Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Калевала” as Want to Read:
Калевала
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Калевала

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,048 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
„Калевала“ е епическа поема, която финландецът Елиас Льонрот съставя през 19 век на основата на фолклора на Финландия и Карелия. Призната е за финландски национален епос и традиционно смятана за едно от най-значимите произведения във финландската литература. На „Калевала“ се приписва част от приноса за национално пробуждане, довело до отвоюването на независимостта на Финла ...more
Hardcover, 726 pages
Published 2003 by Захарий Стоянов (first published 1835)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Калевала, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Susan Lynx I find this same question arises when I read the cultural and/or religious epics of just about any culture. The brother heroes of the Popul Vuh, for…moreI find this same question arises when I read the cultural and/or religious epics of just about any culture. The brother heroes of the Popul Vuh, for example, do an awful lot of killing and tricking. Ulysses was a famous trickster and not at all ethical by my modern standards. Tale of the Heike contains incredible stories of scheming and cruelty. And then there are the very "sinful" heroes of the Bible - King David is a good example. When Inanna/Ishtar visits the underworld, her own sister Ereshkigal dismembers her and hangs her up on meat hooks! My own interpretation is that the tales include the flaws so we can learn from them. Also that greatness can lead to hubris and breaking out of what is normal. I am pretty sure that the heroes are not to be simply "liked." They give us more of a total picture of the chaos that is human action, at the same time teaching how we "should" behave. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Warwick


When Elias Lönnrot was born in 1802, Finland was a province of Sweden; by the time he came to compile the Kalevala in the 1830s and 1840s, it was part of the Russian Empire. ‘Finnishness’ was (and had been since the twelfth century) little more than a shared idea, and sometimes a dangerous one at that. So this epic is a part of that nineteenth-century fashion for literary and linguistic nationalism that also gave us curiosities like Pan Tadeusz in Poland or The Mountain Wreath in Serbia-Monteneg
...more
Erin
Aug 11, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history, poetry
This is a thought-provoking piece of majestic work. Thought-provoking because as I read it, an insane amount of questions kept coming to mind which I will try (completely incompletely) to compile here, although not with the mastery of Elias Lonnrot.

So, without further ado, three important lessons that I learned from The Kalevala:

Lesson 1: The Kalevala has fuck-all to do with Lord of the Rings.

Yes, yes, I know. Tolkien studied Finnish - an impressive feat because it holds the records for the mos
...more
Antonomasia
OUP edition, translated by Keith Bosley

"...the kind of excitement that palaeontologists felt on discovering a live coelacanth". Exactly! I'm not one of the scholars of early European epic Bosley is talking about in that paragraph of his wonderful introduction, just someone who once did a dissertation type thing on "pagan survivals" in late medieval (English) religion and sadly had to conclude that there was very little evidence for anything beyond the odd motif. But in Finland, there was an anc
...more
Ammon
Jul 12, 2008 Ammon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ammon by: Jean Sibelius
Here's my trochaic rendition of my synopsis of the Kalevala:

Wainomainen, ancient minstrel,
Ilmarinen, magic blacksmith,
Lemmenkainen, reckless hero.
They get dumped by Lappish women.
Will they still the magic Sampo
With its lid of many colors?
You bet they will, motherfuckers.
Robert
Sep 10, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chances are that if you've heard of this work at all it's because it was the inspiration for Longfellow's Hiawatha, you've just heard about the publication of Tolkien's Story of Kullervo or you're some kind of expert in Epic Poetry. Which is to say it's fairly obscure outside it's native Finnland, where, by contrast everybody knows it because it's the National Epic, heavily influencing the development of a Finnish national consciousness.

(A brief aside on Tolkien: he used the Finnish language as
...more
Caroline

Old woman of underground
soil-dame, earth-mistress
now set the sward pushing up
the strong earth heaving!
The earth will not want for strength
ever in this world
while there’s love from the givers
and leave from natures’s daughters.


This poem immerses you in physical and mythical Finland. Every page is filled with original, lyrical communion with the natural world. Every episode combines folk heroes, folk wisdom, fantastic shape-changing and song. Because above all else you understand Finland as a coun
...more
Markus
Let me first clarify that the two-star rating is based solely on my experience with this book, and not on its overall quality.

There were two reasons why I started reading the Kalevala a while ago. Firstly, because it was one of Tolkien's major inspirations in his writing career. Secondly, because it seemed like a classical version of sword & sorcery mixed with old poetry. And that's amazingly enough just what it is.

