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Helsinki: A Cultural and Literary History (Cities of the Imagination) [Paperback]

Kent , Neil


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Book Description

20 Aug 2004 Cities of the Imagination
Helsinki is one of the world's most northerly capitals, but it is by no means a city frozen in northern wastes. Situated along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, magnificent lakes and forests reach into Helsinki's urban heart, a rare event in today's world of suburban sprawl. The city's natural beauty, emphasized by parks and islands, is matched by an extraordinary cultural richness, the result of fruitful foreign influences and home-grown creativity. The Finnish capital offers a spectacular display of architecture and design: from the neoclassical magnificence imposed by a Russian Tsar to the modernist chic of Nordic functionalism. Neil Kent explores the history and culture of the "Daughter of the Baltic", a small fishing village that became a powerhouse of design and technology. Tracing its dramatic past of conflict and conflagration, he explores the evolution of a national, and urban, identity through architecture, art and writing. Through such differing cultural phenomena as saunas, railway stations and tango, he explains why Helsinki is a distinctive mix of tradition and innovation. * City of Architects and Designers: Engel, Tsar Alexander I and the creation of an imperial metropolis; Alvar Aaalto and the birth of the modern; functionalism and high-tech innovation. * City of Music and the Arts: Sibelius, the national composer; conductors and performers; art galleries and installations; National Romanticism and the Nordic aesthetic. * City of Hospitality: Art Nouveau hotels and cafes; sauna culture; famous visitors and refugees: Lenin and Hitler; multicultural Helsinki and a history of migration.

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"The book covers the expected topics ... But it also has tales of the unexpected, drawing the reader's attention to subjects ignored by most mainstream books" - Horisontti

About the Author

NEIL KENT studied at the University of Cambridge, where he is Senior Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute. He has taught Nordic culture at the University of Helsinki and written extensively on Baltic social and cultural history.

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