Printer Friendly

The Sources of Pushkin's Fairy Tales.


The question of a literary work's sources is always extremely important. Its significance is not limited to philology, but invariably, if the question is posed properly, it takes on social dimensions. An analysis of sources not only makes it possible to discern a literary work's history and determine how its constituent elements are arranged, but also helps to explain the author's creative origins and points of departure. The more significant the work, the more important and essential the problem of identifying its sources. And in some cases, the problem takes on a paramount significance, for the very fact of an author having turned to a specific source reveals the ways in which he intended to address and did address the creative challenges before him. Seen from this perspective, the question of an author's sources is in fact a question of his social positions.

The problem of source identification has precisely this sort of paramount importance for an analysis of Pushkin's fairy tales. This cycle of tales--written from 1831 to 1834, beginning with "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" and ending with "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel"--occupies a distinguished and special place in Pushkin's oeuvre, as it marks an important turning point in his career. We know from Pushkin's biography that he showed a keen interest in folk poetry, and particularly in fairy tales, during his period of exile in Mikhauovskoe, from 1824 to 1826. A letter from this period to his brother Lev has been preserved, in which he writes: "Do you know how I am spending my days? For most of the day I write notes, then I have a late lunch; after that I go riding, and in the evening I listen to fairy tales--and in this way I am compensating for the shortcomings of my accursed upbringing. What, a delight these fairy tales are! Each one is an epic poem." Arina Rodionovna is usually considered the immediate source of the tales, but in addition Pushkin sought out and listened to singers and storytellers at markets and fairs, and among his papers numerous summaries of the tales he heard have been preserved. The immediate reverberations of this material in his work, however, were not particularly vivid at this time. As examples of such a direct reflection of Pushkin's excursion into the oral tradition, the only things that can be mentioned are the prologue to Ruslan and Liudmila, the first draft of which was written in 1824, and perhaps the ballad "The Bridegroom." The latter claim is only provisional, given that its source has not been fully identified: its plotline is not among those Pushkin wrote down. Beyond these, one might also note a few stray bits of folklore in various other works of this period.

A new period of work inspired by folklore begins in 1831. This time we are dealing not with a random episode or isolated resonances, but with an entire branch, a distinct segment of his oeuvre. In 1831 Pushkin writes "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" and "The Tale of the Priest and His Workman Balda"; in 1833, "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" and "The Tale of the Dead Princess"; in 1834, "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel"; an unfinished tale about a she-bear also dates to the 1830s.

This time Pushkin's ideological motivations and concrete sources were different. The early 1830s as a whole were marked by a profound interest in folklore. The beginning of Pushkin's work on his fairy tales coincided with his well-known competition with Vasily Zhukovsky in 1831, but this was neither an isolated nor a solitary event: in the same year, Nikolai Gogol's Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, a collection imbued with folk legends, appeared; the next year, Vladimir Dai's tales followed, and in 1834, Pyotr Ershov's "The Little Humpbacked Horse." In the early 1830s many people were at work collecting and cataloguing Russian folk songs. Pushkin himself proposed publishing a collection of Russian songs, and Sergei Sobolevsky intensified his efforts to collect folk songbooks. Finally, the history of Russian folklore studies as a science also dates to 1831, meaning the shift, from amateurism and dilettantism to the scholarly collection and treatment of materials that we find in Pyotr Kireevsky's work. Such a conjunction of facts cannot be a matter of chance; at its base are undoubtedly profound social explanations.

In my work on Nikolai Yazykov and Pyotr Kireevsky I have already had occasion to dwell on the distinctive characteristics of this period. (1) I will allow myself a brief summary of the arguments developed in those studies. The late 1820s and early 1830s were marked by an intensive social struggle on the literary front. This struggle reflected decisive shifts in the structure of society and unavoidably focused in terms of ideology on an issue central to the bourgeois consciousness: the problem of nationality or, to use the terminology of the time, the problem of the national character (narodnosf). Nor was this argument purely literary or theoretical: behind the literary judgments and evaluations loomed the question of societal hegemony, of the right of one or another social group to speak for the nation, of the basic elements from which a national literature should be created. This was the meaning of the well-known polemic between lire Moscow Telegraph and The Literary Gazette. This issue formed the basis of the Polevoi brothers' critical articles, where they posed the question of which social class was closest to and most invested in literature, and where this question was answered in favor of "the third estate." It is clear that questions concerning the character of the people were closely and inseparably linked to the problem of "the people's poetry," i.e., of folklore: folklore as the poetry of the masses, as the expression of their ideology, and as a distinct form of literature. Pushkin's "Fairy Tales" represent his answer and his contribution to the argument about the national character in literature.


According to the dominant opinion in our scholarly literature, Pushkin's "Fairy Tales" served as the raw material with which he "succeeded so brilliantly in reeducating himself according to native principles"; they "bear witness to the process through which he completely mastered the folk spirit and disposition," while Russian folk tales became his "final school and college," "from which Pushkin emerged as a great national artist of the word." Such is the general tenor of literary historians' and critics' pronouncements about Pushkin's cycle of fairy tales. As many researchers see it, Pushkin's creative path was predetermined by his nanny, the renowned Arina Rodionovna. She was, according to widely accepted opinion, both his main object "for the observation and study of the people," and one of the stimuli for the new stage of development that was marked by his turn to folk tales. Assertions and evaluations like these also played a significant, and reactionary political role, giving Pushkin's work a chauvinist tinge.