The negative part is that the story is incredibly boring, filled with endless
...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
I had never heard of the Kalevala, but recently I visited Finland for the first time (hopefully not the last) and it is everywhere; Go to an art gallery, or a historical house, or a museum and things based on the Kalevala are everywhere. Drive down the highway and there is a construction company named after a character in the Kalevala. So it soon became evident that if I wanted to understand anything about Finland I would have to read it. It proved to be no great effort; reading the Kalevala was ...more
Lada
National epic which is collected by Elias Lonnrot in the XlX century as part of the general trend of romanticism to keep orality in its pure form in the origins of childhood. The work of a national and romantic poet who compiled ballads into one unit from the beginning of creation of Finland and the first Man, Vainamonien, the hero, the poet the magician, who is the first man and the hero of the epic and the cultural hero of the Finns
Bryan Alexander
Sep 07, 2015 Bryan Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, storytelling, poetry
Notes on reading the Kalevala:

I don't want to offer a scholarly analysis here. Instead I want to offer my impressions on first reading this work, and assume you all can fire up Google for more information. (This edition's introduction is excellent, and I recommend it)

I read the Kalevala because I was visiting Finland for the first time and wanted to dive into that nation's culture. I ended up staying in a Kalevala-themed hotel, which was fun.

It's an unusual work to read, mostly for formal reason
...more
Maaike
Jan 10, 2016 Maaike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, finland, poetry
4.75*
Amazing, wonderful, awesome. That was a fantastic epic. I never expected I would ever finish it, it being 666 pages of poetry, but I did, and I enjoyed every second of it.
We all know Greek, Roman and Norse mythology, but Finnish mythology is hardly ever heard of, which saddens me because it is just epic. By reading this epoch you can see how the lifes of Finnish people centuries ago was very much influenced by nature. The nature in the story is alive, it speaks, thinks and feels. Birds, fis
...more
Yiting Shen
Dec 10, 2009 Yiting Shen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was inspired by the special Kalevala exhibition at the Atheneum Art Museum in Helsinki the past weekend. The paintings and sculptures drew me into the epic world.

The words have served as vivid memories for my short visit. The English translation is rather easy to read compared with the Homeric Iliad or Odyssey. More importantly, as I read close and loud into the lines, Kalevala has the light touch, and sense of humor. It's not as cold as you think - Finns are warm as I encounter, from the very
...more
Panagiotis
Aug 18, 2012 Panagiotis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In fact i decided to read kalevala because one of my favorite band,Amorphis from Finland,writes music that deals with stories from this epic poem.Well,i did right,cause as a fan of worldwide Mythologies,Kalevala offered me all the things i just wanted to read.Gods,evil witches,heroes,battles and exciting,heroic,funny or tragic stories.Recommended to all people who like such stuff,by reading this you will also put yourself in a place comparing the stories with similar of other's Mythologies.One o ...more
Louisa
May 18, 2016 Louisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vainamoinen with harp
Väinämöinen with his harp

The Kalevala is a delight; a wonderful rendering of ancient Finnish mythology. The English translation by John Crawford (1888) reads beautifully and follows closely the Finnish cadence with eight syllables in every line. While the male heroes Väinämöinen, Ilmarinen and Lemminkäinen provide most of the action, I thought it was interesting to see how the Finnish world was created entirely by females; the Daughter of the Ether and a seabird that lays golden eggs on her knee
...more
Winterdragon
Apr 20, 2016 Winterdragon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folk-tales, mythology
Well, this was an experience. Even though I am unable to understand it in its original version, this translation (by Kirby) made a thoroughly enjoyable audiobook. Tragic, beautiful, and so, so epic. Just look at this:

Grew an ox in far Karjala,
Not the largest, nor the smallest,
Was the ox that grew in Suomi;
But his size was all-sufficient,
For his tail was sweeping Jamen,
And his head was over Kemi,
Horns in length a hundred fathoms,
Longer than the horns his mouth was;
Seven days it took a weasel
To en
...more
Chaney Bicknell
Dec 23, 2008 Chaney Bicknell marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mythology or exceedingly long poems.
UPDATE: Once again "slowly chipping away at the behemoth" has morphed into "totally intimidated by the behemoth" and I've moved onto a different, less horrifyingly dense book. Honestly, I need to get more systematic with my note-taking before I tackle this monster.

