Marja-Leena Rathje
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KALEVALA and The Lord of the Rings


As a Finnish-Canadian artist, I am drawn to learning more about the very ancient roots of my family in the Old World. In writing about these discoveries on this weblog, I hope to share some of these with other expatriate Finns, artists and everyone interested in this multicultural world. Maybe even my children will learn more about their heritage. For me, it is fascinating to find the connections in our cultures and history.

The KALEVALA is Finland's national epic. The first edition appeared in 1835, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnröt, who devoted many years travelling around Finland and Karelia collecting the ancient sung runes or poems. The Kalevala had a great impact in a growing Finnish nationalism, long suppressed by Swedish and Russian rule. It influenced many artists in Finland and abroad, such as Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha and J.R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

In the National Geographic News, we learn that a native of British Columbia, Canada, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to a remote corner of Finland to uncover Tolkien influences among the ancient rune-singers of the Kalevala. It's a fascinating story, worth reading!

ADDED March 4, 2004: about Elvish
and Nov.23, 2004: more about Elvish