Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Russian Fairy Tales.

As I was searching for things I could write about that interested me, I came across some Russian fairy tales. I was reading through them and noticed several similarities between our fairy tales and the Russian's. For example, we have "A Scarlet Flower" which is extremely like out famous "Beauty and the Beast."

The Scarlet Flower

Once upon a time, there lived a wealthy merchant who loved his three beautiful daughters dearly. One day, this merchant was going on a voyage and asked the maidens what presents they would like. The two elder daughters, who were spoiled and vain, asked for rare and costly treasures. The youngest girl, hardworking and modest, asked only for a little scarlet flower.

He set off on his voyage and eventually found the presents his elder daughters desired. But the scarlet flower was nowhere to be found. On the way home, the merchant�s caravan was attacked by brigands, and the merchant was forced to flee into the deep forest. There he lost his way, and eventually came to a magnificent palace. He knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He crept inside, where he continued to search for whoever owned the palace, but he could find nobody. The exhausted merchant ate some of the fine food that had been set out and went to bed in the palace.

The next morning, he was wandering through the beautiful garden, when he suddenly saw the scarlet flower his favorite daughter had asked for. He reached out and plucked it, and at once a horrible beast appeared.

The beast was outraged that the merchant would steal his flower. For this insult, he cried, the man must die. The terrified merchant begged to see his daughters one last time. The beast replied that he would spare the merchant if one of the girls came willingly to live with him. The merchant had no choice but to agree.

The beast magically transported him to his home, where his caravan had just safely arrived without him. He gave each of his daughters the presents they wanted, but he couldn�t hide his grief. At last, he told his daughters about his fateful meeting with the beast. The two elder sisters declared that the youngest must go, since she was the one who wanted the scarlet flower. The girl agreed that this was just, and dutifully went to the beast�s palace.

There, the girl was given a life of luxury. Unseen servants fulfilled her every wish. Her mysterious host never appeared, but sometimes he would write messages to her in letters of fire on the marble walls. The girl quickly discovered the beast was kind and generous.

After a while, she wanted to hear his real voice, and see his true form. The beast was worried that his rough, wild voice and monstrous appearance would frighten her away, but eventually he allowed himself to be convinced to speak to her and show himself. She was quite frightened at first, because he did indeed look like a horrible monster, but once again she overcame her fear and their bond grew stronger than ever.

One day, the girl had a vision that her father was ill. The beast allowed her to visit her family, but he asked her to return by the end of the third day, lest he die from a broken heart. She agreed, and was transported back to her father�s house.

The girl�s sisters heard her stories and grew jealous of the luxurious life she enjoyed with the beast. Before the end of the third day, they turned back the clocks so that their sister missed the hour when she was supposed to return to the beast.

The girl returned to the beast�s palace to find the place silent as a tomb. She found the beast�s lifeless body in the garden, and burst into tears, crying, �Please, awaken! You are my true beloved!�

Suddenly there was a huge flash of lightning, and the girl found herself in a splendid throne room, seated next to a wondrously handsome young prince. An evil witch had placed a curse on the prince, transforming him into a hideous beast. The spell could only be broken if a maiden fell in love with him in spite of his hideous appearance. The merchant's daughter had freed him when she professed her true love for him. The merchant was overjoyed to give the young couple his blessing, and the good-hearted maiden and the handsome prince lived happily ever after.

Then we have,

The Tale of the Dead Princess
and the Seven Bogatyrs

(a Russian fairy tale similar to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

A long time ago, a widowed tsar married a beautiful but capricious and jealous woman, who became the queen. She had a magic mirror and asked it very often who was the fairest throughout the land. The mirror always answered that the queen was the most beautiful lady of all. But one day when she asked the question, her mirror said that the tsar's daughter from his first marriage was the most beautiful of them all.

The queen became angry and ordered her chambermaid to take the princess into the heart of the woods and abandon her. As the princess wandered alone through the deep woods, she came across an old country house where seven bogatyrs (knights) lived and she was invited to stay with them. One of them even asked for her hand in marriage, but she was already engaged to a brave young man named Prince Elisey.

Meanwhile, the jealous queen asked her magic mirror again who was the fairest throughout the land and the mirror replied again that the princess was the most beautiful one.

The chambermaid was sent out again. Disguised as an old beggar woman, she gave a poisoned apple to the princess as a present. Despite the heroic actions of her little dog, who first barked furiously to warn her and then died by biting into the apple himself, the princess ate the rest of the apple and died. The seven knights carried her in a crystal coffin to a small desert cave.

And this would be the end of the story, but ever since the princess had disappeared her fiancee Prince Elisey had been trying to find her. He went to the four quarters of the earth, asking the sun and moon where she was, but they could not tell him. At last he asked the wind, who gave him directions to the cave where the princess lay.

When Elisey saw his beloved one he broke into sobs, then hit the crystal coffin with all his might, and the princess magically came to life!

When they returned to her home, the queen died of rage and grief when she saw the princess alive and well. The princess and Elisey married and lived happily ever after.

Narrative and translation: Copyright 2001. Tatyana and Andrew Stonebarger. Editor: Donna Richardson.


Beautiful Vassilisa

Which is extremely long but has many elements Cinderella.

Here are some of the websites I found my information on if you are interested in reading them. They are fascinating!


(Above is the link to Beautiful Vassilisa)


-Corrine Garwood

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