Kristiina Kalleinen: Kansallisen tieteen ja taiteen puolesta. Kalevalaseura 1911–2011 [On behalf of national science and art. The Kalevala Society 1911–2011]

10 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kansallisen tieteen ja taiteen puolesta. Kalevalaseura 1911–2011
[On behalf of national science and art. The Kalevala Society 1911–2011]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2011. 314 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-223-256-5
€ 37, hardback

In 1911, the Finnish national epic Kalevala (1835, 1849), compiled by Elias Lönnrot and based on Finnish folk poetry, inspired the artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the sculptor Alpo Sailo, Professor E.N. Setälä and the folklorist Väinö Salminen to found the Kalevala Society (established in 1919), aimed at uniting Finland’s national science and art into a harmonious whole. As Russia tightened its grip on the Grand Duchy during the latter part of the nineteenth century, it awakened a desire to demonstrate the vitality of the Finnish language and national spirit. This book maps out the effect of the changing social and political situation on the Society’s activities. In the 1920s and 1930s the Kalevala Society remained largely outside the political and linguistic conflicts of the time. This was a period of extreme Finnish nationalism, but in the Society there was little inclination towards ‘Greater Finland’ thinking or anti-Russian or anti-Swedish sentiment. During Finland’s wars with the Soviet Union some members nonetheless had hopes of a Greater Finland, as many of the regions where the Kalevala poems originated lay on the Soviet side of the border. In recent years the Society has participated with other organisations in projects devoted to the regeneration of Russian Karelian villages and the protection of the last traditional Finnish landscapes.

Translated by David McDuff

Tags: