Friday, May 10, 2013

May reading: bank history, Donner continued, Matti Ijäs

Markku Kuisma, Teemu Keskisarja: Erehtymättömät. Tarina suuresta pankkisodasta ja liikepankeista Suomen kohtaloissa 1862-2012 [The Infallibles. The Tale of the Great Bank War and Commercial Banks in the Destinies of Finland 1862-2012]. Helsinki, WSOY 2012. The ironic title of the book refers to bank managers. This engrossing book is the history of the commercial banks of Finland, made with access to the bank archives with a lot of previously unknown information. It is also the history of Finland from the great famine of the 1860s to the EU present. It's full of surprising revelations, such as the role of the banks during the civil war of 1918. The basic drama is the war of the two major commercial banks KOP and SYP which ended in their merger in 1995, and which continued in a Finnish-Swedish-Norwegian-Danish merger which led to the formation of the Nordea bank. There is true insight into the dynamics of a commercial bank: you need to be careful yet you must take risks in order to survive. Finland is seen as a part of the world economy; in the 1860s we were saved from an even more terrible famine by personal credit from Carl von Rothschild in Frankfurt. In the 1990s international financial speculators were watching Finland at the bottom of a depression. Written in cooperation with Nordea, this is a critical, thought-provoking study. And a page-turner.

Continued: Jörn Donner: Mammuten eller Jörn Donners efterlämnade handlingar. Om illamåendets historia i Finland. Första delen [The Mammoth, or Jörn Donner's Posthumous Papers. About the History of Ill-Being in Finland. First Volume]. Helsinki: Schildts & Söderströms, 2013. - I have now read 650 pages of the 1100-page Mammoth. It's an incredible journey full of meetings with people like Pablo Neruda, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Nazim Hikmet, Ilya Ehrenburg, V.S. Naipaul, Joseph Brodsky, Bertolt Brecht, René Clair, and Luchino Visconti. There is the entire Swedish-Finnish literary intelligentsia (Hagar Olsson, Elmer Diktonius, etc.). Because there is no index, it is necessary to create one of one's own. Film archive notables include Henri Langlois, Mary Meerson, and Lotte H. Eisner. Especially interesting are the pages on the great Swedes of the cultural scene such as Olof Lagercrantz, Åke Runnquist, Harry Schein, and Albert Bonnier, Jr. - I'm still at it.

Lauri Timonen: Matti Ijäksen elokuvat [The Films of Matti Ijäs]. Helsinki: Like, 2013. - Matti Ijäs, one of the best Finnish film-makers, has a strong presence on two fronts: television and cinema. He started in the 1970s, and with his personal and consistent approach he has created a real popular following without having to compromise his art. This is a comprehensive, well-written and well-documented opus, good to read and highly useful for consultation.

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