Nearly 200 characteristic and colorful traditional folk and fairy tales are brought together here in the only comprehensive edition available in English. Of the original 1945 edition, Eudora Welty wrote, "These Russian tales are rambunctious, full-blooded and temperamental. They are tense with action, magical and human, and move in a kind of cyclone speed...These tales are gorgeous."

Translated by Norbert Guterman from the collections of Aleksandr Afanas'ev; Illustrations by Alexander Alexeieff; Folkloristic commentary by Roman Jakobson

"A beautiful book. I recommend it to all readers, young and old, who are interested in the folktale and its unique qualities."--Isaac Bashevis Singer, The New York Times Book Review
ALEKSANDR AFANAS'EV (1826-1871) published his groundbreaking collection of Russian folktales and fairy tales in eight volumes, from 1855 to 1867. His success in polarizing Russian folklore and culture is reflected in the work of writers and composers from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to Igor Stravinsky. He first published Russian Fairy Tales with Pantheon Books in 1945. View titles by Aleksandr Afanas'ev
The Wondrous Wonder, the Marvelous Marvel  13
The Fox Physician  15
The Death of the Cock  17
Misery  20
The Castle of the Fly  25
The Turnip  25
The Hen  26
Riddles  27
The Enchanted Ring  29
Foma and Erema, the Two Brothers  31
The Just Reward  37
Salt  39
The Golden Slipper  40
Emelya the Simpleton  44
The Three Kingdoms  46
The Pike with the Long Teeth  49
The Bad Wife  54
The Miser  56
The Nobleman and the Peasant  58
The Goat Comes Back  59
Ivanushka the Little Fool  61
The Crane and the Heron  62
Aliosha Popovich  66
The Fox Confessor  67
The Bear  72
The Spider  74
Baba Yaga and the Brave Youth  75
Prince Ivan and Princess Martha  76
The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox  79
Baldak Borisievich  86
Know Not  90
The Magic Shirt  97
The Three Pennies  110
The Princess Who Wanted to Solve Riddles  113
A Soldier’s Riddle  115
The Dead Body  117
The Frog Princess  118
The Speedy Messenger  119
Vasilisa, the Priest’s Daughter  124
The Wise Maiden and the Seven Robbers  131
The Mayoress  134
Ivan the Simpleton  141
Father Nicholas and the Thief  142
Burenushka, the Little Red Cow  145
The Jester  146
The Precious Hide  151
The Cross Is Pledged as Security  156
The Daydreamer  159
The Taming of the Shrew  161
Quarrelsome Demyan  161
The Magic Box  163
Bukhtan Bukhtanovich  164
The Fox and the Woodcock  168
The Fox and the Crane  171
The Two Rivers  171
Nodey, the Priest’s Grandson  172
The Poor Wretch  173
The Fiddler in Hell  177
The Old Woman Who Ran Away  180
Two Anecdotes  182
The Singing Tree and the Talking Bird  184
The Ram Who Lost Half His Skin  184
The Fox as Midwife  188
The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock  191
Baba Yaga  192
The Ram, the Cat, and the Twelve Wolves  194
The Fox and the Woodpecker  196
The Snotty Goat  199
Right and Wrong  200
The Potter  202
The Self-Playing Gusla  208
Marco the Rich and Vasily the Luckless  211
Ivanko the Bear’s Son  213
