Warner, Elizabeth (Ann) 1940-

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WARNER, Elizabeth (Ann) 1940-


Born 1940. Education: M.A., Ph.D.


Office—c/o University of Durham School of Modern Languages, Elvet Riverside, New Elvet, Durham DH1 3JT, England.


University of Durham, professor of Russian, head of Department of Slavonic Studies, director of Ustinov Institute for the Study of Central and Eastern Europe, emerita professor of Russian.


Sir James Knott Fellowship, University of Durham Department of Russian, 1995.


The Russian Folk Theatre ("Slavistic Printings and Reprintings" series, number 104), Mouton (The Hague, Netherlands), 1977.

Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian

Mythology, illustrated by Alexander Koshkin (part of "Schocken World Mythology" series), Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Evgenii S. Kustovskii) Russian Traditional Folk Song (with sound recording), Hull University Press (Hull, England), 1990.

Russian Myths (part of "The Legendary Past" series), University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2002.


A longtime professor of Russian at England's Durham University, Elizabeth Warner is the author of many scholarly articles as well as four books. Her first book deals with the Russian folk theater. In her second she turns to the subject of Russian folk music. Russian Traditional Folk Song is divided into three parts and includes a cassette sound recording. The book has two essays, the first "Some Distinguishing Musical Features of Russian Folk Song," written by Warner's coauthor, the Russian ethnomusicologist Evgennii S. Kustovskii, and the second, "The Russian Folk Song and Village Life," written by Warner. A third section of the book contains the text of the twenty-seven songs in the sound recording, transcribed in Russian by Kustovskii and translated, with commentaries, by Warner. The songs are divided into two main categories—ritual songs and nonritual songs—and then arranged by genre, such as Calendar Songs, Wedding Songs and Laments, and Keening.

Margarita Mazo, in a review of the book for Ethnomusicology, pointed out the absence of a discussion and examples of Russian epic songs. Nor are folksongs that have been created since the eighteenth century included in the work. About this omission, Mazo commented, "I still think that the notion that Russian folksong in its wholeness can be presented through old village songs exclusively is symptomatic of a negative attitude towards processes in real life." Still, Mazo praised the work as "a much awaited and welcome endeavor" and described Kustovskii's selection of songs for the recording as "a parade of gems." In a review for Choice, M. Forry commented that musicology specialists "will be disappointed with the lack of musical detail and sociohistorical context" and noted that the sound recording was the book's strongest feature. Mazo found Warner's "choice of topics and research for discussion … very effective" and the book "a credible source of ethnographic information in an area where so little is available for those who do not speak the language." Mazo also remarked that the cassette is "simply indispensable for anyone interested in Russian culture."

Warner's third book is Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology. Illustrated in black and white and color by Alexander Koshkin, the book contains peasant stories of supernatural encounters (bylichkas), tales of wonder (skazkas), and accounts of ancient heroes (bylinas). It includes tales of the witch Baba Yaga, Prince Ivan, the Firebird, Koshchei the Deathless, Vasilisa, and many more, from the traditional Afanas'ev and Potebnya collections, among others. Warner has also included a discussion of the historical and social background within which these tales developed, from Pagan times. She has added an appendix with the origins of ancient symbols and their relation to the Russian alphabet.

Libby K. White, in a review of Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds for School Library Journal, called it "memorable" and described the illustrations as "exquisite," "intelligent," and "witty." However, she thought the dense text made for "a monotonous, uninviting appearance." Denise A. Anton, also reviewing the book for School Library Journal, found the stories "well-researched" and the drawings "luxurious in eerie detail." Michael Dirda, in a review for Book World, praised the illustrations, saying they "dazzle with their animal vitality." He said the book is "Very Russian yes, but universal too." Hazel Rochman, of Booklist, called the book "an excellent resource" for those studying Russian history and culture.

Warner's 2002 book is Russian Myths, which explores the ancient, pre-Christian Russian beliefs in gods and goddesses of the natural world, witchcraft, and the cult of the dead, some of which have survived into modern times. She uses narratives, legends, songs, folk religion, and folktales—what the University of Texas Press called "a rich variety of sources"—to place Russian myths into the context of world mythology. Although Katherine Kaigler-Koenig, writing in Library Journal, wrote that she thought a glossary would have helped readers keep track of the many Russian terms, she found the book "invaluable to understanding the primary sources."



Booklist, May 15, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology, p. 1581.

Book World (Washington Post), January 12, 1986, Michael Dirda, "Of Time Travel, Poetry, Cossacks, and Boats," p. 8.

Choice, April, 1991, M. Forry, review of Russian Traditional Folk Song, p. 1321.

Ethnomusicology, fall, 1992, Margarita Mazo, review of Russian Traditional Folk Song, pp. 429-432.

Folklore, December, 2003, W. F. Ryan, review of Russian Myths, p. 440.

Library Journal, October 1, 2002, Katherine Kaigler-Koenig, review of Russian Myths, p. 106.

School Library Journal, September, 1986, Denise A. Anton, review of Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology, p. 147; May, 1996, Libby K. White, review of Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology, p. 144.


University of Durham Web site,http://www.dur.ac.uk/ (September 14, 2003), "Department of Russian, Research Report 1995"; (July 13, 1998), "The Ustinov Route to Opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe"; (September 14, 2003), "Professors Emeriti."*