Propp’s essay in Russian Folk Lyrics extends beyond the formalistic analysis of folklore outlined in his classic The Morphology of the Folktale. In this study, newly translated by Roberta Reeder, Propp considers the Russian folk lyric in the social and historical context in which it was produced.
Reeder supplements Propp’s theoretical presentation with a comprehensive anthology of examples. Some songs were imitated by or appear in the works of Russia’s major writers, such as Pushkin and Nekrasov. Here we find the customs of Russian peasant life expressed through the ritual of song. Whether the songs are about love, labor, or children’s games; whether they are sad, humorous, or satiric in tone, Russian folk lyrics are rich in metaphor and symbolic meaning. In addition to the editor’s notes to the text and songs, Reeder supplies a bibliography of Propp’s sources as well as an extensive selected bibliography.