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In Memoriam: Tauno F. Mustanoja


A Remembrance by Matti Kilpiö University of Helsinki

Tauno F. Mustanoja, Professor Emeritus of English Philology at the University of Helsinki, died on 2 December 1996 after a long illness. After graduating from the University of Helsinki in 1938, Mustanoja spent an academic year at Cambridge, taking postgraduate courses in medieval literature and textual criticism. After the war, in 1948, he received his doctor's degree at the University of Helsinki with the highest honours. He was appointed a docent in 1948, an associate professor in 1957, and a professor in 1961 at the same university. He spent the academic year 1965-66 at UCLA as a visiting professor and retired from his chair at Helsinki in 1975.

Mustanoja's scholarly output is weighty, both quantitatively and qualitatively. His early publications comprise two editions: The Good Wife Taught her Daughter (1948) and Les neuf joies Nostre Dame (1952). The former, his doctoral thesis, is an edition of three Middle English poems; the latter is an edition of an Old French poem: Mustanoja was a student and friend of Arthur Langfors and, appropriately for a Middle English scholar, had a profound knowledge of Old French. He is, however, best known as a specialist of Middle English syntax. His major work, A Middle English Syntax. Part I: Parts of Speech (1960) is, to quote Janet Bately, "a wonderful reference book, and not just for students of Middle English, thanks to the way it looked both back and forwards." Almost forty years after its publication, it is still an indispensable tool for anyone engaged in the study of the history of English. One should also mention the numerous articles and reviews he wrote for Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, which he edited for decades and which during his editorship established itself as one of the most important journals in the fields of philology and historical linguistics.

Mustanoja's scholarship won recognition both internationally and in Finland. He was a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, an honorary member of the Modern Language Association of America and the Modern Language Society (Helsinki), and a Fellow of both the Medieval Academy of America and the British Academy.

Those of us who had the privilege of being his students remember him as an inspiring academic teacher and supervisor steeped in medieval and, more broadly, in European culture in a way which was both intensive and extensive. He was a keen amateur painter and a connoisseur of the visual arts, gardens, and wines.

An outstandingly distinguished scholar, a faithful friend, and an academic teacher who trained a whole generation of English medievalists in Finland, Tauno Mustanoja is greatly missed by his wife, Mrs Sirkka Mustanoja, his family, colleagues, students, and friends in Finland and all over the world.

OEN 30.1 (1996): 12.