Saturday, December 16, 2006

Meanwhile, in Norrland….

Two famous travel diaries overlap in 1831-1832. These are Darwin’s travels on board the "Beagle” 1831-1836, and Petrus Laestadius’ mission travels in Norrland 1827-1832. Although the former has a greater fame internationally, also Laestadius is well worth reading. He was born in Arjepluog in 1802 and as a small child he was raised under incredibly miserable conditions.

Much thanks to the efforts of his elder half brother, who was a priest in Kvikkjokk, Petrus came to be educated in theology in Uppsala and came into contact with modern ideas including Kantian philosophy. Laestadius returned to Lapland and became a missionary. His journals are still very readable, and give much more information on local nature and culture than other similar sources, for example Linnaeus’ Laplandic account, since he was of local origin and a fluent Sámi speaker.

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