The Unknown Soldier by Väinö Linna
The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon sotilas) is author Väinö Linna's first major novel and his other major work besides Under the North Star. Published in 1954, it is a story about the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union as told from the viewpoint of ordinary Finnish soldiers. Gritty and realistic, it was partly intended to shatter the myth of the noble, obedient Finnish soldier, and in that it succeeded admirably. In Linna's own words, he wished to give the Finnish soldier a brain, an organ lacking in earlier depictions — this was a barb directed at Johan Runeberg's The Tales of Ensign Stål, which admiringly portrays Finnish soldiers with big hearts and little independent intellect. The novel is based on Linna's own experiences, but is more or less fictional. In its structure and style, it may be compared to the war novels of James Jones.