Midsummer Dance

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Date: 1965

Region: Europe

Subject: Religious

Medium: Literature


Artist: Hannu Salama

Confronting Bodies: Martti Simojoki (archbishop of Finland), Kokoomus (the conservative National Coalition Party), and various theologians

Dates of Action: 1965

Location: Finland

Description of Artwork: "Midsummer Dance" is not a religious novel. However, the controversy comes in when one of the characters breifly insults Christ and questions his sexuality. This passage is 39 lines long and the other characters in the book have mixed reactions in response to it.

The Incident: The case first arose when the archbishop complained about the passage, saying it would cause offense to most Finns. Articles for and against the archbishop soon arose and led to the book seeing increased attention.

In 1965, a case was brought up against Salama. He became impatient with the trial and wrote a letter to the judge claiming that the passage was indeed meant to hurt religious feelings. He explained he wanted to "force the system to carry out its task unveiled, revealed all its narrow mindedness, its hate and its backwardness."

Results of Incident: Salama was sentenced to three months in prison to be followed by probation. The remaining copies of the book were burned and ordered not to be reprinted until the passages were deleted.

Soon afterward, the Blasphemy Act, which Salama was punished under, was repealed in Finland.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.