|The family lives on the Stock (= tree log) Holme.|
Much of the humour is based on wild, unrestrained punning and unabashed anachronisms; Almquist was particularly fond of making up words with the prefix ur- which means ancient or primordial. Like in the book where the family Hedenhös goes to America, they arrive at a town called Urjork, or Ur York, which is, naturally, the original New York. The indians who live there are not iroquois, but uroquois. And they go on an excursion to Urtroit and visit with uncle Urford, riding on his horsepowered wagons. It´s all delightfully recognizable, and the well-travelled Hedenhös family also goes adventuring to Egypt, England, Paris (where they are kitted out by Mr Diur), and they even go to the moon, and to Mars! They also organize the worlds first international olympiad, the urlympiad.
|Pappa Ben builds the raft Ur-tiki that takes them to America. (Remember Heyerdal´s Kon-Tiki expidition in 1947?)|
|Arriving at Ur York.|
Bertil Almquist was born in 1902, and the first book came out in 1948. The stories are very much of their time and have that hyper-positive attitude to technology and progress. It is what fuels them, really. The family is an ideal nuclear family: pappa Ben (= bone), mamma Knota (= another Swedish word for bone), brother Sten (= stone), and sister Flisa (= splinter). Pappa Ben may only possess a flint knife and a stone axe, but that does not stop him from building a jet plan (driven by uranium, in case you wondered). Their animals are part of the family, as well as being useful household assets, and they all come on the adventures.
In yesterdays paper, it was announced that the America-album will not be published in future. It is perhaps my favourite, but I can really see why they had to make this decision. The attitude to the indigenous people of North America is, well... shall we say naive and patronizing? A tad colonial? Remember, this was a time when Swedes had not yet learned that a person of dark skin-colour could take offence to being called a negro. To us, it was just a noun, and to some very old people (like the mum-in-law) it still is. We had yet to see "Roots" on television (I was not old, but I remember how BIG that was). If the world seemed small in the Hedenhös universe, to a regular Swede in the 50´s, it was actually pretty large and unknown.
|Uncle Urford´s factory in Urtroit.|
Still, the characters are alive and well, and changing with the times. I think I´ll tune in at least for the first episode, to see what´s been done to them.