1st Edition

Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala

By Thomas A. DuBois Copyright 1996

    Since its initial publication in the early nineteenth century, Elias Lonnrot’s Finnish epic Kalevala has attracted international interest and scholarship. However, the author comments that the distorting lenses of translation, cultural difference and historical distance, have rendered the work a cryptic and often misinterpreted text outside of its country of origin. Even within Finland, scholars have found it difficult at times to judge the relation of the Kalevala to its oral sources. Lonnrot’s meticulous notes and discussions of intent and accomplishment make clear what he changed and how he went about it, but give us less inkling of why. This study's view is that the key to understanding Lonnrot’s changes lies in Romantic aesthetics and in the intellectual and socio-political agendas which they encode. Lonnrot created a Romantic epic out of Baltic-Finnic folk poetry, an epic complete with the narrative, generic, gendered and political characteristics of literary epics in nineteenth century’ Europe.

    Preface, 1. Laulut suuret lapsillensa (“Great songs for his children”): The Dual Heirs to the Folk Poetry Tradition, 2. Neitsy Maaria emonen (“Virgin Mary little mother”): Pattern and Persistence in the Nativity Songs of Arhippa Perttunen, 3. Maijatta, korea kuopus (“Maijatta, comely youngest child”): Lonnrot’s Version of the Nativity (Poem 50), 4. Vesti laijat laivaksi (“He carved planks into a ship”): Artistic Shaping Over Time in the Folk Poems of Luka Tarasov, 5. Kalevalasta opittu (“Learned from the Kalevala”): Folk Appropriations of Lonnrot’s Epic, 6. Alahall on allin mieli (“Downcast is the duck’s spirit”): The Conversational Aesthetic of Larin Paraske and Ingrian Lyric Poetry, 7. Elkame unohtako kakeaf (“Let us not forget the cuckoo!”): Lyric Stasis and Epic Progress in the Kalevala, Epilogue, Notes, Bibliography, Index


    Thomas A. DuBois