Of Possible Interest


Mika Waltari

My essay A Novel for Our Time appears at Baron Bodissey’s Gates of Vienna website.  The “novel for our time” is Dark Angel (1952) by the Finnish writer Mika Waltari (1931 – 1979), a fictionalized account, drawing on historical sources, of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.  Waltari’s work is today largely forgotten, but during his lifetime it received widespread appreciation and made itself available to non-Finnish speakers through translations in a dozen languages.  (Waltari’s novel The Egyptian, for example, would become the basis of a lavishly produced Hollywood film of the same name.)  Dark Angel is partly allegory, being a study in loyalty to civilization and its opposite; and it is partly a call to its audience to remember an event that is increasingly obscure or entirely unknown to most Western people.  Most importantly – and most relevantly from the perspective of sixty years later – Dark Angel is an attempt to grasp the essence of Islam.  Waltari’s characterization of Islam stands at an angle to a number of assumptions that critics of that creed at  the present time make of it – and in a way that heightens the claim of radical incompatibility between Islam and the West.

3 thoughts on “Of Possible Interest

  1. Pingback: Of Possible Interest | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: Of Possible Interest | Reaction Times

  3. I read The Egyptian several years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A rare historical novel in which I didn’t notice any 20th century anachronisms to spoil the mood, and I felt his conjectures about ancient Egyptian social culture were believeable, to the extent I felt I had learned things in reading the book.

    Hopefully an inexpensive copy of Dark Angel will still be available in a few weeks when my budget recovers from my summer spending. I just bought The Fourth Turning on Amazon yesterday since it looks like I can no longer get by with other people’s opinions about it…looking over your essay, it may be that Dark Angel proves the better investment for the long term.


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