The Secret Ball  221
The Indiscreet Wife  224
The Cheater Cheated  226
The Maiden Tsar  228
Ivan the Cow’s Son  229
The Wolf and the Goat  234
The Wise Little Girl  249
Danilo the Luckless  252
Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Thumb-Sized Man  255
Death of a Miser  262
The Footless Champion and the Handless Champion  268
Old Favors Are Soon Forgotten  269
The Sheep, the Fox, and the Wolf  273
The Brave Laborer  275
Daughter and Stepdaughter  276
The Stubborn Wife  278
Six Anecdotes  280
Snow White and the Fox  280
Foma Berennikov  283
The Peasant, the Bear, and the Fox  284
Good Advice  288
Horns  289
The Armless Maiden  292
Frolka Stay-at-Home  294
The Milk of Wild Beasts  299
How a Husband Weaned His Wife from Fairy Tales  304
The Cock and the Hen  308
The Fox and the Lobster  309
Nikita the Tanner  310
The Wolf  310
The Goat Shedding On One Side  312
The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life  312
Two Out of the Sack  314
The Man Who Did Not Know Fear  321
The Merchant’s Daughter and the Maidservant  325
The Priest’s Laborer  327
The Peasant and the Corpse  332
The Arrant Fool  333
Lutoniushka  334
Barter  336
The Grumbling Old Woman  338
The White Dock  340
If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Listen  342
The Magic Swan Geese  345
Prince Danila Govorila  349
The Wicked Sisters  351
The Princess Who Never Smiled  356
Baba Yaga  360
Jack Frost  363
Husband and Wife  366
Little Sister Fox and the Wolf  369
The Three Kingdoms, Copper, Silver and Golden  371
The Cock and the Hand Mill  375
Tereshichka  387
King Bear  389
Magic  393
The One-Eyed Evil  399
Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka  404
The Seven Semyons  406
The Merchant’s Daughter and the Slanderer  410
The Robbers  415
The Lazy Maiden  419
The Miraculous Pipe  423
The Sea King and Vasilisa the Wise  425
The Fox as Mourner  427
Vasilisa the Beautiful  437
The Bun  439
The Foolish Wolf  447
The Bear, the Dog, and the Cat  450
The Bear and the Cock  453
Dan, Evening, and Midnight  455
Two Ivans, Soldier’s Sons  457
Prince Ivan and Byely Polyanin  463
The Crystal Mountain  475
Koshchey the Deathless  482
The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa  485
Beasts in a Pit  494
The Dog and the Woodpecker  498
Two Kinds of Luck  499
 Go I Know Not Whither, Bring Back I Know Not What  501
The Wise Wife  504
The Goldfish  521
The Golden-Bristled Pig, the Golden-Feathered Duck, and the Golden-Maned Mare  528
The Duck with Golden Eggs  533
Elena the Wise  541
Treasure-Trove  545
Maria Morevna  550
The Soldier and the King  553
The Sorceress  563
Ilya Muromets and the Dragon  567
The Devil Who Was a Potter  569
Clever Answers  576
Dividing the Goose  578
The Feather of Finist, the Bright Falcon  579
The Sun, the Moon, and the Raven  580
The Bladder, the Straw, and the Shoe  588
The Thief  590
The Vampire  593
The Beggar’s Plan  599
Woman’s Way  599
The Foolish German  600
The Enchanted Princess  600
The Raven and the Lobster  612
Pronce Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf  612
Shemiaka the Judge  625
 
