Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-11

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Preface

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pp. 12-13

There has long been a need for a complete translation of the greatest Russian folktale collection, that of A. N. Afanas’ev (1826–71). Afanas’ev’s folktales, the result of his own collecting and that of many folklore enthusiasts in Russia—and in a few cases...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 14-15

I first became acquainted with A. N. Afanas’ev’s incomparable collection of folktales more than fifty years ago when I was a student at The Queen’s College, Oxford. Over the years, I worked extensively with the tales in classrooms where I was lecturing university...

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Introduction. A. N. Afanas’ev: His Life and Works

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pp. 16-33

Aleksandr Nikolaevich Afanas’ev was born in the Guberniia (province) of Voronezh, located southeast of Moscow, on 12 July 1826. His father was a minor court official in the small town of Boguchar. His mother died when Aleksandr was an infant, and his...

Glossary

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pp. 34-35

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On Translating Afanas’ev’s Collection of Folktales

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pp. 36-41

This translation of A. N. Af anas’ev’s Narodnye Russkie Skazki is based on the 1984–86 edition, edited by L. G. Barag and N. V. Novikov and published by the academic publishing house Nauka in Moscow. Scrupulously edited and accurately presented in three...

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Little Sister Fox and the Wolf

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pp. 42-54

There lived then an old man and his woman. The old man said to the woman: “Woman, you go bake some pies, and I’ll go after some fish.” He caught a lot of fish and was carrying a whole cart home. Then as he rode along, he saw a vixen curled up like a pastry and lying in the road. The...

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For a Bast Boot, a Hen—For the Hen, a Goose

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pp. 55-55

A fox was walking along the road and found a bast boot. She came to this peasant’s and asked, “Master, let me in to spend the night.” He said, “There’s no room, foxy! It’s crowded.” “But do I need a lot of room? I’ll go on a bench and my tail under the bench.” They let her in to spend...

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The Fox Midwife

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pp. 56-63

There were living and dwelling together a couple of friends, a wolf and a fox. They had this barrel of honey. Now the fox really liked sweets. The friends were lying in their hut, and the fox stealthily knocked with her tail. “Friend, oh friend,” said the wolf. “Someone’s knocking.” “Oh, you...

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The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock

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pp. 64-65

There lived and dwelt a fox and hare. The fox had a little hut of ice, the hare one of bast. Beautiful spring came, and the fox’s hut melted away, while the hare’s remained there as of old. The fox asked the hare to let her in to get warm, and then she chased the hare away. The hare was walking...

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The Fox Confessor

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pp. 66-70

Once a fox wandered about the forest one long autumn night without eating a thing. At daybreak she ran into a village, entered the yard of a peasant, and climbed up onto a roost to the hens. She’d just crept up there and was about to seize a single hen, when the cock decided it was time to...

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The Fox Healer

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pp. 71-72

There lived and dwelt an old man and old woman. The old man planted a head of cabbage in the cellar, and the old woman in an ash heap. The old woman’s cabbage in the ash heap completely withered away, but the old man’s grew and grew, right up to the floor. The old man took an axe and...

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An Old Man Climbs Up to the Sky

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pp. 73-73

There lived this old man and old woman. The old man rolled a single pea around. It fell onto the ground. They searched and searched for it, but couldn’t find it for a week. The week passed, and the old man and old woman saw that the pea had sprouted. They watered it, and the pea grew...

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The Old Man in Heaven

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pp. 74-74

There lived this old man and his woman and they had this hut. Under the table the old man planted a bean, and the woman planted a pea. A hen pecked the pea, but the bean grew right beneath that table. They moved the table, and it grew still higher. They took down the ceiling, then the...

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The Fox as Keener

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pp. 75-76

There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman, and they had a daughter. Once she was eating some beans and dropped one on the ground. The bean grew and grew and grew, right up to the sky. The old man climbed up to the sky. When he got up there, he walked and walked...

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The Peasant, the Bear, and the Fox

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pp. 77-82

A peasant was plowing his field, and a bear came up to him and said, “Peasant, I’m going to bash you in!” “No, don’t touch me; I’m sowing turnips and I’ll just take the roots for myself and give you the tops.” “Agreed,” said the bear, “but if you deceive me, don’t come into my woods again for...

