The coming of Christianity to the state of Kievan Rus' at the end of the tenth century had an enormous impact on the development of Russian civilization. Despite the abandonment of the pagan gods, both Christian and pagan practices and beliefs continued to coexist for centuries, producing a system known as "dual faith."
Russian Myths deals with mythic beliefs, notions, and customs--concerning the veneration of earth, water, fire, and air, demons and spirit-beings in the world of nature, the cult of the dead, and witchcraft--many of which have their roots in the pre-Christian past but still survive to the present day. To illuminate the evolution of major themes and motifs and set Russian myths in the context of mythology the world over, Elizabeth Warner draws upon a rich variety of sources, including anecdotal narrative forms and religious legends, epic songs, funeral laments and folk religion, and, of course, the folktales where the sacred gives way to pure imagination in the depiction of mythic themes and characters.
In this new addition to "The Legendary Past" series, Warner (Russian, emerita, Univ. of Durham), an authority on Russian folklore and ethnography, gives an overiew of the customs and themes underlying Russian beliefs. While the advent of Christianity at the end of the tenth century profoundly affected the development of the culture, pagan beliefs have continued to coexist with the new religion to the present day, resulting in a "dual faith." Drawing upon a variety of sources (e.g., epic songs, funeral laments, religious legends), Warner expertly discusses the most significant themes of this faith the cult of the dead, animism in nature, and magic to shed light on the development of major themes in Russian mythology. There is no formal bibliography, though a "Suggestions for Further Reading" section is included, as is an index and a selection of works in Russian used in preparation. A glossary would have been beneficial, as the author uses a variety of Russian folkloric terms, each defined once and briefly within the text. Nonetheless, this basic introduction to the subject provides information invaluable to understanding the primary sources; recommended for folklore collections in all libraries. [Other titles in the series include Aztec and Maya Myths, Celtic Myths, Chinese Myths, Egyptian Myths, and many more. Ed.] Katherine Kaigler-Koenig, The Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.