I am thrilled to have J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo in print, which includes Tolkien’s own reworking of a Kalevala tale, a couple of lectures on the Kalevala, and Verlyn Flieger’s critical introduction and a critical essay about the material. Strong editorial work on great Tolkienalia.
I would like to see in the future of publishing more dynamic posthumous publications of “papers” including more folio editions, dynamic footnoting, resource linking, etc. Because that’s not available–and because I like the beautifully designed book–I got the paper edition.
I am struck by how the bits of the Kalevala I’ve encountered—what Tolkien calls “a luxuriant animism” (119) have certain kinds of parallels with North American aboriginal folklore I have encountered. Though the myths and folktales closer to home are more logical and didactic (as they are told now), there is not just shared animism and totemic symbolism, but humour, adventure, and a peculiar, evocative sense of space. In the near-century since Tolkien’s lectures, has there been a lot of work done mapping out the religious beliefs embedded in the Kalevala with other sources or a comparative view? Or is there work on the colonial effect on the folklore of this people–one of the last pagan peoples of Europe? I don’t know and think there could be space for a book of scholarly essays with a section on Tolkien.
The Story of Kullervo was a delight to read and set off a hundred questions for me.