Sensory Environments of Poverty Seen Through the Writings of Runar Schildt, Toivo Tarvas, and Elvi Sinervo

Silja Laine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter focusses on selected short stories written by three writers, Runar Schildt (1888–1925), Toivo Tarvas (1883–1937), and Elvi Sinervo (1912–1986). The three authors came from different backgrounds; they were of different age, gender, and social class; and they wrote in different languages (Sinervo and Tarvas wrote in Finnish, and Schildt in Swedish) and for different audiences. However, they all portrayed working-class life and people in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s; they placed their stories in the working-class neighbourhoods in an imaginative Kallio/Söörnäinen district in Helsinki. All the short stories discussed in this chapter are rich in their descriptions of sensory experience and the sensory environments of poverty and people living on the margins of society. In all their diversity, these short stories complement each other. Bringing them together, as opposed to examining them separately, provides a more thorough understanding of how the sensory environment was constructed in literature. In this chapter, poverty is not only understood as a lack of money and means but also in terms of material circumstances, which define, mark, and condition life in urban environments and differentiate working-class people and their sensory environments from those of other people living in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History
EditorsLieven Ameel, Jason Finch, Silja Laine, Richard Dennis
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429325052
ISBN (Print)9780367343293
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2019
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Urban History

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