21/10/2012 · Waltari - Walkin' In The Neon ..

to what extent are these places specific to waltari's characterization motives?

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• little known/agreed upon
• it is agreed that Houses of Life were places of learning, libraries
• in The Egyptian, the House of Life is Sinuhe's higher education, weaving together the practices of medicine and religion (worship of Ammon) whY does waltari choose to weave religion and medicine together in Sinuhe's education?

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Waltari then returned to ancient times: Turms, kuolematon, The Etruscan, (1955) takes place in the fifth century BC, while Valtakunnan salaisuus, The Secret of the Kingdom (1959) and his last novel Ihmiskunnan viholliset, The Roman (1964) take place in the early period of Christianity. Neljä päivänlaskua, A Nail Merchant at Nightfall, is a short ‘novel about a novel’ which is also connected with his historical fiction (1949). It deals with the period when Waltari was writing The Egyptian, his creative crisis and depression over the imminent completion of a new work. It is chiefly, however, about a troubled heart and an illicit love affair, but it ends with a happy return to the safety of home.

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During the (1939–1940) and the (1941–1944), Waltari worked in the government information center, now also placing his literary skills at the service of political . 1945 saw the publication of Waltari's first and most successful historical novel, . Its theme of the corruption of humanist values in a materialist world seemed curiously topical in the aftermath of , and the book became an international bestseller, serving as the basis of the 1954 movie of the same name. Waltari wrote seven more historical novels, placed in various ancient cultures, among others , set during the in 1453. In these novels, he gave powerful expression to his fundamental pessimism and also, in two novels set in the , to his conviction. After the war, he also wrote several . He became a member of the in 1957 and received an honorary doctorate at the in 1970.

Waltari was always fascinated by the conflict between ideologies and reality, ..


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Waltari was several years younger than the well-known authors associated with the First World War and the atmosphere of the 1920s (Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899, Erich Maria Remarque in 1898) and as a Finn, he was unaffected by the war. Nevertheless the spirit and mood of his early works are very reminiscent of Hemingway’s prose writings from his Paris period.

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Waltari started to write historical novels not only to escape from depressing reality into the splendid realm of fantasy but also to find parallels with present events in the distant and more recent past. The first and best known of them is Sinuhe egyptiläinen, The Egyptian (1945).

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For Mika Waltari, but not just for him, the early 1920s ushered in a beautiful, intoxicating and youthful world that promised freedom, love and adventure after the horrors of the First World War. And yet the writers of the 1920s are sometimes referred to as a lost generation – maybe because the world failed to fulfil all their dreams; ideal love no longer existed, and they were all too often aware of the dark side of free love: syphilis, still an incurable disease at that time.

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Waltari did not like the long, dark Finnish winter and studying material for his novels was a way of putting it to good use. He would read books he bought in secondhand bookshops or ordered from abroad (he disliked borrowing books from the library and seldom did so, oddly enough). He would study period documents, old maps and drawings. He would make trips, visiting museums as well as the sites of his future novels. Egypt was an exception: Waltari never went there, neither before writing the Egyptian nor after it was published – even when he received an invitation from the Egyptian president Nasser, who had taken a liking to the novel. Waltari politely declined; he truly had no need to see the real Egypt after the book was written, but nor had he needed to beforehand, because present-day Arab Egypt was a completely different country from Sinuhe’s ancient Egypt.

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Waltari’s historical novels all deal with journeys and in many of them the main protagonist has a comic sidekick. The journey theme is also related to the fact that the hero has no home, but is a ‘foreigner’ in the world. Thus Sinuhe the Egyptian flees Egypt and travels through Babylonia, the Empire of the Hittites and Crete, and Michael, the hero of Michael the Finn and The Sultan’s Renegade discovers many European countries with his companion Antti: Sweden, Denmark. Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy and Hungary, as well as the Orient, Persia and Algiers.