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Old Hospitality Is Soon Forgotten

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pp. 83-84

Once a lone wolf fell into a trap, but he somehow got out and started making his way to some out-of-the-way place. Some hunters saw him and started tracking him. The wolf had to cross the road, and just at that time a peasant was walking along that road from the field with a sack and...

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The Sheep, the Fox, and the Wolf

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pp. 85-85

A peasant’s sheep ran away from the flock. It chanced to meet a fox, and the fox asked it, “Where, cousin, is God taking you?” “Oh, my friend! I was in this peasant’s flock and had no life. Whenever the ram played up, I, just a ewe, was guilty! So I decided to go off wherever my eyes might...

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The Beasts in the Pit

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pp. 86-89

A pig was going to Petersburg to pray to God. She chanced to meet a wolf.
“Pig, oh pig, where are you going?”
“To Petersburg, to pray to God.”
“Take me with you!”...

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The Fox and the Grouse

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pp. 90-90

A fox was running through the forest, and she saw a grouse in the tree and said, “Terentii, Terentii! I’ve just been to town.”
“Boo-boo-boo, Boo-boo-boo. If you were, you were.” “Terentii, Terentii! I got an order!”
“Boo-boo-boo, Boo-boo-boo. If you did, you did...

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The Fox and the Woodpecker

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pp. 91-91

A woodpecker lived and dwelt in an oak. It had woven itself a little nest and laid three eggs and hatched out three chicks. A fox took to visiting it. Knock, knock with its big tail on the damp, old oak:
“Woodpecker, woodpecker! Climb down here from that oak. I have to bend that...

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The Fox and the Crane

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pp. 92-92

A fox and a crane became friends. They were even godparents for the same child!
Then once, the fox decided to entertain the crane, and she went to invite it to be her guest. “Come, my friend, come, my dearest! How well I’ll entertain you!” The crane went to the feast as invited. The fox had boiled...

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Snow Maiden and the Fox

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pp. 93-94

There lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman, and they had this granddaughter, Snow Maiden. All her girl friends got together to go into the forest to pick berries, and they came to invite her to go along with them. For a long time, the old folks wouldn’t agree, but after much begging...

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The Fox and the Crayfish

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pp. 95-95

A fox and a crayfish were standing next to each other and talking. The fox said to the crayfish, “Let’s race.” The crayfish: “Why not, fox, let’s do it!”
They started their race. The moment the fox began running, the crayfish grabbed hold of the fox’s tail. The fox ran to the finish line, but the crayfish didn’t let go. The fox turned around to take a look, and turned her tail. The crayfish let go and said, “I’ve been waiting here for you for some time.”

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The Bun

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pp. 96-97

There lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman. The old man asked, “Bake me a bun, old woman!” “And what would I bake it from? There’s no flour.” “Oh, old woman! Scrape around the barrel, sweep out the bin; maybe you’ll find enough flour.”
The old woman took a feather duster and...

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The Tomcat, the Cock, and the Fox

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pp. 98-102

There lived and dwelt this old man, and he had a tomcat and a cock. The old man went away to the woods to work, the tomcat brought him his food, and the cock remained behind to guard the house. Just then, up came a fox...

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The Tomcat and the Fox

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pp. 103-108

There lived and dwelt this peasant. He had a cat, but here’s the misfortune: It was a loser. The peasant got tired of it. The peasant thought and thought, then took the cat, put it in a sack, tied it up, and carried it into the woods. He got to the woods and tossed it there; let it perish! The tom...

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The Frightened Bear and Wolves

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pp. 109-116

There lived an old man and old woman, and they had a tomcat and a ram. The old woman was separating the cream from the milk to churn butter, and the cat pinched some of it. “Old man,” said the old woman, “things aren’t quite right in our cellar.” “We’ll have to take a look,” the old...

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The Bear, the Fox, the Gadfly,and the Peasant

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pp. 117-118

There lived and dwelt this peasant, and he had a dappled horse. The peasant harnessed it to a cart and set off for the forest to cut wood. He had just got into the forest, when a big bear came up to him. He greeted the peasant and asked, “Tell me, peasant, who dappled your horse? It’s such a...

