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Mika (Toimi) Waltari (1908-1979) - pseudonyms Leo Arne, Kristian Korppi, Nauticus, Leo Rainio, M. Ritvala


Prolific Finnish writer, best-known for his historical novels, especially The Egyptian (originally Sinuhe, egyptiläinen), which appeared in 1945. Waltari's works has been translated into more than 30 languages. He is generally considered one of major Finnish writers of the 20th-century. Along with Väinö Linna's Unknown Soldier, his books are found from the average Finnish bookshelf. A recurrent theme in Waltari's work is the fate of humanist values in a materialist world. After World War II Waltari took the large-scale historical novels as means to express his pessimism and Christian world view.

"I, Sinuhe, the son of Senmut and of his wife Kipa, write this. I do not write it to the glory of the gods in the land of Kem, for I am weary of gods, nor the glory of the Pharaohs, for I am weary of their deeds. I write neither from fear nor from any hope of the future but for myself alone. During my life I have seen, known, and lost too much to be the prey of vain dread; and as for the hope of immortality, I am as weary of that as I am of gods and kings. For my own sake only I write this; and herein I differ from all other writers, past and to come." (from Sinuhe, trans. by Naomi Walford)

Mika Waltari was born in Helsinki, the son of Toimi Armas Waltari, a Lutheran pastor and schoolmaster, and Olga Maria Johansson. Waltari lost his father in 1914 when he was five years old. He grew up in one-parent family with two uncles, the Doctor of Theology Toivo Waltari and the Master of Engineering Jalo Sihtola, whose knowledge of art influenced Waltari's early development. Waltari's mother worked as a civil service clerk and schooled her three sons. Summers the family spent at Kalle Uusitalo's home – he was a railway-track inspector and the male companion of Waltari's mother. During the Finnish Civil War (1917-18), Waltari was in Helsinki, which was reigned by the Red Guards. After Helsinki was conquered, he witnessed the victory parade of the White Army in the Spring of 1918.

Waltari studied theology at the University of Helsinki, but against his parent's wishes, he turned to study philosophy, aesthetics, and literature, receiving his M.A. in 1929. His thesis dealt with Paul Morand. As a student Waltari wrote among others for the magazine Ylioppilaslehti, edited by Urho Kekkonen. Waltari's early literary efforts were religious poems and horror stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Under the pseudonym of Kristian Korppi – the surname Korppi (the raven) referred to Poe's famous work – Waltari composed poems, a selection of which was published in the anthology Nuoret runoilijat (1926). Waltari's pseudonym was invented by Elina Vaara. As Kristian Korppi he wrote also a collection of short stories, entitled Kuolleen silmät (1926). One of the stories, entitled 'Muumio' (The Mummy), was about the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. Jumalaa paossa (1925), Waltari's first book, was a religious story.

In 1927 Waltari made a journey to Paris. There he wrote at Hôtel de Suède his first novel, Suuri illusioni (1928, The Great Illusion), which brought him fame as the interpreter of the feelings of the new generation. "I yearn for the city, asphalt, the smell of metal-dust and petrol – that nervous longing which, as the evening darkens, wanders the quiet streets," Waltari said on the first page. The description of youthful and rebellious Bohemian life in Helsinki was quickly translated into Swedish, Norwegian, and Estonian.

Valtatiet (1928), a collection of poems, written with Olavi Paavolainen, expressed the optimism of the jazz-loving generation. Waltari enjoyed traveling – he preferred the pleasures of train travel to flying – and was especially enthusiatic about speed, trains, ships, and cars. In the poem 'Hopeahaikara' a silver stork, Hispano-Suiza's radiator mascot, is the symbol of the speed of movement, but in 'Ballaadi Iris Stormista', about a car accident, the stork is also a symbol of inevitable fate. Because Waltari himself did not have a driving licence, he was dependent on his daughter Satu, who drove his yellow Škoda. Occasionally the actor Tarmo Manni served as a chauffeur. Later Waltari bought a Chrysler.

