In 1999 we have celebrated 150 years of the complete edition of the epos "Kalevala". This poem was created by the Finnish poet and specialist in folklore Elias Lonnrot on the basis of hundreds national poems which have been written down by him and tens of other collectors in the territory of Karelia, Finland, Ingermalandia (territory of Leningrad Region). In 1849 the second, complete variant of the epos had been published.
Since then the heroes "Kalevala" - Vainamainen, Lemminkainen, Ilmarinen, Aino, Kullervo - travel on the world, win the hearts of readers.
For the first time in Russian the complete text of "Kalevala" has been issued in 1888 in Leonid Belskii's translation.
In Karelia the epos has been issued repeatedly - both in complete, and in reduced variants, in Russian and Finnish languages. I think, I shall not be mistaken, if I tell, that each family possesses the book of "Kalevala".
At the end of 1998 the new translation of the epos accomplished by Eino Kiuru and Armas Mishin has been submitted to readers. The book is perfectly printed by publishing house "Karelia", and in March, 1999 it has already issued the second edition. The new translation of the poem of E.Lennrot is a good gift for the anniversary of "Kalevala".
For many years the Musical Theatre of Petrozavodsk performs the ballet "Sampo" based on the epos. The music was written by the Karelian composer Gelmer Sinisalo. The film-spectators of the senior generation well remember movie "Kalevala", released at the end of the 50th years.
"Kalevala" is considered both Finnish, and Karelian. Elias Lonnrot has visited Karelia a few times, he has met with the singers of the national poems, listened to their songs. The pine where under the legend the Finnish researcher had a rest still grows in Kalevala. The Karelian-Finnish epos was included in the treasury of the world literature. It is translated into 45 languages.
"Kalevala" is the invaluable source of information on life and beliefs of northern peoples. Heroes of the poem help us to understand our past better, to comprehend the present, to glance in the future. The poetic advantages of the epos are the source of inspiration for new generations of writers, artists, and musicians. In 1999 the Days of the Karelian culture and art should be held in Moscow. We will have to pass this examination. In these days the lines from "Kalevala" will sound more a lot. And they will be perceived as fresh and ingenuous, as 150 years ago.
the Head of the Government