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The Wolf

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pp. 119-119

The old woman said to the old man, “Oh, what a fine song! Old man, give it a sheep.” The old man gave it to the wolf, the wolf ate it, and came once more with the same song. And this went on until such time as he had eaten the sheep, the stallion, the calf, and the old woman. There was...

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The Sow and the Wolf

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pp. 120-120

There lived this old man, and an old woman lived with him. The old man and the old woman had no son, no daughter. They had for stock just a sharp-snouted sow. And then this sow took to leaving the yard by the back gates. The devil took her, and off to someone else’s strip of land, into...

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The Wolf and the Goat

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pp. 121-123

There lived and dwelt this goat, and it made a hut for itself in the forest and gave birth to children. The goat often went into a forest to search for food. Whenever she would leave, the kids would lock up the hut, and they themselves never went out. The nanny would return, knock on the...

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The Wolf Is a Fool

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pp. 124-127

In this one village there lived and dwelt a peasant and he had a dog. The dog had guarded his house since it was young, but then came difficult old age, and it ceased barking. The master grew tired of the dog. So then he got ready, took a rope, fastened it to the dog’s neck, and led it into the forest...

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The Bear

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pp. 128-129

There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman. They had no children. The old woman said to the old man, “Old man, go get some firewood.” The old man went out after the firewood. He chanced to meet a bear, and the bear said, “Old man, let’s wrestle.” The old man went and chopped off...

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The Bear, the Dog, and the Cat

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pp. 130-132

A peasant lived by himself, and he had a good dog that had grown so old that it ceased to bark and guard the yard and barns. The peasant no longer wanted to feed it with bread, so he chased it away from the yard. The dog went off into the forest and lay down beneath a tree to expire...

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The Goat

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pp. 133-135

A billy goat sat there crying. He’d sent the goat after nuts;
She’d gone off and disappeared. So the billy goat started singing:
There’s no goat with the nuts,
No goat with the red-hot ones!

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A Tale about a Shedding Goat

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pp. 136-137

A goat was near collapse, half its side had it shed! Listen, hear me out! There lived and dwelt this peasant, and he had a hare. So then, this peasant went into the steppe, and there he saw a goat lying there, half its side had it shed, the other half not. The peasant took pity on it, took it, and...

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A Tale about a Certain One-Sided Ram

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pp. 138-139

This one landowner had a lot of livestock. He slaughtered five sheep to make a sheepskin coat of their skins, and he prepared to sew up the coat. He summoned a tailor. ”Well,” he said, “sew me a coat.” The tailor measured and measured, and he saw that he was short half a sheepskin for...

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The Beasts’ Winter Quarters

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pp. 140-141

A bull was walking through the forest. He chanced to meet a ram. “Where are you going, ram?” asked the bull. “I’m searching for summer from winter,” said the ram. “Come with me!” So they set off together, and along the way they encountered a sow. “Where are you going, sow?” asked...

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The Bear and the Cock

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pp. 142-142

This old man had a fool for a son. The son asked his father to let him get married.
“If you won’t marry me off, I’ll smash up the stove.”
“How can I marry you off? We’ve no money.”
“There’s no money, but there’s the ox. Sell it for slaughter...

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The Dog and the Woodpecker

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pp. 143-145

This peasant and his wife lived on, not knowing what work was. They had a dog, and the dog fed them and kept them in drink. But time passed, and the dog got old. How could it feed the peasant and his wife? It was itself nearly perishing from hunger. “Listen, old man,” said the wife, “take...

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The Cock and the Hen

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pp. 146-146

This hen and cock lived together, and they once went into the forest after nuts. They came to a nut tree. The cock got into the nut tree to pluck the nuts and left the hen on the ground to gather them up. So then the cock tossed down a nut, and it caught the hen in the eye and knocked out her...

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The Death of the Cock

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pp. 147-148

A hen and cock were walking about a priest’s threshing floor. The cock choked on a bean. The hen took pity and went to a stream to ask for some water. The stream said, “Go to the linden, ask for a leaf, and then I’ll give you some water. “Linden, linden! Give me a leaf. I’ll take the leaf to the...

