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post #1 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:28 Thread Starter
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Northern European Literature

I'll start with Finnish literature.

I've been reading Antti Tuuri's Ostrobothnia (Pohjanmaa) penthalogy lately and can't even remember when was the last time I enjoyed reading so much. Maybe it's a cultural connection thing too, not sure what would somebody from let's say Slovenia or Mexico think of these works.

Another great Finnish writer is Antti Hyry. H's describing very simple everyday activities of a man, with importance put on connection with nature and introspection. It is a very honest and pure form of writing he has reached especially in his later works. Although I must say his style and word usage, although it seems simple on the outset, is still a bit too complicated to me to follow in Finnish so I've mostly read his translated works.

Then we come to the ultimate Finnish novellist, the man who they have called the James Jocye of Finland. Volter Kilpi. And his own Ulysses called Alastalon salissa. A massive 800 page stream of consciousness effort describing events happening only over 6 hours where a bunch of rich Finnish landowners are discussing of sending out a joint merchant fleet of ships (to give the scope of the detail - there's a whole chapter describing what's going on in a man's head when he's selecting a pipe from the rack). Only one chapter has been translated of it into Estonian and the full Finnish version was too difficult for me so I gave up on it early...although even the Finnish critics themselves consider his writing style very unconventional and hard to follow.

One book which is probably widely available in English translations and definitely worth reading is Väinö Linna's war novel The Unknown Soldier about the Continuation War between Finland and USSR. His other famous work Under the North Star is decent too although not that impressive.

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? And….it’s the football, that’s the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #2 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:31 Thread Starter
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the first one to mention The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo will be banned from the subforum

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? And….it’s the football, that’s the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #3 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:48
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Under the North Star is vastly superior to The Unknown Soldier...or in fact any other book you mentioned there. The first two parts are absolutely stellar.

About Finnish literature that should be available in translations, one should mention Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers, the first novel ever published in Finnish, and still one of the best. And then there's Mika Waltari, whose historical novels like The Egyptian are very nice.

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post #4 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:59 Thread Starter
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Under the North Star is vastly superior to The Unknown Soldier...or in fact any other book you mentioned there. The first two parts are absolutely stellar.
It might be I'm desensitized to the "farmer's struggles" literature as lots of Estonian classics are about similar topics. For me it was a relatively simple and straightforward book and not really comparable to the experience I get from a far trickier works of Tuuri, for example. I didn't bother with the II part.

To continue on the same vein, I recently read the whole of Vilhelm Moberg's Emigrants tetralogy which was very impressive. The story of a Swedish farmer and his family who go from the religiously and economically oppressive Swedish countryside to search freedom from Minnesota. It's also interesting how time starts to flow faster and faster the older the main characters become.

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? And….it’s the football, that’s the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #5 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 13:08
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Yesterday I bought the Faroese novel "The Old Man and his Sons" which gives an illustration into life on the island as it was 50 years ago, and the clash between generations old and young, the older generation still dependent upon the sea for sustenance while the young turning inland for work. "The Old Man" of the title is Ketil who buys more whale meat than he can afford and together with his wife and his hopeless son he attempts to reduce the debt.

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post #6 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 13:14 Thread Starter
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sounds good...Faroese literature, can't get much smaller and obscure than that

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? And….it’s the football, that’s the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #7 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 13:25
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That's pretty much what piqued my curiosity, well, partly the reason, the obscurity. "What does this place have to offer?" So, one day I performed a search and looked into the Faroe Island's literary history and so I discovered they had a few outstanding authors - this book was written by Heđin Brú, and he's one of them, and another such writer was William Heinesen, and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize, but rejected the award because he wrote in Danish and he felt the recipient ought to have written his material in Faroese.

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post #8 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 13:31
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the first one to mention The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo will be banned from the subforum
That kind of (Arnoldian) elitist stance is really amusing. There's actually some very important information about the media world in that book and it's good that so many people learn about it.

Ma question préférée: qu'est-ce j'vais faire de tout cet oseille?
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post #9 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 13:48
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the first one to mention The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo will be banned from the subforum
Read the whole Millennium Trilogy, enjoyable books. My parents are big into crime books, so I've read a few from Scandinavia, like the first couple Martin Beck stories, which were Scandi-crime from the 60s I think.

Literature is for pretentious suckers, give me engrossing genre fiction every time

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we need to do something about moral relativism because it's really damaging the air condition. there's alot of harassing going on out there, specially during the night, and they use moral relativism to justify it.
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post #10 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 14:02
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I like engrossing genre fiction as well. One of the best books I've read in recent times is this Danish crime thriller, "Mercy" by Jussi Adler-Olsen which is about this cop who finds it difficult to work with his colleagues so he's shunted off to work in this new department "Q" to solve unsolved cases and the case he's assigned to seems hopeless - a woman that's been missing for ages, they have no idea if she's even alive, but the clever way the story is set-up, you know the woman is still alive from the beginning but being imprisoned by these people but you don't know why, and like all the best mysteries the author slowly drip feeds information to the reader, just enough to entice you to keep reading in order to discover the mystery and the truth behind it all.

