Yesterday I did my version of a happy dance with a post about New Book: The Complete Folktales of A. N. Afanas'ev: Volume I by Jack V. Haney. In that post I promised to share the details about Haney's previous magnum opus, the Complete Russian Folktale Series, published by Routledge. With seven volumes, just sharing covers, titles, and descriptions makes for a longer than average post, so I am sticking with that. Usually, only university libraries with a decent folklore collection own all seven volumes but this is one of the most important collections of Russian folklore in English translation around.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 1: An Introduction to the Russian Folktale by Jack V. Haney
This engaging introduction to the Russian folktale considers the origin, structure, and language of folktales; tale-tellers and their audiences; the relationship of folktales to Russian ritual life; and the folktale types that are translated in subsequent volumes of The Complete Russian Folktale.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 2: The Animal Tales by Jack V. Haney
This collection of 150 ancient Russian animal tales illustrates all 119 animal tale types. They feature forest animals and domestic animals. Fish and birds appear less often, and humans play a minor role, if any, in these tales. But it is human, not animal, behaviour that is displayed by the sneaky, greedy, adulterous, murderous, conniving and egotistical creatures who populate them. These stories, translated to preserve the art of the village storyteller, both entertained peasant children and taught them lessons needed in their quest for survival.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 3: Russian Wondertales 1 - Tales of Heroes and Villains by Jack V. Haney
These stories of magic and heroism, and of terrifying encounters with Baba Yaga, Zmei the serpent, and Koshchei the Immortal, are surely the best-known and best-loved folktales of Russia. A wondertale tells of a young person's first venture into a perilous world, where he or she must solve a riddle, pass a test of character, or perform a heroic feat. In the course of the tale, villainy is foiled, disaster is averted, and the young person is transformed by this successful struggle into an adult.
The two hundred and fifty wondertales collected and translated here represent at least one example of every tale type known in Russia. Each tale is accompanied by commentary and the volume includes a substantial introduction by the editor.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 4: Russian Wondertales 2 - Tales of Magic and the Supernatural by Jack V. Haney
These stories of heroism and magic, and of terrifying encounters with Baba Yaga, Zmei the serpent and Koschchei the Immortal, represent at least one example of every wondertale type known in Russia.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 5: Russian Legends by Jack V. Haney
Richly represented in the Russian folktale tradition, the legends are religious tales (types 750-849 in the Aame-Thompson index) in a peasant village setting. Among the standard themes is the return of Christ, who wanders through rural Russia with his disciples. Satan appears here too, as do a cast of spirits and lesser devils. Pre-Christian gods may be recognized in tales of saints Ilya and Nikolai (Elijah and Saint Nicholas). The hapless peasant in these tales - cheated, betrayed, impoverished, foolish, orphaned, crippled - take the reader deep into the traditional village culture of Russia and into the imperfect human quest for moral choice and justice on this earth.
The Complete Russian Folktale: v. 6: Russian Tales of Love and Life by Jack V. Haney
"The Complete Russian Folktale" makes available to English readers a rich folk tradition that has not been easily accessible or well known in the West. Compared to other European traditions, the East Slavs have an extremely large number of tale types. Using the Russian version of the Aarne-Thompson index to folktale types, and drawing on both archival and written sources dating back to the early sixteenth century, J.V. Haney has assembled and translated examples of the full range of tales. Nearly all of these tales will appear here in translation for the first time. Volume 6 presents tales classified 850-999, which describe the travails of young people who are seeking happiness and love. They portray acts of fate, prophecy, and even divine justice, in a village context of social misery, folk tradition, the aggravations of family life, and the heartaches of the lovelorn. J.V. Haney's extensive introduction and annotations explain the structure of the tales, their place in the A-T system and in folklore studies, and the specifics of their Russian provenance.
Russian Tales of Clever Fools: Complete Russian Folktale: v. 7 by Jack V. Haney
This is the concluding installment of a splendid multi-volume work that makes available to English readers a rich folktale tradition that has not been easily accessible or well-known in the West. Compared to other European traditions, the East Slavs have an extremely large number of tale types. Using the Aarne-Thompson index to folktale types, and drawing on both archival and written sources dating back to the early sixteenth century, J.V. Haney has assembled and translated examples of the full range of tales. Nearly all of these tales appear here in translation for the first time. The tales in this volume center on the so-called fool, the village simpleton. However, Ivan, the Russian everyman, turns out to have far more sense than his would-be oppressors. The greedy priests and landlords and dim-witted demons who try to take advantage of him are easily outsmarted. In the end it is they who are shown to be the fools as Ivan outwits or outlasts them. In these unequal contests lies the pleasure of the tales.
Finally An Anthology of Russian Folktales is more affordable for personal libraries. It draws from Haney's seven-volume "Complete Russian Folktale" and is currently listed with a deep, deep discount on Amazon, pretty much 11% of its original list price.