In this way, Russian folklore, that elemental "authentically national" Russian oral tradition into which Pushkin had already plunged in the 1820s, and to which he returned in the 30s, is presented as the fundamental and definitive source of Pushkin's creative experiments "in the spirit of the people." All these conceptions, however, stand in need of considerable revision, in terms of both general principles and specific scholarly identification of sources. The question of the sources of Pushkin's fairy tales must be reexamined from scratch. In fact, a few earlier scholars made some effort to pose the question differently and widen the circle of sources for the tales, in any case not limiting it to the sphere of those stories Pushkin heard from his nanny or other storytellers. The key text for analysis may be "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish," with which we begin our discussion.

"The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" is usually considered to be an extraordinary testament to Pushkin's feel for the "authentically Russian national element" and a crowning achievement of his poetic mastery in this sphere. "Pushkin was captivated by the clarity and moral purity of this folk story," writes Vsevolod Miller, "and from his poetic workshop he returned this diamond in the rough to the people in the form of a brilliantly-cut jewel of unparalleled purity." Even Belinsky, however, had already cast doubt on the tale's popular origin.

Pavel Melnikov writes in his biography of Vladimir Dal that the latter kept a manuscript copy of "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" with an inscription from Pushkin: "In the name of your people I bring unto you that which is yours. To the Lugansk Cossack storyteller from the storyteller Aleksandr Pushkin." On the basis of this note it is generally thought that Dal himself related to Pushkin the plot of the story of the golden fish; Dal, for his part, could have heard it directly from the people; it is known that Dal owned one of the most extensive collections of Russian tales, which later became the foundation of Aleksandr Afanasiev's famous anthology.

No one has pointed out, however, that among known Russian tales there is nothing that corresponds fully to Pushkin's text. According to the Aarne-Andreev index, this plot is registered 6 times: twice in Afanasiev's anthology (2) and four times in Smirnov's. (3) Beyond that, a tale with the same plot was transcribed in the 1860s by Mikhail Semevsky in the Pskov region (this tale is not noted in the Andreev index). (4)

Of these texts, only tale no. 39 in the Afanasiev collection follows the same scheme as Pushkin's. This tale is in fact close enough to Pushkin's in terms of content to suggest a direct link between them. It has even been suggested that this was precisely the tale related to Pushkin by Dal, who later passed it on together with others to Afanasiev. This idea is clearly dubious, however, as Leonid Maikov has pointed out. (5) The source of the tale, moreover, is not indicated in Afanasiev's collection. On the other hand, to allow that this tale was Pushkin's source is also necessarily to suppose that, Pushkin showed a slavish fidelity to his source. This would clearly be a mistake, of course, and in any case it contradicts everything we know about Pushkin's creative process. For this reason it would be better to conclude, as Vladimir Maikov did, that in the case of this tale we are dealing with the opposite phenomenon: a retelling of Pushkin's story. (6) This happens frequently with folk tales.

Afanasiev's text, then, drops away as a source, while the other versions are qualitatively different: they all have different plot, outlines and different imagery. One typical example is another story from the same Afanasiev anthology, a tale entitled "The Greedy Old Woman" (no. 40). An old man is cutting down a tree in the forest; the tree begs for mercy, promising to fulfill unlimited wishes for the man. First he asks for wealth. Then his wife sends him back to the tree to demand that it make him mayor. Then the two of them ascend, with the tree's help, through the following progression of ranks: nobility, colonel, general, and finally tsar and tsaritsa. Their last wish is to be turned into gods, but in answer, the tree "rustles its leaves and says to the old man: let you and your wife be bears! That very moment the old man turns into a bear, and the old woman into a she-bear, and the two run off into the forest."

The same typology is present in all the other recorded tales. None of them mentions a golden fish or any other kind offish; in its role we instead find a magic tree, a saint living in a tree, a thrush, a cat with golden fur, or a bean. The old couple's transformation into animals at the end is also common in Russian versions of the story: the old man and woman turn into pigs, into a bull and a pig, etc. These tales, moreover, are not peculiar to any one place, but can be found all over the country. The region where Afanasiev's version was recorded is unknown; those in Smirnov's collection are from the former Vyatka, Kazan, Ryazan, and Omsk regions; Semevsky's, as mentioned above, came from the area surrounding Pskov; finally, I personally recorded an analogous tale in 1927 in eastern Siberia (the village of Tunka).

In this way, Pushkin's fairy tale is out of line with the Russian tradition, but as we will now show, it fits squarely in the Western European one. It is closest of all to one of the tales from the collection of the brothers Grimm. (7)

Scholars have long been aware of this proximity; Nikolai Sumtsov even included a translation of the Grimm brothers' tale in his study of Pushkin's tale. (8) He did not, however, draw a direct genetic line between the two texts. The immediate connection between Pushkin's tale and a Russian source seemed to him to be beyond dispute, and so he only used the Grimms' text for the parallel it provided, and also to characterize the undeniable folkloric foundation of the story. Vasily Sipovsky went further: on the basis of the same parallel, he found it possible to claim that the Grimm brothers' tale served Pushkin as an immediate source. (9) He made this claim in passing, however, in an article on Ruslan and Liudmila, and not only without any attempt to clarify the question, but without any argumentation whatsoever; and so it is understandable that his judgment has found no recognition or understanding among scholars.