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The Hen

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pp. 149-151

There lived this old man and old woman, and they had this Tatar hen. She laid an egg in a back corner beneath a window. It was colorful, sharp, resilient, wise! She laid it on a shelf. A little mouse was walking by and nudged it with its little tail. The shelf fell, the egg broke. The old...

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The Crane and the Heron

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pp. 152-152

An owl was flying—a cheerful soul. So it flew and flew about and perched, twitched its tail about, looked from side to side, and then flew on. It flew and flew about and perched, twitched its tail about, looked from side to side . . . . That’s the pre-tale; the tale’s yet to come...

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The Crow and the Lobster

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pp. 153-153

A crow was flying over and above the sea, and it looked and saw this lobster crawling along. It grabbed that lobster and carried it off to the forest, where it could settle down on some branch or other and have a tasty bite to eat. The lobster saw that it was to perish and said to the crow, “Hey...

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The Eagle and the Crow

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pp. 154-154

There lived and dwelt in Rus this crow with nannies and nurses, with little children, with near neighbors. The swan-geese came and laid some eggs, and the crow began harassing them. It started stealing their eggs.
A night owl chanced to fly past. It saw that Crow was harassing the...

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The Gold Fish

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pp. 155-157

In the sea, in the ocean, on the island Buian, there stood a tiny, tumbledown hut. In this hut there lived an old man and old woman. They lived in great poverty. The old man made a net and started going out to sea to catch fish. By this means he managed to obtain just enough to feed them...

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The Greedy Old Woman

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pp. 158-159

There lived an old man and an old woman. Once he went into the forest to chop wood. He sought out an old tree, raised his axe and was about to chop. The tree said to him, “Don’t chop me, peasant! Whatever you need, I’ll do it all.” “Well, make me rich.” “All right, go home and you will have...

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The Tale of Ersh Ershovich, Bristleback’s Son

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pp. 160-172

Restless little Ruff, pernicious little Ruff, wrangled his way onto a sledge with his little babies. He went to the River Kama, from the River Kama to the River Trosna, from the River Trosna to Lake Kuben, from Lake Kuben to Lake Rostov, and in this lake he asked to spend just one night...

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A Story about a Toothsome Pike

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pp. 173-174

On the eve of St. John’s Day [ June 23–JVH], pike was born in the Sheksna, and so large-toothed was this fish! God preserve us! The bream, the perch, the sticklebacks all gathered to take a look at pike and were amazed at such a marvel. At that time the waters of the Sheksna were...

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The Tower of the Fly

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pp. 175-178

A fly built a tower. A creepy louse came:
“Who’s that there in this tower? Who’s that there in this tall one?”
“A woeful fly, and who are you?”
“I’m a creepy louse.”
Then up came a hopping flea:
“Who’s that there in this tower? Who’s that there in this tall...

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The Spider

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pp. 179-180

Years ago, in years past, one beautiful spring, in warm summer there occurred such a scandal, such a burden to the earth: Mosquitoes and midges swarmed, biting people, drawing warm blood. A spider appeared, a brave and good lad, and he began shaking his legs and weaving his webs...

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The Bubble, the Straw, and the Bast Boot

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pp. 181-181

There lived and dwelt a bubble, a straw, and a bast boot. They all went into the woods to cut firewood. They came to a river and didn’t know how to cross that river. The boot said to the bubble, “Bubble, let’s swim across on you!” “No, boot, it would be better for the straw to stretch from...

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The Turnip

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pp. 182-182

The old man sowed some turnips. He went to pull up a turnip. He grabbed hold of it. He pulled and pulled, but he couldn’t pull it out. The old man summoned the old woman. The old woman grabbed hold of the old man, the old man grabbed the turnip. They pulled and pulled but...

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Mushrooms

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pp. 183-183

A mushroom conceived it. The pine mushroom, sitting beneath a little oak, gazing at all the other mushrooms, decided it. It gave the orders: “Come here, you boletes, come and fight me!”
But the boletes refused: “We are noble lady mushrooms. We will not go to war...

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Frost, Sun, and Wind

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pp. 184-184

Once a man met Sun, Frost, and Wind along the road. And having encountered them, he gave them Christian greetings.¹ “And to whom are you giving this greeting?” Sun asked. “Not to me, for I’m not shining.” And then Frost said, “Perhaps to me and not you, because he’s not afraid...

