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Russian Fairy Tales From the Skazki of Polevoi   By: (1854-1909)

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From the Skazki of Polevoi


Illustrated by C. M. Gere

Third Edition


A. H. Bullen 18 Cecil Court, St. Martin's Lane, W.C. 1901


The existence of the Russian Skazki or Märchen was first made generally known to the British Public some twenty years ago by Mr. W. R. S. Ralston in his Russian Folk Tales. That excellent and most engrossing volume was, primarily, a treatise on Slavonic Folk Lore, illustrated with admirable skill and judgment, by stories, mainly selected from the vast collection of Afanasiev, who did for the Russian what Asbjörnsen has done for the Norwegian Folk Tale. A year after the appearance of Mr. Ralston's book, the eminent Russian historian and archæologist, Peter Nikolaevich Polevoi (well known, too, as an able and ardent Shaksperian scholar), selected from the inexhaustible stores of Afanasiev some three dozen of the Skazki most suitable for children, and worked them up into a fairy tale book which was published at St. Petersburg in 1874, under the title of Narodnuiya Russkiya Skazki (Popular Russian Märchen). To manipulate these quaintly vigorous old world stories for nursery purposes was, as may well be imagined, no easy task, but, on the whole, M. Polevoi did his work excellently well, and while softening the crudities and smoothing out the occasional roughness of these charming stories, neither injured their simple texture nor overlaid the original pattern.

It is from the first Russian edition of M. Polevoi's book that the following selection has been made. With the single exception of "Morozko," a variant of which will be familiar to those who know Mr. Ralston's volume, none of these tales has seen the light in an English dress before; for though both Ralston and Polevoi drew, for the most part, from the same copious stock, their purposes were so different that their selections naturally proved to be different also.

As to the merits of these Skazki, they must be left to speak for themselves. It is a significant fact, however, that all those scholars who are equally familiar with the Russian Skazki and the German Märchen, unhesitatingly give the palm, both for fun and fancy, to the former.

R. N. B.


PAGE The Golden Mountain 1 Morozko 8 The Flying Ship 13 The Muzhichek As Big As Your Thumb with Moustaches Seven Versts Long 22 The Story of the Tsarevich Ivan, and of the Harp that Harped Without a Harper 34 The Story of Gore Gorinskoe 56 Go I Know Not Whither Fetch I Know Not What 64 Kuz'ma Skorobogaty 85 The Tsarevna Loveliness Inexhaustible 94 Verlioka 111 The Frog Tsarevna 118 The Two Sons of Ivan the Soldier 127 The Woman Accuser 143 Thomas Berennikov 150 The White Duck 159 The Tale of Little Fool Ivan 165 The Little Feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon 188 The Tale of the Peasant Demyan 200 The Enchanted Ring 202 The Brave Labourer 220 The Sage Damsel 222 The Prophetic Dream 229 Two Out of the Knapsack 245 The Story of Marko the Rich and Vasily the Luckless 252

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