etc

Dear Reader,

The following pages are an extract from my travel diary to the so-called "Finnskogar" (Finnish Forests) on the border between Sweden and Norway during the summer of 1993. I have made no changes to the text, only left out less relevant entries.

J.B.

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(Original photo from my first visit)

Introduction


In november 1993 I received a letter from an elderly Swedish lady, I had met at a folklore conference a few years before and afterwards had corresponded with for some time. She had spent a great part of her life travelling all over Sweden and Norway collecting stories about trolls, pixies and other creatures of the imagination. I knew that her interest was driven by a personal obsession with the supernatural. When, after several years of silence, I finally heard from her again, it therefore did not come as a big surprise that she seemed to have become lost in the realm of fiction.

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(Renowned Swedish folk tale collector)

In her letter to me she claimed that on her last journey to Finnskogarna she had finally met the trolls and she then went on to describe in great detail their way of life and what they had told her about their traditions and beliefs. I immediately dismissed this claim as the ramblings of a very ill person, not the least because of her style of writing. This is what she wrote on one of the pages in her very confused letter:

"I have seen them, with my very own eyes. They do exist, whatever anybody says. The trolls, they finally showed themselves to me. After all these years. You cannot imagine just how happy I am, what an honour... And they are so beautiful, my forest children... their frightened eyes glowing in the dark..."

And yet, a few months after I had received this letter, I myself was on my way to the same place where she claimed to have encountered these fantastic creatures. I was still convinced that trolls only existed in old stories and children's books, yet her letter had left me with a certain feeling of anxiety. What if... And as I had not had a holiday for a very long time, I decided to go hiking in Finnskogarna the next summer. And that is where my travel diary begins...

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Map of Scandinavia)