--

Slowly chipping away at this behemoth. I'm reading ahead, then going back and re-reading so I can take decent notes. I'm 14 cantos deep, and I've taken notes on 10. There are 50.

So far I like it a lot. The roles of Vainamoinen, Ilmar
...more
Desclian
Sep 11, 2008 Desclian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful story but one of the worst translations I have ever read. Almost all of the way through I found the tale to be exhilarating, and only found myself bored when there was too much talk about weddings and whatnot. I'm sure there are some who love to hear of such things, but it's definitely not my cup of tea.

As for the translation, stay away from this one. I don't see why the translated felt it necessary to put in modern langauges and turns of phrase into a Finnish epic. The worst was whe
...more
Gwenhwyfar
Aug 13, 2014 Gwenhwyfar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, epics
This was absolutely beautiful. Read it for the poetry, not for the plot. The plot doesn't really exist, which makes sense since it was stitched together out of oral traditions. Since I obtained this from a library and therefore can't write in it, I kept scribbling down passages on whatever scraps of paper I had around just so I wouldn't lose the language.
teresa
Apr 13, 2007 teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Being born and raised in the UP and of finnish descent I am interested in Finnish culture.

The Kalevala is the Finnish epic poem written by Lonnrot in 1839. He went around collecting runos (song poems) and he put them together (and added some) to create this poem.

My friends are reading a runo a week at lj at kalevala_1 year.

Rena
Apr 20, 2008 Rena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
As a Finn, this epic speaks to my heart. I haven't finished the book--shameful--but the poetry and story are amazing. The Kalevala was the oral tradition of the Finns and this translation preserves that feeling.
Jeremiah Peter
Aug 11, 2011 Jeremiah Peter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thank god for that charm against bears! I have yet to be eaten by one, so it must have worked. The book itself is very very very dry and very very very difficult to get through, but again, no more bears!
Emma
Apr 15, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of a project on Tolkien's influences, and I was not disappointed. The speed I had to read this at meant I was a little overwhelmed at times, but this is a real beauty of an epic poem (particularly at the beginning).

I had no idea of this folklore until I read The Kalevala, and I must admit I thought it really strange (but I guess most folklore/mythology is really weird... Ahem... Greek), however, it's wonderfully compiled and Elias Lonnrot did an amazing thing by bringing this
...more
Berna Labourdette
May 26, 2012 Berna Labourdette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
(escribir en español) “Ni par toi ni par personne porte des croisements dans ma poitrine, ni je m'attache les cheveux avec seda” ;
(La pucelle noyée)
La Kalevala (qui signifie “Tierra de Héroes” ;) ils sont tu chantes épiques fineses réunis par le Dr. Elias Lönnrot, sous la forme d'un grand poème, premièrement de 12.000 vers, divisés 12 runos ou chansons (ce qui est qui ensuite se vaste à 22.793 chansons, divisées 50 runos). Ces poèmes ont été composés approximativement entre les siècles V à au XI
...more
Brandon Pearce
Feb 09, 2008 Brandon Pearce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien fans, Epic poetry fans
Shelves: epic
Fascinating Finish Fairytales. If you are a Tolkien fan you have to read the Kalevala as it was a major source of material for him. The Kalevala seems so bizaar at first blush but really has some interesting insights into pre christian bronze age life in Finland. There are certainly Christian elements that have been added to the Kalevala as Christianity reached Finland in the tenth century but this is pretty pure as far as pagan folklore goes. The iron charms portion of the book are of particula ...more
Annabelle
Apr 24, 2010 Annabelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read the teen version by Kirsti Makeinen Pirkko-Iiisa Surojegin & Kaarina Brooks

The Finnish creation story of ruins that were sung by elders was written down in the 1850’s and created a resurgence of the Finnish language, after Finland was occupied by Russia and Swedent. It is written in verse, very metaphoric and non rational with the classic themes of martyrdom, combat, magic, transformation, resurrection and immaculate birth. I loved the nature imagery of spruce, pine, aspen, sage, barl
...more
Jkimballcook Cook
Oct 03, 2013 Jkimballcook Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folklore
Awesome. The Finnish myths are so interesting. Interesting that they are much closer in tone and in theme to some of the Native American creation stories I've read than to the Scandinavian and other Northern European myths that I'm familiar with. (Though maybe I'm just thinking that because I'm subconsciously associating it with Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha since it has the same meter, but I think its more than that.)

