|Apo, Satu: The Narrative World of Finnish Fairy Tales: Structure, Agency, and Evaluation in Southwest Finnish Folktales.
(FF Communications No. 256.) Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia Scientiarum Fennica). 1995. 322 pp.
ISBN 951-41-0770-5 (hardback)
29 euros (hardback)
|Finnish fairy tales represent the northern branch of the Western European fairy-tale tradition. Although Finnish epic folklore and mythology have been objects of great research interest, Finnish fairy tales have been studied surprisingly little. This study answers not only methodological but also the most important empirical questions, such as: what are the themes, plots and characters which have been able to entertain both fairy-tale tellers and their listeners from one generation to the next? How can these contentual elements be understood and interpreted within the framework of traditional Finnish folk culture?
The methodological issues dealt with here include the question of how to approach traditional folklore material recorded in the 1800s, of which there is an enormous amount but very little accompanying contextual information. In order to analyse the contents of the tales, this study suggests the use of several semantic levels of abstraction as well as the systematic analysys of variation; only then is it feasible to present macrocontextual, interpretive hypotheses in which narrative and cultural structures are examined side by side.
Satu Apo is Associate Professor of Folkloristics at the University of Helsinki in Finland. In addition to fairy tales she has conducted research on gender and folklore, for example in her anthology Naisen väki (Woman’s Dynamistic Power, 1995). Her most recent research deals with cultural models of drinking as well as Finnish mentality. She has published numerous articles in English and the Scandinavian languages.