1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lönnrot, Elias

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13506871911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 16 — Lönnrot, Elias

LÖNNROT, ELIAS (1802–1884), Finnish philologist and discoverer of the Kalevala, was born at Nyland in Finland on the 9th of April 1802. He was an apothecary’s assistant, but entered the university of Åbo in 1822, and after taking his successive degrees became a physician in 1832. But before this, as early as 1827, he had begun to publish contributions to the study of the ancient Finnish language, and to collect the national ballads and folk-lore, a field which was at that time uncultivated. In 1833 he settled as a doctor in the country district of Kajana, and began to travel throughout Finland and the adjoining Russian provinces in his leisure time, collecting songs and legends. In this way he was able to put together the great epic of Finland, the Kalevala, the first edition of which he published in 1835; he continued to add to it, and in 1849 issued a larger and completer text. In 1840 Lönnrot issued his important collection of the Kanteletar, or folk-songs of ancient Finland, which he had taken down from oral tradition. The Proverbs of Finland followed in 1842. In 1853, on the death of Castrén, Lönnrot became professor of the Finnish language and literature at the high school of Helsingfors; he retired from this chair in 1862. He died on the 19th of March 1884.