Waltari became one of the leading figures of 'The Torchbearers', a liberal literary movement, whose members were inspired of Russian and Italian futurism. In the 1930s the group was supplanted by a more resolutely left-wing group, Kiila (The Wedge), but by this time Waltari was already an ultraconservative. In his stage comedy Kuriton sukupolvi (1937) Waltari ridiculed the younger generation. The melancholic short story 'The Parisian tie', was about mid-life crises. "She was a pretty girl and smiled encouragingly, and I had no reason to doubt her, any more than my wife. For this reason I remained gazing at the back of my head in astonishment, in my mind the horrifying sense that I had been tricked. Perhaps it was for that reason that I had enjoyed an additional glass of cognac in the middle of the day. A man needs some cheering when he realises unexpectedly that he has moved from the indeterminate years that follow youth to the calmness of middle age." (trans. by Hildi Hawkins, from Helsinki: a literary companion, 2000)

In the 1930s and 1940s Waltari worked as a journalist and literature critic, writing for several newspapers and magazines, among them Maaseudun Tulevaisuus (1932-42) and Suomen Kuvalehti, the leading illustrated weekly, where he was a subeditor from 1936 to 1938. Waltari's guide for aspiring writers, Aiotko kirjailijaksi (1935), influenced many young novelists, including Kalle Päätalo. Between the years 1928 and 1939 Waltari travelled widely in Europe, published travel stories in magazines, and the travel book Yksinäisen miehen juna (1929). In 1931 he married Marjatta Luukkonen. Their daughter Satu also became a writer.

The structure of F.E. Sillanpää's novel People in the Summer Night (1934) influenced Waltari's portrayal of Helsinki, Surun ja ilon kaupunki (1936), which focused on single day in the life of its characters. Waltari's greatest artistic success before the wars was due to his novel Vieras mies tuli taloon (A Stranger Came to the Farm), which won first prize in a competition in 1937 and was translated into some ten languages. During the Finnish Winter War (1939-1940) and in the following war of 1941-1944, Waltari worked at the governmental information center, and wrote four books. His works about the occupation of the Baltic countries and Soviet espionage, including Neuvostovakoilun varjossa (1942), were not reprinted after the peace treaty with the Soviet Union – they were considered politically inflammable and was removed from the libraries. Kaarina Maununtytär (1942) and Tanssi yli hautojen (1944) were historical novel set in the times of Eric XIV of Sweden (1533-1577) and Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825).

A fast and talented writer, Waltari moved easily from one literary field to another. He wrote mystery novels, poems, short stories, essays, fairy tales, travel books, screenplays, plays and memoirs. Waltari's rhymes for the Kieku and Kaiku comics, drawn by Asmo Alho, gained readers from children to adults. Some of his texts Waltari wrote in collaboration with Armas J.Pulla.

Following his hard work ethics Waltari suffered from insomnia and depression and was treated in hospital on several occasions. With his friends in the literary, theatrical and art circles he drank periodically and retired then during the spring in the country to write. In the 1930s Waltari participated in several literary competitions to prove his critics the quality of his work, and also won first and second prizes. His mystery novel, Kuka murhasi rouva Skrofin? (1939), written for the Nordic detective story competition, won the Finnish section, and inspired Waltari to compose other novels of his old and irritable hero, the Inspector Palmu. Matti Kassila's film series featuring Inspector Palmu started with Komisario Palmun erehdys, which was published in 1940, and filmed in 1960, starring Joel Rinne (as Palmu), Leo Jokela (etsivä Kokki), Matti Ranin (as Toivo), Matti Oravisto, Pentti Siimes, and Elina Salo. The series was continued with Kaasua, komisario Palmu! (1961), Tähdet kertovat, komisario Palmu (1962), and Vodkaa, komisario Palmu (1969), which was not based on Waltari's original text. The director Matti Kassila and Georg Korkman wrote the screenplay. The about 60-pages-long Lepäisit jo rauhassa, Komisario Palmu, which Waltari scripted with Kassila in 1962-63, has not been published. The story was set in the theatre world of Helsinki and dealt with real estate speculation.

"When I consider the quintessential cinema, I feel it should combine the imagination and humanity of the Italian film, English humor, French sensuality, and the control and pace of the American movie; and because historical themes interest me, I would add to the inventory the brilliant montage of the Russian historical film." (Mika Waltari, from Drifting Shadows by Peter von Bagh, 1999)

