Janet's Reviews > Russian Fairy Tales

Russian Fairy Tales by Alexander Afanasyev
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's review
Jan 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: russia
Read in May, 2011

This is a vast compendium of folk tales (no fairies, really, in Russian folklore)... but they seem often to be the same story with various character configurations, having a hard time 'feeling' the subject matter. Think this is going to be more of a reference book than a 'read'. Think I'd enjoy a more realized version of the stories--like in individual picture books.

As I go along, I find it's more engaging. I've found a better tempo, slower rather than faster.

Russian folk tales are complex and their impact unfolds gradually--there's no way to summarize these stories, hardly a way to keep them separate in my head. I've tried to tell them to people in a sentence or two. Impossible. There's not only three princes, three suitors, the sorcerer figure, the lover-queen, princess, old people in the forest with an only daughter, woodcutters and firebirds and talking fish and magical horses, and all of the animals in the forest, each with their legendary personalities-- but one on top of the other--plus, of course, the terrible Baba Yaga in her hut on chicken legs. I WANT THIS IN AN ILLUSTRATED EDITION!!! I'll never be done with it, want to see all the operas and ballets based on these stories. What a treasure, such a different feel than Grimm. The 'morals' to the stories are very different, often the very opposite of the German. Fascinating on the narrative end, and as a look into the culture and mind-set of the preliterate, oral culture of Russia. Such cultures don't die when the more sophisticated, modern ones come in, they live one inside the other inside the other, like nesting dolls.
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