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Sun, Moon, and Raven Ravenson

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pp. 185-186

There lived and dwelt an old man and an old woman, and they had three daughters. The old man went to the barn to fetch some meal. He took the meal and set off for his house, but in the bag there was a little hole. The meal dribbled out of the bag, and just kept on flowing out. He came...

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The Witch and the Sun’s Sister

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pp. 187-189

In a certain tsardom, in a far off land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa, and they had a son, Ivan Tsarevich, who had been unable to speak since birth. When he was twelve years old, he once went to the stables to his favorite groom. That groom always told him tales, and so...

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The Vazuza and the Volga

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pp. 190-190

The Volga and the Vazuza had long argued: Which one was cleverer, stronger, and more worthy of the greater honor? They argued and argued, but neither could out-argue the other, and so they decided on this step: “Let’s both lie down to sleep, and the one who first wakes up and...

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Frost

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pp. 191-196

There lived an old man and an old woman. They had three daughters. The old woman didn’t like the eldest daughter (she was a stepdaughter), often reproving her, waking her early, and making her do all the work. The girl fed and watered the stock, carried the wood and water into the...

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The Old Woman Who Griped

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pp. 197-198

Day and night the old woman griped; you’d have to wonder whether her tongue didn’t ache! And it was always about her stepdaughter: She wasn’t clever, she wasn’t refined! Coming and going, standing and sitting—nothing was right, always just short of acceptable. From morning to evening...

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Daughter and Stepdaughter

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pp. 199-200

A peasant widower with a daughter married a widow, also with a daughter, and so they had these two stepdaughters. The stepmother was filled with hate and gave no rest to the old man: “Take your daughter into the forest to a lean-to! She’ll spin more there.” What was to be done? The...

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The Mare’s Head

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pp. 201-202

So then there lived this old man and his wife, and they had two daughters: One was the old man’s, the other his wife’s. Now, the old man’s wife was the kind that always got up early and did everything, but it was as if his wife’s daughter did nothing at all! So once the woman sent them spinning...

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Little Bitty Khavroshechka

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pp. 203-204

You know that on earth there are good people and those who are not so good, and there are those who do not fear God and who know no shame. To the latter belonged Little Bitty Khavroshechka. She had been left an orphan when small. Some people took her in, fed her, and did not let...

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The Little Red Cow

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pp. 205-207

In no certain tsardom, in no certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa, and they had just one daughter, Maria Tsarevna. But when the tsaritsa died, the tsar took another wife, Yagishna.¹ Yagishna gave birth to two daughters. One had two eyes, but the second three. Her...

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Baba Yaga

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pp. 208-211

There lived and dwelt a man and his wife, and they brought a daughter into the world. Then the wife died. The man married another, and they in turn had a daughter. So then the wife didn’t like her stepdaughter; she gave her no peace. Our peasant thought and thought, and took his...

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Vasilisa the Beautiful

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pp. 212-218

In a certain tsardom, there lived and dwelt a merchant. He’d been married for twelve years and only had the one daughter, Vasilisa the Beautiful. When her mother died, the little girl was eight years old. As she was dying, the merchant’s wife called her daughter to her, took a doll from under...

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Baba Yaga and the Midget

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pp. 219-221

There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman. They had no children. No matter what they did, however much they prayed to God, the old woman still bore no child. Once the old man went into the woods hunting for mushrooms. Along the way, he encountered an old grandfather...

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Baba Yaga and the Nimble Youth

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pp. 222-225

There lived this tomcat, a sparrow, and the third was a nimble youth. The cat and sparrow went off to cut wood, and they said to the nimble youth, “Keep care of the house and watch out. If that Baba Yaga comes and starts to count the spoons, don’t say anything. Be quiet!” “All right...

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Ivashko and the Witch

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pp. 226-235

There lived this old man and his woman, and they had one son, Ivashechko. They loved him so much that you can’t even describe it. So then, once Ivashechko asked his father and mother,
“Let me go, I’d like to go fishing...

