Tolkien and Finland, an Update

Earlier today I noticed a BBC article about the “new” Tolkien book, The Story of Kullervo, and its connection to Finland. I tweeted about it. That has got quite a few retweets, but on Facebook it drew the attention of my good friend Jonathan Clements who is a) a scholar rather than a journalist and b) married to a Finn (hi Kati!). He pointed me at an article that he wrote yesterday on his blog that corrects a few aspects of the BBC piece and the book’s introduction.

As is usually the case with Jonathan, he combines erudition with humor. He gives some examples of the truly dire prose of which the young Tolkien was guilty, and also takes aim at some of the wilder claims made about Tolkien and Kullervo, in particular that the Finnish work was Shakespeare’s inspiration for Hamlet.

At one point, the introduction also implies that Kullervo somehow forms a literary ancestor to Shakespeare’s Hamlet — which would require Shakespeare climbing into a time machine, buying a copy of the English translation of the Kalevala in 1888, and then jumping back to the 1100s, Terminator-style, to kill Saxo Grammaticus before he could write the Gesta Danorum.

Of course there is a lot to be interested in about the book as well. I look forward to Jonathan being on a panel about it at Worldcon 75. In the meantime, do read his post. It is well worth it.

3 thoughts on “Tolkien and Finland, an Update

Comments are closed.