The Kalevala is an epic poem which Elias Lönnrot compiled from Finnish folk lore in the 19th century. It is commonly called the Finnish national epic and is traditionally thought of as one of the most significant works of Finnish-language literature. The Kalevala is credited with some of the inspiration for the national awakening that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917. The Kalevala consists of 50 cantons and 22,795 verses.
"Kalevala" is the name of the homeland of the heroes in the book Kalevala.
Similarities between Tolkien's work
A considerable part of the tale of Túrin Turambar is derived from Kalevala, where the counterpart of Túrin is Kullervo, son of Kalervo. Kalervo comes into conflict with the kin of Untamo, and soon a gang of men attacks Kalervo killing his family and men, and only one maid is spared her life to serve as a slave for Kalervo. But soon the maid gives birth to Kullervo. Later Kullervo is sold to Ilmarinen, from who he soon escapes. Kullervo finds out that her parents are alive as well, and hears from them that his sister has disappeared. Kalervo has to go to pay the families taxes, and on his way back Kullervo meets a fair maiden and seduces her. Afterwards she realizes that Kullervo is her brother, and out of shame she jumps into rapids and drowns. Desperate and self destructive Kullervo returns home and attacks Untamo and slays him. After the killing he talks to his sword, and says that it has bled a lot of innocent blood, and tells it that now the sword can bleed some guilty blood as well. The sword replies:
- Thus his trusty sword makes answer,
- Well divining his intentions:
- Why should I not drink thy life-blood,
- Blood of guilty Kullerwoinen,
- Since I feast upon the worthy,
- Drink the life-blood of the righteous?"
After the sword replies, Kullervo thrusts himself to the blade and dies.
Other similarities include Eru Ilúvatar who may be inspired by Ilmatar, goddess of creation and mother of Väinämöinen (Wainamoinen in English). Also Gandalf resembles Väinämöinen in many ways. Both are children of a creator with divine powers and in the end, sail away when mortal world needs them no more.