Jonas Basanavičius Folklore Library, Vol. 5
Lithuanian Tales, book 1. Collected by Jonas Basanavičius.
Vilnius: Vaga Publishers, 2001
This is the first voluminous book of Lithuanian folklore, edited by Jonas Basanavičius and first published in 1898. Its purpose is described in the subtitle: “Materials for Lithuanian Mythology”. In this book, such a big number of various Lithuanian folk narratives (over 250) were published for the first time. The biggest part of them comprises folk belief legends (100 pieces) and folktales (92). As many as 41 texts are folk beliefs and narratives describing what used to be popularly believed. The book also comprises some place legends, charms and incantations. The texts were grouped according to the predominant mythical agents. There are 14 chapters of varying size in the book. The most numerous are those about God and the devil, about man and the devil, about witches and sorcerers. The majority of texts comprising certain chapters are folk belief legends or beliefs, while in some others, folk tales prevail. Quite a few tale plots here are published for the first time in Lithuania. The majority of texts, as many as 80, have been personally recorded by the editor of the book. This is the first and the only book, containing so many prose texts of folklore, recorded by Jonas Basanavičius himself. Numerous materials have also been submitted by his brother Vincas (i.e. 70 folktales and 2 folk belief legends) and by Matas Slančiauskas (i.e. 9 folktales, 33 folk belief legends, 9 folk beliefs, 4 religious legends and 2 stories). Petras Kriaučiūnas, Vincas Vaičaitis and Steponas Žiupsnis (Sauja) have also recorded several texts each. Jonas Basanavičius has in most cases indicated the place of recording, and sometimes also the approximate date (either following the published texts or in the preface of the book). The majority of texts are from Suvalkija region.
The fifth volume of Jonas Basanavičius Folklore Library was edited, the textual principles of editing discussed and the vocabulary compiled by Kostas Aleksynas. The author of the foreword “Folktales and Folk Legends as Folklore Treasuries and Materials for Lithuanian Mythology” Leonardas Sauka appreciates this publication by Basanavičius as a particularly valuable accumulation of materials for the researchers of folklore and mythology. Leonardas Sauka also wrote commentaries and compiled indices.