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The sisu within you: The Finnish key to life, love and success - Embassy of Finland, Ottawa : Current Affairs


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News, 3/13/2018

The sisu within you: The Finnish key to life, love and success

Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

One of the first things any article about sisu will tell you is that this Finnish word is untranslatable. Authors have been trying to find a parallel in English since at least January of 1940, when the opening paragraph of a full-spread piece in the New York Times ventured, “It is not easily translated, because no other language has its precise equivalent.” The headline read, “Sisu: A word that explains Finland.”

So how do you write about a country when its description rests upon an untranslatable word? It’s amazingly complicated, and yet also deceptively simple: Writers resort to explaining what sisu means, and in the process they reveal the inner workings of the people and society of Finland – what you might even call the soul of the country. This is what happens when Joanna Nylund takes on the subject in her book Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage (2018, UK: Gaia; USA: Running Press)

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Updated 3/13/2018

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