Already before the war Waltari had dealt with historical subjects, including in the play Akhnaton, which was produced at the National Theatre of Helsinki in 1938. Also Valtatiet included a love poem about eternal youth and mysteries of the ancient Egypt. The Egyptian was set in the Egypt of the 18th Dynasty, 1300 BC. The main characters are Sinuhe, the royal physician of the Pharaoh Ekhnaton, Kaptah, Sinuhe's servant, Nefernefernefer, the ruthless courtesan and Sinuhe's unfaithful beloved, and the military commander Horemheb, who destroys Ekhnaton's plans to remove old Gods and establish a monotheistic religion, anticipating Christianity. "The people must be controlled by fear. If the gods govern them, the throne needs no weapons to support." The theme of Sinuhe illustrates the disillusionment and resignation of the Finnish bourgeoisie when nearly all its old values collapsed through the turmoil of WW II. In the story a newly-born baby Sinuhe is placed in a tarred reed boat and allowed to float down the River Nile – like an unknown Moses. The wife of the paupers' physician in Thebes finds Sinuhe and raises him as her own son. He becomes a doctor like his foster-father. The beautiful courtesan Nefernefernefer ruins Sinuhe's life and he is driven into exile. There he befriends with Horemheb, and falls in love with Minea, a Creatan bull-dancer, who dies. Thanks to Horemheb, the general of the royal army, Sinuhe is made the Pharaoh's brain surgeon. When Ekhnaton tries to introduce monotheism to Egypt, he is killed and Horemheb becomes the new ruler. Sinuhe, who knows too much and is well-aware of his own true origin, is expelled from Egypt. In exile he writes down his life story.

The ancient world offered Waltari a grand and colorful stage to examine freely, without any political agenda, wartime and post-war realities of European life. From the mid-1940s Waltari concentrated on long historical novels, set in classical Mediterranean world, as in Turms, kuolematon (1955, The Etruscan), or in the Ancient Rome, as in Ihmiskunnan viholliset  (1964, The Roman). Among his novels set in the Byzantine Empire are Johannes Angelos  (1952, The Dark Angel), a love story set in a doomed city, and Nuori Johannes (1981), a prequel to The Dark Angel, which was published posthumously.

The Dark Angel is written in the form of a diary. It opens in Constantinople in the spring of 1453 when the Ottoman Turks besieged the city. The last city of the Greek church and the capital of the Byzantine Empire will be soon taken by the Turks and then serve as their capital in the succeeding centuries. Against this change of an era Waltari creates a love story. Johannes Angelos, a man who has wandered far and known much, falls in love with the beautiful Anna Notaras, who takes a sword in defense of the city. "I have stayed up to write. From time to time I have closed my eyes and rested my hot forehead on my hands. But sleep will not take pity on me now. Through eyelids gritty from weariness I see her beauty – her mouth – her eyes. How her cheeks burn at the touch of my hand – how dazzling a flame shoots through me when I stroke her naked loin. Never have I longed so madly for her as now, when I know that I have lost her." (from The Dark Angel, 1952, trans. by Naomi Walford) Johannes knows that he also must witness the collapse of a civilization. He dies in the hands of the Sultan, who declares that he is his own law. "Not God himself can compete with me in earthly power." Johannes realizes that in his fashion he is right, since he has chosen truth as man sees it, and material death, rather than the reality of God. "In believing that you can shake off the past like an old prejudice and set yourself up as the standard by which all things are to measured, you are forging worse fetters for yourself than anyone has ever borne before you."

Some of Waltari's novelettes were first rejected by his published because they were considered obscene and he then published them himself. From 1957 to 1978 Mika Waltari was a member of The Finnish Academy. In his later works, such as Feliks onnellinen (1958), Valtakunnan salaisuus (1959, The Secret of the Kingdom), and The Roman, Waltari dealt with religious themes. His last effort was a historical fiction novel about the Templars, which he never finished, but burned the manuscipt. During his visit in 1968 in Turkey, where he was celebrated as a public figure, Waltari collected material for the novel. "Mr. Waltari felt happy as a child," his guide recalled. Mika Waltari died on August 26, 1979, in Helsinki. Waltari's books have not lost their popularity among readers; they have also inspired academic research.

Among film makers, Waltari has been very popular. According to director Matti Kassila, his works were basis for 33 films, such as Tanssi yli hautojen, Kuka murhasi rouva Skrofin?, Komisario Palmun erehdys, and Tähdet kertovat, komisario Palmu. Other film adaptation's not listed in selected works below include Sininen varjo (1933, dir. by Valentin Vaala); VMV 6 (1936, dir. by Risto Orko); Helmikuun manifesti (1939, dir. by Toivo Särkkä); Oi kallis Suomenmaa (1940, dir. by Wilho Ilmari); Onni pyörii (1942, dir, by Toivo Särkkä); Tyttö astui elämään (1943, dir. by Orvo Saarikivi); Nuoria ihmisiä (1943, dir. by Ossi Elstelä); Nainen on valttia (1944, dir. by Ansa Ikonen); Maailman kaunein tyttö (1953, dir. by Veikko Itkonen); Pikku Ilona ja hänen karitsansa (1957, dir. by Jorma Nortimo); Verta käsissämme (1958, dir. by William Markus); Kuningas jolla ei ollut sydäntä (1982, dir. by Päivi Hartzell).

