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The Kalevala (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 14 Jan 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (14 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019283570X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835703
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 4.8 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Lively, true to the spirit of the original. Having taught the course several times, I find this translation to be excellent for our students."--Aili Flint, Columbia University"Thank you for the complimentary copy! It was a difficult decision but in the end I decided to go with Magour's more literal translation for the course. I will, however, consider Bosley's translation for my own work. I especially admire Bosley's Introduction and your choice of Gallen-Kallela's painting for the cover. Thanks again!"--Leslie Taylor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

From the Back Cover

The national folk epic of Finland is here presented in an English translation that is both scholarly and eminently readable. The lyrical passages and poetic images, the wry humor, the tall-tale extravagance, and the homely realism of the 'Kaevala' come through with extraordinary effectiveness. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
Other reviews highlight many of the Kalevala's intrinsic qualities. This epic should be well-known among Tolkien's fans, too. In his published letters, handily indexed in the paperback edition, may be found statements that amount to this: No Kalevala, no legendarium of Middle-earth! - - or at least, Tolkien's mythology would have been markedly different. He specifically related the Kalevala's story of Kullervo and his own cycle of Turin legends. Old Vainamoinen, the singing wizard, has affinities with Gandalf and Tom Bombadil. The hag Louhi's theft of the sun and moon, which plunges Kaleva-land into darkness, suggests Tolkien's myth of Melkor's destruction of the two Lamps. A more homely example of the importance of things Finnish for Tolkien has to do with his naming one of the persons in The Father Christmas Letters: a bear is named Karhu (which is Finnish for bear, as Bosley states in one of the notes to The Kalevala). And the Finnish language was the chief inspiration for the Elvish language Quenya. Awareness of Tolkien's recognized indebtedness to medieval English and Germanic legends - Beowulf, Siegfried, etc. -- must be supplemented by a good acquaintance with the Kalevala. A superb "Kalevala" for younger readers is Babette Deutsch's Heroes of the Kalevala.
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Format: Paperback
The Kalevala is the result of Elias Lönnrot collecting and commiting to paper the oral traditions of the Finnish people to produce an epic tale.
This translation has captured the poetic delivery of the original Finnish as perfectly as these two opposing languages could.
The poetry weaves the tales of Väinämöinen, an old seer and the younger Joukahainen who wishes to challenge him. This angers Väinämöinen who chants him deep into a swamp, a meadow and a heath!! To get himself out of trouble Joukahainen offers the old seer his sister Aino as a bride. Väinämöinen thinking he has been offered a house keeper accepts. Aino is quite taken with being his bride but Väinämöinen has other ideas and heads North to woo the maiden of the North. He can marry her if he forges a Sampo, which is a magical machine that churns out salt, flour and money! He can't do that but he knows a man who can, his good friend Ilmarinen the blacksmith. He has to trick Ilmarinen into going North but he makes the Sampo. Then the marriage requires another task and so the maiden remains unmarried.

Meanwhile, another character Lemminkäinen decides to go North and try his luck winning the maiden. He is given tasks in order to win her hand, capturing the elk of Hiisi and the swan from the river of Tuonela. The latter task nearly kills him and he gives up.

Väinämöinen is now making himself a boat to head back up North but he runs out of spells so he has to go and find Vipunen, a giant who knows all the spells. He gets his spells, finishes his boat and heads North but he is seen by the sister of the blacksmith and the blacksmith rides like the wind on his horse and catches up with him.
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This is a review of the Oxford World Classics version that runs to over seven hundred pages, published in 1999. The introduction, translation, and notes are by Keith Bosley and were published separately in 1989.

The work begins with quite a beautiful creation myth of the earth and heaven; the world, sun, moon, and stars coming into existence through to birds’ eggs in the lap of the water-mother, who is “a lass, an air-girl, a nice nature-daughter.” We learn how vegetation began and the origins of agriculture. When reading it I was often drawn to comparisons with Tolkien in the ‘Silmarillion’.

Later we start to read of the adventures of wanton Lemminkainen and the tales of steady old Vainamoinen, as well as of the smith Ilmarinen, the everlasting craftsman. These are all full of bluster and boasting where ‘one’ becomes ‘a thousand’ within the same stanza. Kalervo and his son Kullervo do not appear until the thirty-first of the book’s fifty sections. The work is full of analogy, symbolism, and plays on words. Having read it once, though, I do not think I would choose to read it all again.

I decided to explore the ‘Kalevala’ because of the many links to the music of Sibelius. But it soon became a frustrating read due to lack of punctuation and the arrangement of the text. Often two sentences are joined together with no punctuation to indicate whether the central idea belongs to the first or the second. For instance: “the wealth grows chilly, the herds/get into a dreadful state/strange to the birds of the air/tiresome to mankind/that the sun will never shine nor/will the moon gleam.” Other editions may be more user-friendly.
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brought up with arthur and the Iliad i cam late to finnish mythology but of this great poem i say it stands alongside nay other literature a stirring story and beautiful song
this is a fine modern translation and although the story drags a bit on cantos 27-29 for my liking
over all a fantastic tale that puts its imitator tolkien in the shade
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