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Tereshechka

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pp. 236-238

This old man and old woman had a miserable life! They’d lived all their lives, but still had no children. In their youth they’d somehow managed, but they’d grown old, and there was no one to give them even a drink, so they grieved and wept. So they made a chunk of wood, wrapped it...

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The Swan-Geese

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pp. 239-240

There lived an old man and old woman. They had a daughter and a little son. “Daughter, Daughter!” said the mother. “We’re going out to work. We’ll bring you a bun, sew you a dress, and buy you a kerchief. But be clever, and take care of your little brother. Don’t go out of the yard.” The...

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Prince Danila Govorila

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pp. 241-244

There lived and dwelt this old princess. She had a grown son and daughter, and so stocky, so fine they were! This wicked witch really disliked them: “How could I destroy them. How could I bring them to a bad end?” She thought and thought about it. So she turned herself into a fox...

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The Truth and the Lie

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pp. 245-258

Well, you see, it was just such an affair, and I’ll tell you to your health. And not to the anger of your grace, but just to put it into words, to talk as we now are with you, as to how two of our brethren got overheated between themselves, two poor, ever so poor peasants. One of them lived...

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The Prince and His Uncle

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pp. 259-267

There lived and dwelt this king, and he had an adolescent son. The prince was in every way good, good-looking and of a good disposition. But the father wasn’t so. Greed kept tormenting him to get more work out of his peasants and take in more rents. Once, he saw this old man with some...

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Ivan Tsarevich and Marfa Tsarevna

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pp. 268-272

This one tsar had for many years kept this little man in prison—iron arms, cast iron head, himself copper, and very clever, but somehow pompous. The son to the tsar, Ivan Tsarevich, was little, but he would walk by the prison. The old man called the tsarevich over and begged him, “Give...

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The Little Copper Man

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pp. 273-277

There was this landlord, and he had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool.
It happened that someone was trampling the landlord’s wheat, and one day a good acre was eaten. The first night the landlord sent his oldest son to stand watch. He went there, sat and sat, and just before daybreak...

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The Merchant’s Daughter and Her Maid

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pp. 278-281

There lived this really rich merchant. He had this one daughter, who was good-looking, really beautiful! This merchant took his goods to various provinces, and he once went to this tsardom to a tsar, and he brought him these fine goods and began giving them to him. The tsar had this...

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The Three Tsardoms—Copper, Silver, and Gold

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pp. 282-299

There used to be, there once lived—there lived and dwelt an old man and an old woman. They had three sons: Yegorushko the Unexpected, Misha the Pigeon-toed, and the third was Ivashko, who loved to lie behind the stove. So their father and mother decided to marry them off. They...

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Frolka the Dropout

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pp. 300-302

There lived and dwelt this tsar, and he had three daughters. And such beauties they were that you can’t describe them in a tale, or depict them with a pen. They loved to go strolling about in their garden of an evening, and that garden was large and glorious. But a Black Sea serpent took to...

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The Norka Beast

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pp. 303-307

There lived this tsar and tsaritsa. They had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. The tsar had this animal park, in which he kept a great many various animals. There was one great beast that invaded this animal park, and they called it Norka. And it truly did a lot of damage....

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Rollingpea

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pp. 308-319

There lived this man and his wife, and they had two sons and a daughter. Their father sent the sons to plow. They said, “Who will bring us dinner?” Their father said, “The girl.” But the girl said, “I don’t know the way.” The brothers said, “When you go to the top of the hill, there’ll be three roads...

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Ivan Popialov

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pp. 320-322

Once there lived this old man and his wife, and they had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. He was named Ivan and nicknamed Popialov, Ivan of the Ashes. For twelve years he lay among the ashes of the stove, but then later he got up from the ashes and shook himself such...

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Storm-Bogatyr, Ivan the Cow’s Son

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pp. 323-333

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a king with his queen. They had no children, though they had lived together for up to ten years. So then the tsar sent out word to all the tsars, to all the cities, to all peoples, even to the common folk: Who was there who could...

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Ivan the Bull’s Son

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pp. 334-342

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa. They had no children. They prayed to God to give them a child to gaze upon in youth and in old age to feed them. They prayed, lay down to sleep, and fell into a deep slumber...

