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It all depends. Can you read in Russian or not.
If no, then perhaps a good translation of Ruslan and Ludmila might be worth checking out.
Also try this -
A collection of Russian folk tales.
If you want to go into something more advanced a good collection of Bylina is probably a sure thing.
There is also a more modern book that you might check out - I haven't read it yet, but heard interesting things about it, its called 'Vlesov's Book'
The only thing is, i don't think you can get a translation just yet. But - its worth a google.
You can also try Slovo o Polku Igore.
Povest Vremminih Let
But these two are more of history then mythology.
That's all I can think of from the top of my head. If I come up with anything else, i'll add it.
Thank you very much, Svartalf. The collection of fairy tales compiled by Alexander Afanasyev is one I was leaning towards already so I will definitely go with that one. I also added the Pushkin one, Ruslan and Ludmila. The Bylina sounds almost like a Russian Kalevala. I didn't find anything using the word 'Bylina' but I did search for the books that were listed as references for the wiki page and was able to find at least one of them so I'll add that too. I think that will be a great start. Thank you again.
He has also written "The historical roots of the wonder-tale", "The Russian folktale" and "The Russian heroic epos", but these aren't available in English.
Its very important. If you can find any of these works, do get them with illustrations by Ivan Bilibin. He is like the Dore of Russia :)
They add so much to the story that without them it just isn't the same :P
Besides Afanasev's collection, Pavel Bazhov has some lovely stories, they're collected in a volume translated as The Malachite Casket. And I'll add a recommendation for Nikolai Leskov here. He's more literary, but many of his stories have folkloric elements. The Steel Flea is great.
In the non-fiction realm: Andrei Sinyavsky's Ivan the Fool is a quite readable and interesting study on Russian folk belief. (It's not exclusively about folk tales; there's stuff on superstitions and the development of the Orthodox Church as well.)
Spiphany, I found The Malachite Casket, it was a little spendy, even used, but I added it to my list anyway along with the Sinyavsky book. I ordered The Steel Flea along with the Avery/Bilibin book, thank you for the recommendation.
Might be worth checking out;
I have this book, it's nice but the illustrations are a little small.
*here's another beaut:
and another... :)
Afanasiev is perhaps the most comprehensive, and also the most controversial. His skazki were not permitted to be published in full until 1991, the reason being their (often extreme) obscenity. It is from this source that authors such as Nikolai Leskov drew from, and it is the latter whom I would seriously recommend. His The enchanted wanderer, Soborianie, and the Steel flea are some of my favourite texts from the late 19th century. Interestingly, there is a lot of Platonov in Leskov.
While you asked about folklore itself, what Nikolai Leskov did with folklore merits a read. You may also be interested in byliny, which are narrative poems that feature mythological, folkloric as well as christian motifs. Ilya Muromets is perhaps the paragon of this tradition.
I'll put in another high thumbs up for Afanasev's Russian Fairy Tales, one of the most delightful volumes in the Pantheon Library of Folk and Fairy Tales. I hope you enjoy it!
And although it isn't particularly focused on folk tales per se, Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales is an anthology that might well be of interest to you if you don't already have it.
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