For further reading: Pyramidiuni: piirteitä tulenkantajien runoudesta by Kerttu Saarenheimo (1969); Mika Waltari ulkomailla by Jorma Vallinkoski (1978); Kirjailijan muistelmat, ed. by. Ritva Haavikko (1980); Mika Waltari - mielikuvituksen jättiläinen, ed. by. Ritva Haavikko (1982); Valtakunnan illuusio by Paavo Rissanen (1982); Hovikulttuuri, manierismi, Mika Waltari, ed. by Jussi Välimaa (1986); Suuri illusionisti: Mika Waltarin romaanit by Markku Envall (1994); Noita palaa näyttämölle: Mika Waltari parrasvaloissa by Panu Rajala (1998); Mika Waltari: muukalainen maailmassa by Risto Lindstedt (2007); Mika Waltari ja taiteilijaystävät: kirjailija kuvataiteen kuraattorina, ed. by Tuula Karjalainen (2008); Unio mystica: Mika Waltarin elämä ja teokset by Panu Rajala (2008); Mika Waltari: the Finn by Markéta Hejkalová (2008); Valkokankaan Waltariana: Mika Waltarin elokuvat by Kari Uusitalo, Sakari Toiviainen (2010)  

Selected works:

  • Jumalaa paossa: kertomus Jumalan johdatuksesta, 1925
  • Kuolleen silmät, 1926 (as Kristian Korppi)
  • Sinun ristisi juureen: uskonnollisia runoja, 1927
  • Suuri illusioni: romaani, 1928
    - Den stora illusionen (övers. av Inga Enander, 1930)
    - TV  film 1984, dir. by Tuija-Maija Niskanen, starring Pekka Valkeejärvi, Stina Ekblad, Markku Toikka, Rea Mauranen
  • Valtatiet: runoja, 1928 (with Olavi Paavolainen; see also Futurism: Giovanni Papini, Apollinaire)
  • Yksinäisen miehen juna, 1929
  • Dshinnistanin prinssi: satuja, 1929
  • Muukalaislegioona: runoja, 1930
  • Jättiläiset ovat kuolleet: novelleja ja näytelmä, 1930 (play)
  • Isänmaan parhaat, 1931 (unpublished, with Armas J. Pulla)
  • Appelsiininsiemen: romaani, 1931
  • Radiokuunnelma, 1931
  • Keisarin tekohampaat, 1931 (as Captain Leo Rainio, with Armas J. Pulla)
  • Siellä missä miehiä tehdään, 1931
  • Kiinalainen kissa ja muita satuja, 1932
  • Papintyttären poika / Hildur Dixelius, 1932 (translator)
  • Kuoleman odotushuoneessa / Sven Stolpe, 1932 (translator)
  • Ja nyt odotamme laivaa / Marcus Lauesen, 1932 (translator) 
  • Pojanpoika: jatkoa "Papintyttären tarinaan" ja "Papintyttären poikaan" / Hildur Dixelius, 1932 (translator)
  • Punainen Madonna, 1932 (as Captain Leo Rainio, with Armas J. Pulla)
  • Älkää ampuko pianistia!, 1932 (as Captain Leo Rainio, with Armas J. Pulla)
  • Horst Wessel: eräs saksalainen kohtalo / Hanns Heinz Ewers, 1933 (translator)
  • Mies ja haave: romaani, 1933
  • Yksin maailman ääriin / Alma M. Karlin, 1934 (translator)
  • Sielu ja liekki: romaani, 1934
  • Nuoret runoilijat 1934, 1934 (editor)
  • Muinaisajan ihmeet. Edellinen osa / julkaissut J. A. Hammerton, 1934 (translator, with Ilmari Jäämaa)
  • Yö yli Euroopan, 1934 (play)
  • Palava nuoruus: romaani, 1935
  • Kaukainen ranta / Kristmann Gudmunddson, 1935 (translator)
  • Aiotko kirjailijaksi?: tuttavallista keskustelua kaikesta siitä, mitä nuoren kirjailijan tulee tietää, 1935
  • Muinaisajan ihmeet. Jälkimmäinen osa / julkaissut J. A. Hammerton, 1935 (translator, with Ilmari Jäämaa)
  • Kauneus ja sen ehdot / Vivan Huber, 1936 (translator) 
  • Peer ja Petra / Josef Maria Frank, 1936 (translator) 
  • Majurinrouva / Ernst Wiechert, 1936 (translator)  
  • Surun ja ilon kaupunki: romaani, 1936 (rev. ed. in 1965, ill. by Veikko Vionoja)