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Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Manthe Size of a Finger with MoustachesSeven Versts Long

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pp. 343-347

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar. In this tsar’s courtyard, there stood a column, and on this column were three rings: one gold, one silver, and the third copper. One night the tsar dreamed this dream: It was as if a horse was tied to a golden ring, and every...

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Ivan Suchenko and the Belyi Polianin

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pp. 348-355

This tale begins from the gray, from the brown, from the magic steed. On the sea, on the ocean, on the island of Buian, there stands a roasted ox, and next to it a strung bow. And three lads were walking, and they dropped in and breakfasted and then went on farther, boasting away and...

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Dawn, Evening, and Midnight

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pp. 356-359

In a certain country there lived and dwelt a king. He had three daughters of indescribable beauty. The king guarded them more than his own eyes. He built underground chambers and put them there like birds in a cage, so that no wild winds would blow on them, nor would the bright sun...

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The Bear, Moustaches, Mountain Man, and Oakman Bogatyrs

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pp. 360-368

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman. They had no children. Once, the old man said, “Old woman, go and buy us a turnip; we’ll eat it for dinner.” The old woman went off, bought two turnips. One of them she sort of gnawed on, and...

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Nodei, the Priest’s Grandson

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pp. 369-372

In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived a priest. The priest was a widower, and this priest had a single daughter of his own. You see, Brother, he watched over her, and whenever he went out somewhere in the parish, he always brought her presents. Now, these parishioners knew...

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The Flying Ship

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pp. 373-377

There were this old man and his wife, and they had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. The woman loved the first two and kept them dressed cleanly, but the third was always dressed poorly and walked about only in a dirty black shirt. They heard that a paper had...

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The Seven Simeons

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pp. 378-385

In this one place, a peasant had seven sons—seven Simeons—each one more of a lad than the others, but also such lazybones, idlers, that you couldn’t find such in the whole world. They did nothing. Their father agonized and agonized over them, and led them to the tsar. He brought...

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Nikita the Tanner

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pp. 386-387

A serpent appeared around Kiev, and he collected from the people a not insignificant tribute: from each household a beautiful maiden. He'd then take the maiden and eat her. The turn of the tsar's daughter came to go to that serpent. The serpent grabbed the tsarevna and dragged her off to his...

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The Serpent and the Gypsy

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pp. 388-390

In olden times, there existed this one village, and a serpent took to flying to this village to devour people. He ate them all up, and there remained but one peasant. So then this gypsy came there, and the whole thing took place late one evening. Wherever he looked in—it was empty! He finally...

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The Hired Hand

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pp. 391-394

There lived and dwelt this peasant. He had three sons. The oldest son went off to hire on as a laborer. He went to the town and hired out to a merchant, and that merchant was ever so tight and stern! He kept repeating the same words: “When the cock crows, hired man get up and get to...

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Shabarsha

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pp. 395-397

So-ooo, shall I amuse you with a little tale? It’s a tale miraculous. In it are wondrous wonders, miraculous miracles, and the laborer Shabarsha, a rogue among rogues. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound! So this Shabarsha set off to find work as a laborer, and times were bad. There...

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Ivan the Bear’s Son

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pp. 398-400

In this certain village, there lived and dwelt a rich peasant and his wife. Once she went off into the forest after pepper caps [Agaricus piperatus– JVH], got lost, and wandered into a bear den. The bear took her for his own, and after a long or short time, he had a son with her—down to the...

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A Soldier Rescues a Tsarevna

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pp. 401-405

A soldier was posted to distant borders. He served his prescribed term, received a clear discharge, and went back to his homeland. He walked through many lands, through many countries. He came to a capital city and stopped at the dwelling of a poor old woman. He began questioning...

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A Fugitive Soldier and the Devil

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pp. 406-409

A soldier requested leave, gathered up his kit, and set off. He walked and walked, but nowhere did he see any water with which he might moisten his hardtack on the road along the way, and his stomach was long since empty. There was nothing else to be done. He trudged on. He looked...

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The Two Ivans, a Soldier’s Sons

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pp. 410-419

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a peasant. The time came, and he was conscripted into the army. He was leaving his pregnant wife. He spoke his farewells, saying, “Look here, Wife, live well, don’t make fun of kind folks, don’t ruin the household, and wait for...

