Thursday, 4 March 2010

Shady characters?

In HUB - the magazine of Helsinki University - Janna Kantola takes a look at how Finns are portrayed in foreign literature. Starting with Tacitus, the profile of Finns is an obscure one, to say the least (Tacitus appears to have thought that Finns and Lapps were the same), and their image in 19th century Russian literature is also quite a shadowy one. But it's not until we reach the modern era, and especially the era of the thriller, that the picture begins to clarify, and not always in a positive direction:. in particular, it seems that Finns are not liked by their Nordic neighbours, and have reason to feel insulted:
The Finnish characters appearing in Nordic literature are in a class of their own. Finns are primarily drunkards and on the wrong side of the law.

The shady characters in Stieg Larsson's recent Millennium series of detective stories frequently have Finnish names. In the series, the heroine, Lisbeth Salander, finds herself being chased by characters such as the simple duo of Sonny Nieminen and Hans-Åke Waltari.
Read it all.

Hat tip: Soila Lehtonen

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