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Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Baba Yaga is an ambiguous and fascinating figure. She appears in traditional Russian folktales as a monstrous and hungry cannibal, or as a canny inquisitor of the adolescent hero or heroine of the tale. In new translations and with an introduction by Sibelan Forrester, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales is a selection of tales that draws from the ...more
Published August 13th 2013 by University Press of Mississippi (first published January 1st 2013)
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Anna (lion_reads)
[1.5 stars] to rate this, exactly? This book was not what I expected. It was nice to revisit some of the folk tales from my childhood, but I was really disappointed with the book overall. Knowing it was from a university press and based on the title, I was hoping for a more critical analysis of the character of Baba Yaga. Instead, there is only an introduction which, while nice, gets buried in pages of the stories. By the time you get to the end, you don't remember what this collection
**✿❀ Maki ❀✿**
The introduction makes the book worth it. There's also a decent bibliography for further Baba Yaga-related reading. ...more
Laura Bang
A good selection of tales featuring Baba Yaga characters. The book design is quite pretty, too, although I wish some of the illustrations were larger and/or of better quality.

Also, I bought this just based on the tale because I am a fan of Baba Yaga tales, and then I belatedly noticed that one of my undergrad professors is the translator. I took a Russian Fairy Tales class with Professor Forrester at Swarthmore and it was one of my favorite undergrad classes. :)
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales by Sibelan Forrester
4 stars


I read Russian Fairy Tales for the first time when I was young ~10ish years old in India and in Hindi. I was mesmerized. It was like a scene from a movie. We opened this old cupboard and in it was this magical book in Hindi about Russian Fairy Tales. I think it was the first book that I actually choose to read and as a result – these tales hold a special place in my heart, I feel transformed into a
Apr 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Baba Yaga appears in many Russian tales but still remains a mystery because its origin can never be thoroughly discovered. Even the name by which we call it may not be her real name but a cover to a very sacred, fearsome and ancient figure who was present in very old rituals. Maybe we can consider her as Mother Earth because she was very close to nature and somehow a keeper of it. Her roles in tales are different. In some of them she represents a primeval wisdom but in others she was a not so cl ...more
K.S. Thompson
A friend was kind enough to track down this book and loan it to me. It contains retellings of a few stories from Russian folklore, originating in different areas and told in slightly different ways. Sometimes the Baba Yaga has a fairly integral role, in other tales she barely makes an appearance. The stories are more focused on the other characters and how they find their "happily ever after".

I was more interested in how Baba Yaga came to be such a fearsome character and this question wasn't re
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific collection of Russian fairy tales. The only weakness? Sometimes the artwork displayed on the page is not connected to the tale in which it is found. Some tales end abruptly as is the tradition in some Russian tales, so the translations are true to the original tales. If you are interested in the history of tales and the variations found with similar characters or plots, this is a terrific volume.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not sure why my library has this in the children's section, as it is an academic overview of the the Baba Yaga stories in Russian folktales and then a collection of many of the stories. The overview is really good, but the stories tend to be repetitive after a while as many of them are different versions of the same story. The illustrations are lovely, but I wish they had made them bigger. Many of them are very small. ...more
Wyrd Witch
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a pretty good collection centered around one of Russia's most popular folkloric figures. It's amazing how many times this old woman appears in tale types that otherwise don't have her. It shows how unique Baba Yaga really is.

Additionally, the foreword, introduction, and other sources listed in the book provide amazing content and new ways to explore Russian folklore.

Trigger warning for rape in the tales featuring the water and apples of youth.
Camila 카밀라
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-loves
These stories are so rich! While some of them are a bit repetitive, the magical appeal is still there. "Vasilisa the Brave" is still by far my favorite story featurette with Baba Yaga. ...more
Allison Wall
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A super interesting collection!
Nathan Dehoff
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This volume collects a number of stories involving the infamous Russian witch, as well as some analysis of her character. It's a bit confusing, as a Baba Yaga can be either an individual or a type, and many of these tales involve three Baba Yagas who are sisters. Three is, after all, a natural number for witches. They're sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful, with the general theme being that they respect anyone who can outsmart them. A Baba Yaga often has children, sometimes including notably ...more
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Did you know that Baba Yaga is not the name of a person, but rather a sort of title? Sometimes you may encounter three of them in the same tale, all sisters. And, like the giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk", a Baba Yaga can smell a specific sort of blood — although she is naturally concerned only with Russian blood, rather than that of Englishmen.

This is a really nice, academically-oriented collection of Russian folktale, with plenty of interesting footnotes for those who want to dig further. Som
I wish this book wasn't so squarely aimed at an academic/special interest audience, because it's an excellent compilation of Baba Yaga folklore that most people simply won't get the chance to encounter due its limited availability outside of university libraries. Thing is, there's nothing in it that isn't accessible to a general reader—it's basically the Russian equivalent of Any Color Fairy Book, but with approximately 94670860876 percent more awesome.

If you're already familiar with the tales,
Ashlee Draper Galyean
I have to admit, I was more interested in the explanations and ideas and meaning behind the stories than by the actual stories themselves (at least these translations of them). But that being said, the introduction was so priceless to me and my research and interest in Russian fairytales and Baba Yaga particularly that I NEED to have this book. I love how folklore influences a people and vice versa and I'm continually fascinated with the fact that although fiction is fiction it is actually full ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: folklore
If you're interested in Russian folk tales, and especially the fascinating figure of Baba Yaga, you need to read this book. Mind you, it's not a commute read, because the book is large and heavy, printed on high quality paper, but it is a really cool book to read while you're having your evening tea and some dessert. The volume includes more than two dozen stories about Baba Yaga, but also wonderful Baba-Yaga related illustrations, both old and new, and a fairly lengthy introduction explaining B ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tons of information and gorgeous illustrations, as well as many folktales.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting! A collection of tales of the Baba Yaga, as well as a nice historical overview.
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Sibelan E. S. Forrester is Susan W. Lippincott Professor of Modern and Classical Languages and Russian at Swarthmore College. Most recently, she is the editor of A Companion to Marina Tsvetaeva (Brill, 2016) and co-editor with Martha Kelly of Russian Silver-Age Poetry: Texts and Contexts (Academic Studies Press, 2015). She has published translations of fiction, poetry, and scholarly prose from Cro ...more

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