[Baltic Finnic mythology]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2013. 536 p., ill.
€ 45, hardback
Academician and Professor Emeritus of Folklore Anna-Leena Siikala presents a overview of her research. The book also makes use of the latest research in other fields in order to chart Baltic Finnic folk poetry, shamanism and folk beliefs. The Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot’s epic poem based on Finnish folklore, forms only a part of the poetry written in Kalevala metre. Although the poem is often perceived to be Finno-Karelian in origin, around half of its material is also known in Estonia: many of the poems and myths have links to Uralic and Germanic tradition. By means of numerous examples Siikala illustrates the different styles of folk poetry, its manifestations of vernacular religion and its rich mythology. In Finland the poems became modified over the centuries, influenced by the Christian faith, among other things. In different areas the figure of the divine hero Väinämöinen has acquired different emphases: it is less a question of mythology than of mythologies. The book’s illustrations are rich and informative, and the work is a unique treasure trove in its field.
Translated by David McDuff
Lappalaisten mytologian katkelmia
[Fragments of Lapp mythology]
Toimittaneet [Edited by]: Juha Pentikäinen ja Risto Pulkkinen
Suomentanut [Translated into Finnish by]: Risto Pulkkinen
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura / the Finnish Literature Society: 400 p., ill.
€ 28, paperback
The Swedish pastor Lars Levi Laestadius (1800–1861) is known as a preacher who criticised the dead dogma of the church and as the founder of Finland’s largest charismatic sect – although Laestadius did not even live in Finland. He was also a journalist who was active in the temperance movement and wrote a great deal of religious literature; Laestadius may be the best-known Sámi of all time. As well as an ecologist and botanist, he was also a philologist with a knowledge of the dialects of the Sámi language, and as an ethnographer Laestadius studied the history of the Sámi, collecting their beliefs into a system he called the Lapps’ mythology. It is only now that this work has been published in its entirety in Finnish. An expedition funded by Louis Philippe, king of France, in 1838–1840, played a decisive part in the birth of the work: Laestadius was appointed guide to the expedition, and a study of Lapp ‘history’ was commissioned from him. Part of the manuscript was long lost, but in 1946 it was discovered in the library of Yale University.
Translated by Hildi Hawkins