Author: Rainer Knapas

No sex in Finland

31 July 2013 | Reviews

Lurcock.tonyTony Lurcock
No Particular Hurry. British Travellers in Finland 1830–1917
London: CB editions, 2013. 278 p.
ISBN 978-0-9567359-9-7
£10, paperback

For British travellers of the late 18th- and early 19th-century Finland was mainly a transit area between Stockholm and St Petersburg, or on the way to exotic Lapland. A century later, the country was already a tourist destination in itself, a newly emergent nation state, though still subordinate to Russia.

Tony Lurcock’s anthology of travel literature about Finland is a sequel to his collection ‘Not so Barren or Uncultivated’: British Travellers in Finland 1760–1830 (reviewed in Books from Finland in June 2013).

The practical conditions of tourism were changing. English-language tour guides were being published, and Britain now had direct steamship connections to Finland, where rail, road and inland waterway traffic had been established. In 1887 the Finnish Tourist Association was founded with the aim of making life easier for foreign tourists on selected travel routes. However, the British – like many other foreigners – marvelled at some of the country’s curious features: the excruciating rural journeys by horse and cart, the wretched inns and strange choice of food, the rye bread and milk-drinking, and of course the sauna. But to this there were also exceptions, in the form of new, surprisingly resplendent hotels, world-class dinners and the life of the modern city. More…

Northern exposure

21 June 2012 | Reviews

Between Helsinki and St Petersburg: Vyborg. Illustration of Vyborg Castle by an unknown artist, 1709, Wikimedia

Tony Lurcock
‘Not So Barren or Uncultivated’. British travellers in Finland 1760–1830
London: CB Editions, 2010. 230 p.
ISBN 9-780956-107398
£10.00, paperback

Finland is not unique in raising scholars who have often attempted to treat historical travellers’ accounts as source material for historical facts, and then prove how ‘wrong’ they are in relation to reality. This is an unproductive way in which to read them: travel books are nearly always based on the authors’ own country and experiences projected on what they encounter abroad.

Paradoxically, much of what was written about foreign countries in the past was really about conditions and problems in the author’s own land, and can be understood only against that background – something that also emerges in this book about British travellers in Finland. More…