  • VMV 6, 1936 (screenplay, with Tauno Tattari)
    - prod. Suomi-Filmi, dir. Risto Orko, starring Regina Linnanheimo, Joel Rinne and Uuno Laakso
  • Juudean yö, 1936
  • Kuriton sukupolvi, 1936 (play)
    - film 1937, dir. by Wilho Ilmari, starring Uuno Laakso, Tyyne Haarla
  • Akhnaton, auringosta syntynyt, 1937 (play)
  • Helsinki kautta vuosisatojen, 1937
  • Mies rakasti vaimoaan, 1937 (play)
  • Toimittaja rakastaa, 1937 (play)
  • Yö yli Euroopan: 3-näytöksinen draama Suomen kesästä 1933, 1937
  • Maan lapset / Kristmann Gudmunddson, 1937 (translator)
  • Vieras mies tuli taloon, 1937
    - A Stranger Came to the Farm (translated by Naomi Walford, 1952)
    - En främling kom till gården (övers. av Barbro Mörne och Heidi Enckell, 1937)
    - films: 1938, dir. by Wilho Ilmari, starring Eino Kaipainen, Kaisu Leppänen, Aku Korhonen, Kaarlo Angerkoski; 1957, dir. by Hannu Leminen, starring Esko Vettenranta, Rauni Ikäheimo, Kaarlo Halttunen, Aku Korhonen
  • Jälkinäytös: jatko romaaniin "Vieras mies tuli taloon", 1938
    - Sista akten (övers. av Ragnar Ekelund, 1938)
  • Ihmeellinen Joosef: huoleton komedia viitenä kuvaelmana, 1938 (play)
  • Ihmeellinen Joosef eli elämä on seikkailua, 1938 (as M. Ritvala)
  • Kotikaupunkimme Helsinki, 1939  
  • Helmikuun manifesti, 1939 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, starring Regina Linnanheimo, Tauno Palo and Laila Rihte
  • Kuka murhasi rouva Skrofin?: salapoliisiromaani, 1939  
    - Vem mördade fru Kroll (övers. av Heidi Enckell, 1939)
    - film: Kaasua, komisario Palmu!, 1961, dir. by Matti Kassila, starring Joel Rinne, Matti Ranin, Leo Jokela, Pentti Siimes, Elina Salo
  • Hämeenlinnan kaunota: kolminäytöksinen komedianhenkinen porvarisidylli 1780-luvun Hämeenlinnasta, 1939 (play)
  • Seitsemän veljestä, 1939 (screenplay, with Kalle Kaarna; based on the novel by Aleksis Kivi)
    - dir. Wilho Ilmari, starring Edvin Laine, Eino Kaipainen, Kaarlo Kytö, Kaarlo Kartio, Joel Rinne, Unto Salminen, Arvo Kuusla
  • Antero ei enää palaa: pienoisromaani, 1940
    - Nej, vi kommer aldrig att dö (övers. av Ragnar Ekelund, 1940)
  • Sotilaan paluu, 1940 (radio play)
  • Oi, kallis Suomenmaa, 1940 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. Wilho Ilmari, starring Ansa Ikonen, Eino Kaipainen and Vilho Auvinen
  • Kaarina Maunintytär, 1940 (screenplay)
  • Komisario Palmun erehdys: salapoliisiromaani, 1940
    - Mystrie i Rygseck (övers. av Bertel Gripenberg, 1941)
    - film 1960, dir. by Matti Kassila, Joel Rinne, Matti Ranin, Leo Jokela, Pentti Siimes, Elina Pohjanpää, Elina Salo, Matti Oravisto. "Ensimmäisen Palmu-elokuvan nimihenkilön kaltaiset miehet sopivat staattisene rauhan ajan lainvartijoiksi - sota viimeistään vaati kykyä yhteistoimintaan. Palmussa voidaan siis nähdä 1930-luvun suomalaisen nurkkakuntaisuuden häiveitä. Ohjaaja itse on paljastanut Palmunsa innoittajiksi kaksi suomalaisen kansan ja kulttuurin voimahahmoa: J.K. Paasikiven ja T.J. Särkän." (Vesa Ville Mattíla in Suomen kansallisfilmografia 6, ed. by Kari Uusitalo, 1991)
  • Kulkurin valssi, 1941 (screenplay, publ. 1965)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. T.J. Särkkä, starring Tauno Palo, Ansa Ikonen, Regina Linnanheimo, original music George de Godzinsky  
