Crippled City: Joel Lehtonen’s Krokelby as a Radical Inversion of Finnish National Romantic Landscapes

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Title: Crippled City: Joel Lehtonen’s Krokelby as a Radical Inversion of Finnish National Romantic Landscapes
Author: Ameel, Lieven
Publisher: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Date: 2012
Language: en
Belongs to series: COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
ISBN: 978-952-10-8578-9
ISSN: 1796-2986
Abstract: In the novels Rakastunut rampa (A Cripple in Love, 1922) and Henkien taistelu (The Battle of the Spirits, 1933), Joel Lehtonen has constructed an imaginary environment that is at once one of the most disturbing and one of the most original landscapes to be found in the Finnish literature of the last century: the suburb of Krokelby. This deformed landscape, neither city nor countryside, is composed of disconcerting natural elements and crooked houses, and inhabited by grotesque characters. This article analyses the ways in which the literary landscape of Krokelby constitutes a radical inversion of more traditional images of Finnish symbolic landscapes, such as the national-romantic lake district of Eastern Finland, and the complex images of turn-of-the-century Helsinki. In Lehtonen’s novels, we find a carnivalisation of the proud and pure expanses of Karelia: a degenerate wasteland, filled with derelict houses; a Dante-esque scatological nightmare. The satirical and pessimistic way in which Lehtonen describes these suburban surroundings is prototypical for the direction in which literary descriptions of Helsinki and its suburbs were gradually evolving from the 1920s onwards: towards an ever more generic city, an in-between landscape of uprooted countryside and deformed cityscape. These descriptions foreshadow later representations of what arguably has become the most influential symbolic landscape in modern Finnish movies and literature: the suburbs.
Subject: Joel Lehtonen
urban periphery
Menippean satire
city literature
Rights: © author(s) & Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

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