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post #11 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 16:26
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Ahh Jussi!

By far the most popular writer in little Denmark these days.

Nothing against him, he's probably one of the best of them, but crime fiction has just become a major aversion of mine.

DR (Radio Denmark) which is state financed public service and supposedly 'serious' (think PBS) has at least 10 weekly crime fiction series, movies, etc. (Foyle, Morse, Taggart, Hamilton, Beck, Barnaby, Lynley, Montalbano, Rebus, Murder- She Wrote, Waking the Dead, Miss Marple, Hunt, The Killing, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock, .... ).

... and the newspaper Information, supposedly Denmark's more independent and intelligent version of the Guardian, has a weekly special section dedicated entirely to crime novels. alm:

Murder left and right, sickening really, not enough excitement in Denmark.

Not bigotting

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dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka

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post #12 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 16:50
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Sure Mori, we all have different tastes. As this thread is devoted to the discussion of Northern European literature, perhaps you could share with us your experiences with the Danish literature you've happened to read and enjoyed most particularly? Or any other readings elsewhere from up north that you may find it worthwhile to share with us.

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post #13 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 17:08
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Ahh Jussi!

By far the most popular writer in little Denmark these days.

Nothing against him, he's probably one of the best of them, but crime fiction has just become a major aversion of mine.

DR (Radio Denmark) which is state financed public service and supposedly 'serious' (think PBS) has at least 10 weekly crime fiction series, movies, etc. (Foyle, Morse, Taggart, Hamilton, Beck, Barnaby, Lynley, Montalbano, Rebus, Murder- She Wrote, Waking the Dead, Miss Marple, Hunt, The Killing, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock, .... ).

... and the newspaper Information, supposedly Denmark's more independent and intelligent version of the Guardian, has a weekly special section dedicated entirely to crime novels. alm:

Murder left and right, sickening really, not enough excitement in Denmark.
People like murder dramas. It's hardly sickening at all. All TV is dominated by them, from stuff like CSI being the biggest show in the US

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we need to do something about moral relativism because it's really damaging the air condition. there's alot of harassing going on out there, specially during the night, and they use moral relativism to justify it.
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post #14 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 17:48
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Well, it is sickening. I like a crime story here and there, but why does this little odd genre have to dominate so overwhelmingly, including in places which should be most keen on diversity, like DR who are well funded and aren't even slaves of ratings and don't have advertisement slots to sell..

Not bigotting

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Ive probably been the poster with most number of heated discussions in this board over the years.... and I can assure you I won at least 90% of them.
dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka
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post #15 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 17:55
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Because murder & finding out who did it & why & seeing them caught is exciting & that's no bad thing. And there's plenty of room for interesting things to happen in a crime drama. I mean the BBC makes lots of them, (though I would say that Sherlock isn't really a murder mystery, even if it often involves murder) & it's a public service broadcaster, funded by the public & free of adverts. But public service broadcasters still need to entertain some of the time. And with the limited budgets of most public service broadcasters murder mysteries make relatively cheap but popular television. BBC4 consists of science documentaries, history documentaries, shows on the arts, & on Saturday evening there's "foreign drama", almost all of which have been murder mysteries, like The Bridge, Montalbano, The Killing, Spiral, in fact Borgen is the only one I can think of that is not about the polis in some way or another. But hey, these shows are well made, I'm not going to complain.

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we need to do something about moral relativism because it's really damaging the air condition. there's alot of harassing going on out there, specially during the night, and they use moral relativism to justify it.
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post #16 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 19:26
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I don't think murder fiction is equally popular in, say, South America, but I could be wrong. It almost seems a neurosis in Denmark.

Some of my favourite Danish books are Mogens and other stories by JP Jacobsen and The Fall of the King by Johannes V Jensen (1944 Nobel laureate). They should be available in English, though probably in a dated translation. The Fall of The King is sort of the national novel, about the last Catholic king of Denmark who had trouble making up his mind and was overthrown. But really it's about one of the King's hengemen, Mikkel Thřgersen who wants be a great man, yet ends up a passer-by to a lot of important historical events (including the Stockholm Bloodbath, Nacka )... and then everyone dies.

The translations are very old though, so I'm not very confident about those, though I haven't checked.

Seven Gothic Tales by Karen Blixen are great, despite that altmodisch feel or precisely because of it. Perfect for translation I suppose, so no problem there. or maybe she actually wrote them in Danish and English simoultaneously, don't remember.

Svend Ĺge Madsen is sort of a mix between Borges and Philip K Dick, which sounds like something you've heard before, but it isn't, he's really good.

