Monday, January 29, 2018

Fortnightly Book, January 28

Obviously I'm a day late; a busy and complicated weekend.

The next fortnightly book is The Kanteletar, or, to be more exact, the selections from the Kanteletar in the Oxford World's Classics translation by Keith Bosley. I liked, with some reservations, Bosley's translation of the sister work, the Kalevala, which was a fortnightly book some years ago. And there's not really any convenient edition of the Kanteletar itself, so one makes do with what one has.

The Kanteletar is the premier collection of Finnish folk lyric, pulled together by Elias Lönnrot to play the counterpart to the Kalevala as a Finnish national epic. Kanteletar literally means 'kantele-daughter', the kantele being the Finnish national instrument, and thus the title is usually taken to suggest a Muse.

While it has never been as widely regarded as the Kalevala, the Kanteletar has often made its mark; it was a significant influence on Sebelius (to take just the most famous example). Finding versions of the lyrics has been quite a task, because Bosley -- in what I can already tell is an error given that this is a book of selections -- does not give the Finnish titles of the lyrics and, worse, sometimes changes them, but after some coordination, here is Sebelius's version of the lyric "Sortunut ääni", "The Stifled Voice" in Bosley's translation, as sung by a Copenhagen choir (lyrics here):



But if you want to hear how kantele sounds, and something a little bit more like how the originals probably sounded, listen to this ("Paimenen hätä", from the Kanteletar, but not, alas, one that Bosley includes):

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