Suomalainen piru. Paholainen kansanperinteessä [The Finnish devil. The Evil One in Finnish folklore]

23 December 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Suomalainen piru. Paholainen kansanperinteessä
[The Finnish devil. The Evil One in Finnish folklore]
Toim. [Ed. by] Mari Purola
Kuvitus: [Illustrations]: Christer Nuutinen
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2011. 144 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-289-3
€ 25, hardback

In Finnish folklore the Devil has borrowed features both from ancient popular belief and from the Christian faith. Unlike the devil of Christianity, the Finnish devil is not wholly evil, and the relation between man and devil may sometimes recall a contractual relationship: man can benefit from his link with the devil without losing his soul. In the mythological stories the devil is a a creature that supports the values of village society, who punishes misdemeanours and with whose help inexplicable phenomena like surprisingly good luck or illness can be explained. Finnish folk belief contains a numerous group of lesser magical figures such as elves and sprites. The devil has also borrowed the powers of the ancient gods, such as good luck in hunting from Tapio, and in fishing from Ahti. The folk archives of  the Finnish Literature Society contain a collection of devil-themed stories from the 1880s to the 1960s.
Translated by David McDuff

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