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Mika Waltari

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I have read The Egyptian a few times and its possibilities never exhaust. Its theme of the corruption of humanist values in a materialist world seemed curiously topical in the aftermath of World War II. The prolific Finnish writer’s works, however, are difficult to come by. Even the library might not have his entire oeuvre in stock, let alone the big-box bookstores that cater to general public with their generic general fiction. Local indies and thrift stores might stand a chance. I found five at the library book sale: The Secret of the Kingdom, The Roman, The Dark Angel, The Etruscan, and The Egyptian. All pulp fiction paperbacks in fairly good condition with tight spines.

Waltari is best-known for his historical novels, especially The Egyptian, which appeared in 1945. Waltari’s works has been translated into more than 30 languages. He is generally considered one of major Finnish writers of the 20th-century.

A fast and talented writer, Waltari moved easily from one literary field to another. He wrote mystery novels, poems, short stories, essays, fairy tales, travel books, screenplays, plays and memoirs. Following his hard work ethics Waltari suffered from insomnia and depression and was treated in hospital on several occasions. With his friends in the literary, theatrical and art circles he drank periodically and retired then during the spring in the country to write.

His works possess a historical appeal. His books were set during set during the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, in the Roman Empire, and in Ancient Egypt. In these novels, he gave powerful expression to his fundamental pessimism and also to his Christian conviction.

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