From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Between 1855 and 1866 Alexander Afanasyev
combed the collections of the Russian Geographical Society for 640 folktales, which were published in eight installments between 1855 and 1866. For the volume under discussion, Russian Secret Tales
, a compilation of erotic folktales, Afanasyev assembled more than seventy traditional folk tales. Among the tales collected are "The Wonderful Whistle," a recognizable version of Aarne-Thompson
tale type 570, "The Rabbit-herd." Similarly, "The Pope and His Man" includes A-T tale type 1563, "Both," as well s A-T tale type 1361, "The Flood," the latter being Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale." Students of Chaucer
will also appreciate "The Blind Man's Wife," which is a version of A-T 1423, "The Enchanted Pear Tree," which is "The Merchant's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales
Besides the stories, Clearfield Company's reprint edition of Russian Secret Tales boasts of a number of supporting features. For one, it contains valuable notes attributed to Giuseppe Pitre (1841-1916), perhaps the greatest collector of folklore who ever lived. This English translation of Afanasyev's Russian Secret Tales with comparative notes is also graced by an erudite introduction by Gershon Legman, whose expertise in the field of erotic folklore is unrivaled. Legman's Introduction follows the publishing history of Russian Secret Tales up through 1966, the date the English edition first appeared.