The Kalevala is kind of a masterwork of folklore-preservation. Lonnrot basical
...more
Julie
Mar 28, 2016 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a bedtime long-read on the Kindle. The trochaic tetrameter was soothing and pulled the story forward quickly. The repetition of certain phrases was satisfying, just as one would expect from a sung oral history. The introduction was helpful with understanding and anticipating some of the characters, so don't skip it. There were images and passages that touched me and have taken up residence in my internal folklore. What has stilled the cuckoo's singing?
Dave Maddock
Oct 05, 2011 Dave Maddock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dave by: Mythgard Institute
Shelves: mythology
Read for a class at the Mythgard Institute. This might've been a 4-star review if not for the unevenness of the book. Since this is a loose collection of traditional Finnish folk songs compiled and edited into a roughly continuous narrative, perhaps this isn't surprising. Nevertheless, I felt that some episodes were much more skillfully composed than others. For instance, the earlier stories of Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen and the interlude of Kullervo were my favorites while Ilmarinen's wedding ...more
Susan Lynx
Jan 12, 2016 Susan Lynx rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haven't finished the book yet but this particular translation by Eino Friberg is really fantastic. I tried to read the Kalevala once before (can't remember the translator) and it was so wretchedly ponderous that I just couldn't.

This is a wonderful tale full of magic and information about the old Finnish culture. The stories often have surprising turns, and the imagery is vivid. Lots of observations about human nature woven into the tale.

Highly recommend this!
Cassandra Kay Silva
The prose is really beautiful, you pick up a lot on the way it would have come across orally as there is much in the way of repetitive moments to help the linguist remember the work. It is no Odyssey or Aeniad don't get me wrong, this focuses more on the home front, it features a lot of family orientations and moments with the elements or themes of bringing people back from the dead and getting married. It does have a lot of magical/mythical elements to it also and really the writing is very lov ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Medieval literature: The Kalevala 1 3 Nov 18, 2015 06:01AM  
  • The Poetic Edda
  • Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas (World's Classics)
  • Heimskringla: or, The Lives of the Norse Kings
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
  • The Nibelungenlied
  • Seven Brothers
  • The Unknown Soldier
  • Early Irish Myths and Sagas
  • Maa on syntinen laulu
  • Pessi ja Illusia
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
227234
Elias Lönnrot was a Finnish philologist and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry. He is best known for composing the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled from national folklore.

Lönnrot was born in Sammatti, in the province of Uusimaa in Finland. He studied medicine at the Academy of Turku. To his misfortune the year he joined was the year of the Great Fire of Turku, burning down ha
...more
More about Elias Lönnrot...

Share This Book



“Once to swim I sought the sea-side,
There to sport among the billows;
With the stone of many colors
Sank poor Aino to the bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
Like a pretty son-bird, perished.
Never come a-fishing, father,
To the borders of these waters,
Never during all thy life-time,
As thou lovest daughter Aino.

Mother dear, I sought the sea-side,
There to sport among the billows;
With the stone of many colors,
Sank poor Aino to the bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
Like a pretty song-bird perished.
Never mix thy bread, dear mother,
With the blue-sea's foam and waters,
Never during all thy life-time,
As thou lovest daughter Aino.
Brother dear, I sought the sea-side,
There to sport among the billows;
With the stone of many colors
Sank poor Aino to the bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
Like a pretty song-bird perished.
Never bring thy prancing war-horse,
Never bring thy royal racer,
Never bring thy steeds to water,
To the borders of the blue-sea,
Never during all thy life-time,
As thou lovest sister Aino.

Sister dear, I sought the sea-side,
There to sport among the billows;
With the stone of many colors
Sank poor Aino to the bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
Like a pretty song-bird perished.
Never come to lave thine eyelids
In this rolling wave and sea-foam,
Never during all thy life-time,
As thou lovest sister Aino.
All the waters in the blue-sea
Shall be blood of Aino's body;
All the fish that swim these waters
Shall be Aino's flesh forever;
All the willows on the sea-side
Shall be Aino's ribs hereafter;
All the sea-grass on the margin
Will have grown from Aino's tresses.”
18 likes
“Words shall not be hid
nor spells buried
might shall not sink underground
though the mighty go.”
12 likes
More quotes…