KELLGREN, Abraham Herman August. Kuopio 21.1.1822 — Helsinki 25.9.1856. Finnish Indologist and Orientalist. Professor in Helsinki. Son of Johan August Kellgren (1792–1859), an apothecary of Swedish origin, and Maria Magdalena Nylander (1798–1826). Educated at Helsingfors Lyceum in 1833-38 and from 1838 studied at Helsinki University. His original intention was to become a lawyer, but he soon developed a particular interest in Hebrew, Latin and Greek (under Geitlin, Linsén and Sjöström). Also learned first elements of Sanskrit from Wallenius. M.A. 1844 in Greek philology. In summer 1841 he visited the Åland Islands, and 1842 Sweden and Norway. In the following year he made a longer journey, together with his friend Robert Tengström, to Berlin, where he attended the lectures of Bopp and Boeckh. In this period, he was very active in the Finnish national movement and became known as a romantic poet (in Swedish).
In 1846, with the help of a scholarship from the University, Kellgren visited St. Petersburg and Berlin, and then studied from April to December Sanskrit and Arabic under Brockhaus and Fleischer at Leipzig (also taught Finnish to Brockhaus). After a while in Berlin, he went in March 1847 to Paris to study under Burnouf and from there also visited London and Oxford for manuscript studies. In September 1848 he returned to Finland and in June 1849 presented his thesis for a Docentship in Sanskrit language and literature and a year later his doctoral dissertation. He became thus the first Docent of Sanskrit at Helsinki University, but had very few students. Financially, his position was meager, and as hopes of gaining a professorship in Sanskrit proved to be vain, he decided to apply for the chair of Oriental literature, suddenly vacated by the death of G. A. Wallin in 1852. In order to qualify himself for the chair he went to St. Petersburg in 1853 and studied Arabic under Sheikh Muḥammad al-Ṭanṭāwī, Turkish under Muhlinski and Persian under M. Kazem-Bek. From July to September he continued his studies in Leipzig under Fleischer. In winter 1854 he was again in St. Petersburg in order to prepare a thesis and only returned in June to Helsinki. In March 1854 Kellgren presented his thesis for Professorship. Though it was not deemed particularly well, and the opinions in the Faculty widely differred, he was given the chair, but after only two years and in the middle of many plans he contracted acute dysentery and died soon. Married 1849 Anna Sofia Tengström (1826–1906), a daughter of Professor Johan Jakob Tengström. Another sister, Lovisa Natalia (1830–1881), was married to the famous Finno-Ugric scholar, M. A. Castrén (1813–1852). The Kellgrens had no children.
Kellgren was a scholar of unfulfilled promise and his scholarly output was rather split. It included Fenno-Ugric, Indian, Arabian, and Turkish studies, but nowhere he had time to achieve anything lasting. Plans, like an edition of Manu together with several commentaries, remained unachieved (his notes and manuscript copies were then given to Stenzler). During his stay in Leipzig he bought a collection of 121 Oriental works for Helsinki University Library. He is sometimes confused with the Swedish poet Johan Henrik Kellgren (1751–1795).
Publications: Edited with R. Tengström and K. Tigerstedt the yearbook Fosterländskt Album. 1-3. 1845-47, contributed poems and translations to it.
– “Das Finnische Volk und der Ural-Altaische Völkerstamm”, JbDMG 1846, Beilage XIII zu Seite 18, 180-197; “Om den heliga bäcken Wöhhanda i Liefland”, Suomi 9, 1849, 79-92; “Den indogermaniska språkstammen och Inderna”, Litterära soiréer i Helsingfors under våren 1850. Helsingfors 1850, 251-284; “Mirza Alexander Kazem-Beg”, ZDMG 8, 1854, 375-378; “De orientaliska studiernas betydelse för vårt Universitet”, Litteraturblad för allmän medborgerlig bildning 9:2, 1855, 39-49 (inaugural speech); “Aus einem Briefe von Prof. Dr. Kellgren”, ZDMG 10, 1856, 812f.; other articles, poetry and Swedish translations.
– Die Grundzüge der Finnischen Sprache mit besonderer Rücksicht auf den Ural-Altaischen Sprachstamm. 95 p. Berlin 1847.
– Diss. Mythus de ovo mundano, Indorumque de eodem notio. 62+15 p. Helsingforsiae 1849; diss. De cosmogonia Graecorum, ex Aegypto profecta dissertatio. 46 p. Helsingforsiae 1850.
– Nala och Damayanti, en indisk dikt ur Mahâbhârata från originalet öfversatt och med förklarande noter försedd. 30+8+200. Helsingfors 1852.
– Diss. Om affixpronomen i Arabiskan, Persiskan och Turkiskan; samt Ibn-Mâliks Allâmîja med textkritik och anmärkningar. 8+76+74 p. Helsingfors 1854.
– Grammatik der Osmanischen Sprache von Fu’ād-Efendi und G‚ävdät-Efendi d. Z. Mitglieder des Türk. Ministeriums des öffentlichen Unterrichts. Deutsch bearb. von H. K. 18+197. Helsingfors 1855.
– Edited some posthumous papers of Wallin, ZDMG 9, 1855, 1ff. and 12, 1858, 599ff., 650ff. and 666ff.
– Ibn Mâlik’s Lâmîyat al af ’âl nebst Badruddîn’s Commentar. Ein Lehrgedicht über die Formen der Arabischen Verba … übersetzt und mit kritischen Anmerkungen versehen. Auf Grund des handschriftlichen Nachlasses Kellgrens bearb. und hrsg. von W. Volk. Mém. de l’Acad. Imp. des sc. de St. P:bourg VII:7:6, 1864.
Sources: K. Karttunen, “From the Early Days of Finnish Indology II. Herman Kellgren”, R. Sternemann (ed.), Bopp-Symposium 1992 der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Indogermanische Bibliothek, dritte Reihe. Heidelberg 1994, 105-132, and “Herman Kellgren — a Bibliography”, Studia Orientalia 67, 1991, 147-159, both with further references; Finnish Wikipedia briefly, further Finnish references omitted here.
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