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Propp, Vladimir (1895–1970)


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


A Russian formalist most famous for his structural analysis of the Russian folk tale (1968), Propp can be considered an important influence on the development of N arratology , especially with regard to work on plot composition. The impetus behind Propp's work was similar to that of S tructuralism . He was interested in finding the rules which were fundamental to the folk tale. His work on plot was based upon that of Veselovsky, who saw plots as subdivided into “motifs.” Propp expanded this formulation, analyzing them in terms of “roles” which constitute the character types, and the functions by and through which characters act out the story, effectively creating the plot sequence. For Propp all folk tales consisted of variations upon this basic structure. He isolated four basic classes of folk tale: those concerned with success at the end of a long struggle; those concerned with the successful conclusion of a difficult task; those concerned with both of these classes; and those concerned with neither. Such broad divisions are of course open to question, and it is this fact which has proven so fruitful in the structuralist attempt to produce a science of narration. The reason for this is that Propp's analytical method has proven to be most attractive to structuralists precisely because in one crucial particular it matches one of the fundamental premises of structuralism itself. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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