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xi – Preface – T here has long been a need for a complete translation of the greatest Russian folktale collection, that of A. N.Afanas’ev (1826–71). Afanas’ev’s folktales, the result of his own collecting and that of many folklore enthusiasts in Russia—and in a few cases, the reprinting of tales printed in Russia before his time—are easily the greatest single repository of tales in Russia, if not the world. The latest academic edition offers more than 575 tales, and this number includes neither Afanas’ev’s legends nor his “forbidden” tales, those excluded during his lifetime (and after) by the strict censorship of tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. Folklorists who have no Russian have for too long been obliged to exclude the vast Slavic folktale tradition from their purview, although dozens of fine, scholarly editions of Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian , and other Slavic peoples’ tales exist and are readily available. These three volumes of translations, it is to be hoped, will begin to fill the gap. The last several years have seen the appearance of important works in English dealing with the Russian folktale, directly or indirectly: Sibelan Forrester has translated V. Ia. Propp’s Russkaia Skazka (The Russian Folktale); Robert Chandler offers Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov; Forrester also has a selection of tales, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales, and there is my Long, Long Tales from the Russian North. Not so long ago, Andreas John published Baba Yaga: The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale, and my The Complete Russian Folktale appeared in seven volumes. There is clearly interest in the Russian folktale. The time has come for Afanas’ev’s work to take its place alongside the tales of the Brothers Grimm and other Western European collections to offer balance to our view of the European folktale. In preparing these volumes I have been encouraged by folklorists in Russia, Canada, Armenia, England, and the United States. I am indebted to them and to many of my former students, whose interest in the Russian folktale was stymied by the lack of an adequate translation that included at least a minimal scholarly apparatus of Afanas’ev’s great achievement. Finally, a brief word about skazka, the Russian word used for the tales in the Afanas’ev collection and elsewhere. It is derived from the verb xii h Preface skazat’, meaning to say or to tell. The Russian language has many related forms of that verb, and the noun skazka has given birth to a number of other words, all of which point to the same notion: an oral narrative. Russians use the word skazka to refer to tales about animals (skazki o zhivotnykh), to tales of enchantment (wondertales or magic tales known as volshebnye skazki), and to tales of everyday life (bytovye skazki). The term “fairy tale” is here used only in reference to literary adaptations or imitations of the folk wondertales, although I am aware of its widespread use in the French and English scholarly traditions. Where it is necessary to distinguish the various large classes into which folktales are usually divided, I will refer to“wondertales,” a translation of the Russian volshebnaia skazka. ...


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