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Literature / Kalevipoeg

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Kalevipoeg is the Estonian national epic, reconstructed out of folklore in the 19th century. The work was started by Friedrich Robert Faehlmann and finished after his death by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald. After some problems with censorship as Estonia was, at the time, under the rule of Tsarist Russia, it was published between 1857 and 1862.

The story centers around the hero, called Kalevipoeg (literally "son of Kalev") one of the sons of Kalev, the legendary king of Estonia. After his father's death, he wins several competitions for the crown against his brothers and takes his father's place as the king. The poems go on to describe his life and deeds up until his death (and a little bit after it too). There are travels to distant lands and even the underworld, wars, romance, betrayal, revenge, alcohol, all the fun stuff.

Added Alliterative Appeal in the original language. Translations maybe not so much.

See also The Kalevala, the Finnish epic that has some common mythological background.

Kalevipoeg contains examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: Kalevipoeg leaves his throne to his friend Olev after the great war where most of his friends die.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Leading to murder, no less.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Seems to be the case in Ancient Estonia.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Kalevipoeg
  • Cool Boat: Lennuk, a ship made out of silver.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Kalev and Kalevipoeg. Kalevipoeg is hoping to get a Spirit Advisor out of his dead father but Kalev is rather unhelpful.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kalev dies before his youngest son is born.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Somewhat; regrets his mistakes deeply whenever he realizes them.
  • Exact Words: How Kalevipoeg dies. He orders his sword to kill "the one who carried you", referring to a sorcerer who had stolen the sword from him. Unfortunately the sword was cursed by the blacksmith who made it and it decides to interpret the order in its own way.
  • Flat World: At one point, Kalevipoeg desides to go find the edge of the world.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kalevipoeg is killed by his own sword as revenge for the smith's son whom he murdered.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kalevipoeg
  • King in the Mountain
  • Momma's Boy: Kalevipoeg's first big adventure is to save his mother. She escapes on her own. He also names a city after her.
  • Offered the Crown: Apparently happened to Kalev, mostly implied. Kalevipoeg might also count as he wins the crown by beating his brothers in competitions.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Kalev and his sons, possibly also other characters. The story is set in the mythical past and many geographical features are explained as the characters's doings.
  • Rule of Three: Goes with the poetic structure.
  • Talking Sword: Kalevipoeg has one. It hates him.
  • To Hell and Back: Twice! And that's before he's even dead. He inflicts quite a bloodbath on the Underworld.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Kalevipoeg, the youngest of Kalev's sons, gets the throne thanks to his superior skills.