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Andrei Sinyavsky

IVAN the FOOL

Russian Folk Belief

A Cultural History

416 pp., ISBN 978-5-7172-0077-6

Translated by Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

"Sinyavsky has been increasingly recognized both in the West and in Russia as one of the most significant Russian literary figures of the post-Stalin period." – Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy

This masterly and extremely readable survey covering folk superstitions and customs, house and nature spirits, pagan gods, Christianization, saints, icons, the Schism, Old Believers, religious sects and the characters and symbolism in Russian fairy tales could be called Origin of the Russian Psyche. Most everything the Russians have ever believed in – and much of what they believe in still – is in this book.

Inspired by the folk belief Sinyavsky encountered first on his many trips to the Russian North in the 1950s and later on in prison camp, Ivan the Fool is a superb, detailed and engaging account of Russian folk culture from before the era of Christianization to the present. Anyone with a serious interest in Russia and/or Russian literature will want to own this book.

Andrei Sinyavsky (1925-1997), acclaimed satirical novelist and literary critic, emigrated to France in 1973 after his incarceration in a Soviet labor camp for publishing works in the West under the name Abram Tertz. His best known works include “On Socialist Realism”, The Trial Begins, Fantastic Stories, The Makepeace Experiment, A Voice from the Chorus, Strolls with Pushkin, and his autobiographical novel Goodnight!


Sample writing excerpt from the book