Gilferding, Aleksandr Fedorovich

Gil’ferding, Aleksandr Fedorovich


Born July 2 (14), 1831, in Warsaw; died June 20 (July 2), 1872, in Kargopol’. Russian Slavicist, collector and researcher of byliny (epic folk songs). Corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1856).

Gil’ferding graduated from the department of history and philology of Moscow University in 1852. With great philological accuracy he recorded 318 byliny texts (The Onega By liny, 1873). He was the first to use the method of studying the repertoire of individual narrators of folk tales and raised the question of the role of the creative personality in folklore. Gil’ferding also wrote important works on history. His views on the nature of the interrelationships between the Slavs and the German feudal invaders and colonizers contradicted the nationalistic tradition of German historiography concerning the cultural role of Germanic elements in the Slavic lands. Gil’ferding’s historical works History of the Baltic Slavs (1855) and The Struggle Between the Slavs and the Germans in the Baltic Coastal Area During the Middle Ages (1861) still retain their significance. In 1871-72 he undertook trips to collect byliny in Olonets Province, where he died.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1-4. St. Petersburg, 1868-74.
Onezhskie byliny, 4th ed., vols. 1-3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949-51.


Sokolov, Iu. M. “Po sledam Rybnikova i Gil’ferdinga.” In the collection Khudozhestvennyi fol’klor, nos. 2-3. Moscow, 1927.
Bazanov, V. G. “A. F. Gil’ferding i ego ‘Onezhskie byliny’.” In the book Onezhskie byliny, 4th ed., vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.