Commentary  629
Index  657
RIDDLES
 
Near a highway a peasant was sowing a field. Just then the tsar rode by, stopped near the peasant, and said: “Godspeed, little peasant!” “Thank you, my good man!” (He did not know he was speaking to the tsar.) “Do you earn much profit from this field?” “If the harvest is good, I may make eighty rubles.” “What do you do with this money?” “Twenty rubles go for taxes, twenty go for debts, twenty I give in loans, and twenty I throw out of the window.” “Explain to me, brother, what debts you must pay, to whom you loan money, and why you throw money out the window.” “Supporting my father is paying a debt; feeding my son is lending money; feeding my daughter is throwing it out of the window” “You speak the truth,” said the tsar. He gave the peasant a handful of silver coins, disclosed that he was the tsar, and forbade the man to tell these things to anyone outside of his presence: “No matter who asks you, do not answer!”
 
The tsar came to his capital and summoned his boyars and generals. “Solve this riddle,” he said to them. “On my way I saw a peasant who was sowing a field. I asked him what profit he earned from it and what he did with his money. He answered that if the harvest was good he got eighty rubles, and that he paid out twenty rubles in taxes, twenty for debts, twenty as loans, and twenty he threw out of the window. To him who solves this riddle I will give great rewards and great honors.” The boyars and generals thought and thought but could not solve the riddle. But one boyar hit upon the idea of going to the peasant with whom the tsar had spoken. He gave the peasant a whole pile of silver rubles and asked him: “Tell me the answer to the tsar’s riddle.” The peasant cast a glance at the money, took it, and explained everything to the boyar, who returned to the tsar and repeated the solution to the riddle.
 
The tsar realized that the peasant had not abided by the imperial command, and ordered that he be brought to court. The peasant appeared before the tsar and at once admitted he had told everything to the boyar. “Well, brother, for such an offense I must order you put to death, and you have only yourself to thank for it.” “Your majesty, I am not guilty of any offense, because I told everything to the boyar in your presence.” As he said this, the peasant drew from his pocket a silver ruble with the tsar’s likeness on it, and showed it to the tsar. “You speak the truth,” said the tsar. “This is my person.” And he generously rewarded the peasant and sent him home.

“Rambunctious, full-blooded, and temperamental, these stories are tense with action, magical, and human. They are gorgeous.”
—Eudora Welty
 
“The oral folk tradition in Russia was truly a magic spring [that] flowed inexhaustibly, reviving, consoling, and enlightening all who partook of it . . . These stories have an ingenuity that marks them as uniquely Russian.”
Time
 
 “A beautiful book. I recommend it to all readers, young and old, who are interested in the folktale and its unique qualities.”
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, The New York Times Book Review

“Luckily someone garnered these jewels before they were lost [and] bound them into one volume before they disappeared . . . It is filled with action, magic, and humanity.”
St. Louis Globe-Democrat

About

Nearly 200 characteristic and colorful traditional folk and fairy tales are brought together here in the only comprehensive edition available in English. Of the original 1945 edition, Eudora Welty wrote, "These Russian tales are rambunctious, full-blooded and temperamental. They are tense with action, magical and human, and move in a kind of cyclone speed...These tales are gorgeous."

Translated by Norbert Guterman from the collections of Aleksandr Afanas'ev; Illustrations by Alexander Alexeieff; Folkloristic commentary by Roman Jakobson

"A beautiful book. I recommend it to all readers, young and old, who are interested in the folktale and its unique qualities."--Isaac Bashevis Singer, The New York Times Book Review

Author

ALEKSANDR AFANAS'EV (1826-1871) published his groundbreaking collection of Russian folktales and fairy tales in eight volumes, from 1855 to 1867. His success in polarizing Russian folklore and culture is reflected in the work of writers and composers from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to Igor Stravinsky. He first published Russian Fairy Tales with Pantheon Books in 1945. View titles by Aleksandr Afanas'ev