While noting the similarities between Pushkin's fairy tale and the German one, Sumtsov also pointed out the differences between them. The most important of these is the old woman's desire to become the pope and the demand for divine power. These two motifs are absent from Pushkin's tale, as one would naturally expect of any Russian tale, given that they are more typical of Catholic countries. All the same, however, these motifs can in fact be found in Pushkin. Until now, despite all the research that, has been done on Pushkin's fairy tales, literary historians and folklorists have not taken the trouble to consult Pushkin's manuscripts. This type of archival research, however, makes it possible to pose the question in a different way and in fact solve the problem of this particular tale's source.

The fair copy of "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" has not been preserved, but Pushkin's rough draft has. and it is now kept in the Lenin State Library in Moscow. Among other variants, this draft contains an episode wholly absent from the final version. It was first read and published by Sergei Bondi in his book New Pages of Pushkin (Moscow, 1931):
   Another week passes
   And <again the old woman is> (10) in a rage:
   She ordered that her husband be found.
   They brought the old man before the queen.
   The old woman said to the old man:
   I don't want <to be a free queen>
   But <I want to be the Pope>
   The old man didn't dare contradict her.
   He didn't venture to put in a word.
   He went down to the <blue sea>
   And saw: the sea was black and storming
   The angry waves going to and fro
   And wailing, wailing with menace
   He started <to call to the golden fish>

   So be it, she shall be the Pope

   The old man came back to the old woman
   Before him a Latin monastery
   On the walls [Latin] monks
   Were singing a Latin mass.

   Before him the tower of Babylon
   And at the very top
   Sat his old wife
   On her head an infidel's cap
   On her cap a Latin crown
   On the crown [unclear] a needle (11)
   On the needle [a mythical Strophilius] bird
   The old man bowed before the old woman
   And cried out in a loud voice:
   Hello then, my old woman
   I suppose your soul is content
   The foolish old woman answered:
   You lie, talking nonsense,
   My soul is not at all content
   I do not want to be the <Pope>
   I want to be master of the sea
   To live in the Ocean
   I want the golden fish to serve me
   And to run my errands ...

This text essentially solves the problem of the tale's source, though Bondi himself shied away from drawing this decisive conclusion. Showing his typical caution, he held that to assert the direct influence of the Grimm brothers' tale on Pushkin's "would nevertheless be very premature."

Further comparat ive analysis of the text, however, makes such caution utterly superfluous. In the same rough draft we can find a number of other passages that point directly to Pushkin's original source. In the Grimm brothers' tale, the old woman expresses her desire to become a god in the following way: she cannot bear that the sun and moon rise and set without her permission. In t he rough draft, Pushkin originally wrote:
   I do not want to be the Pope,
   I want to be master of the sun.

   Then the second line is crossed out and replaced:

   I want to be master of the sea,

as in the final version.

In response to the final wish in the Grimm brothers' tale, the flounder answers: "ga man hen, se sitt all weder in'n Pisputt" (go home, she's sitting once more in the hovel).

The episode is different in Pushkin's text:
   The fish said nothing,
   But only splashed the water with its tail.
   And disappeared into the deep sea.

But in the rough draft we find an earlier variant that again corresponds perfectly to the Grimms' text:
   The golden fish dove
   Saying ...
   Go, both of you, to your earthen hut.
   Then these fines are crossed out and replaced:

   The fish splashed the water with its tail
   And dove into the blue sea.

Finally, the motif of the sea's increasing agitation and its changing colors with every new demand from the old woman also corresponds perfectly with the German tale. When the fisherman in the Grimm brothers' tale comes to the sea with his first wish, he sees: "Woor de See ganz gron un geel un goor nich wee so blank" (the sea became completely green and yellow and not so bright); the second time, the water turns dark-blue and gray; the third time, dark-gray and agitated, etc.; and the last time, the fisherman encounters stormy weather.

We find the same changes and gradation in Pushkin's seascape:
   So he went down to the blue sea;
   And saw: the sea was a little worked up.

   Then, for the second wish:

   So he went down to the blue sea
   (The blue sea had grown darker),

   And the third time:

   The blue sea was restless;

Next, "the blue sea turned black." and finally, the last time the fisherman goes down to the sea:
   He saw a black storm over the sea;
   The angry waves swelled and heaved,
   This way and that, howling and wailing. (12)

The significance of this juxtaposition increases if we recall that such landscape imagery is rare to begin with in folklore and almost unheard of in Russian folk tales.

This series of marked and convincing textual correspondences allows us to establish the direct dependence of Pushkin's fairy tale on the Grimms'. Details of the former that are not found in the Grimms' text include the washtub (the first wish in the Grimm version is for a new house). The fish are also described differently: in Pushkin we find a golden fish, while the Grimm version features a flounder, and Pushkin also includes no mention of the fish being an enchanted prince. Finally, Pushkin significantly alters the tale's emphasis on the husband's submissiveness. In the Grimms' tale the old man is simply an obedient husband who does not dare disobey his wife's orders, and who also enjoys with her the gifts of the magic fish; in Pushkin's, the old man completely separates himself from his wife, lending the tale an unusual aesthetic and psychological depth.

