Long, Long Tales from the Russian North
Publication Year: 2013
This volume of folktales from the Far North of European Russia features seventeen works by five narrators of the Russian tale, all recorded in the twentieth century. The tales, distinguished by their extraordinary length and by the manner in which they were commonly told, appear to have flourished only in the twentieth century and only in Russian Karelia.Although the tales are easily recognized as wondertales, or fairy tales, their treatment of the traditional matter is anything but usual. In these tales one encounters such topics as regicide, matricide, patricide, fratricide, premarital relations between the sexes and more, all related in the typical manner of the Russian folktale. The narrators were not educated beyond a rudimentary level. All were middle-aged or older, and all were men. Crew members of a fishing or hunting vessel plying the White Sea or lumberjacks or trappers in the vast northern forests, they frequently began the narration of a tale in an evening, then broke off at an appropriate moment and continued at a subsequent gathering. Such tales were thus told serially. Given their length, their thematic and narrative complexity, and their stylistic proficiency, one might even refer to them as orally delivered Russian short stories or novellas
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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This volume contains seventeen folk tales from the Russian North that have never before appeared in English. Unlike tales in my The Complete Russian Folktale, these tales were selected because they are outstanding examples of a genre—what I have elsewhere termed serial tales1—largely neglected in the scholarship of the Russian folktale. The tales were pub-...
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The seventeen tales presented in this volume are arranged according to the geographic locales where their narrators lived: Korguev and Niko-nov were from the Pomor’e region of Russian Karelia, the Dmitrievs and Kabrenov from the Pudozh region. A brief notation at the end of each translation gives the Aarne-Thompson (A-T) number, which is the same ...
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The folktales in this volume grew out of my The Complete Russian Folktale,published 1999–2006. In that series and in the subsequent Anthology of Russian Folktales, I included some tales that seemed typical Russian folk-tales except for one thing: They were inordinately long. Further research uncovered a considerable number of these long tales, which are of suf-...
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1. Dawn Lad
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived and dwelt a mer-chant, and in the evening his son was born, and they gave him the name Evening Lad, and he was the oldest. And then a second one was born, at midnight, so they gave him the name Midnight Lad. The third was born at dawn as it were, and they gave him the name Dawn Lad. So these boys ...
2. Elena the Beautiful
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So in no certain tsardom, in no certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar. The tsar had three sons. The oldest was Vasilii, the middle one Fedor, and the youngest, as is always the case in stories, was Ivan. (Without an Ivan a tale rarely exists.) So when these sons were already grown up, the “Now, my young sons, my dear ones, do you know what? Before I ...
3. Island of Gold
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived and dwelt a well-to-do peasant, and for a long time he had had no children. Later he and his wife were no longer young, and a son was born to them. When the son was born, at first the mother loved him very much and cared for him and caressed him, and brought him up as best possible. And the father ...
4. Ivan Sosnovich
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived a peasant, and of course he lived neither in riches nor in poverty, but just in the middle. And he lived—the two of them, he and his old woman. And so they lived well, only they had no children. One fine day, the old woman said, “Listen, old man, we have no children, and there won’t be any. But I’ve heard that in ...
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar. He had a son and a daughter. The daughter was called Maria, and the son, of course, Ivan (like all other Ivans—just so!). So of course they came of age. And the father said to his son, “Here’s what, my son,” he said, “I feel within myself that I will soon die. You have to get married and occupy the throne.”...
6. Son of a Bitch
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived and dwelt this tsar. He had no children. And he pondered deeply: “To whom shall I hand over the inheritance? I’m already quite old, and I have no children.” And so then he gave this order: “If there be found any old man or old woman who could fix it so that there should be born to me a son or daughter, or some other ...
7. The Airplane: (How an Airplane in a Room Carried Off the Tsar’s Son)
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In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there dwelt and lived a tsar. And in this land there was a goldsmith who repaired gold watches and fixed all sorts of other gold objects. Now, once he was walking about the city, and he met a certain fitter, and, of course, this fitter bumped into him, shoved him, and got him dirty. Of course you know, that fitter wasn’t in the same ...
