Finnish rites of passage

I’m sure everyone has memories of being tortured with works of classic literature in high school. Evidently it’s a constant, regardless of where you come from. I recently decided I might try to kill two birds with one stone with my next audiobook selection. I would like to learn more about the culture of my country-in-law, Finland, and I’ve heard that the Kalevala, regarded as the national epic of Finland, is one of the works that inspired Tolkien. Evidently it also inspired Michael Moorcock’s character Elric of  Melniboné (Moorcock denies direct influence), and was the basis of a Donald Duck comic, The Quest for Kalevala.

So I decided to download it, and will start to listening to it shortly.

I informed my wife of this, thinking she might be pleased. Instead she cautioned me to be careful listening while driving. It’s evidently not the most action-packed epic poems ever written. But I am hopeful. I didn’t get far with Tolkien’s The Silmarillion when I was a teenager, either, but found it quite interesting as an adult. I’m hoping, too, that having it read to me might help as well.

So I’ll let you know. Perhaps I’ll find it everything my wife says it is. But considering how influential the epic has been in Finnish culture, I think it will be time well spent.  And who knows. I’ve recently resurrected a D&D campaign with some friends. Perhaps there is source material there I can borrow.


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3 Responses to Finnish rites of passage

  1. 1. “Classic”, means a) Depressing or b) “I had to read it when I was young so you do to!” Hmmm, source material, eh? *looking for a copy to skim*.

  2. Robyn says:

    I’m curious to know what you think of it. I’m always interested about important works in other cultures. I think they say a lot about what is important to those people.

    • Thom says:

      Of course the same could be said about our own culture. We are all, to varying degrees, a product of the stories we tell and enjoy. Just as the works of Shakespeare tell us who we are, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games tell us where we might be headed. Our entertainment shapes our being more than many other influences, but books are the only form that still acknowledges that at least somewhat. Most others spend their time trying to convince us “we’re just entertainment. We can’t be held responsible for what people might learn from us.”

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