Table of Contents

The Wondrous Wonder, the Marvelous Marvel  13
The Fox Physician  15
The Death of the Cock  17
Misery  20
The Castle of the Fly  25
The Turnip  25
The Hen  26
Riddles  27
The Enchanted Ring  29
Foma and Erema, the Two Brothers  31
The Just Reward  37
Salt  39
The Golden Slipper  40
Emelya the Simpleton  44
The Three Kingdoms  46
The Pike with the Long Teeth  49
The Bad Wife  54
The Miser  56
The Nobleman and the Peasant  58
The Goat Comes Back  59
Ivanushka the Little Fool  61
The Crane and the Heron  62
Aliosha Popovich  66
The Fox Confessor  67
The Bear  72
The Spider  74
Baba Yaga and the Brave Youth  75
Prince Ivan and Princess Martha  76
The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox  79
Baldak Borisievich  86
Know Not  90
The Magic Shirt  97
The Three Pennies  110
The Princess Who Wanted to Solve Riddles  113
A Soldier’s Riddle  115
The Dead Body  117
The Frog Princess  118
The Speedy Messenger  119
Vasilisa, the Priest’s Daughter  124
The Wise Maiden and the Seven Robbers  131
The Mayoress  134
Ivan the Simpleton  141
Father Nicholas and the Thief  142
Burenushka, the Little Red Cow  145
The Jester  146
The Precious Hide  151
The Cross Is Pledged as Security  156
The Daydreamer  159
The Taming of the Shrew  161
Quarrelsome Demyan  161
The Magic Box  163
Bukhtan Bukhtanovich  164
The Fox and the Woodcock  168
The Fox and the Crane  171
The Two Rivers  171
Nodey, the Priest’s Grandson  172
The Poor Wretch  173
The Fiddler in Hell  177
The Old Woman Who Ran Away  180
Two Anecdotes  182
The Singing Tree and the Talking Bird  184
The Ram Who Lost Half His Skin  184
The Fox as Midwife  188
The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock  191
Baba Yaga  192
The Ram, the Cat, and the Twelve Wolves  194
The Fox and the Woodpecker  196
The Snotty Goat  199
Right and Wrong  200
The Potter  202
The Self-Playing Gusla  208
Marco the Rich and Vasily the Luckless  211
Ivanko the Bear’s Son  213
The Secret Ball  221
The Indiscreet Wife  224
The Cheater Cheated  226
The Maiden Tsar  228
Ivan the Cow’s Son  229
The Wolf and the Goat  234
The Wise Little Girl  249
Danilo the Luckless  252
Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Thumb-Sized Man  255
Death of a Miser  262
The Footless Champion and the Handless Champion  268
Old Favors Are Soon Forgotten  269
The Sheep, the Fox, and the Wolf  273
The Brave Laborer  275
Daughter and Stepdaughter  276
The Stubborn Wife  278
Six Anecdotes  280
Snow White and the Fox  280
Foma Berennikov  283
The Peasant, the Bear, and the Fox  284
Good Advice  288
Horns  289
The Armless Maiden  292
Frolka Stay-at-Home  294
The Milk of Wild Beasts  299
How a Husband Weaned His Wife from Fairy Tales  304
The Cock and the Hen  308
The Fox and the Lobster  309
Nikita the Tanner  310
The Wolf  310
The Goat Shedding On One Side  312
The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life  312
Two Out of the Sack  314
The Man Who Did Not Know Fear  321
The Merchant’s Daughter and the Maidservant  325
The Priest’s Laborer  327
The Peasant and the Corpse  332
The Arrant Fool  333
Lutoniushka  334
Barter  336
The Grumbling Old Woman  338
The White Dock  340
If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Listen  342
The Magic Swan Geese  345
Prince Danila Govorila  349
The Wicked Sisters  351
The Princess Who Never Smiled  356
Baba Yaga  360
Jack Frost  363
Husband and Wife  366
Little Sister Fox and the Wolf  369
The Three Kingdoms, Copper, Silver and Golden  371
The Cock and the Hand Mill  375
Tereshichka  387
King Bear  389
Magic  393
The One-Eyed Evil  399
Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka  404
The Seven Semyons  406
The Merchant’s Daughter and the Slanderer  410
The Robbers  415
The Lazy Maiden  419
The Miraculous Pipe  423
The Sea King and Vasilisa the Wise  425
The Fox as Mourner  427
Vasilisa the Beautiful  437
The Bun  439
The Foolish Wolf  447
The Bear, the Dog, and the Cat  450
The Bear and the Cock  453
Dan, Evening, and Midnight  455
Two Ivans, Soldier’s Sons  457
Prince Ivan and Byely Polyanin  463
The Crystal Mountain  475
Koshchey the Deathless  482
The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa  485
Beasts in a Pit  494
The Dog and the Woodpecker  498
Two Kinds of Luck  499
 Go I Know Not Whither, Bring Back I Know Not What  501
The Wise Wife  504
The Goldfish  521
The Golden-Bristled Pig, the Golden-Feathered Duck, and the Golden-Maned Mare  528
The Duck with Golden Eggs  533
Elena the Wise  541
Treasure-Trove  545
Maria Morevna  550
The Soldier and the King  553
The Sorceress  563
Ilya Muromets and the Dragon  567
The Devil Who Was a Potter  569
Clever Answers  576
Dividing the Goose  578
The Feather of Finist, the Bright Falcon  579
The Sun, the Moon, and the Raven  580
The Bladder, the Straw, and the Shoe  588
The Thief  590
The Vampire  593
The Beggar’s Plan  599
Woman’s Way  599
The Foolish German  600
The Enchanted Princess  600
The Raven and the Lobster  612
Pronce Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf  612
Shemiaka the Judge  625
 
