Each country has its well-known and loved literary characters whose essence is deeply connected to the identity of a nation or region. This exhibition is about those characters, introducing the fictional world, authors and cultural surrounding of smaller European states. Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg are represented with their literary characters. Learn about the project
The Nummisuutaris (Heath cobblers: a comedy in five acts) Translated by Douglas Robinson, St. Cloud 1993)) is a play by Aleksis Kivi from 1864. The main character Esko Nummisuutari is one of the most beloved figures of the Finnish literature.
In Esko Nummisuutari and the events of his courting trip contain features, which the Finnish people recognize in themselves and other Finns. Esko is the son of a strict, greedy and selfish Martta and her slightly feeble husband Topias. Esko is a young man with a black-and-white and stubborn character, but he is also honest and sincere and proud of his cobbler’s profession.
Due to her greed, Martta hurries the marriage of Esko, because according to the testament this would mean that Esko would get the heritage instead of their foster daughter Jaana. Because of Topiases and Esko’s simplicity, a misunderstanding occurs and Esko leaves on an excursion of courtship. When Esko arrives at the yard of the intended bride, Kreeta of Karri, he is invited together with his matchmaker to a wedding feast. The disappointment uncovers the deepest recesses of Esko’s character. The pride over his profession that gives him strength: “Not even God in his Heaven makes better boots than I”. Esko suspects that he has been tricked and made a fool of, and because of this he picks up a fight.
During the return trip the matchmaker Mikko Vilkastus offers Esko liquor as consolation. The first drunkenness stirs up the abandon of the otherwise reticent man.
“T’is such fun. The earth and heaven make somersaults and you Antres the tailor roll around in me eyes like some monkey in the market an’ yet I wud lik’ to kiss ye so tenderly. This must be death; an’ I’’ be getting’ a devilish courage. Hih! Now I culd fight a whole legion.”
The negative feelings of the fundamentally good meaning people are dissolved by the just ending: the happiness of Jaana and her fiancé Kristo brings delight even to Esko’s life.