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Eino Hjalmar Friberg (10 May 1901 – 27 May 1995) was a Finnish-born, American author, most widely noted for his 1989 translation of the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala.

Early lifeEdit

Eino Hjalmar Friberg was born in Merikarvia, Grand Duchy of Finland, in 1901 and moved to the United States when he was still a child, in 1906. At the age of seven he was involved in an accident in which his eyes were damaged, which led to his eventual blindness at the age of 10. He attended the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts and then attended Boston University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts. He enrolled in a Ph.D. program in philosophy at Harvard University, but never completed his thesis. He eventually received a Master of Arts in philosophy from Harvard in the mid-1970s, after passing a French language examination.


The Kalevala: The Defense of the Sampo by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

In addition to his literary work, Friberg had an enormously varied career. He attended the Swedenborgian School of Theology and was ordained as a minister in the Swedenborgian, Congregational and Unitarian Churches, serving as a minister in Congregational and Unitarian churches in New England. In 1949, on the porch of his house in Westminster, Massachusetts, Friberg had a "mystical encounter," about which Friberg wrote an unpublished manuscript. Theologian Reinhold Neibuhr commented on the manuscript that "I know of no record of spiritual pilgrimage more authentic."

At the age of 75, he began to translate into the English language the Finnish national epic The Kalevala, working from a Braille copy. This was the first time The Kalevala had been translated by a native Finnish speaker into English, and was the fourth full translation overall.[1] He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aged 94.


  • The Finnish American Translators Association awarded an Honorary membership in recognition of outstanding achievement to Eino Friberg, translator of The Kalevala.[2]
  • In 1988, Friberg returned to Finland for the first time since 1906, to receive the Order of the White Rose, Finland's highest literary award, for his translation of The Kalevala.[3]
  • In 1989, Eino Friberg was honored with an Arts & Letters Award and Certificate of Merit by the Finlandia Foundation, New York Metropolitan Chapter for his translation of The Kalevala.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

During World War II, Friberg worked in a tool and die plant in Worcester, Massachusetts and became a labor organizer for the United Steelworkers of America. Friberg was married three times and had two daughters. He also published a book of poetry, Sparks, in 1926.[5]

Literary worksEdit

  • The Kalevala: Epic of the Finnish People (1989). ISBN 951-1-10137-4


  1. ^ The Finnish Sampo: The Stellar Frame and World Ages. (John Major Jenkins in Scenezine: The Newspaper of the Chicago Peace and Music Festival. 1995.)
  2. ^ Organization and History of FATA Archived 2009-06-21 at the Wayback Machine (The Finnish American Translators Association).
  3. ^ Eino Friberg, 94, a Translator Of the Finnish National Epic. The New York Times. June 8, 1995.
  4. ^ Finlandia Foundation Metropolitan Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine Chapter, Inc. List of Awards (Finlandia Foundation National).
  5. ^ Eino Hjalmar Friberg Memorial service set for poet (Boston Globe.June 6, 1995)

Other sourcesEdit

External linksEdit