The year 1999 will be the 150th Anniversary of the New Kalevala. Finnish Folkloristics would certainly look very different, were it to exist even, had there not been the quest for a long epic in the hearts of a handful of Romantic students studying at the University of Turku in the 1810s and 1820s. Folklorists in Finland will celebrate this basic fact in many ways. In this issue, we announce a call for papers at a symposium on the “Kalevala and the World’s Traditional Epics” to be held at the University of Turku on August 14-15, 1999. We hope it will develop into a meeting place for top scholars and young students interested in comparative studies on oral and traditional epics. Part of the audience will consist of participants of the 5th Folklore Fellows’ Summer School, organised by a coalition of folklore institutions and university departments, at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University on August 8-23, 1999. We have received good applications from over 40 countries to this international scholarly training course. Details of the successful applicants will be available in December 1998.
The article by Henni Ilomäki in this issue reminds us of the internationality of the national epic. A stunning number of translations, be they total or partial, verse or prose, has brought the Kalevala to 51 languages. The experiences of the translators will be discussed at a symposium in Helsinki in June 1999. A modern data base on the Kalevala translations is in progress.
Another basic project, the cartography of Finnish folklore, has been completed recently. Its results and history are surveyed by Urpo Vento. Professor Ilmar Talve’s great work on Finnish Folk Culture, reviewed in this issue, gives substance to the maps.
The 12th ISFNR Congress in Göttingen last July was a big event for folklorists around the world. The organisers deserve sincere thanks for their splendid work, which enabled us to enjoy the true multiculturality of our discipline. Three participants, Bengt af Klintberg, Seppo Knuuttila and Margaret Mills, screen their personal impressions in this issue. They are not responsible for a certain overlapping or omission of other papers.
That folkloristics may be in crisis was suggested by more than one speaker at the congress. “Back to basics” was the remedy offered. The implication is clear: we should reread our classics and evaluate not so much their obvious mistakes as our own (in?)ability to draw on the best of their heritage. An assessment of the core substance of our craft, a kind of “Folkloristics 2000”, is very much in demand. Each active scholar should define his or her methodological credo in a few words. My own definition? Probably “textual ethnography”.
(FFN 16, October 1998: 1)