Photograph of Alexander Nikolayevich Afanasyev. Source unknow.
Alexander Nikolayevich Afanasyev has been called the Russian version of the Grimm Brothers, because the author published a almost 600 Russian folk tales and fairy tales. He was a historian and scholar who was deeply interested in folklore before there was even a term for the body of work. Born in 1826, he studied law as Moscow University, but was drawn to write about folklore. He published the articles “The Wizards and Witches, Sorcery in the Ancient Rus, Pagan Legends about the Buyan Island,” and these were aligned with the Mythological school of thought. Eventually the Russian Geographic Society asked him to publish the folk tale archives that the organization had maintained. The first collection consisted of 74 tales, then the collection grew after he added more tales. Known as ” Narodnye russkie skazki” (Russian fairy tales), the entire collection was published between 1855 and 1863. Although a prolific author, he denied penniless, at age 45 in 1871. It’s thanks to Afanasyev that we have such rich archives of Russian folklore.