Kierkegaard I haven't truly come to enjoy, though he's probably easier to read in the English translation. There's a bit of a fuss in Denmark this year as it's the 200th year of his birth. When H.C. Andersen had the same anniversary in 2005 (I think), a lot of money wasted on tacky commemoration and everyone got really sick and tired of him. They tried to market him, didn't go too well at least not in Denmark,.. and the main event was in Parken and the head-liner ended up being Tina Turner alm:

I often wondered what might acutally translate well, and not just 'linguistically', like you say something gets lost in translation, but also more broadly... for instance if you need to know about Danish people to appreciate the particular cynicism of The Fall of The King or whether you need to know about the city of Ĺrhus to appreciate Svend Aage Madsen.

I was surprised to learn that the magnum opus of another (internationally) forgotten Nobel laureate, Henrik Pontoppidan was translated into English recently and reviewed extensively by Fredric Jameson in the LRB. It's sort of a 'buildungsroman' (a coming of age novel) and semi-autobiographical about the son of a poor rural priest who goes to the big city (Copenhagen) to becomes an engineer and marry into an important family. He sets these impressive goals in life, but loses interrest whenever he's close to accomplishing them. Anyway, it has a very Danish ca 1900 setting and characatures a lot of Danish stereotypes (as well as actual existing figures in Danish society), and it wasn't a novel that I would've thought would make a lot of sense to non-danes. But apparantly that was a wrong idea, and now that I think about it, it does have these more international movements.. early modernism or whatever you'd like to call it + a sort of Schopenhaeuerean undercurrent (especially in the latter part of the novel). Anyway, Jameson says it better:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n20/fredric...mic-neutrality

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Once upon a time, when provinces still existed, an ambitious young provincial would now and again attempt to take the capital by storm: Midwesterners arriving in New York; Balzacian youths plotting their onslaught on the metropolis (‘ŕ nous deux, maintenant!’); eloquent Irishmen getting a reputation in London; and Scandinavians – Ibsen, Georg Brandes, Strindberg, Munch – descending on Berlin to find a culture missing in the bigoted countryside. So also Henrik Pontoppidan’s hero, an unhappy clergyman’s son who flees the windswept coasts of Jutland for a capital city which is itself narrow-minded and provincial in comparison with the bustling centres of Europe. Denmark has just lost a war, and an important territory, to Prussia: one in ‘a long row of national humiliations’ in ‘a doomed country that, in the course of one man’s life, had fallen into ruin, wasted away to a pale and flabby limb on Europe’s body swelling with power’. Denmark itself is to Europe as Jutland is to Copenhagen; and we must never underestimate the degree to which that ‘national misery’, which is secretly a part of every national history and identity, is also part and parcel of the personal or psychic identity of its inhabitants.
Both The Fall of the King and Pontoppidan's Lykke-Per are books everyone in Denmark has read.. or at least that was the case back when reading books was actually mandatory for you to get any kind of a diploma, which I suppose is now several decades past.

Not bigotting

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Ive probably been the poster with most number of heated discussions in this board over the years.... and I can assure you I won at least 90% of them.
dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka

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post #17 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 21:42 Thread Starter
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People like murder dramas. It's hardly sickening at all. All TV is dominated by them, from stuff like CSI being the biggest show in the US
I would also say it is sickening...very strange obsession and says a thing or two about the mental state of many people. I guess it might be because of the marginalization of death in our society...everybody seems healthy and even when something happens you're likely to be cured...old people sent away to die to homes and hospitals instead of spending their last days with the family etc. Many persons these days probably haven't even seen a dead body outside of a funeral casket. Maybe this accounts for this curious obsession with mortality...it is almost like a taboo subject in real life so fiction about it seems interesting.

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? And….it’s the football, that’s the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #18 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 21:59
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Mori, our library has Karen Blixen's book 'Out of Africa' in stock. Have you read that? It sounds good, too, I might check it out. They don't have Seven Gothic Tales, though, alas.

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post #19 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 22:04
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Nice review of Danish literature, Morierinho

You talked about all my Danish favourite writers, although I feel Herman Bang deserved to be mentioned (don't know if he's been translated into English, though).

I must also agree with you regarding crime fiction.

P.S.

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Both The Fall of the King and Pontoppidan's Lykke-Per are books everyone in Denmark has read.. or at least that was the case back when reading books was actually mandatory for you to get any kind of a diploma, which I suppose is now several decades past.
How old are you exactly?
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post #20 of 125 (permalink) Old April 3rd, 2013, 23:41
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29... I do think my parents were dragged through them in high-school still, at least Kongens Fald, but then that's very long ago.

Bang is indeed another guy who stood the test of time.

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Mori, our library has Karen Blixen's book 'Out of Africa' in stock. Have you read that? It sounds good, too, I might check it out. They don't have Seven Gothic Tales, though, alas.
I haven't read Out of Africa, but I am familiar with her reflections on culture and so on, which also plays a role in the book. This thin white duchess was out-of-number in Denmark already, nevermind in Kenya. By todays standards, you would of course call her a borderline racist, and yet she's this peculiar archaic-modern blend and actually rather sensitive to the civilisation vs savage issue.

Not bigotting

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Ive probably been the poster with most number of heated discussions in this board over the years.... and I can assure you I won at least 90% of them.
dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka
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