Up to now, there has been no complete English-language version of the Russian folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev. This translation is based on L. G. Barag and N. V. Novikov’s edition, widely regarded as the authoritative Russian-language edition. The present edition includes commentaries to each tale as well as its international classification number. This third volume contains 305 tales, those numbered 319–579, as well as forty-five additional tales from among those denied publication by the Russian censors.
The folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev represent the largest single collection of folktales in any European language and perhaps in the world. Widely regarded as the Russian Grimm, Afanas’ev collected folktales from throughout the Russian Empire in what are now regarded as the three East Slavic languages, Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian. In his lifetime, Afanas’ev published more than 575 tales in his most popular and best-known work, Narodnye russkie skazki.
In addition to this basic collection, he prepared a volume of Russian legends, many on religious themes; a collection of mildly obscene tales, Russkie zavetnye skazki; and voluminous writings on Slavic folklife and mythology. His works were subject to the strict censorship of ecclesiastical and state authorities that lasted until the demise of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Overwhelmingly, his particular emendations were stylistic, while those of the censors mostly concerned content.