  • Maa on ikuinen, 1941 (play)
  • Yövuorossa, 1941 (radio play)
  • Totuus Virosta, Latviasta ja Liettuasta, 1941 (under the pseudonym Nauticus)
  • Tulevaisuuden tiellä: prologi ja kolme näytöstä, 1941 (play)
  • Pikku Ilona ja hänen karitsansa, 1941 (screenplay)
    - film 1957, dir. Jorma Nortimo, starring Riitta Hämäläinen, Aino Angerkoski and Siiri Angerkoski
  • Ei koskaan huomispäivää!: kevät toisen maailmansodan varjossa, 1942
    - Ingen morgondag (övers. av Anna Bondestam, 1944)
    - films: Ingen morgondag, 1957, dir. Arne Mattsson, prod. Svea Film, starring Jarl Kulle, Margit Carlqvist, Kolbjörn Knudsen, Lars Ekborg; Verta käsissämme, 1958, dir. William Markus, starring Elina Pohjanpää, Jussi Jurkka; Astrid, TV film 1995, dir. Tuija-Maija Niskanen, starring Jonna Järnefelt, Mikko Nousiainen, Marko Reinola, Esko Salminen
  • Hankala kosinta, 1942 (radio play)
  • Hyvin harkittu - puoliksi tehty: rationalisointi aseena tuotantotaistelussa, 1942 (illustrated by Hugo Otava)
  • Isästä poikaan: romaani kolmen sukupolven Helsingistä, 1942 (contains the trilogy Mies ja haave, Sielu ja liekki, Palava nuoruus)
  • Onni pyörii, 1942 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. T.J. Särkkä, Tauno Palo, Regina Linnanheimo and Hanna Taini
  • Kaarina Maununtytä: historiallinen romaani, 1942
    - Karin Månsdotter (övers. av Anna Bondestam, 1943)
  • Neuvostovakoilun varjossa: Helsingin neuvostolähetystö kiihoitus- ja vakoilutoiminnan keskuksena, 1942
    - I sovjetspionagets skugga (övers. av Marie Louise von Schantz, 1942)
  • Novelleja, 1943
  • Fine van Brooklyn, 1943 
  • Paracelsus Baselissa, 1943 (play)
  • Rakkaus vainoaikaan, 1943
  • Eero ja Ilona, 1943 (radio play) 
  • Ilona on sairaana, 1943 (radio play)
  • Ilonan päivät tulilinjoilla, 1943 (radio oplay)  
  • Yövieras, 1943 (play)
  • Tyttö astuun elämään, 1943 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. Orvo Saarikivi, starring Ansa Ikonen, Eino Kaipainen and Laila Rihte
  • Nuoria ihmisiä, 1943 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. Ossi Elstelä, starring Hannes Häyrinen, Mervi Järventaus and Laila Jokimo
  • Unohduksen pyörre, 1944 (republished Sellaista ei tapahdu, in Pienoisromaanit, 1966)
  • Nainen on valttia, 1944 (screenplay)
    - prod. Suomen Filmiteollisuus, dir. Ansa Ikonen, starring Ansa Ikonen, Aku Korhonen and Uuno Laakso
  • Jokin ihmisessä, 1944
    - film 1956, dir. by Aarne Tarkas, starring Jussi Jurkka, Anneli Sauli, Leo Jokela
  • Tanssi yli hautojen: romaani Porvoon valtiopäivien ajalta, 1944
    - Kejsarbalens drottning (övers. av Ola Zweygbergk, 1945)
    - film 1950, dir. by Toivo Särkkä, starring Leif Wager (as Aleksanteri I), Eila Peitsalo (as Ulla Möllensvärd), Siiri Angerkoski, Ossi Korhonen 
  • Runoja 1925-1945, 1945
  • Sinuhe egyptiläinen: viisitoista kirjaa lääkäri Sinuhen elämästä n. 1390-1335 e.Kr., 1-2, 1945
    - Sinuhe, the Egyptian (UK title; translated by Naomi Walford, 1949) / The Egyptian (US title; translated by Naomi Walford, 1949)
    - Sinuhe, egyptiern (övers. av Ole Torvalds, 1946)
    - film 1954, The Egyptian, dir.  Michael Curtiz, starring Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Gene Tierney, Peter Ustinov; see also: The Land of the Pharaohs, dir. by Howard Hawks, written by William Faulkner, Harry Kurnitz, H. Jack Bloom, 1955
