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The Kalevala

The Kalevala

Or, Poems of the Kaleva District

Translated by Francis Peabody Magoun, Jr.

ISBN 9780674500105

Publication date: 03/15/1985

The national folk epic of Finland is here presented in an English translation that is both scholarly and eminently readable. To avoid the imprecision and metrical monotony of earlier verse translations, Francis Magoun has used prose, printed line for line as in the original so that repetitions, parallelisms, and variations are readily apparent. The lyrical passages and poetic images, the wry humor, the tall-tale extravagance, and the homely realism of the Kalevala come through with extraordinary effectiveness.


  • Thanks to a…clear, accurate version by Francis Magoun, Kalevala is accessible to interested readers everywhere… The kaleidoscopic Kalevala opens with the creation of the world and the birth of the ancient hero, Väinämöinen, a being of supernatural origins. The work then turns to the relations between two communities: Kalevala (‘Land of the Kaleva’—the poetic name for Finland), led by Väinämöinen, and Pohjola (‘Land of the North’), ruled by Louhi, and old woman who can change into an avenging dragon… This…version, expertly…translated by Francis Magoun and recently issued by Harvard University Press, is probably the best translation readily available in English today.

    —Donald V. Mehus and Thomas J. Martin, Western Viking

Book Details

  • 440 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Compiled by Elias Lönnrot