Hero of two byliny (epic folk songs) of the Novgorod cycle, created during the flowering of the mercantile and political life of Novgorod in the 14th and 15th centuries and undergoing further influences in the 16th and 17th centuries. Condemnation of Vasilii Buslaev as a reckless drunkard and freebooter, taking on all of Novgorod, alternates with admiration for his open nature, daring, and independent thought and for his “ungovernable mischief-making” (M. Gorky). A boyar’s son in the early variants of the bylina, with time he became the expression of the aspirations of the free men of Novgorod.
REFERENCESMiller, V. Ocherki russkoi narodnoi slovesnosti, vol. 1. Moscow, 1897.
Propp, V. Ia. Russkii geroicheskii epos, 2nd ed., amended. Moscow, 1958.
Ukhov, P. D. Byliny. Moscow, 1957.