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The Kalevala
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About the Author

Elias Lonnrot (1802-1884) was a Finnish philologist and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry. He is best known for composing the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled from national folklore. His true passion lay in his native Finnish language. He began writing about the early Finnish language in 1827 and began collecting folk tales from the rural people about that time. Loennrot went on extended leaves of absence from his doctor's office; he toured the countryside of Finland, Sapmi (Lapland), and nearby portions of Russian Karelia to support his collecting efforts. This led to a series of books: Kantele, 1829-1831 (the kantele is a Finnish traditional instrument); Kalevala, 1835-1836 (possibly Land of Heroes; better known as the "old" Kalevala); Kanteletar, 1840 (possibly Kantele Daughter); Sananlaskuja, 1842 (Proverbs); an expanded second edition of Kalevala, 1849 (the "new" Kalevala); and Finsk-Svenskt lexikon, 1866-1880 (Finnish-Swedish Dictionary). Loennrot was recognised for his part in preserving Finland's oral traditions by appointment to the Chair of Finnish Literature at the University of Helsinki. He died on 19 March 1884 in Sammatti, in the province of Uusimaa.

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