Pushkin transferred the content of the German tale into the scheme of a Russian one. Originally, as the rough draft makes clear, he accentuated and emphasized elements of national color even more. He wanted, for example, to transfer the action of his tale to the Ilmen Lake, which is near Novgorod. The first line of the rough draft originally read,

On the glorious lake Ilmen.

Line 32 has the following variant in the rough draft:

And this fish spoke Russian.

Lines 130-32 ("How dare you argue with me, you peasant, / With me, a landowning noblewoman?") contained even more national color and a specific local character in the rough draft:
   To you I am both master and noblewoman,
   I am a noblewoman, and you are my quitrent peasant.

In his final version Pushkin decided against such emphasis of Russian national traits, but his entire tale is so consistent in its stylistic emulation of genuine Russian folk tales that generations of scholars never even considered the possibility of any direct foreign influences or sources.


Identifying the source of "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" allows us to approach other questions concerning the sources of Pushkin's fairy tales with greater confidence. Some facts that were once inexplicable can now be fully understood. In particular, the genesis of "The Tale of the Dead Princess" becomes perfectly clear. In his aforementioned article on Ruslan and Liudmila, Sipovsky notes, again in passing, that "The Dead Princess" would appear to be rather a Western European tale than a Russian one. This idea immediately met with a number of objections, and Nikolai Lerner, expressing the general point of view, wrote categorically: "Vasily Sipovsky's opinion that this tale belongs more to the West than to the Russian people is clearly wrong."

Sipovsky's conjecture, however, is absolutely correct.

Pushkin's source for "The Dead Princess" seemed all the more clear and indisputable to scholars for the fact that it appeared to be obvious. Among the tales written down by Pushkin we do in fact find a summary of "The Dead Princess"; it was only natural to suppose that this tale once heard by Pushkin himself also served as the source of his poetic reworking. But this is not entirely true; we can only submit that previous scholars must have limited themselves to a superficial plot comparison and not taken the trouble to read more closely.

Pushkin's summary takes the following form: "A princess gets lost in the forest. She finds an empty house and cleans it up. 12 brothers arrive: ah, they say, someone's been here, either a man or a woman; if it's a man, let him be our father or adopted brother, if it's a woman, let her be our mother or sister ... These brothers are enemies of 12 different bogatyrs; when they go off to fight, they leave their sister a kerchief, a boot, and a hat--if it fills with blood, we won't be coming back. When they do come back, they sleep a hero's sleep: 12 days the first time, 24 days the second, and 31 [perhaps a mistake for 36] the third. Their enemies come and feast. The princess gives them sleeping potion, etc. Her stepmother comes to the forest dressed as a beggar; the dogs chained up outside don't let her near. She gives the princess a shirt, and when the princess puts it on, she dies. Her brothers bury her in a coffin chained with golden chains to two pines. A prince falls in love with her dead body, etc."

A more careful comparison of this text to the text of Pushkin's fairy tale immediately makes clear that the connection between them is distant and goes no deeper than a broadly shared plotline. First of all, the prose summary lacks any mention of the birth of the daughter, the stepmother's envy, the magic mirror, the stepmother's decision to murder her rival, etc. The tale Pushkin heard opens with the princess getting lost in the forest. Further, the prose summary does mention twelve bogatyrs who fight with twelve other bogatyrs; magic items of clothing, quite common in folklore, that tell of the heroes' death in battle; and finally, there are details very unusual in this type of tale, such as the enemies' arrival while the heroes are sleeping and the brave deed of the princess, who puts them to sleep with a potion. None of this is anywhere to be found in the text of Pushkin's fairy tale.

Unlike "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish," the plot of "The Dead Princess" is widely represented among known Russian folk tales. It is registered in Andreev's index some thirty times, and beyond that, this plot is frequently associated with the plot of "The Slandered Young Woman" (Aarne-Andreev no. 883). Finally, there are a few texts where this plot is tied to the plot, of "The Bridegroom." These texts are very difficult to analyze, given that almost all the written records of them are of very late versions, which means that many of them reflect not only the oral folkloric tradition, but also the direct influence of Pushkin's fairy tale (as we saw with "The Tale of the Golden Fish" in the Afanasiev collection).

Nevertheless it is possible to identify a number of features exclusive to Russian versions of the story. Above all, some episodes and motifs central to Pushkin's tale are wholly absent from all of them, including the motif of the daughter's birth. Russian tales do not typically dwell on the details of the birth of the daughter, instead simply laying it out in brief as an established fact: "There once was a king who lived with his queen and had one beautiful daughter. Later the king's wife died," etc. (Afanasiev, no. 121a); "In a faraway kingdom in a faraway land there once lived a widowed merchant who had one son and one daughter..." (ibid., 121b). A similar opening can be found in Ivan Khudiakov's anthology (vol. 3, no. 90), (13) but the most widespread example is given in Nikolai Onchukov's collection as story no. 154, "Elena the Beautiful and Her Stepmother." (14) This text is obviously-influenced by Pushkin's tale, but it too contains no details of the daughter's birth: "In a faraway kingdom in a faraway land, there once lived a simple peasant man. His wife was from the same village where he himself was born. A year after the wedding, the wife gave birth to a daughter whom they named Elena, and Elena was so beautiful that she was called Elena the Beautiful. The mother did not long outlive the birth of her child, and she insisted to her husband that he keep their daughter safe," etc.

