The Slavic Myths (Hardcover)
A Pulitzer-nominated author and one of the great public intellectuals of Slavic culture bring to life the unfamiliar myths and legends of the Slavic world.
In the first collection of Slavic myths for an international readership, Noah Charney and Svetlana Slapšak expertly weave together the ancient stories with nuanced analysis to illuminate their place at the heart of Slavic tradition. While Slavic cultures are far-ranging, comprised of East Slavs (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus), West Slavs (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), and South Slavs (the countries of former Yugoslavia plus Bulgaria), they are connected by tales of adventure and magic with roots in a common lore. In the world of Slavic mythology we find petulant deities, demons and fairies, witches, and a supreme god who can hurl thunderbolts. Gods gather under the World Tree, reminiscent of Norse mythology’s Yggdrasill. The vampire—usually the only Serbo-Croatian word in any foreign-language dictionary—and the werewolf both emerge from Slavic belief.
In their careful analysis and sensitive reconstructions of the myths, Charney and Slapšak unearth the Slavic beliefs before their distortion first by Christian chroniclers and then by nineteenth-century scholars seeking origin stories for their newborn nation states. They reveal links not only to the neighboring pantheons of Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Scandinavia, but also the belief systems of indigenous peoples of Australia, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Specially commissioned illustrations inspired by traditional Eastern and European folk art bring the stories and their cultural landscape to life.
About the Author
Noah Charney is an American art historian and internationally best-selling author of fiction, The Art Thief (published in fourteen languages), and non-fiction, The Art of Forgery, The Collector of Lives, and The Museum of Lost Art.
Svetlana Slapšak is a leading specialist in Balkan studies and award-winning essayist who has published more than eighty books. She won the American PEN Award for Freedom of Expression in 1993 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Both Charney and Slapšak live in Slovenia.
[An] elegant work of folklore and ethnography . . . enhanced by ominous woodcut-style illustrations . . . Sophisticated teen readers and adults drawn to the subject will find much to ensorcel them in the storytelling and academic inquiry of The Slavic Myths.
— The Wall Street Journal
The explanatory literary excerpts are engaging, while the stories themselves are in turn humorous, inspiring, or spooky. Some of the references, such as Baba Yaga, will be familiar to folktale enthusiasts, but much of the material will be fresh… This especially accessible introduction to traditional Slavic folklore will be of interest to collections that support storytellers, linguists, and students of mythology.
Enchanting folklore tradition.
— Atlas Obscura