The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore

By Maureen Perrie,

Book cover of The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore

Book description

Ivan the Terrible has long been a controversial figure. Some historians regard him as a crazed and evil tyrant; while others (especially Soviet scholars of the Stalin period) have viewed him as a progressive and far-sighted statesman. The folklore about Ivan has played an important part in these debates. Was…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The extent of an evil leader’s influence can be measured in terms of whether he or she enters popular folklore. In the case of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian “grozny” in “Ivan Grozny” is actually translated as “awe-inspiring,” though the “terrible” tag has ensured that the czar would be remembered for his paranoia, brutality, and alleged insanity.

In folklore it was different: as Perrie’s book demonstrates, Ivan was a sympathetic figure through the twentieth century, in tales that recounted his triumphs in war or his repenting after an act of cruelty. Perrie attributes the favorable views of Ivan to “popular…

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