‘This fascinating survey of the British in Finland’
– Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement
‘Lurcock’s own commentary is often at least as worth reading as the texts themselves’
– Yvonne Hofmann, Vasabladet
Finland in the eighteenth century was not a destination for the faint-hearted. Travellers told of winter temperatures which froze brandy in the bottle, and of summer journeys when they were eaten alive by bugs and mosquitoes. But they also wrote lyrical accounts of sledging over the ice from Stockholm, and of the idyllic beauty of Finland’s lakes and islands.
Part anthology, part history, Not So Barren or Uncultivated brings to life these forgotten journeys and gives a picture of Finland at a time when it was little known to the outside world. It also presents the familiar figure of the Englishman Abroad in very unfamiliar terms. Lurcock’s book is informative, affectionate, and full of surprising and entertaining episodes.
‘A fine integration of travellers’ texts and commentary . . . It is a valuable work of scholarship and also very readable as a result of the neat and economical manner of handling the scholarly apparatus. I noticed only one typo.’
– David Wilson, Jyväskylä University
‘This book is a gem: entertaining, fascinating, astonishing . . . Tony Lurcock’s clever collage of these [travellers’ accounts] from the past adds to the enjoyment . . . I’ve learned a lot about Finland 250 years ago. Lovely book.’
– Finland Forum
‘Tony Lurcock’s engaging book . . . combines an informative historical account with short biographies and extracts from the journals and published writings of some twenty British travellers who visited Finland in the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries . . . Samuel Johnson observed that “the true state of every nation is the state of common life”. For an introduction to that “common life” and to the history of this part of northern Europe in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it would be hard to better Tony Lurcock’s excellent volume. Impeccably researched, written in an accessible, lively and lucid style, with useful appendices, notes, and bibliography, this is a gem of a book which will delight the scholar and the general reader alike.’
– Mara Kalnins, Notes and Queries
‘Tony Lurcock is a former associate professor of English at the University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi, and therefore has a good first-hand knowledge of today’s Finland to juxtapose with the manner in which his countrymen experienced the lands and people of the northern corner of Europe more than two hundred years ago. Not So Barren or Uncultivated is at once both an anthology of extracts from British travel accounts and a rich mini-encyclopaedia of personalities, routes and destinations, with references to the historical and literary background of the time . . . Modern travel research is particularly concerned with the problem of the encounter with the “other” in different cultures, and many of the narrative examples in Not So Barren or Uncultivated illustrate this in terms that are both drastic and entertaining.’
– Rainer Knapas, Books from Finland