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Letter to I.I.Sreznevsky

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The bylinas* are well known in Olonets province in counties of Petrozavodsk, Pudozh and Kargopol, i.e. in those areas, where the old solid Russian population lives: both in Petrozavodsk Onega region or in Kargopol county and where, like in Pudozh county, colonists from these two ancient centers of the local Russian population settled in XIV, XV and XVI centuries. .  .  . I didn’t happen to be in Olonets county, but I don’t suppose antiquity singers to be there because only the Karelians live there. However, where the Karelians are mixed with the Russians, there you can find epics poetry. .  .  . I explain this by the fact that the Karelian epics and household poetry have been almost completely disappeared, so the Karelians don’t sing any household songs except for the Russian ones; and on occasion they inherit the Russian antiquities. In this case, I would note that in Karelian fables a verse meter is destroyed, and in Karelian epics rhymes are constantly appeared.

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Pavel N. Rybnikov
Senior official for special assignments of the Olonets civil governor
Petrozavodsk, April 2, 1863

* Bylina is a traditional East Slavic oral epic narrative poem.
Translated by Ilya Kuznetsov, 2013
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