F. E. Sillanpää, Finnish Nobel Prize winner, considers "The Night
of the Harvest Festival" from his novel, The Maid Silja, representa-
tive of his work. This episode in the novel, translated from the
Finnish by Alexander Matson, concerns the central character, Silja,
daughter of a small farmer whose fortunes so deteriorated that,
after his death, Silja has had to go from one farm to another as a
SO PASSED the early part of the summer. Night was at one time almost non-existent, a mere holding of the breath, as it were, by the heavens while evening gave way to morning. The young and happy needed sleep only as the slightest break in their days, and very little food either. For many young people, and older ones, it was the last beautiful summer. To be sure, there are always some living their last summer, but in the case of this summer there were special reasons. Everyone had his or her premonitions, but no one knew.
Midsummer too passed. The human mind still tried to imagine the nights were white. Here a girl sat by a window reading, as midnight drew nigh, the letter she had received that evening. She even took out her writing materials and set to work on her answer; it was still light enough for that, though July had begun. And so expressive was still the nocturnal light that the writer got no further in her intention than the opening phrase: "I am writing to you in the delicious summer night. . . ."--before she was lost in memories of her distant friend, fancying herself walking with him this same night there where they had once. . . .and the dawn was reddening the north-west. The young lady is on a holiday here and has hoped for more experiences than have come her way, by these hopes betraying her friend. But her hopes have remained unfulfilled, and now she tries to compose a pretty answer to her friend's letter. Only longing