Author Topic: PC113: Väinämöinen and the Singing Fish  (Read 13370 times)


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Reply #25 on: July 26, 2010, 01:15:22 PM
It was a good retelling; I think the weaknesses of plot and resolution that have been bothering people are an artifact of the source material. 

I think that's probably why I don't like myth retellings that often.

That's just what I like about myth-like stories, the fact that you can't always tell where they'll end up

How so?  If it's a retelling of a myth then doesn't that mean that it's already well defined where it'll end up?


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Reply #26 on: July 26, 2010, 01:57:26 PM
That's just what I like about myth-like stories, the fact that you can't always tell where they'll end up

How so?  If it's a retelling of a myth then doesn't that mean that it's already well defined where it'll end up?

I think he meant that myth retellings don't necessarily obey modern fiction conventions, and are likely to end up somewhere quite different from where they start. Of course, it's only unpredictable if you don't know the source material.

I didn't know the source material in this case (though I am proud that at least I've heard of it), and I rather enjoyed listening to this story, but I have to say, a few days later, that the only part of this episode that really stuck with me was the great intro by M. K. Hobson.


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Reply #27 on: July 28, 2010, 03:15:23 AM
That's just what I like about myth-like stories, the fact that you can't always tell where they'll end up

How so?  If it's a retelling of a myth then doesn't that mean that it's already well defined where it'll end up?

Note the word(s), "myth-like" -- stories which feel like a myth. Anyways, I'd never heard this one before.

I did have a few stories in mind but as usual I was either (a) too lazy to go find their names and explain why I like them or (b) too afraid to air my views before the forum's professional pundits, who are a universally scary lot.

So... umm... the story I had in mind was... nope, can't remember. I know it was a long sort of mythic fantasy story but I can't remember the author. I thought it was Gene Wolfe but looking at his titles, I don't think so.


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Reply #28 on: August 03, 2010, 01:31:47 PM
I rather liked this one, as I'd never heard the source material before. While it did have problems with a lack of character growth and a rather sad ending, old myths are generally like that. This isn't really a bad thing, as it bucks the 'standard' story format these days, of the characters themselves changing and things ending up turning out well in the end.


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Reply #29 on: August 04, 2010, 06:57:43 PM
A nice retelling of a familiar story.

The ending was a bit different from original version - there was no "pow-wow" with fishes, and there were no that kind of curse.
And this was not the last time Väinämöinen and Joukahainen met...

Pronunciation wasn't too bad.  ;D
The main thing was the emphasis. In Finnish the emphasis is always on the first syllable, and JouKAhainen and VäinäMÖinen sounded a bit weird.

Out at sea a goodly distance,
Stood a rock of rainbow colors,
Glittering in silver sunlight.
Toward it springs the hapless maiden,
Thither swims the lovely Aino,
Up the standing-stone has clambered,
Wishing there to rest a moment,
Rest upon the rock of beauty;
When upon a sudden swaying
To and fro among the billows,
With a crash and roar of waters
Falls the stone of many colors,
Falls upon the very bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea.
With the stone of rainbow colors,
Falls the weeping maiden, Aino,
Clinging to its craggy edges,
Sinking far below the surface,
To the bottom of the blue-sea.
Thus the weeping maiden vanished.
Thus poor Aino sank and perished,
Singing as the stone descended,
Chanting thus as she departed:
Once to swim I sought the sea-side,
There to sport among the billows;
With the stone or many colors
Sank poor Aino to the bottom
Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
Like a pretty son-bird. perished.
Never come a-fishing, father,
To the borders of these waters,
Never during all thy life-time,
As thou lovest daughter Aino.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2010, 07:00:37 PM by tpi »


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Reply #30 on: August 04, 2010, 09:36:34 PM
Thanks for the correction.  I did fall into a bit of a sing-song pattern on those names, didn't I?  Sorry about that; my very brief Finnish education was a very long time ago.


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Reply #31 on: September 30, 2010, 11:53:06 AM
I haven't had much exposure to Finnish folklore (the closest Ive come is spending a happy summer reading Icelandic sagas), so Väinämöinen was a new treat for me.  I like to think that it reminded my sons that there are a world of interesting tales out there that are worth seeking out.

Besides, Väinämöinen *is* fun to say!


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Reply #32 on: November 01, 2010, 04:43:29 PM
I enjoyed it.  It was a good story, but not that great. 

Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #33 on: February 23, 2011, 06:56:54 PM
I ran across this in a piece on folktales about music, in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into Music, and thought people who enjoyed the podcasted story might enjoy this one, too.  (The compact, informative style is typical of the Bathroom Reader series.)

Background: Väinämöinen was the Finnish god of songs, chants, and poetry. Called the "Eternal Sage," he was a wise old wizard who used music, cunning and guile to thwart his foes. His tales were chronicled in an epic poem called the Kalevala.

Story: The Kalevala tells a famous tale of the evil mistress Louhi, who stole the Sampo, a magical talisman that ensured unlimited wealth for its owner. Louhi's greed brought misery and poverty to the people, so Väinämöinen and his followers sailed across the sea to stop her.

Louhi threw a giant fish in front of their boat. But Väinämöinen killed it and used its bones to create the kantele, a kind of 5-stringed zither.

Väinämöinen played the strange instrument and cast a spell over all the animals and people in the world. After Väinämöinen finished playing, the men guarding the Sampo were lost in blissful sleep, allowing him to walk in and retrieve it.

The Sampo was later destroyed in a fierce sea battle, as was the kantele, but Väinämöinen built a second kantele out of birchwood and the hair of a willing maiden.

In the end, Louhi was defeated and the world was at peace. In the final verse of the Kalevale, Väinämöinen departed, leaving behind the kantele as his gift to the world, vowing to return one day ... if he is needed.

Today, the kantele is the national instrument of Finland.

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Reply #34 on: March 05, 2012, 08:52:15 AM
If the story made you interested about Kalevala, here's a video by performance artist Scott Sandwich, where he presents the *entire* Kalevala in an 8 minute poem. Very entertaining, I think: