Book Reviews

Book Review – Tales Of The Narts : Ancient Myths and Legends of the Osstesians

Title : Tales Of The Narts
Translated by : Walter May
Edited by : John Colarusso, Tamirlan Salbiev
Publisher : Princeton University Press
Pages : 512
Genre : Mythology

About :

The Nart sagas are to the Caucasus what Greek mythology is to Western civilization. Tales of the Narts presents a wide selection of fascinating tales preserved as a living tradition among the peoples of Ossetia in southern Russia, a region where ethnic identities have been maintained for thousands of years in the face of major cultural upheavals.

A mythical tribe of tall, nomad warriors, the Narts were courageous, bold, and good-hearted. But they were also capable of cruelty, envy, and forceful measures to settle disputes. In this wonderfully vivid and accessible compilation of stories, colorful and exciting heroes, heroines, villains, and monsters pursue their destinies though a series of peculiar exploits, often with the intervention of ancient gods.

The world of the Narts can be as familiar as it is alien, and the tales contain local themes as well as echoes of influence from diverse lands. The ancestors of the Ossetians once roamed freely from eastern Europe to western China, and their myths exhibit striking parallels with ancient Indian, Norse, and Greek myth. The Nart sagas may also have formed a crucial component of the Arthurian cycle.

Tales of the Narts further expands the canon of this precious body of lore and demonstrates the passion and values that shaped the lives of the ancient Ossetians.

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Review :

Reading this beautiful tome of a book was so fulfilling and exciting. I was completely unaware of the Osstesian culture, myths and legends. These are some of the old, forgotten tales that are not hugely known or celebrated, so it almost felt like excavating an old site of historical relevance. Ossetian people, in southern Russia along with other Northern Caucasian people share some epic tales heroes from the bygone eras, ones that had been passed on through generations by word of mouth. These were first set down in writing toward the end of the nineteenth century.

In the Tales of the Narts (north Caucasus), there are mainly four cycles that take shape. However, there are also other independent tales of independent heroes.

One doesn’t have to be a history nerd to love this book. Anybody who loves to discover and learn more of the unknown would find sheer pleasure from these tales. You won’t find many books on this, and that’s why this one is so very special.


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