  • Gabriel, tule takaisin, 1945 (play)
    - films: Gabriel, tule takaisin, 1951, dir. by Valentin Vaala, starring Tarmo Manni, Ansa Ikonen, Emma Väänänen, Salli Karuna; Gabriel, tule takaisin, TV film 1961, dir. Ritva Arvelo, prod. Suomen televisio Teatteritoimitus; Gabriel, tule takaisin, TV film 1979, dir. Mirjam Himberg, starring Antti Litja, Hannele Lauri, Seela Sella, Ritva Ahonen; Gabriel komm zurück, TV play 1988, dir. Hannu Kahakorpi, prod. DDR:n televisio ja Yleisradio, starring  Ezard Haußmann 
  • Rakas lurjus, 1946 (play)
    - film 1955, dir. by Edvin Laine, starring Elina Salo, Joel Rinne, Edvin Laine
  • Omena putoaa, 1947 (play)
    - film 1952, dir. by Valentin Vaala, starring Tauno Palo, Toini Vartiainen, Reino Valkama, Valtteri Virmajoki, Leo Riuttu
  • Elämän rikkaus, 1947 (play)
  • Noita palaa elämään: dramaattinen komedia, 1947 (play)
    - film 1952, dir. by Roland af Hällström, starring Mirja Mane, Sakari Jurkka, Helge Herala, Hillevi Lagerstam, Toivo Mäkelä
  • Portti pimeään: neljä näytöstä ja loppukuvaelma, 1947 (play)
  • Kultakutri: pienoisromaani, 1948 (illustrated by Åke Mattas)
  • Lähdin Istanbuliin: totta ja tarua Euroopasta 1947, 1947
  • Mikael Karvajalka: Mikael Karvajalan nuoruus ja merkilliset seikkailut monessa maassa vuoteen 1527 asti kymmenenä kirjana hänen itsensä vilpittömästi kertomina, 1948
    - Michael the Finn (UK title; translated by Naomi Walford, 1950) / The Adventurer (U.S. title; translated by Naomi Walford, 1950)
    - Mikael Ludenfot (övers. av Lorenz von Numers, 1949)
  • Kutsumaton, 1948 (play)
  • Myöhästynyt hääyö, 1948 (play)
    - film 1960, dir. by Edvin Laine, starring Liisa Tuomi, Jussi Jurkka, Edvin Laine 
  • Huhtikuu tulee, 1948 (play)
    - film 1953, prod. Suomi-Filmi, dir. Valentin Vaala, screenplay by Usko Kemppi, Valentin Vaala, original music by Usko Kemppi
  • Mikael Hakim: kymmenen kirjaa Mikael Carvajalin eli Mikael el-Hakimin elämästä vuosina 1527-38 hänen tunnustettuaan ainoan Jumalan ja antauduttuaan Korkean portin palvelukseen, 1949
    -  The Sultan's Renegade (translated Naomi Walford, 1951) / The Wanderer (U.S. title; translated by Naomi Walford, 1951)
    - Mikael Hakim (övers. av Örnulf Tigerstedt, 1951)
  • Neljä päivänlaskua:  romaani romaanista: tarkoitettu täysikasvuisille lapsille ja onnellisille aikuisille, jotka koskaan eivät tule täysikasvuisiksi, 1949
    - A Nail Merchant at Nightfall (translated by Alan Beesley, 1954)
  • Neljä rakkautta / Kvinnan bakom allt, 1951 (screenplay; with others)
    - prod. Flamingo Film, Fotorama Filmbureau, Sandrewateljéerna Ab, dir. Hampe Faustman, starring Sonja Wigert, Georg Funkquist and Bengt Logardt
  • Viimeiset ihmiset, 1950 (play) 
  • Pimeä komero, 1951 (play)
  • Johannes Angelos: hänen päiväkirjansa Konstantinopolin valloituksesta v. 1453 Kristuksen maailmanajan päättyessä, 1952
    - The Dark Angel (translated by Naomi Walford, 1953)
    - Johannes Angelos (övers. av Th. Warburton, 1953)
  • Leikkaus: kuunnelma, 1952 (radio play)
    - Opetarionen (övers. av Th. Warburton, 1951)
