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For anyone interested in Russian folklore—an area of study indispensable for an understanding of Russian culture in general—this excellently edited translation is an inestimable gift.
— Helen Goscilo
Vladimir Propp is the Russian folklore specialist most widely known outside Russia thanks to the impact of his 1928 book Morphology of the Folktale-but Morphology is only the first of Propp's contributions to scholarship. This volume translates into English for the first time his book The Russian Folktale, which was based on a seminar on Russian folktales that Propp taught at Leningrad State University late in his life. Edited and translated by Sibelan Forrester, this English edition contains Propp's own text and is supplemented by notes from his students.
The Russian Folktale begins with Propp's description of the folktale's aesthetic qualities and the history of the term; the history of folklore studies, first in Western Europe and then in Russia and the USSR; and the place of the folktale in the matrix of folk culture and folk oral creativity. The book presents Propp's key insight into the formulaic structure of Russian wonder tales (and less schematically than in Morphology, though in abbreviated form), and it devotes one chapter to each of the main types of Russian folktales: the wonder tale, the "novellistic" or everyday tale, the animal tale, and the cumulative tale. Even Propp's bibliography, included here, gives useful insight into the sources accessible to and used by Soviet scholars in the third quarter of the twentieth century.
Propp's scholarly authority and his human warmth both emerge from this well-balanced and carefully structured series of lectures. An accessible introduction to the Russian folktale, it will serve readers interested in folklore and fairy-tale studies in addition to Russian history and cultural studies.
Sibelan Forrester's new translation of Vladimir Propp's The Russian Folktale is an invaluable resource for all scholars in literary theory, folklore, and folktale studies. Her erudite and insightful editorial comments place Propp's work into the context of both Russian and Western scholarly tradition.
– Marina Balina, Isaac Funk Professor and professor of Russian studies at Illinois Wesleyan University
For Anglophone readers of Vladimir Propp's most famous publication-the rigorously structuralist Morphology of the Folktale (1928; English version 1958)-the first translation of his posthumously published The Russian Folktale (1984) will prove a stunning revelation. An impressively wide-ranging work that stimulates through speculation, it provides precisely what the early elaboration of functions declaratively lacks: an etiology of genre, a broad historical perspective, analyses of individual tales, commentary on tale-tellers, engagement with previous scholarship, and examination of a sufficiently broad European context to enable thought-provoking insights into the distinctiveness of Russian folk narratives. For anyone interested in Russian folklore-an area of study indispensable for an understanding of Russian culture in general-this excellently edited translation is an inestimable gift.
– Helena Goscilo, professor and chair of Slavic and Eastern European languages and cultures at The Ohio State University