The motif of the beauty contest or rivalry between stepmother and stepdaughter is also poorly developed in Russian folk versions of the story. Very often it is missing altogether, and the young woman is instead driven from her home by slander; where there is some mention of a rivalry, it takes a different form from what we find in Pushkin's tale. The stepmother persecutes her stepdaughter because the latter is more beautiful than her biological daughter; the idea of a direct rivalry between stepmother and stepdaughter is found only in two tales recorded in the early twentieth century: the aforementioned example from Onchukov's anthology and another, close to it in narrative exposition, in Zelenin's collection of tales from Perm (no. 44: "The Beautiful Elena with the Golden Braid"). (15) But both these texts can only be taken into account with considerable reservations, given that they were clearly influenced by Pushkin's fairy tale; moreover, the tale from Onchukov's collection presents a rather muddled contamination of several different plotlines.

If we again turn, however, to the same collection that served as Pushkin's source for "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish," we can quickly find a text, fully analogous to Pushkin's tale: the Grimm brothers' "Schneewittchen" (usually translated as "Snow White"). Johannes Bolte and Jiri Polivka schematize its plot as follows: 1. The beauty of the heroine, as white as snow with rosy cheeks as red as blood. 2. The envy of her stepmother, who has a magic mirror. 3. The stepmother orders her servants to kill the heroine: a servant takes her into the forest, but once there, takes pity on her. 4. The stepmother finds her and tries to do away with her by means of a poisoned belt, comb, or apple. 5. The dwarves (or robbers) who have been sheltering Snow White place the dead girl in a glass coffin. 6. The king's son finds the coffin and wakes the girl. 7. The punishment of the wicked stepmother. (16)

This scheme perfectly corresponds to Pushkin's fairy tale, and the repetition of certain key details is particularly significant. We find here precisely those motifs that, were absent in Russian versions of the story: the birth of the daughter and the stepmother's envy. The first of these is in our opinion decisive: in the Grimm brothers' collection the princess bears the name Schneewittchen (Snow White) because she is white as snow. Her birth is described as follows: "One day in winter, when the snowflakes were falling like feathers, the queen sat by a window framed in ebony and sewed. She was sewing and looking at the snow when she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell onto the snow. And so beautiful did the blood appear on the white snow, that she thought to herself, 'If only I had a daughter as white as snow, with rosy cheeks as red as blood and hair as black as the ebony in the window-frame.' And soon she gave birth to a girl as white as snow, as red as blood, with hair as black as ebony, and so they called her Snow White. And as soon as she was born, the queen died."

Neither the name of the heroine nor any of these corresponding detads can be found in a single Russian folk tale. The name is not found in Pushkin's tale either, but the external appearance of t he princess as described by Pushkin is built entirely on this motif from the Grimm brothers' story. His princess is white as snow, black-browed, and ruddy-cheeked:
   The young princess,
   quietly blossoming,
   meanwhile grew and grew,
   grew taller, and blossomed
   White of face and black of brow.

Later, the magic mirror answers the stepmother:
   You are beautiful, without a doubt,
   But the princess is fairest of all,
   Whiter and rosier than all.

Pushkin also keeps the motif of Snow White's origins: the pregnant queen looks out at the snow:
   She waits and waits from morning till night,
   Looks out at the field, so that her eyes
   Hurt from looking
   From white dawn till nightfall.
   No sign of her beloved friend!
   All she sees is the whirling snowstorm,
   Snow pours onto the fields,
   The whole earth is white.
   Nine months pass,
   But she doesn't take her eyes from the fields.

The same thing is emphasized in the stepmother's spiteful reply to the mirror:
   Her mother sat there pregnant
   Just looking out at the snow.

As stated above, Russian tales also spend little time describing the mother's death. They simply state the fact of her death and take no interest in the details. In Russian tales the mother's death is simply a means to introduce the stepmother, while the image of the mother herself remains unclear.

In the Grimms' story this image is somewhat sketched out. Her death is described as follows: "und wie das Kind geboren war, starb die Konigin" (when the child was born, the queen died). In Pushkin's text we are struck by the image of a languishing wife who long but unsuccessfully awaits her husband's return and dies the day her daughter is born.
   And right on Christmas Eve, in the night,
   God gave the tsaritsa a daughter.
   Early the next morning the desired guest
   For whom she had waited so long, day and night,
   At long last, from distant travels,
   The tsar and father returned.
   She glanced up at him,
   Sighed heavily,
   Could not bear her delight,
   And died before it was time for mass.

It should also be observed that in the Grimms' tale the princess takes shelter with seven dwarves, while in Pushkin's prose summary she stays with twelve bogatyrs. In his fairy tale he conflates these details: he removes the dwarves and reinstates the bogatyrs, but keeps the number seven from the Grimms' text. All the other details from his earlier prose summary--details that were quite typical of fairy tales--he does away with (the enmity with the other bogatyrs, the kerchief, boot, and hat that would become soaked with blood if the heroes died in battle, etc.).

