Inna Veselova. Feigned weakness, false happiness, pretended submission and other tricks of the heroines of the Russian epos
// Studia Religiologica 53 (3) 2020, P. 219 – 232. ISSN (печатное издание): 0137-2432
This article is based on study of the tricksters’ tricks played by the heroines of the Russian epos known as bylinas. Variants of bylina plots with female protagonists have been contemplated, taking into consideration the concept by Michel de Certeau of two modes of practices – tactic and strategic – and James Scott’s concept of “the weapons of the weak.” The narrator informs the audience first about the modi operandi under various circumstances, and second about the underlying values governing the choice of this or that modus operandi. Systematic studies of variants of bylina plots confirm the fact that the narrators pay a lot of attention to the personality, appearance and agency of epic heroines. The cunning tricks, daring deceptions, bold choices and exceptional physical fortitude of the heroines surprise the singers of the tales. The activities of female characters are analyzed in the social context. The story-telling is a method of teaching modes and ways of real-life behavior. The bylinas’ singers are rendering their personal experience and knowledge in fictionalized form.