Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Russian Brothers Grimm

Alexander Afansyev was the first person to amass and compile the collection of Russian folk tales. Eventually recording more than six hundred stories, he began the project in the 1850's when scholar-noble Sergey Uvarov trashed his reputation as a history professor. With no job, Afansyev returned home to Bobrov to begin a journalism career. He began listening to the tales local women would recite and eventually compiled them into his first scholarly article – The Wizards and Witches. Afansyev hoped that his work would legitimize the Russian language, giving it the same international respect that French enjoyed at the time. Through the 1860’s, he continued to collect, record, and analyze Russian folktales, culminating in his magnum opus, The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs – a three-volume piece. At the height of his success however, Afansyev’s career was once again ruined suddenly. Discovered to be communicating with socialist radical Alexander Herzen, Afansyev’s property was seized. Forced to sell the rights to his works for food, he died in1871 in poverty at the age of forty-five.

Vasilissa the Beautiful is one of Afansyev's most significant tales.

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