footnotology of footnotology

Nils Lid Hjort nils at
Fri Jan 21 21:59:59 CET 2000

I've been quickly browsing through maillist digests from the 
last couple of weeks, and I'd like to provide some footnotes 
to the topic of _footnotes_, which were used (sparingly) in the 
Norwegian and Danish editions #48-#50 of Don Rosa's Kalevala story. 

Why footnotes, in the first place? The Kalevala story is 
interesting and unusual on several accounts, not only since 
it is a long 33 page story by a gifted storyteller and artist. 
It is rather more complicated than most Disney stories, and 
involves a peculiar and for most people unknown literary epic 
universe, that of the Finnish-Karelian Kalevala. Thus the 
Egmont publishers felt the need to (or rather were prodded, 
by me, into feeling the need to) help their readers a little bit, 
with an introduction page and a summary "Who's who and what 
in Kalevala" page.  

I helped construct these pages, in cooperation with the Norwegian 
editors; the same pages appear also in the Danish and Swedish 
parallel editions. (I was also the "main translator" handling 
the translations of Rosa's runo rhythms into proper Kalevala-meter 
and so on, but that's a footnote, in this connection.) And I 
managed to get hold of a kind colleague's copy of "Hiawatha", 
Classics Illustrated 1949, the cover of which, to Hiawatha's and 
Longfellow's surpise, has been photocopied in something 
like 180.000 + 190.000 + 210.000 copies all over Scandinavia... 

Well then: *in addition* to these hopefully informative and helpful 
pages, we felt that some inobtrusively placed *footnotes*, at strategic 
points, could further help the reader on his/her way towards 
enlightenment. The Swedish translator (and honoured list member) 
Stefan Di{\"o}s disagrees, and avoided them (which is fine with me, 
of course!). But in the Norwegian and by parallelism also the Danish 
editions one finds
	"Mustasaari means `Black Island'" ,
	"The music Vainamoinen plays here is from `Finlandia'
	by Sibelius, a work first performed exactly 100 years ago" , 
and so on. This is perhaps the only Disney story where such 
footnotes have been actively used by the publisher. -- It would
have been better, imVho, if these bits of information could have
been squeezed into a single introduction section (one or two pages),
but here space was constrained, and I (with politely nodding editors)
was brimming with extra information I excitedly wished to stuff
down the readers' throats. So there. 

A footnote on the page 50/#49 footnote, which was misinterpreted
by someone here: I wrote something like 
	"The music played by old Pohjola-lady Louhi here is from
	Wagner's march of the valkuries. Don Rosa has actually
	used this music example on an earlier occasion in a 
	Duck story ..." 
A list reader or two thought this reflected sloppy work on part of 
the editors, in that this earlier Rosa-Wagner occasion was not directly 
referred to. On my/our part it was intended differently! The 
three suggestive dot dot dot were meant as a pedagogical incentive to 
Go Forth!, find out where this could possibly be, in your 
own Donald Duck/Anders And/Kalle Anka collection! 

My (only) measurable reward for my several hours of professorial
middle-of-the-night assistance for Egmont is the opportunity
provided me for being listed under "K" in the yellow pages, since 
I'm referred to (in small print) as 
	Kalevala-konsulent: Nils Lid Hjort 
in the 180.000 * 3 = 540.000 Donald Duck issues. 

More information about the DCML mailing list