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What we owe

As an immigrant to a Nordic country under very different circumstances, I devoured this. I’m vastly more privileged – I am not a political refugee, although my grandparents and great uncle were, in their day. But the otherness and sameness

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Posted in books, translation

Maresi’s Power

Maresi is home from the abbey. She has left her sisters behind. She has left the horror of death behind too, it seems. It isn’t easy coming home. The journey is hard, and long. And when she gets there, the

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Posted in books, gender, translation

Oh, to be in Finland, now December’s there

It’s too warm. It should be colder – a lot colder. It’s unseasonable. It’s beautiful, delightful, but it all feels wrong. It’s just all a bit too much, not cosy enough, not delicate enough, perhaps? Things should be the same,

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Posted in Christmas, music, poetry, translation

The Emperor of Portugallia

Once upon a time, a hundred years and more ago, there was an ordinary man in an ordinary village, who led a really rather ordinary life. He worked hard, but nothing really excited him; he wasn’t very happy, but he

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Posted in books, literature, translation

Mårbacka

As Finland’s centenary drew ever closer, I realised I had been neglecting her western neighbour in favour of the eastern one, which also has a big anniversary year. Selma Lagerlöf’s Mårbacka, published in the 1920s, seemed a good place to

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Posted in books, Nobel Prize in Literature, translation

Finland 100: Edith Södergran

It is spring. The earth is bare, the snow is melting. The nights are cold, but the sun is getting stronger, the days are getting longer, a lot longer. Takatalvi (“back-winter” – the reverse of an Indian summer) might strike at

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Posted in books, Finland 100, poetry, translation

the carol that travelled

This is one of the most beloved carols in the Nordic countries, but the tune is from Central Europe and it has travelled across the Atlantic in English translations. So why haven’t you heard of it yet? Maybe it’s because

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Posted in Christmas, history, international, music, translation
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