Finnish National Epic (from tales)
compiled and written by Elias Lönnrot
published in 1835 / 600+ pages
Rating – A
I started this long ago, but restarted in late October 2012. Going well – basic mythology with a good meter, good story – see New Finnish Grammar for the background – that’s the reason I got interested again.
Here is some more background: http://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/diehtu/siida/shaman/kalev.htm
The Kalevala’s main characters are the wizards or shamans – Väinämöinen who rules the waters, Lemminkäinen who hunts, and Ilmarinen who is a blacksmith. Most of the action involves family and finding women (who are often treasured, sometimes mistreated) and devising weapons, magical and not. They have some pretty tragic lives. Their big enemy is the tribe in the Northland – the Lapps. But the Lapps apparently have beautiful women.
Finally, at the end, Ilmarinen forges a magic talisman called the Sampo which the northern tribes steal and become prosperous due to its magic. So the three shamans go to get it back. They find it but it’s smashed in a fight.
The final chapter is an allegory of the birth of Christ.
It’s a pretty good book – I enjoyed the rhythm of the verse. I can see where it would be a national epic.