Kalevala Themes

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Finnish poetry is steeped in magic. In the world of the Kalevala, knowledge of spells and skill in singing are prized above other qualities such as morality, valor, or strength. Scholars categorize the Kalevala as a "shamanistic" epic because its heroes are sorcerers and singers rather than kings and warriors. Almost every action in the poem is accomplished by incantation, even everyday activities like building a boat, brewing beer, or binding a wound.

Some critics complain that the charms and ceremonial songs are extraneous, and that they distract from the flow of the epic. However, spells and rituals pervade the Kalevala because they were a prominent feature of Finnish rural life.

Ldnnrot's own written comments make clear that one of his chief aims was to create for Finnish posterity a sort of poetical museum of ancient Finno-Karelian peasant life, with its farmers, huntsmen, and fishermen, seafarers...

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This section contains 1,112 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Kalevala Study Guide
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Kalevala from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.