  • Kuun maisema, 1953 (contains Jokin ihmisessä, Jäinen saari, Kuun maisena, Ennen maailmanloppua, Pariisilaissolmio, Ihmisen vapaus)
    - An Island of Ice, Moonscape and Other Stories (translated by Naomi Walford, 1954)
    - Guldhår. En ö av is. Månlandskapet. Början till slutet. Priserslipsen (övers. av Th. Warburton och Anna Bondestam, 1954)
    - films: 1956, Jokin ihmisessä, dir. Aarne Tarkas, starring Jussi Jurkka, Anneli Sauli; Jäinen saari, 1965, scrip by Erik Häkkinen and Mika Waltari, dir. by Erik Häkkinen, starring Annikki Moksi and Kullervo Koski; Pariisilaissolmio, TV film 1965, dir. Matti Kassila; Harmaalakkinen tyttö, TV film 1978, based on Jäinen saari, dir. by Markku Onttonen
  • Yksinäisen miehen juna; Lähdin Istanbuliin, 1954
  • Turms, kuolematon:  hänen mainen elämänsä noin 520-450 eKr. kymmenenä kirjana, 1955
    - The Etruscan (translated by Lily Leino, 1956)
    - Turms den odödlige (övers. av Th. Warburton, 1956)
  • Sibylla / Pär Lagerkvist, 1956 (translator)
  • Vallaton Waltari, 1957
  • Mika Waltarin juhlakirja 50-vuotispäivänä 19. 9. 1958, 1958
  • Feliks onnellinen, 1958
    - The Tongue of Fire (translated by Alan Blair, 1959)
    - Felix den lyclige (övers. av N-B. Storbom, 1958)
  • Valtakunnan salaisuus: Markus Mezentius Manilianuksen yksitoista kirjettä keväästä 30 jKr., 1959
    - The Secret of the Kingdom (translated by Naomi Walford, 1961)
    - Rikets hemlighet (övers. av Th. Warburton, 1960)
  • Miljoonavaillinki, 1959 (play)
    - film 1961, dir. by Toivo Särkkä, starring Helge Herala, Ansa Ikonen, Liana-Kaarina, Pirkko Mannola, Jussi Jurkka, Pentti Siimes
  • Koiranheisipuu ja neljä muuta pienoisromaania, 1961
    - The Tree of Dreams and Other Stories (translated by Lily Leino, Alan Beesley & Paul Sjöblom, 1965)
  • Tähdet kertovat, komisario Palmu!: salapoliisiromaani, 1962
    - film 1962, dir. by Matti Kassila, starring Joel Rinne, Matti Ranin, Leo Jokela, Helge Herala, Esko Salminen
  • Keisari ja senaattori, 1963 (play)
    - TV play 1963, dir. Matti Aro, Heikki Ritavuori, prod. Suomen Televisio Teatteritoimitus, starring Risto Mäkelä, Martti Helovirta, Aulis Salovaara, Heimo Lepistö,  Kauko Helovirta
  • Ihmiskunnan viholliset: Rooman senaattori Minutus Lausus Manilianuksen muistelmat ajalta 46-79 jKr. 1 Minutus roomalainen. 2 Poikani Julius, 1964
    - The Roman (translated by Joan Tate, 1966)
    - Rikets fiender (övers. av Th. Warburton, 1965)
  • Kulkurin valssi, 1965 (film script with Heikki Kataja)
  • Pienoisromaanit, 1966
  • 22.30 - Pikajuna Viipuriin, 1966 (ed. Ahti Riikonen)
  • Pöytälaatikko: muistoja ja muistiinpanoja, 1967
  • Ihmisen ääni: nöyryys - intohimo, 1978 (ed. Ritva Haavikko)
  • Mikan runoja ja muistiinpanoja 1925-1978, 1979 (ed. Ritva Haavikko)
  • Lukittu laatikko ja muita kertomuksia, 1978
  • Kieku ja Kaiku: Kotilieden sarjakuvakirja, 1979 (with Atso Alho)
  • Kirjailijan muistelmia, 1980 (ed. by Ritva Haavikko)
  • Nuori Johannes, 1981
  • Mika Waltarin mietteitä, 1982 (ed. Kalevi Haiko)
  • Joulutarinoita, 1986 (ed. Rudy de Casseres and Raimo Salomaa)
  • Matkakertomuksia, 1988 (ed. Rudy de Casseres and Raimo Salomaa)
  • Mika Waltarin näytelmät, 1999
  • Viisi ässää ja muita kertomuksia, 1999 (ed. Rudy de Casseres and Raimo Salomaa)

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