Russian Narrative Folklore in Kazaxstan

Nadezhda Nazarenko, New Mexico State University

Folklore is one of the essential elements of the Russian culture and still plays a significant role in comprehending modern realities. In such a multi-national country as the former Soviet Union, Russian folklore has always been related to and influenced by this multicultural environment. Kazaxstan is one of the regions where traces of the coexistence of Kazax, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorusian cultural traditions and customs can be found.

One of the most urgent problems in Russian folklore studies is the issue of existence of narrative folklore. The present paper analyzes the history, evolution, and characteristics of Russian legends, traditions, oral stories and superstitious stories which were recorded during folk expeditions to Russian villages on the territory of Kazaxstan in 1972-88.

The study also identifies the degree of popularity of each category in Russian narrative folklore of Kazaxstan where the most typical genre is that of superstitious stories. This category has a more open image system in terms of expanding the plot. The plot of a story is, as a rule, based on a character's image. The main characters of the superstitious stories are goblins, demons, witches, mermaids, etc. They are easy to recognize, even though they are not named directly in the narration. Their images are symbolic.

The paper will discuss how each genre's rules of composition and expression, use of characters, places, and colors may have different implications for legends, superstitious stories, or traditions. Additionally, the paper will discuss the role of the story-teller who controls the rhetorical discourse by the choice of images, by the rhythm of narration, and by the rhetorical use of such figures as metaphors, alliteration, parallelism, repetition on different levels (lexical, syntactical), and space-time displacements.

The paper will conclude by demonstrating that specific conditions of the Russian settlement on the territory of Kazaxstan promoted superstitious stories as a prevailing genre in the folkloric repertoire of Russian story-tellers. Moreover, it will be revealed that Kazax elements are present in the repertoire of Russian story-tellers demonstrating the contribution of folklore to interethnic relations. Finally, the paper will reveal that the particular poetic system and means of expression continue to survive today through an evolution of the different genres.