Marked up to be included in the Scandinavian-Canadian Journal
The author is among Finland’s most prolific historians, now retired, but sufficiently respected to have several books translated and to merit a festschrift. He is known for his somewhat eccentric views—not only regarding how the past should be interpreted but also how an argument should be documented in footnotes—yet his ideas are taken seriously well beyond the Baltic Sea, even across the Atlantic.
This collection of essays was written for the 150th anniversary of the great Finnish epic
Klinge says the Roland statues in Finland demonstrate that a state existed there when the crusaders arrived; elsewhere it is a symbol of Christian law and eastward expansion, or evidence of a non-Christian presence. He clearly delights in bringing such seeming paradoxes or contradictions to the reader’s attention. He posits that statues on columns represent places where trade could be conducted safely, then he discusses the dragon cult, drinking horns, stone statues and the royal coat-of-arms. The concluding essay is a digression on the historical importance of the seas for trade, ending with a note that it was the sea that bound Swedish and Finnish culture and politics together.
Klinge’s discursive style is not easy to follow. On page 115 he describes how an idol was destroyed by the Teutonic Knights in 1227. Quoting Henry of Livonia
…baptizato, Tharaphita eiecto, Pharaone submerso
Klinge presents his evidence so often using
it is possible,
it could be
Everyone above a certain age has surely met with intelligent people who are caught up with ideas that would revise everything we know about the past and the present. Klinge is one of those individuals.