|Lauri Honko in collaboration with Anneli Honko and Paul Hagu:
The Maiden’s Death Song & The Great Wedding. Anne Vabarna’s Oral Twin Epic written down by A.O. Väisänen. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia Scientiarum Fennica). 2003. 529 pp.
ISBN 951-41-0903-1 (hardback)
42 euros (hardback)
|For centuries, the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea have nourished poetic cultures developing oral epic traditions that mostly survived in lays of a few hundred lines but that eventually gave rise to much longer traditional epics. Epic traditions existed in several languages and dialects of the region, but it was Finnish, Karelian, Setu, Estonian and Latvian that took the step toward a truly long epic. Far from being identical as to their oral materials or history of composition, these epics reflect a quest for a literary manifestation of oral tradition epitomised in talented and ambitious individuals wishing to make an impact on the cultural identity of a nation or ethnic group.
The twin epic The Maiden’s Death Song & The Great Wedding composed by the Setu “song mother” Anne Vabarna and written down by Armas Otto Väisänen, a Finn, is a manifestation of a long epic format rare in Baltic-Finnish folk poetry and of two alternative storylines. It is also a masterpiece that serves as a reminder of the poetry of a gifted minority culture that tends to be forgotten. The present scientific edition, intended for world epic scholars, is the work of a team consisting of Lauri Honko, Anneli Honko and Paul Hagu.