Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in July 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.


THE following stories cover almost all of the songs of the Kalevala, the epic of the Finnish people. They will lead the English child into a new region in the fairy world, yet one where he will recognise many an old friend in a new form. The very fact that they do open up a new portion of the world of the marvellous, will, it is hoped, render them all the more acceptable, and perhaps, when the child who reads them grows up to manhood, will inspire an actual interest in the race that has composed them.

                And this race and their land will repay study, for nowhere will one find a more beautiful land than Finland, nor a braver, truer, and more liberty-loving people than the Finns, although, alas, their love for liberty may soon be reduced to an apparently hopeless longing for a lost ideal. For the iron hand of Russian despotism has already begun to close on Finland with its relentless grasp, and, in spite of former oaths and promises from the Russian Tsars, the future of Finland looks blacker and blacker as time goes on. Yet it is often the unforeseen that happens, and let us trust that this may be so in Finland's case, and that a brighter future may soon dawn, and the dark clouds that now are threatening may be once more dispersed.

                In these stories Mr. T. M. Crawford's metrical translation of the Kalevala has been quite closely followed, even to the adoption of his Anglicised, or rather Anglo-Swedish, forms for proper names, though in some instances the original Finnish form has been reverted to. This was done reluctantly, but the actual Finnish forms would seem formidable to children in many instances, and would probably be pronounced even farther from the original than as they are given here. It is to be hoped, moreover, that those who may now read these stories will later on read an actual translation of the Kalevala, and this is an additional reason for adopting the terminology of the only English translation as yet made. [1]

                As this book is only intended for children, it would be out of place to discuss the age, etc., of the Kalevala. Only it would seem proper to state, that while the incantations and some other portions of the text are certainly very old, some of them no doubt dating from a period prior to the separation of the Finns and Hungarians, yet, as Professor Yrjö Koskinen remarks, "The Kalevala in its present state is without doubt the work of the Karelian tribe of Finns, and probably dates from after their arrival in Northern and North-Western Russia." This will of itself largely justify the making Kalevala synonymous with the present Finland, Pohjola with the present Lapland, Karjala with the present Karjala (Anglice, Karelia) in South-Eastern Finland, etc. But even if this were not so, yet the advantage of such localisation in a book for children is of itself obvious.

                As the land and people with which the stories are concerned is so unknown to English children, it has seemed best to have some sort of introduction and framework in which to present them, and therefore "Father Mikko" was chosen as the story-teller.

                If this little volume may in any degree awake some interest in the Finnish people its author will be amply satisfied, and its end will have been attained.

April 1893.




 [1]: A Finnish newspaper recently states that Mr. C. is now at work on an improved translation.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Preface
Tale Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Book Title: Finnish Legends for English Children
Book Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Finland
Classification: Introduction

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