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Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov

edited by: Robert Chandler
translated by: Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler, with Sibelan Forrester, Anna Gunin and Olga Meerson
published by: Penguin Classics
pp: 496
ISBN: 978 0 14 144223 5
price: £9.99

Book's frontpage

According to Propp, “The folktale in its whole scope cannot be exhaustively studied by one person. It requires the work of well-prepared scholarly collectives, and it requires a protracted length of time”.
Half the tales here are true oral tales, collected by folklorists during the last two centuries, while the others are reworkings of oral tales by four great Russian writers: Alexander Pushkin, Nadezhda Teffi, Pavel Bazhov and Andrey Platonov.In these tales, young women go on long and difficult quests, wicked stepmothers turn children into geese and tsars ask dangerous riddles, with help or hindrance from magical dolls, cannibal witches, talking skulls, stolen wives, and brothers disguised as wise birds.

Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov is a wonderful read for anyone interested in fairy tales and folklore, or who wants to broaden their horizons with regard to Russian authors. A great introduction to a wealth of Russian authors is provided here, and there is sure to be a tale which will delight everyone in this collection. The stories have been ordered incredibly well, and the collection is easy to dip in and out of. Reading the volume feels both nostalgic and fresh at the same time, and Chandler has achieved just the right balance of both.


Table of contents

Part one
1. Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837)

Part two: The first folktale collections
1. Aleksandr Afanasyev (1826-71)
2. Ivan Khudyakov (1842-76)

Part three: Early twentieth-century collections 
1. Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942)
2. Nikolay Onchukov (1872-1942)
3. Olga Ozarovskaya (1874-1831)
4. Dmitry Zelenin (1878-1954)

Part four
1. Nadeshda Teffi (1872-1952)

Part five
1. Pavel Bazhov (1879-1950)
Part six: Folktale collection from the Soviet period
1. Erna Pomerantseva (1899-1980)
2. Irina karnaukhova (1901-1959)
3. Fyodor Tunilievich (1910-1979)
4. A.V. Bardin (1888-1962)
5. Dmitry Balashov (1927-2000)
Part seven
1. Andrei Plotonov (1899-1951)

About the author

Robert Chandler is a British poet and translator.


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