Pushkin deviates from his source in his portrayal of the prince, Elisei. Neither German nor Russian tales focus on the bridegroom. According to fairy tale tradition, the prince comes upon the coffin by chance, sees the heroine, falls in love with her, and so on. But the motif of a search for the beloved is very widespread in the Western European tradition, and particularly in the Grimm brothers' tales. Pushkin also borrowed from their anthology the idea of the prince's appeal to the sun, moon, and wind. In the tale "Der singende-springende Loweneckerchen," a young queen searches for her husband, who has been turned into a white dove. In her search she turns for help to the sun, moon, and winds: the sun, moon, and three winds are unable to assist her, and only the south wind finally reveals to her the whereabouts of her husband. (17)

This episode's connection to Prince Elisei's corresponding appeals is beyond doubt. One more detail might be pointed out: in Pushkin's prose summary, the princess is buried "in a coffin chained with golden chains to two pines"; in the Grimm brothers' tale, the dwarves place the princess in a glass coffin, write her name on it in golden letters, and place it atop a high mountain. In this case too Pushkin combines his sources: he takes the glass (crystal) coffin and the high mountain from the Grimms' text, but keeps the chains from the Russian tale, only replacing the gold with iron. The motif of the dog that won't allow the wicked old woman near the princess is also from the Russian source.

We can now assert decisively that tales from the Grimm brothers' collection served as Pushkin's main source for the tale of the dead princess, and that he made only insignificant use of his own prose summary of the Russian tale he had heard. But was Pushkin familiar with the Grimms' anthology9 We know that Pushkin didn't speak German, and this fact became the main argument against Sipovsky's conjectures. As Lerner wrote, "It is difficult to imagine that Pushkin, who read German poorly, could have been familiar with a fairy tale written in the Pomeranian dialect." (18)

This objection is hardly decisive. There are many ways Pushkin could have learned of the Grimms' famous collection. Above all he may have become aware of it through his circle of literary friends. His close friends Aleksei Vulf and Vasily Zhukovsky spoke excellent German and served quite often as intermediaries between Pushkin and German literature. Zhukovsky knew the Grimm anthology very well and was even one of its first translators in Russia. In this way, Pushkin's first acquaintance with the Grimm brothers' tales could have taken place as early as the 1820s. By the early 1830s, on the other hand, Pushkin had already had a chance to familiarize himself with the book personally, even if only in translation. In his personal library, Pushkin had a copy of the book Vieux contes. Pour l'amusement de grands et des petits enfants (Old Tales for the Amusement of Children Large and Small). No other scholars seem to have realized it, but this book is nothing other than a French translation, published in 1830, of the Grimm brothers' tales. The book is anonymous and lists no translator or editor; the foreword simply notes that it is a translation or reworking of German folk tales. The collection is also far from full, consist ing of only thirty-five tales, but crucially, it contains all three tales noted above as sources for Pushkin's fairy tales. (19)

One last detail should be emphasized: the first Pushkin tale we analyzed featured a golden fish, while the same role in the Grimms' text was played by a flounder. It would be possible to propose that Pushkin made use of some third version that featured not a flounder, but simply a fish. But t his deviation is more easily explained with reference to the French source, which also makes no specific mention of a flounder (in the French text we find the words gros poissoti).

Pushkin wrote "The Tale of the Dead Princess" shortly after "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish." They are both products of the impressions made on him by his personal acquaintance with the Grimm brothers' collection in its French interpretation. (20)


We have seen that both these fairy tales bear close ties to literary sources leading back to Western European folklore. Similar sources inspired "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel."

The source of this tale long remained unknown. Research in both European literature and Russian folklore bore little fruit, and individual scholars' hypotheses were typically both far-fetched and unsupported. And it was only in 1933 that Anna Akhmatova established beyond any doubt that "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" is based on a fairy-tale-like novella by American author Washington Irving, from his book The Alhambra, which came out in London in 1832. (21) Pushkin knew of the book through a French translation published in the same year (Les contes d'Alhambra, precedes dun voyage dans la province de Grenade [Paris, 1832]), a copy of which he had his library. Washington Irving's book is of course not folklore, but this is undoubtedly how Pushkin understood it, as being t he same t ype of work as the Grimm fairy tales. Among the novellas and articles that make up this collection we find one called "Legend of the Arabian Astrologer," which is what served as Pushkin's source.

Akhmatova summarizes this novella as follows: "Enemies frequently attack the old Moorish king Aben Habuz. The Arabian astrologer Ibrahim, a counselor to the king, first tells him of an old talisman in Egypt that warned of enemy invasions (a ram and a cock made of bronze), then makes him a new talisman for the same purpose (a bronze horseman). Aben Habuz's enemies are vanquished. The talisman begins to work again, and Habuz's spies find a Gothic princess in the mountains. The astrologer demands the princess as a reward for his services to the king. The king, who had given his word to reward the astrologer, refuses. The king and astrologer quarrel. The astrologer and the princess disappear into the earth together in the astrologer's cave. The talisman stops working and turns into a simple weathervane. Enemies again invade and attack the 'retired conqueror' Aben Habuz."

This undeniable convergence of plot also sheds light on another obscure patch in the history of Pushkin's text. Among Pushkin's various drafts and notes we find the following fragment from 1833, which is known by the rather arbitrary title "An Attempt at a Children's Poem ":
   The king saw before him
   A table with a chess board:
   And onto this chess board
   A host of little soldiers made of wax
   He placed in a neat row.
   Formidably the figures stood,
   Arms outstretched, on their horses,
   In calico gloves,
   In plumed helmets,
   With broadswords on their shoulders...

