Issledovaniia Po Slavianskomu Fol'kloru I Narodnoi Kul'ture/ Studies in Slavic Folklore and Folk Culture. Vypusk 1 / Issledovaniia Po Slavianskomu Fol'kloru I Narodnoi Kul'ture

Article excerpt

A. Arkhipov and 1. Polinskaya, eds. Issledovaniia po slavianskomu fol'kloru i narodnoi kul'ture/ Studies in Slavic Folklore and Folk Culture. Vypusk 1. Oakland, CA: Berkeley Slavic Specialties, 1997. 140 pp. Paper.

A. Arkhipov and 1. Polinskaya, eds. Issledovaniia po slavianskomu fol 'kloru i narodnoi ku!'ture/ Studies in Slavic Folklore and Folk Culture. Vypusk 2. Oakland, CA: Berkeley Slavic Specialties, 1997. 162 pp. Paper.

This two-volume collection offers valuable insights into the state of anthropology in contemporary Russia. According to the editors, it was not intended as an anthology, but rather as an introduction to the heterogeneity of current theoretical models and approaches to the study of Slavic cultures (p. 7). Indeed, the publication surveys the major intellectual trends and outlines the most important theoretical shifts that took place in Russian anthropology since the 1980s. The articles comprising these two volumes are not of even scholarly merit. They do give a fair-albeit sporadic and disorganized-picture of the issues and problems that attract the interest of Russian scholars today. They also reveal how strongly rooted contemporary Russian anthropology is in its own century-long intellectual heritage.

Arkhipov and Polinskaya dedicated their collection to the memory of Nikita Il'ich Tolstoi, a distinguished linguist and folklorist who in the 1980s initiated a daring revision of many of the theoretical and methodological axioms, which had been firmly established as paramount principles of Russian anthropology. Tolstoi is featured as one of the seminal figures in contemporary Russian folkloristics. The diverse quests of all contributors to the collection highlight the impact of his work. In fact, all articles in the first volume were written by scholars who were part of Tolstoi's "team" and worked toward the creation of an ethnolinguistic atlas of the entire Slavic world, a project he head initiated. Thus, the research gathered here introduces both the conceptual and methodological principles of Tolstoi's ethnolinguistic school. The reader obtains a glimpse into the specificity of this school's analytical approach and its current elaboration. Especially worthy of note are T.A. Agapkina's essay and the joint article by L.M. Ivleva and M.L. Lure. These authors successfully demonstrate the use of the ethnolinguistic method for the interpretation of contemporary folklore material. Their contributions complement Tolstoi's article which deals with more abstract conceptual issues. It is apparent that the application of the ethnolinguistic method assisted the other contributors in the modification of the classical theoretical heritage. Some articles offer compelling novel readings of traditional, extensively studied customary practices, images and phenomena. Representative in this respect is the work of L.N. Vinogradova, who investigates the popular mytho-poetic image of the Slavic rusalka (water nymph).

The second volume is much more varied in content. It considers traditional "themes" such as epic folk poetry (T.A. Novichkova), folk games (V. …