Göran Schildt is a particularly well-known figure thanks to his travel writing. His travels abroad got started with a year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris (1934/5) and the study trip he made to Italy with his friend, the philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright in 1937. These trips ignited a lifelong interest in the Mediterranean region.
Schildt decided to get his own boat and sail to the Mediterranean as he recuperated from injuries sustained during the Finnish Winter War. In 1947 the dream came a big step closer to being fulfilled when he bought Daphne, the ketch owned by the maritime historian Christoffer H. Ericsson. He set the following year with his then wife Mona Morales-Schildt. The route took them through the English channel to the Mediterranean, where the journey ended in the coastal town of Rapallo.
Schildt also wrote his first travel book describing his first voyage - Önskeresan (‘In the wake of a wish’, 1949). It became Schildt’s best-known travel account, running to eight editions in its first year of publication and available in eight languages.
In the preface to the 1996 reprint, Schildt reflected on how the account came to be: In practice it meant that I made the journey twice. First, the actual journey, where everything happened by chance, with no explanations and in a state of confusion, and following that a second journey beside the writing desk, in which events gained a sense of purpose and a place in the whole. It’s odd to think that in retrospect, what took place at the writing desk was more real, although I did leave out many details from the reality of what took place.”
The couple embarked on their first sail to the Greek Islands in 1950, heading for Crete. He described this journey in his work I Odysseus kölvatten (‘In Ulysses’ wake’, 1951). Schildt made his second home in the Greek archipelago, when he visited a friend on the island of Leros in the summer of 1965. During his sojourn he fell so completely for the place that he considered it home from home. His time on Leros inspired him to write Ön som förtärdes av havet (‘The island engulfed by the sea’, 1970).
Schildt’s longest sailing voyage in 1954/5 took almost nine months. He sailed via Greece and Turkey to Beirut and Alexandria and then along the Nile. This journey was described in two books - Solbåten (‘Sun boat’, 1956) ja Ikaros hav (‘The sea of Icarus’, 1957). Setting off from the Bay of Volos via the Bosphorus strait, he made a second long sailing trip to the Black Sea, which is described in his book Det gyllene Skinnet (‘The Golden fleece’, 1964).
In his travel accounts Schildt demonstrates an extensive knowledge of the European cultural heritage. He brings a cultural awareness to bear on the present with lively depictions of fleeting moments and the present-day people living in ancient cultural landscapes.
Göran Schildt was a guest in Maarit Tastula's TV show Punainen lanka in September 2000. In this Yle Elävä arkisto recording, Schildt discusses his life, hobbbies and family background. He also elaborates on his experience of the Winter War.
- H. Rask, ’Schildt, Göran’. National Biography of Finland online. Accessed February 26, 2015.
Göran Schildt, Wikipedia. Accessed February 26, 2015.
Göran Schildt, Villa Schildt website. Accessed February 26, 2015.
- H. Pöppönen, Göran Schildt’s obituary, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, March 24, 2009.