As Akhmatova makes clear, this episode is a poetic retelling of an episode from the same "Legend of the Arabian Astrologer." In the original we find the following passage: "before each window was a table, on which was arranged, as on a chess-board, a mimic army of horse and foot ... all carved of wood," etc. (Pushkin only replaced the wooden figures with waxen ones). This discovery is extremely important, as it allows us to date Pushkin's conception of "The Golden Cockerel" to 1833, that is, to the time of his work on "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" and "The Tale of the Dead Princess."

Pushkin basically kept living's plot, but he deviated from it in a number of details. The most significant of these is the episode with the king's sons, which Pushkin makes more complicated and dramatic. In Washington living's novella, it is King Aben Habuz's army, which had set out to search for enemies, that finds the Gothic princess, whom they then bring to the king. Irving's denouement is also different: after the king refuses to give the princess to the astrologer, the latter disappears into the earth with her, and the talisman stops working.

Finally, Irving's novella lacks the image of the golden cockerel; the talisman in his story is a Moorish horseman made of bronze, and the astrologer also speaks of other talismans--a bronze ram and cock. Pushkin, on the other hand, chose a golden cockerel. The origin of this image is difficult to determine. It is possible that Pushkin simply made use of a typical folkloric epithet--like the golden fish, the golden-maned horse, or the golden-haired piglet--or perhaps he had once heard a tale of a golden cockerel. Such a plot is known to exist in Russian folklore, but it is very rare. One example is a tale from Afanasiev's collection called "The Cock and the Millstones" (no. 180): a poor old man goes up to heaven and brings back magic millstones and a cockerel with a golden crest. A passing-nobleman steals the millstones. "When the old man and his wife saw that the millstones were gone, they despaired. 'Wait,' said the golden-crested cockerel, 'I'll fly after him and chase him down.' He flies to the nobleman's mansion, perches on the gate, and cries: 'Cuckoo-rikoo, you boyar, give us back our beautiful golden millstones!' When the nobleman hears this, he immediately gives an order: 'Hey, kid, get that bird and throw it in the water!' The cockerel is caught and thrown into the well, but he starts repeating: 'Beak, beak, drink water. Mouth, mouth, drink water'--and he drinks up all the water in the well. He flies off again to the mansion and again starts crowing," etc. In the end, the golden-crested cockerel gets back the stolen millstones.

Of course it cannot be said with any certainty that Pushkin knew this exact story, or even another one similar to it, but the presence of the plot in Afanasiev's collection suggests that there are other Russian folk tales in which a golden cockerel plays a role, and it is entirely possible that Pushkin was aware of one of these variants. The weaving together of Russian and European sources was one of Pushkin's favorite devices, as we have seen in the analysis of "The Tale of the Dead Princess," and "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" is another clear example of this process. Without, a doubt, Tsar Dadon's name can be traced back to the lubok, to the same beloved story of Prince Bova from which a number of details in other tales are borrowed.

It might also be said that the circle of literary sources Pushkin drew on was broader and not limited to (hose materials identified here. The plot of "The Dead Princess," for example, was familiar to Pushkin not only from the Grimms' tale and his own written summary, but also from another anthology he had in his library: The Same Old Tunes in a New Setting, or A Complete Collection of Old-Time Folk Tales, Published for Lovers of the Same through the Generosity of the Moscow Merchant Ivan Ivanov, Part 'Two (Moscow, 1795). (22) Among the stories in this collection is "The Tale of the Old Wanderers": the old wanderers (evidently beggars) here play the role of the magic mirror, evaluating the beauty of the stepmother and stepdaughter. Some details of Pushkin's tale can likely be traced back to this source as well. For example, take the following appeal to the hiding princess: "If you are here, good person, then come out and show yourself; and if you are an old man, you will be our grandfather; if you are a young man, you will be our brother; if you are an old woman, you will be our grandmother, and if you are a young woman, then our sister" (p. 91). Compare this to Pushkin's text:
   If you are an old man,
   Our uncle you will be forever.
   If you are a ruddy young man,
   Then you will become our adopted brother.
   If an old woman, then become our mother.
   So will we gladly call you.
   And if a beautiful young maiden,
   Then be our dear sister.

The significance of these various written sources becomes clearer through further analysis; in particular they inspire and inform, to a greater or lesser degree, both Pushkin's unfinished fairy tale about a she-bear and "The Tale of Tsar Saltan."


The sources of "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" constitute a very difficult problem. At first glance, on the contrary, things would appear to be simple: the tale's plot is very widespread, and among Pushkin's papers we find a number of notes and summaries he made of it on various occasions. And so it would seem obvious that this tale should be ascribed entirely to the oral tradition, which is in fact what scholars have typically done. But the question is considerably more complicated than that.

Pushkin made three written records of the plot in question. One dates to 1824 and is found among other notes known under the collective heading "Tales from Arina Rodionovna"; the second is in his Kishinev notebook of 1822 (Lenin Library, no. 2366); and the third, a prose summary following an opening passage in verse, is in a notebook from 1828 (Lenin Library, no. 2371). We will cite the latter two versions.