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Koshchei the Deathless

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pp. 420-439

In a certain tsardom, in a certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar. And this tsar had three sons, all of whom had come of age. Only suddenly, Kosh the Deathless carried off their mother. The oldest son asked his father’s blessing to go in search of the mother. The father blessed...

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Mar’ia Morevna

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pp. 440-446

In a certain tsardom in a certain country, there lived and dwelt Ivan Tsarevich, and he had three sisters: Mar’ia Tsarevna, Olga Tsarevna, and the third was Anna Tsarevna. Their father and mother had died. As they were dying, they said to their son, “Whoever first comes courting your...

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Fedor Tugarin and Anastasia the Beautiful

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pp. 447-451

There lived this tsar and tsaritsa, and they had this one son by the name of Fedor, nicknamed Tugarin, and they had three daughters. No matter how little or how richly they lived, they were dying, and they instructed their son that he should marry his sisters to the first suitors they had...

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Ivan Tsarevich and the Belyi Polianin

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pp. 452-457

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt this tsar, and the tsar had three daughters and one son, Ivan Tsarevich. The tsar grew old and died, and Ivan Tsarevich received the crown. When the neighboring kings found out about this, they immediately gathered innumerable...

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The Crystal Mountain

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pp. 458-460

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar, and this tsar had three sons. So, then the children said to him, “Gracious Sovereign and Father! Bless us, we wish to go out hunting.” Their father blessed them, and they rode off in various directions. The youngest one...

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Bukhtan Bukhtanovich

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pp. 461-463

In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there had long lived a certain Bukhtan Bukhtanovich. This Bukhtan Bukhtanovich had raised up a stove on pillars in the middle of the steppe. He would lie on this stove propped up by his elbow in cockroach milk. Once a fox came to him and...

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Kozma Quickrich

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pp. 464-467

There lived and dwelt Kuzenka, all by himself in a dark forest. He had a poor dwelling, and one cock and five hens. A fox took to visiting Kuzenka. Once he went off hunting, and he was no sooner out of the house, and the fox was there! She ran in, killed one hen, roasted it, and ate it...

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Emelia the Fool

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pp. 468-477

This was all in some village: There lived this peasant, and he had three sons, and two were clever, but the third was a fool whom they called Emelia. And as their father had lived a long time, he entered into deep old age, and he summoned his sons to him and said to them, “My dear...

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At the Pike’s Command

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pp. 478-481

There lived and dwelt this poor peasant. No matter how he labored, no matter how he worked, he had nothing. “Ach,” he thought to himself, “mine is a bitter fate! Every day I beat myself up with my farming, and just look—I’m going to have to die of starvation. And my neighbor lies...

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The Tale about Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf

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pp. 482-491

Once there was in a certain tsardom, in a certain land, well, there lived and dwelt this tsar by the name of Vyslav Andronovich. He had three sons, tsareviches: The first was Dmitrii Tsarevich, the second Vasilii Tsarevich, and the third Ivan Tsarevich. This Tsar Vyslav Andronovich had...

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The Firebird and Vasilisa Tsarevna

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pp. 492-498

In a certain tsardom beyond the thrice-nine land, in the thrice-ten country, there lived and dwelt a strong and powerful tsar. This tsar had a young man and shooter, and this young man and shooter had a bogatyr’s horse. Once the shooter set off on his bogatyr’s horse to the forest to hunt. He...

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A Tale about the Brave Lad, the Rejuvenating Apples, and the Living Water

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pp. 499-529

This one tsar had grown very old and could no longer see, but he heard that beyond nine ninths in the tenth tsardom there was this garden with rejuvenating apples, and in that garden a well of the living water. If the old man were to eat an apple, he would become young, and if a blind man...

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Commentaries

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pp. 530-549

These commentaries contain several kinds of information: tale number, provenance when known, AT (SUS) number, any pertinent information the Russian editors of Afanas’ev included, and sometimes information I add as to the analogues in other folktale traditions. The specialist will want to consult the Russian source, which is the 1984 Nauka edition by L. G...

Bibliography

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pp. 550-550