Runeberg, Johan Ludvig

Runeberg, Johan Ludvig yo͞oˈhän lŭdˈvĭg rüˈnəbĕryə [key], 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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