Runeberg, Johan Ludvig

Runeberg, Johan Ludvig

(yo͞o`hän lŭd`vĭg rü`nəbĕryə), 1804–77, Finnish national poet. In 1837 he became a teacher of Latin and Greek at Porvoo near Helsinki. Runeberg's simple and realistic style helped to check the tendency toward false rhetoric in Scandinavian literature. His first long work was the realistic peasant epic The Elk Hunters (1832). The excellent lyric epic King Fjalar (1844, tr. 1904), an unrhymed verse cycle based on Scandinavian legend, is pervaded by a sense of inexorable tragedy. The first song from Runeberg's great poem on the Russo-Swedish War of 1808–9, "The Tales of Ensign Stål" (1848–60, tr. 1925, 1938), has been adopted as the Finnish national anthem. Like other Finnish authors of his day, Runeberg wrote in Swedish.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Runeberg, Johan Ludvig


Born Feb. 5, 1804, in Pietarsaari; died May 6, 1877, in Porvoo. Finnish-Swedish poet.

Runeberg wrote in Swedish, but most of his works were translated into Finnish during his lifetime. The son of a sea captain, he earned a degree of master of philosophy. From 1832 to 1837 he was an editor of the newspaper Helsingfors Morgonblad.

Runeberg founded the Runeberg school of poetry and had an important influence on Finnish poetry. His first collection, Poems, was published in 1830. The narrative poem The Elk Hunters (1832) was the first work of Swedish literature to describe peasant life. In 1833, Runeberg published his second collection, Poems, and in 1843 a third collection with the same title, permeated with religious mysticism. The heroine of the romantic narrative poem Nadezhda (1841; Russian translation, 1841) was a Russian serf girl who became a princess.

Many of Runeberg’s poems idealized the patriarchal feudal system. He wrote the collection of poems about the Russo-Swedish War of 1808–09 The Tales of Ensign Stål (vols. 1–2, 1848–60). One of these poems, “Our Land,” became the Finnish national anthem. Runeberg’s last work ws a classical tragedy, The Kings of Salamis (1863). Several of his works were translated into Russian by A. A. Blok and V. Ia. Briusov.


Runoteokset, vols. 1–2. Porvoo-Helsinki [1948].
Samlade skrifter, vols. 1–4, 6, 8–13, 17, 18. Stockholm-Helsinki, 1933–73. (Publication of Swedish-language edition in progress.)


Grot, Ia. K. “Znakomstvo s Runebergom.” In his book Trudy, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1898.
Karhu, E. G. Finliandskaia literatura i Rossiia: 1800–1850. Tallinn, 1962.
Viljanen, L. Runeberg ja hänen runoutensa, vols. 1–2. Porvoo-Helsinki, 1944–48.
Maailman kirjatja kirjailijat. Helsinki, 1957.
Mårtensen, G. Friaren från landet och andra essäer. [Helsinki, 1967.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.