Juhani Aho (1861-1921), formerly Juhani Brofeldt
, was a respected Finnish
writer and reporter. He was well-known in most of Scandinavia
at the time and his books are still read and appreciated today.
His early novels typically portrayed social change, escapism and man's pressures to cope with his environment and its expectations through simple finnish folk and peasentry. His breakthrough novel Rautatie (literally translates to "Railroad") from 1884 was a gentle and humorous story of an elderly couple's first ride on a train reflecting the inevitable advances in society and technology. Despite his reoccuring down-to-earth settings for his novels, he actively followed the various literary styles sweeping over the european intellectuals. Perhaps the ability to discuss current and difficult issues through traditional characters and stories can be considered one of Aho's strengths.
Like so many other finnish writers, Aho was also strongly influenced by his time spent in Paris. Parts of his work took on a neoromantic style and even explored Karelian folklore and shamanism.
Aho was my personal favourite back in school: his books were excellent and easily worked material for all those book reports. I remember presenting Rautatie to atleast 4 different teachers ;)