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The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna
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The Howling Miller (original 1981; edition 2007)

by Arto Paasilinna, Will Hobson (Translator), Anne Colin du Terrail (Translator)

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3561530,811 (3.51)17
Member:anisoara
Title:The Howling Miller
Authors:Arto Paasilinna
Other authors:Will Hobson (Translator), Anne Colin du Terrail (Translator)
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Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****
Tags:Rx, Finnish, translation, publisher: Canongate Books, R

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The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna (1981)

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English (9)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A great modern(ish) fable! I wanted to howl a few times with the miller!

From the very beginning, though not related at all plot-wise, I felt like this was Dogville: close-minded villagers alienate, use, and provoke the somewhat ill-adjusted newcomer. They drive him away, far far away, and eventually... Well, don't want to give away the ending, but the poor chap has very little going for him. Interestingly, he is very hardworking, honest, and rather enthusiastic about his mill. He is also a very good carpenter, it seems. He is smart, able, and willing. None of these qualities seem to help him shine in the small village. Perhaps its his strange habit of howling now and then, or the biting imitations he make of some of the village's residents. But the tale takes some strange turns, with interesting friendships forged under weird circumstances, but I would not call any of it fantastical. The miller had a good amount of bad luck, and a good amount of good luck, and in the end, it is hard to know how it will turn out. The characters and the things they do seemed familiar and what I expect from the Finns I know, and I did not find the language at all awkward. This is not to mean that it is a literal translation of the original Finnish (and should it be?), but that as it stands in English, it is a good read all the same.

Recommended for those who like howling animals, nature walks, hunting, and vegetables. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Originally published in Finnish in 1981

You've got to know how to howl to give yourself an escape route

My favourite bookshop (Mr. B’s emporium of reading delights in Bath) has just published a special version of one of their favourite books in association with Canongate, so I just had to buy it…

Mr. B’s book jacket blurb – “At Mr. B's we love [the howling miller]. We love Gunnar, one of modern literature's most endearing anti-heroes. We love his pursuit of Sanelma, the adorable, ample bottomed horticulture advisor. We love his animal impressions. We love his short fuse and its comical, if alienating, effects. We love Paasilinna's prose - as crisp and clear as the water thundering through Gunnar's millrace.”

Most of all we love the response of our customers when we recommend it to them.

Paasilinna has created a fable-like tale of Gunnar Huttunen who arrives shortly after WW2 in a sleepy Finnish town to take over the running of a mill. Initially loved for his animal impressions he then has several periods of depression, during which he takes to the woods and howls and this alienates him from his neighbours who are kept awake by the howling and the town’s dogs reactions. He befriends and falls in love with the local horticultural advisor who encourages him to create a vegetable garden and this is a key relationship throughout the book. When the local shopkeeper refuses to sell him stump bombs he puts the shop’s scales down a well and he accidently knocks a neighbours corpulent wife down the stairs and she claims to be paralysed. These antics are too much for the townsfolk and they really set against him as the tale turns into one of intolerance for being different. The main thrust of the novel is an exploration of individual freedom set against a memorable descriptive background of the stark Finnish landscape with a cast of eccentric characters.

Overall – Excellent evocatively Finnish tale ( )
  psutto | Nov 30, 2012 |
Tre stelle emmezza.

Un libro bellino.

La storia mi è piaciuta ma in certi punti mi ha annoiato.

Diciamo che lo si legge una volta e basta, nessuna voglia di future riletture u_u ( )
  Malla-kun | Sep 22, 2012 |
Le rire fut le chant de bienvenue qui annonça l'installation de l'étrange Gunnar Huttunen dans un petit village du nord de la Finlande. Le rire des membres de la coopérative meunière et des paysans qui virent débarquer ce grand gaillard venu du Sud, élancé comme un roseau et fort comme un sapin, qui dépensa son argent en rachetant le vieux moulin délabré sur la rive du Kemijoki. Quelle idée saugrenue que de vider sa bourse de la sorte ? Mais le rire de ces gens comme il faut se voit bientôt supplanté par l'étonnement devant l'efficacité dont fait preuve Huttunen pour remettre en état le moulin... et devant l'étrangeté de son comportement. Tantôt clown et imitateur de génie, tantôt accablé de désespoir, lunatique et dépressif, hurlant à la lune pour calmer son angoisse, homme libre avant tout, Huttunen se fait des ennemis. À tel point qu'au village, on a vite fait de considérer que le meunier est un fou dangereux à enfermer de toute urgence entre les quatre murs blancs d'un asile... Arto Paasilinna nous livre les aventures d'un anticonformiste notoire en nourrissant son texte d'une ironie jouissive et hilare. La bataille béatifique d'un homme seul contre tous, dont la seule erreur sur cette terre est sa revendication tonitruante pour un droit à la différence. --Hector Chavez
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
This is an almost perfect little book, and I'm not sure I can make it sound as good as it is. Gunnar Huttunen returns to northern Finland after World War II. He buys and refurbishes an abandoned mill, and begins to court a beautiful young woman. Gunnar, however, is "different." He likes to howl, and when the urge to howl comes over him, he can't prevent himself from breaking loose. The townspeople reluctantly put up with Gunnar, until he goes on a rampage brought on by drugs administered to him by the town doctor. The doctor certifies Gunnar as insane, and he is quickly packed off to the insane asylum. When Gunnar realizes the finality of this order, and that in all likelihood he will never be released, he cleverly escapes. For the rest of the book, Gunnar and the townspeople engage in a game of cat and mouse, with Gunnar mostly having the upper hand.

The book reads like a fable or fairy tale. While the tone of the book is light and humorous, there is also a sense of impending tragedy through-out. Because of the ambiguous ending, I don't think the book can actually be classified as tragic, but the demonization of Gunnar merely because he is eccentric and different makes this a book that gives us much to ponder. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Jan 12, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Paasilinna’s gift in this gem of a novel (in Will Hobson’s pellucid translation from the French of Anne Colin du Terrail) to wring humor from the most desperate of circumstances.
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paasilinna, Artoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boella, ErnestoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carbone, FabrizioForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raas, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Soon after the wars, a tall fellow appeared in the canton who said his name was Gunner Huttunen.
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If he'd had a tumour in his chest, they would have left him in peace, he thought. He would have been pitied and supported and allowed to face his illness amidst his fellow men. But just because his mind worked differently to other people's, he was beyond the pale, he had to be banished from the social order.
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Original title: Ulvova mylläri
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When Gunnar Huttumen turns up in a small village to restore a dilapidated mill, its inhabitants are instinctively wary. He's big. He's a bit odd. And he's a stranger. Everyone loves his brilliant animal impressions but these feelings soon sour when he starts to howl wildly at night.… (more)

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