8. The Peasant’s Son and the Firebird
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Now then, in a certain tsardom, in no certain country, not far away from the tsardom there stood a tree. And in this tree there lived and dwelt a little old man. And this little old man, of course, he was still really fit. Only they didn’t have any children. He kept on hunting. He put out traps, caught birds, and from this he fed himself. And then one fine day, a son was born ...
9. A Prophetic Dream
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In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a merchant. The merchant had three sons. This merchant built a new home. When the home was completely ready, he said to his eldest son, “Go, my son, and spend the first night in this house.” When he was about to set oﬀ, his father said to him, “Take the cock with you.”1 And then he said, “Be sure to tell me ...
10. The Enchanted Tsardom
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There lived and dwelt this Tsar Ondron. And he lived happily and well, rul-ing his country, but he had no children at all. For a long time they begged God to give them a son or a daughter for their comfort, but there were no So then finally, and nonetheless, at the last moment of their lives, a daughter was born. They called this newly born daughter Maria. And so ...
11. (The Rejuvenating Apples)
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Now then, in a certain tsardom, in a certain country, there was a tsar, Brebius. And he had three sons: Vasilii, Grigorii, and Ivan, who was the very youngest. At first the children were small, but then the children began to grow, and the old man began to get old. His health got bad, he was los-ing his eyesight; it was weak. And so once he summoned his children....
12. About a Wife Svetlana
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In no uncertain tsardom, in no uncertain country, but namely in the one in which we live (for example, like here in Avdeevo), there lived and dwelt a tsar, and this tsar had three sons: Nikolai, Fedor, and Ivan. So they lived on and on, and the sons grew up to be big, the tsaritsa died, and the tsar himself became old. But he didn’t know to which son he should leave his ...
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In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, namely in the one in which we live (for example, like here at the depot), there lived and dwelt a tsar. And this tsar issued an edict: Whoever after three years had no children—married folk that is—would be buried in the ground up to the knee. So they lived and lived some more, and they lived through those three years, and the ...
14. Your Friend Liubodei
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There lived this peasant, and he had three sons: Peter, Fedor, and Ivan. Everybody called Ivanushka “the Fool,” Vania the Fool, and that’s all. They lived there, and the sons all grew up. They sowed the spring crop, and the wheat grew well. But somebody in the night started beating, breaking, and trampling it, and they couldn’t figure who was playing such dirty tricks....
15. About a Mighty Warrior, Tsar Peregar, Who Reeked of Drink
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Once he was strolling about the city, throwing a sword up next to the eaves and kicking a ball so that it flew up to the clouds, and he said to himself: “Oh, I can go out with the mighty warriors into the open steppe. I can fight So he had just passed along an open road, when the tsar’s daughter caught sight of him. She was sitting in her chambers. “Oh,” she said, “if ...
16. About an Enchanted Mill
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In a certain tsardom, in a certain country, and in fact in the one in which we live, on a flat place, like on a harrow, about two hundred versts to one side . . . This is no tale; it’s the pre-tale. The tale will be on Saturday after dinner when we eat soft bread and sip sour borsch. Then I’ll tell you the tale.In a certain place there lived an old man with his old woman. They ...
17. Ivan Tsarevich and Koshchei the Deathless
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In a certain tsardom, in a certain country—indeed in the one in which we live—on a flat place like on a harrow, about two hundred versts away, there lived and dwelt a tsar. This tsar had three daughters and a son, Ivan. So then the eldest daughter grew up and took it into her head to go out So they went out into the open steppe to walk, a fierce storm arose, ...
Commentaries to Tales
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...1. Nechaev, 12. SUS 301A + 301B. This type, “Three Underworld Tsardoms,” is one of the most popular in the East Slavic tradition, and it is widely reported from Europe as 2. Nechaev, 7. SUS 3021 + 402. The combination is rare in East Slavic, and SUS does 3. Nechaev, 19. SUS 518 + 560. The first sujet is common throughout the East Slavic territory, as is the second. The combination is not listed in SUS....
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A-T-U: SUS Numbers
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013