Commentary  629
Index  657

Excerpt

RIDDLES
 
Near a highway a peasant was sowing a field. Just then the tsar rode by, stopped near the peasant, and said: “Godspeed, little peasant!” “Thank you, my good man!” (He did not know he was speaking to the tsar.) “Do you earn much profit from this field?” “If the harvest is good, I may make eighty rubles.” “What do you do with this money?” “Twenty rubles go for taxes, twenty go for debts, twenty I give in loans, and twenty I throw out of the window.” “Explain to me, brother, what debts you must pay, to whom you loan money, and why you throw money out the window.” “Supporting my father is paying a debt; feeding my son is lending money; feeding my daughter is throwing it out of the window” “You speak the truth,” said the tsar. He gave the peasant a handful of silver coins, disclosed that he was the tsar, and forbade the man to tell these things to anyone outside of his presence: “No matter who asks you, do not answer!”
 
The tsar came to his capital and summoned his boyars and generals. “Solve this riddle,” he said to them. “On my way I saw a peasant who was sowing a field. I asked him what profit he earned from it and what he did with his money. He answered that if the harvest was good he got eighty rubles, and that he paid out twenty rubles in taxes, twenty for debts, twenty as loans, and twenty he threw out of the window. To him who solves this riddle I will give great rewards and great honors.” The boyars and generals thought and thought but could not solve the riddle. But one boyar hit upon the idea of going to the peasant with whom the tsar had spoken. He gave the peasant a whole pile of silver rubles and asked him: “Tell me the answer to the tsar’s riddle.” The peasant cast a glance at the money, took it, and explained everything to the boyar, who returned to the tsar and repeated the solution to the riddle.
 
The tsar realized that the peasant had not abided by the imperial command, and ordered that he be brought to court. The peasant appeared before the tsar and at once admitted he had told everything to the boyar. “Well, brother, for such an offense I must order you put to death, and you have only yourself to thank for it.” “Your majesty, I am not guilty of any offense, because I told everything to the boyar in your presence.” As he said this, the peasant drew from his pocket a silver ruble with the tsar’s likeness on it, and showed it to the tsar. “You speak the truth,” said the tsar. “This is my person.” And he generously rewarded the peasant and sent him home.

Praise

“Rambunctious, full-blooded, and temperamental, these stories are tense with action, magical, and human. They are gorgeous.”
—Eudora Welty
 
“The oral folk tradition in Russia was truly a magic spring [that] flowed inexhaustibly, reviving, consoling, and enlightening all who partook of it . . . These stories have an ingenuity that marks them as uniquely Russian.”
Time
 
 “A beautiful book. I recommend it to all readers, young and old, who are interested in the folktale and its unique qualities.”
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, The New York Times Book Review

“Luckily someone garnered these jewels before they were lost [and] bound them into one volume before they disappeared . . . It is filled with action, magic, and humanity.”
St. Louis Globe-Democrat

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