporters was the writer Minna Canth,
who hired him as an assistant in her shop in Kuopio. However, Kauppinen
devoted all his time to poetry – he used to write on the wrapping
papers and let the customers wait when he was absorbed in his readings.
In Kuopio Kauppinen saw his first play. Canth's attempt to get him a job at the theatre failed when Kauppinen was considered "too slow". In the summers of 1886 and 1887 Kauppinen worked as a journalist in Jyväskylä and Kuopio. In 1890 he married Hanna Korhonen. From 1893 to 1908 he was a director of reform school in Kehvo. Later he was a teacher in Ulmala from 1908. Recalling bad memories from his own childhood, Kauppinen tried to avoid corporal punishments. He studied for teacher's diploma and passed the examinations without needing to prove his mastering of the art of writing.
Kauppinen's first book, Tarinoita (1886), a collection of short stories, was based on his own hard experiences, but often seen in humorous light. In was followed by the novels Mäkijärveläiset (1887), and Viija (1889), a tale of a heiress, who chooses the wrong suitor and dies young. Minna Canth criticized its psychological portrayal of the heroine. Women were also central characters in Laara (1893), about a servand, who marries a weak drunkard, and Aliina (1896), in which a young, calculating servant girl struggles to improve the position of her family. Her story contains also many passages about women's rights. Uran aukaisijat (1904), built around a great summer festival, was partly autobiographical and drew on Kauppinen's experiences as a teacher in the 1880s. Especially in his short stories about common folk Kauppinen's sense of humor came out, the major example being Anaski, a liar and thief, the hero of a collection of tales published in 1911. Otherwise the atmosphere of Kauppinen's works was generally melancholic, constantly the hopes and ambitions of his characters are destroyed by reality. Savolainen soittaja (1915) ends happily, a poor country boy eventually makes a breakthrough as a musicians and decided to help illigitimate children like himself.
"Älä puhu mitään arvosta," kielsi Aho. "Sinä et sitä asiata ymmärrä. Kertomuksillasi on ainakin yksi arvo, joka ei ole niinkään vähäinen. Ne ovat omiasi, tarkoitan omintakeisia, eikä jäljittelyjä kielen, aineen tai tekotavan puolesta. Ne yhteensä merkitsevät siksi paljon, että kirjoita sinä vain edelleen, äläkä jupise joutavia." ('Mitä Juhani Aho on ollut minulle kirjailijana', Valvoja 1911)
Kauppinen published several collections of poems, and short stories. In the magazine Valvoja
appeared in 1911 his article 'Mitä Juhani Aho on ollut minulle
kirjailijana' (What Juhani Aho had meant for me as a writer). Another
important writer for Kauppis-Heikki was Arvid Järnefelt, whose
Tolstoyanism left traces in his work. In Ulmala he participated for a
short time in politics, supporting first the centrist Agrarian Union
and then liberals.
Kauppinen's biography of T. Brofeldt, Paimen ja lampaat (1922), was left unfinished. Part of it appeared posthumously with a preface by Juhani Aho. In 1917 Kauppinen's leg was operated and but he managed to work at school with a wooden leg. His daughter Elsa died in 1919 and the author himself suffered from a stroke of apoplexy, from which he never fully recovered. Kauppinen died in Lapinlahti on September 3, 1920. From 1918 he had received a small author's pension granted by the State. Kauppinen was buried in Iisalmi and in 1922 a memorial stone, made by the sculptor Eemil Halonen, was erected on his grave. Juhani Aho, Kauppinen's close friend, was buried in the same cemetery in 1921.
For further reading: Kansankirjailijoita katsomassa by Viljo Tarkiainen (1904); Kauppis-Heikki by Ilmari Havu (1925); Aleksis Kivestä Olavi Siippaiseen, ed. by Martti Haavio (1944); Korkea elämänkaari by Yrjö Karilas (1954); Kirjoja ja kirjailijoita I-IV by V.A. Koskenniemi (1955); 'Kauppis-Heikki (1862-1920)' by Ilpo Tiitinen in Valitut teokset by Kauppis-Heikki (1973); A History of Finnish Literature by Jaakko Ahokas (1973); Suomalaisia kirjailijoita Jöns Buddesta Hannu Ahoon by Lasse Koskela (1990); Realismista symbolismiin, ed. by Tellervo Krogerus (1994); Hiljaisuuden ja kulttuurin Kyrönniemi, ed. by Hannu Ullner (1995); Syvistä riveistä: kansankirjailija, sivistyneistö ja kirjallisuus 1800-luvulla by Pertti Lassila (2008)