Long, Long Tales from the Russian North

Long, Long Tales from the Russian North

Translated and edited by Jack V. Haney
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Long, Long Tales from the Russian North
    Book Description:

    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

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-923-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Technical Note
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Glossary
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxvi)

    The folktales in this volume grew out of myThe Complete Russian Folktale, published 1999–2006. In that series and in the subsequentAnthology of Russian Folktales, I included some tales that seemed typical Russian folktales except for one thing: They were inordinately long. Further research uncovered a considerable number of these long tales, which are of sufficient quality and interest to warrant publication in a separate volume.

    The seventeen tales included in this volume are representative of the narrative art of five men, all of them from Karelia in the extreme northwest of European Russia. Three of them (including...


    • 1 DAWN LAD
      (pp. 3-15)
      M. M. Korguev

      In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived and dwelt a merchant, 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 began growing, as it’s said, so quickly and not by the day but by the hour. They were so strong that they didn’t even know how much strength...

      (pp. 16-37)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 tsar summoned all three and announced this thing:

      “Now, my young sons, my dear ones, do you know what? Before I become old, I have a desire to marry you off and look upon your little children as my little grandchildren.”

      The sons answered:...

      (pp. 38-54)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 even more so. When the boy began growing, he learned to read and write, but when he was about thirteen, his mother stopped loving him. And she didn’t love...

      (pp. 55-72)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 this one place you can get children.”

      “Tell me now, Granny, how we are to get hold of children, since we are now old!”

      “Here’s how:...

    • 5 SHKIP
      (pp. 73-90)
      M. M. Korguev

      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.”

      “Well now then, Father, bless me, but who am I supposed to marry?”

      And then he said: “Well, my son, I’ll give you a...

    • 6 SON OF A BITCH
      (pp. 91-108)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 offspring, I shall reward them.” And there was no one to be found in this city who could respond to this notice. He thought even...

    • 7 THE AIRPLANE (How an Airplane in a Room Carried Off the Tsar’s Son)
      (pp. 109-136)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 sort of clothes as the goldsmith. When he had soiled him a little, the goldsmith started cursing: “Why have you mussed me up? You know who I am,...

      (pp. 137-161)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 to them. And he began to grow up, and he learned to read— although only a little. Then, when the son had grown up and...

      (pp. 162-175)
      M. M. Korguev

      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 what you see in your sleep.”

      So that evening he set off to spend the night. The night passed. When he came back, his father questioned...

      (pp. 176-187)
      P. Ia. Nikonov

      There lived and dwelt this Tsar Ondron. And he lived happily and well, ruling 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 newly born children, and they could wait no longer.

      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 this Maria began growing, and she was a beautiful daughter, really fine, such that all the neighbors began envying her beauty....

      (pp. 188-209)
      P. Ia. Nikonov

      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 losing his eyesight; it was weak. And so once he summoned his children.

      “Well, my children,” he said, “I am assigning you a task, to go beyond the thrice-nine seas, beyond the thrice-nine lands, to the thrice-nine tsardom, and fetch for me the living...

      (pp. 210-225)
      M. O. Dmitriev

      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 inheritance. He thought and thought about it and decided: “I’ll give them each an arrow, and they’ll marry the one where their arrows land.”

      So he gave...

    • 13 BUR-KHREBER
      (pp. 226-242)
      M. O. Dmitriev

      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 tsar had not a child born. And he had issued the order, but he had to go to be buried up to the knee himself. He collected a...

      (pp. 243-256)
      M. O. Dmitriev

      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.

      Their father said, “Well, my sons, we will have to hire a watchman in order to keep our harvest.”

      The brothers said, “Why should we hire a watchman? We can stand watch by the night, or...

      (pp. 257-267)
      O. I. Dmitriev

      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 with those mighty warriors, try my strength.”

      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 only that young man would marry me, I would accept him with all my soul.”

      From that very...

      (pp. 268-280)
      F. F. Kabrenov

      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 were rich, but they had no children. They kept a mare, a cow, and a sheep. Once, after they had...

      (pp. 281-296)
      F. F. Kabrenov

      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 walking in the open steppe to see people and to show herself.

      So they went out into the open steppe to walk, a fierce storm arose, seized our maiden, and carried her off no one knows where. All the nannies,...

  8. Commentaries to Tales
    (pp. 297-298)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-300)
    (pp. 301-301)