Tag Archives: Kalevipoeg: Estonian national epic story

Kalevipoeg is an epic poem by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald. This video shows, in 12.5 minutes, the Estonian national epic, with English subtitles.

Kalevipoeg! from Ekke Vasli on Vimeo.

According to Wikipedia, the main material is taken from Estonian folklore of a giant hero named Kalevipoeg (“Kalev’s son”, often Anglicised as “Kalevide”). These tales mainly interpret various natural objects and features as traces of Kalevipoeg’s deeds and have similarities with national epics from neighbouring regions, especially the Finnish Kalevala, and also in Scandinavia.

In 1839, Friedrich Robert Faehlmann read a paper at the Learned Estonian Society about the legends of Kalevipoeg. He sketched the plot of a national romantic epic poem. In 1850, after Faehlmann’s death, Kreutzwald started writing the poem, interpreting it as the reconstruction of an obsolete oral epic. He collected oral stories and wove them together into a unified whole.

The first version of Kalevipoeg (1853; 13,817 verses) could not be printed due to censorship. The second, thoroughly revised version (19,087 verses) was published in sequels as an academic publication by the Learned Estonian Society in 1857–1861. The publication included a translation into German. In 1862, the third, somewhat abridged version (19,023 verses) came out. This was a book for common readers. It was printed in Kuopio, Finland.