March 1st, 2015


Links I found interesting for 01-03-2015


As of today, I am a Visiting Professor at Ulster University

I'm very very happy to say that today marks the beginning of my four-year appointment as Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, INCORE with links to the Institute of Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) at the Magee and Jordanstown campuses of Ulster University.

It is a very part-time assignment, though I will give at least one guest lecture/seminar a year to staff/students or the general public. The first of these will be on Monday 9 March at the Belfast campus of Ulster University. I understand that it is already pretty heavily subscribed, which is encouraging.

This has no effect on my day job in Brussels, other than helping to strengthen links between academe and the private sector in public affairs. Colleagues at work have been gratifyingly positive about it. I may start putting "Professor" on my business cards, though!

What is the best-known book set in Finland?

See note on methodology

No prizes for guessing which author dominates the Finnish lists on both LibraryThing and Goodreads. Famous for her children's fantasy novels about anthropomorphic creatures living almost human lives (apart from hibernation), I've been very glad to discover some of her work for adults which has been getting into English translation in recent years. 

The Goodreads winner is a bit surprising, though; it was the first of the children's books to be published in Finnish, in 1945, but the last to be translated into English, in 2005, and reviews suggest that the author had not yet hit her stride. I devoured all the other books in the series as a kid, but haven't read this one. It is:

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The LibraryThing winner is the one I would have expected, first published in 1948 and the first of the series to be translated to English, in 1950, in which our heroes have a series of loosely-connected adventures, several of which centre around a magic hat. It's fourth on Goodreads (whereas  the previously-mentioned Goodreads winner is way behind on LibraryThing), so I am declaring it today's winner. It is:

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The second-placed book on GoodReads, third on LibraryThing, is a lovely short novel for adults, by this same author, about the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter spending a summer on one of the Finnish islands. Originally published in 1972, translated into English only in 2003, it is:

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That is just behind the second-placed book on LibraryThing but well ahead of the third-place on Goodreads, Finland's national epic, compiled (composed?) during the nineteenth century and published in 1835, an expanded version appearing in 1849. In 50 chapters of trochaic tetrameter, it is:

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That's the highest-placed book on the list originally written in Finnish (the others were originally written in Swedish).