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Wild Desire: Gendering the Other in Sinisalo's Troll: A Love Story
by K. A. Laity
Trolls have long had a firm grip on the Finnish imagination. While written records do not reach far enough back to find its roots, no doubt the traditions of folk religion play a role. As Matti Salo has argued, it "recognized no sharp distinction between the natural and supernatural" and the world was seen to be peopled with a variety of gods, spirits and creatures. Things may not have changed as much in the twenty-first century as you might be tempted to believe. As Johanna Sinisalo writes in her introduction to the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, "To this day, Finns live in a very sparsely populated country, surrounded by lakes and large expanses of forest. Every Finn appears to have very close, personal ties to nature. In Finland culture and nature do not struggle against one another, they are not mutually exclusive, they merge and influence one another" (9). That unique creature, the troll, seems to spring from this melding of nature and culture, realism and fantasy. Perhaps the greatest flowering of troll love erupted in the mid-twentieth century, embracing Tove Jansson's Moomin family and their often melancholy young son Moomintroll. While the robust attendance at Moominworld in Naantali would seem to suggest that everyone loves trolls, the realities of that affection have remained entirely fantastical until recently...
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