Tuliakova Natalia

Legend and folktale in Russian literature of the first half of the 19th century: genre indications and genre strategies

Tuliakova Natalia (2019) "Legend and folktale in Russian literature of the first half of the 19th century: genre indications and genre strategies ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2019, vol. 58, pp. 24-42 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201958.24-42


In the early 19th century, in the Russian literature appear texts with the genre indications “legend” (Russ. легенда) and “folktale” (предание) included in the title. The full-fl edged character of the canon of the genres by the end of the 19th century allows one to suppose that these indications signal the emergence of the genre. This article compares literary texts labeled by V. Odoevsky, N. Polevoi, N. Kukol’nik as legends and folktales. The aim of the study is to fi nd if there are decisive diff erences in genre strategies chosen by the authors in making legends and folktales. Attention is paid to the modality of the narrative, narrative instances chronotope, storyline. In Odoevsky’s creative works, legends play a role of intext, whereas folktales are completed texts. This opposes the two genres with regard to their modality, i.e. legends represent a more or less plausible narrative, the folktale is truthful. The choice of the narrator personifi ed in the legend and omniscient in the folktale, enforces the eff ect. The chronotope of the legend is historical and close to the reader, in that the legend represents a mythopoetic interpretation of historical events. The chronotope of the folktale is exotic and conditional, and the text itself is designed as a myth. Polevoi builds legends and folktales around historical events, but his aims vary. In the legends, he constructs certain episodes from Russian and Byzantine history, the information on which originates from written sources and is supplemented by the author’s fi ction. Polevoi tries to comprehend history and pin down its logic. The legends lack dramatism because their content and fi nals are known. The aim of the folktale is to amuse the reader telling him a story of adventures based on oral narratives. This is underlined by a personal attitude to the space and time of the narrative as well as by the look into the past from the present. Legends and folktale by Kukol’nik also belong to historical prose. Legends draw on real sources and bring some forgotten or lost text to the reader. The foktale off ers the reader an alternative version of the history not coinciding with offi cial records. Unlike the legend, which despite the element of mysticism is presented as the truth, the folktale does not pretend to be veracious because the author does not provide any testimony and does not use any sources. Odoevsky, Polevoi, and Kukol’nik interpret the notions of the legend and folktale diff erently. However, it is obvious that in literary works of each of them, the texts called legends and folktales show the employment of different genre strategies.


genre, literary legend, tradition, V. Odoevskii, N. Polevoi, N. Kukol’nik, genre indication, genre strategy


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Information about the author

Tuliakova Natalia

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: National Research University Higher School of Economics; 16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Str., Saint-Petersbur g, 190121, Russian Federation;
Post: associate professor at the Department of foreign languages;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0685-4993;
Email: n_tuljakova@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article was prepared within the framework of the Academic Fund Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in 2017- 2018 (grant № 17-01-0012) and by the Russian Academic Excellence Project “5-100”.