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Accepted Paper:

Ambiguity in Polish and East Slavic folk narratives devoted to personifications of misery  
Anna Zalewska (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń)

Paper short abstract:

The subject of the presentation will be the ambiguity of the poverty motif in Polish and East Slavic folk fairy tales. Moreover, the unobvious ways to defeat demons will be mentioned, as well as the heterogeneous genre status of the analysed narratives.

Paper long abstract:

In Slavic traditional culture, the misfortune of a man was imagined as an evil spirit that brings different types of adversities. Those beliefs permeated into a folk magic fairy tale which mentions a state of deprivation and personification of an unfavourable fate. The character’s difficult material situation is sometimes understood as a process extended over time or a sudden event. The titular ambiguity also concerns the nomenclature of the above phenomenon, mainly caused by characters such as Beda, Nuzhda, Gore and Zlydnya.

In the magic tales the above personifications of misery play the role of antagonist. On the other hand, they appear as the victims of a man who resorts to unobvious ways to defeat them. Thus, the uncertainty of existence concerns the character’s living conditions and the fate of the trapped demons.

The paper will aim to present the detailed characteristics of the titular creatures to ask the question about the scope of the transformation of the mentioned beings under the influence of the genre rules of fictional texts.

As exemplary material, Polish and East Slavic magic tales will serve, i.e. realisations of the tale types T 331A „Bieda”, SUS 735A „Gore (Nuzhda)” and SUS –735H* „Chelovek i Beda”. The genological ambiguity of those narratives deserves attention. A reference to a criterion of the narrator’s intention will be necessary to determine its genre status. The recordings of beliefs and mythological tales devoted to the above characters will be used as interpretative context.

Panel Narr03
Open paths - coping with uncertainty through ambiguity in and of narratives [Narrative Cultures Working Group]
  Session 2 Friday 9 June, 2023, -