Ville Laamanen: Suuri levottomuus. Olavi Paavolaisen kultturinen katse ja matkat 1936-39 [A great restlessness. Olavi Paavolainen’s cultural gaze and travels 1936-1939].

2 April 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Suuri levottomuusVille Laamanen
Suuri levottomuus. Olavi Paavolaisen kultturinen katse ja matkat 1936-39 [A great restlessness. Olavi Paavolainen’s cultural gaze and travels 1936-1939].
Turku: K&H, 2014. 346p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-29-5632-6
€32, paperback

The writer Olavi Paavolainen (1903-1964) was an important cultural critic in Finland in the years between the two World Wars. The historian Ville Laamanen’s doctoral thesis Suuri levottomuus explores how Paavolainen interpreted the encounter between the modern and totalitarianism. Laamanen examines Paavolainen’s journeys to National Socialist Germany and South America, where he was able to gain distance from Eurocentricity. Paavolainen published three books on the basis of these journeys, and these form the central sources for Laamanen’s research. The outbreak of the Winter War in Finland in 1939 prevented the publication of a fourth volume. This work would have focused on the Soviet Union, which at that point was little-known. The most important offerings of Laamanen’s book are the research results based on material from Russian archives which has hitherto remained unexamined. Paavolainen was not a communist, but was accorded VIP status in the Soviet Union and was able to gain a diverse view of the country. Laamanen also places Paavolainen in the broader cultural context of the 1930s. The book is at the same time a rigorous academic study and a well-written, gripping portrait of a still interesting Finnish intellectual during an important period.

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