The Modern Folklore in Sergei Lukyanenko's "Night Watch"

Provotorova, Valeria
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University of Delaware
In 1998, Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko published what would become one of his most popular Russian fantasy novels, Night Watch, which later resulted in a movie franchise, a video game based on the novel, and translations in various languages, including French, German and English. The massive popularity of the novel in the Post-Soviet era brings it to the forefront of the genre of modern Russian fantasy, and it will surely influence future generations of Russian literature. Arguably the most significant impact of the book lies in its creation of a new genre presenting a modern setting through the lens of one of the oldest and most culturally unique components of Slavic culture - folklore. Each major element of the novel can be compared to those found in folklore, and existing scholarly resources, such as the stories, fairytales, and myths collected by A. N. Afanas’ev, and works that focus on Slavic culture by W. R. S. Ralston and Cherry Gilchrist, help identify subcategories shared by the novel and Slavic folklore as a whole. These resources helped identify three major areas of impact: story format, magical elements, and cultural influence. Story format focuses on the overall story line and overview of content, the second section examines overlapping magical ideas and similarities between supernatural creatures, such as magicians, vampires, and devils, and a third part addresses other minor, but important cultural elements found in both older Slavic societies and Night Watch. The numerous identified parallels indicate that Slavic folklore, myth, and culture clearly influenced the modern novel. In light of this research, Lukyanenko’s work can be viewed as a sort of “modern folklore,” as it contains all of the elements essential to of Slavic fairytales and myths while incorporating contemporary themes and setting.
Foreign Language and Literature , Literature