The Last Days of Maiju Lassila – A memoir-novel about the White Terror following the Finnish Civil War, by J.I. Vatanen
Who wrote this novel?
J I Vatanen was not a real person; he was a heteronym—a characterized pseudonym—of a strange Finnish author named Algot Untola, who was arrested as a Red agitator at the end of the Finnish Civil War in May, 1918, and summarily sentenced and shot.
This novel is “J I Vatanen’s” “memoir” of the events leading up to that violent death and its tragicomic aftermath.
But who wrote it?
Douglas Robinson, a noted Finnish-English translator and translation scholar, claims that he “pseudotranslated” it—but what does that mean? A pseudotranslation is a hoax translation, one with no original. But if the hoaxer declares the hoax up front, is it still a hoax?
The Last Days of Maiju Lassila is a readable story with its backdrop in a volatile political history from the 1880s to 1919; but it is also an experimental memoir/novel/translation that toys with our “certainty” about reality.