Maailman paras kylä

This Finnish novel by Arto Paasilinna was translated into French as Le Cantique de l’Apocalypse Joyeuse, but there does not seem to exist any translation available in English. (The only two available translations are The Year of the Hare and The Howling Miller, both excellent novels!) As much as I like the (numerous) previous books by Arto Paasilinna, I am fairly disappointed at this 1992 novel. The setup is fairly similar to the other novels, with misfits and individualists taking refuge in the midst of the Finn forests to live a life of fun, sex, and libations… But the characters are not as funny as usual, as for instance La Forêt des renards pendus (Hirtettyjen kettujen metsä), the most interesting character being a church arsonist who dies at the beginning of the novel. The head of the community is actually rather dull and the other characters are not enough developed to be really interesting. More fundamentally, I am disappointed at the message carried by the book, message which is both anti-humanist and anti-ecologist. Namely, when The-End-of-The-World threatens, you should rush to the woods, start your vigilante army, pile up reserves into bunkers and save abandoned nuclear weapons (just in case!), and, above all, refrain from caring for the rest of the humanity! Similarly, to ensure their subsistence, the settlers resort to fishing (described with enough precision you could start your own fishing business!) and hunting moose farther and farther away, as well as to forest clearances. This ecological model is evidently not sustainable unless most of the human race has disappeared…. Last thing, the book has not aged well and should not have been set in such a precise timeframe as to avoid clashes with present day conditions! (Like using ekus instead of euros…) Obviously, it is always possible to read the whole book as an elaborated prank, where Arto Paasilinna shows that a small community left to itself tends to reinvent the ills of the society, but this makes for a very pedestrian and heavy demonstration. Quite at odds with his usual style!

3 Responses to “Maailman paras kylä”

  1. […] At some point the story drifts towards some survival communities that reminded me very much of Paasalina, with this weird fascination for closeted communities living in the middle of the forest. This is […]

  2. […] away skiing in the Alps, I read a Paasilinna novel the owners of my rental flat had kindly left there, Onnellinen Mies (The Happy Man). As most […]

  3. […] Last weekend, I read another novel by Arto Paasilinna whose title is translated into French as Prisonniers du paradis. This […]

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