The Complete Folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev
The first volume of a comprehensive gathering of tales from the Russian Grimm
The folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev represent the largest single collection of folktales in any European language and perhaps in the world. Widely regarded as the Russian Grimm, Afanas’ev collected folktales from throughout the Russian Empire in what are now regarded as the three East Slavic languages, Byelorusian, Russian, and Ukrainian. The result of his own collecting, the collecting of friends and correspondents, and in a few cases his publishing of works from earlier and forgotten collections is truly phenomenal. In his lifetime, Afanas’ev published more than 575 tales in his most popular and best-known work, Narodnye russkie skazki. In addition to this basic collection he prepared a volume of Russian legends, many on religious themes, an anthology of mildly obscene tales, and voluminous writings on Slavic folk life and Slavic mythology. His works were subject to the strict censorship of ecclesiastical and state authorities that lasted until the demise of the Soviet Union at the end of the twentieth century. Overwhelmingly, his particular emendations were of a stylistic nature, while those of the censors mostly concerned content. The censored tales are generally not included.
Up to now, there has been no complete English-language version of the Russian folktales of Afanas’ev. This translation is based on L. G. Barag and N. V. Novikov’s edition (Moscow: Nauka, 1984-1986), widely regarded as the authoritative edition. The present edition includes commentaries to each tale as well as its international classification number.
From the time they first appeared, Afanas'ev's tales have fired the imaginations of Russians of various classes and have exerted a profound influence on literature, art, and music. The appearance of all of Afanas'ev's folktales in English is an event of tremendous significance that will be welcomed by all lovers of folklore wishing to become more closely acquainted with the extraordinary inventiveness of the Russian people.- Linda J. Ivanits, Slavic and East European Journal
The present volumes and anticipated companion volume are highly valuable to the field of folklore and will become classics. . . . for scholars and those who wish to know the Russian tradition more deeply, the present volumes are a most welcome addition.- Laura J. Olson, University of Colorado, Boulder, Journal of American Folklore, Volume 133, Number 528, Spring 2020
The Afanas'ev collection of folktales is an essential source for the study of Russian culture and literature, and having a good translation of the complete collection will be a wonderful asset. Afanas'ev has had tremendous influence on Russian writers and on their (and our) general understanding of what Russian culture means, and he has impacted writers generation after generation. This is THE collection of Russian folktales.- Sibelan Forrester, professor of Russian at Swarthmore College and translator of Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales, published by University Press of Mississippi