Uudeksi kerrotut Kalevalan maailmat: Kerronta ja maailmat sisäistekijän viestinnän keinoina 2000-luvun Kalevala-muunnelmissa

Elli-Mari Ahola

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


The world of The Kalevala renewed through narrative : The narrative structure and worlds as a means of communication by the implied author in 21st century adaptations of The Kalevala

In my article-based dissertation, I examine the relationship between the Finnish national epic The Kalevala and its Finnish adaptations by analyzing the narrative structure and the structure of storyworlds in the novels. Based on the rhetorical theory of narrative, I understand a narrative as communication, but I emphasize narrative and storyworlds as part of this communication orchestrated by an implied author. I define adaptations of The Kalevala as works that reuse characters and plotlines of The Kalevala or at least offer their own storyworld as a setting in which The Kalevala could have happened. As material for this research I use ten novels or trilogies that are compatible with the definition.

Theoretical novelty of my thesis relies on the synthesis, which must be formed in order to achieve a comprehensive overview on the ways in which adaptations use elements of The Kalevala. I argue that it is essential to address the hierarchical structure of narrative communication and the structures of storyworlds as a combined whole, which brought together forms a method of communication for the implied author of the text. This point of view requires a combination of certain theories that have traditionally not been used together. This dissertation presents and applies a new model in which both narrative levels and different narrative worlds can be exposed at the same time. The models of narrative hierarchy using the concept of implied author to describe a textual being behind all the meanings of a narrative text are in the core of my theoretical synthesis. In addition, my model includes ideas from more world-oriented theories, for example ideas from possible worlds theories, that concern a relationship between a narrative and reality. It also adds some traits from theories of adaptations to comprehend a context of adaptations of The Kalevala and The Kalevala itself. This original combination of theoretical approaches allows to describe the ways in which elements from The Kalevala emerge in many different levels of adaptations, in an unseen manner of precision.

In the first article, I concentrate on the narrative structure. The article examines the roles of a narrator and an implied author in narrative worldmaking in one novel which is an adaptation of The Kalevala. The article recognizes the implied author as the one in control of how the materials from The Kalevala transfer to the adaptation. The second article is world-oriented. It examines different historical, fantastic and contemporary worlds in the entire material of this research. The article modifies a theory of secondary worlds into a new version, which allows for the substitution of a fantastic element with an intertextual one as a criterion for a secondary world. After this modification, the article identifies two categories of world structures, that vary in the adaptations of The Kalevala. Those categories are then applied to the rest of the articles. The third article is the first one to fully combine the analysis of the narrative structure and worlds by analyzing one novel, in which the structure of both narrative and worlds is remarkably complex and includes multiple metalepses. The article traces the ambiguity of the structure to the implied author and reveals how the implied author uses those structures as means to communicate. The fourth article builds on the second one, and examines how the adaptations connect a contemporary reader with their own storyworld and The Kalevala, depending on which kind of a world the materials from The Kalevala are situated in – fantastic, historical or contemporary. The article demonstrates how the actual origin of The Kalevala is emphasized by creating new fictive versions of it in the storyworlds of the adaptations. Finally, the fifth article aims to reveal the whole multilayerdness of how one adaptation refers to and is connected with The Kalevala.

As results of this research, I argue that The Kalevala is at least three-fold in adaptations, that the whole The Kalevala participates in building an adaptation and that the adaptative process bears new meanings towards The Kalevala. I advance the multilayerdness outlined in the fifth article into a new three-dimensional model that illustrates structures of both narrative levels and storyworlds simultaneously. The model is developed for the study of the adaptations of The Kalevala, but it is probable that it can be further applied to other kinds of literature too, especially to other adaptations. I identify the multilayered referring to The Kalevala as a key means by which the adaptations build a relationship between The Kalevala and the world of their potential readers. It is a device that adaptations use to connect readers with their storyworld and at the same time to unfold knowledge of The Kalevala for readers with different degrees of prior knowledge of The Kalevala.
Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2843-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028

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