The Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland

The Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland

AUTHOR J. M. Crawford CATEGORY Art & Culture PARTNER The British Library
The Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland

John Martin Crawford (1845–1916) was an American physician and scholar who translated the Finnish epic Kalevala into English based on a previous German translation by Franz Anton Schiefner published in 1852, to be published for the first time in 1888.

Kalevala has inspired many artists. JRR Tolkien first discovered the Kalevala tale as a schoolboy in Birmingham. His father had died when he was a young child, and his mother passed away when he was 12, so he had been an orphan for some years when he came across the Finnish epic Kalevala – and within it the tale of Kullervo – during his final year at school. Arriving at Oxford University a year later, Tolkien began to write his own version of the Finnish myth. But after a few months he suddenly gave up. The manuscript runs to about 26 pages, but it breaks off in the middle of a sentence. The unfinished manuscript was put aside. Meanwhile, Tolkien went on to invent his own Elvish languages, and to write his books about hobbits, elves and dragons, in time off from his day job as a professor of Anglo Saxon and Middle English.


View the full Kalevala here:

Volume I (pdf)

Volume II (pdf)


Publication Details: New York : J. B. Alden, 1888.

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