Vladimir Propp was born on April 29, 1895, in St. Petersburg, Russia. He studied Russian and German philology at the University of St. Petersburg, where he developed a keen interest in folklore and literature. Propp embarked on a career as a scholar and folklorist, focusing on Russian folktales. His groundbreaking work in structuralism and folklore analysis would eventually make him a renowned figure in academia. Propp’s work was influenced by structuralism, a theoretical framework that seeks to uncover the underlying structures and systems of meaning in various forms of human expression, including literature and folklore. He drew inspiration from Russian folktales and the works of other folklorists such as Alexander Afanasyev and Antti Aarne. He sought to develop a systematic and scientific approach to understanding the patterns and functions within these narratives.
“Morphology of the Folktale” (1928): Propp’s most famous work is “Morphology of the Folktale,” where he introduced his structuralist approach to analyzing folktales. In this book, he outlined a systematic method for breaking down and categorizing the narrative elements of Russian folktales. Propp identified 31 functions that he believed were common to all folktales, providing a new way to understand their underlying structure.
“Theory and History of Folklore” (1949): In this work, Propp expanded his analysis of folklore beyond the structural aspects and delved into the historical and cultural dimensions of the subject. He explored the evolution of folklore and its relationship to society.
“The Russian Folktale” (1958): Propp’s interest in Russian folklore is evident in this book, where he examined the specific characteristics of Russian folktales and their cultural significance.
Propp’s work also had an impact on the field of literary theory, particularly in the study of narrative structure. His identification of recurring functions in folktales has influenced scholars and writers interested in narrative analysis. His work continues to be influential in fields such as folklore studies, literary theory, and structuralism. His systematic approach to analyzing folk narratives has left a lasting legacy in the study of storytelling and narrative structure.