Here is the text from the Kishinev notebook: "The tsar has no children. He overhears three sisters: if I were tsaritsa, then I would [build a palace] every day, etc.... If I were tsaritsa, I would start.... The next day a wedding. His first wife's envy; the war, the tsar at war; [the princess gives birth to a son], the courier, etc.... The tsar dies without children. Oracle, storm, boat. He is picked to be tsar--he rules in glory--a ship arrives--Saltan gives a speech about the new ruler. Saltan wants to send emissaries, the princess sends her courier, who slanders. The tsar declares war, the tsaritsa recognizes him from the tower."

The note is obviously very rough. The tsar who dies without children is no doubt the tsar of the country where the exiled tsaritsa arrives with her son. The line, "The princess gives birth to a son," must refer to the tsar's new wife; the second time the word princess is used, it refers rather to his first wife, while the tsaritsa is the mother of the prince.

Nikolai Lerner proposes that this note should be considered a late addition to the Kishinev notebook made sometime around 1824-25, i.e., at the time when Pushkin began his direct acquaintance with the world of Russian fairy tales, rather than during his earlier exile away from the people. (23)

Here is the record from 1828:
   [Three maidens sat by a window]
   Spinning late one evening
   If I were tsaritsa
   Said one of the girls
   Then all by myself I would weave
   A cloth for the whole nation--If
   I were tsaritsa
   Said her sis<ter>
   Then all by myself I would cook
   A feast for the whole world--If
   I were tsaritsa (24)
   The third girl said
   Then for the tsar our father (25)
   I would give birth to a mighty hero.

Immediately after this poetic text there follows a note in prose: "The moment they pronounced these words, the door [to their chamber] opened, and the tsar walked in with no fanfare--he had a habit of walking around the town late at night and eavesdropping on his subjects. He walked up to the youngest sister with a pleasant smile, took her hand, and said: be my tsaritsa and give me a prince; then he turned to the eldest and middle sisters and said: you be in my court (26) as a weaver, and you as a cook. Saying this, and giving them no time to think, the tsar whistled twice; (27) the courtyard was filled with troops and courtiers, and a silver carriage rolled right up to the porch. The tsar sat in it with his new tsaritsa and ordered that his sisters-in-law be led to the palace--they were put in a cart and everyone set off."

The Kishinev text has been considered "the program for a fairy tale," a recorded version of a folk tale, and an attempt to restore from memory the text of a story heard earlier, among other things. The 1828 text, on the other hand, has been seen as an outline or plan for further poetic work. All these conjectures, however, are completely wrong. Lerner is especially wrong to suggest that the Kishinev text dates to the period of Pushkin's direct encounters with Russian tales in their orally-transmitted form.

The 1824 note and the text from the Kishinev notebook, no matter when the latter was written, have nothing in common beyond a generally shared plotline. They are different versions of the same story. In the 1824 note, the tsaritsa gives birth to thirty-three sons, while in the Kishinev text, only one; in the former, the tsaritsa and her son are thrown into the sea in a sealed barrel, while in the latter they are in a boat; in the former, the prince builds a new city, while in the latter he is elected tsar of a country where the tsar has just died without an heir. Finally, in the latter the tsar declares war on his son, which does not happen in the former or in any known variations of the story. The Kishinev text without a doubt presents a brief, rough outline of some literary source analogous to the story of Bova, which is also outlined in the same notebook. This idea is supported by details such as the "oracle," "boat," and "storm" (which evidently drives the boat to the unknown country), the declaration of war, etc. The literary source of this note has not yet been determined.

The prose text from 1828 is also of literary origin; in no way can it be considered an outline or plan for further poetic work. Pushkin never wrote out such plans or outlines so carefully, even searching for the right words and expressions (as the corrections show). Here we can offer two conjectures: either this was Pushkin's attempt to create a fairy tale in which verse alternates with prose, or it is a translation of some foreign text. The latter explanation is more likely. Below we will endeavor to determine the direct source of this text.

The final text of Pushkin's fairy tale can most directly be traced to the 1824 note made in Mikhailovskoe, but with the addition of a number of details from the Kishinev version. Some lines of the completed tale repeat the 1824 note word-for-word: "Got pregnant that first night," "not a mouse, not a frog, but some unknown beast," and others. Pushkin discarded the motif of the birth of the thirty-three bogatyrs, but kept the bogatyrs themselves: they became the brothers of the Swan Princess. From this same 1824 note he took the image of the cat by the seashore who tells fairy tales, inserting it into the prologue of Ruslan and Liudmila, the first version of which dates to his time at Mikhailovskoe and is written on the inside cover of the same notebook. In addition, Pushkin discarded another miracle from the 1824 note--"beyond the sea stood a mountain, and atop the mountain were two boars," etc.--and replaced it with a magic squirrel. The former motif is very widespread in Russian folklore and can be found in various forms in a great many texts: "The Golden-Haired Piglet" (Smirnov, Velikorusskie skazki, no. 21); "a bull ground up into ... sand, a sharp knife in its side" (Notes of the Krasnoyarsk Subsection of the East-Siberian Department of the Russian Geographical Society 1, no. 1. p. 53), "the mountains rubbed against each other and sand oozed out" (Khudiakov, Velikorusskie skazki. no. 81); plus an original combination in Afanasiev's anthology: a windmul grinds all by itself, blows by itself, and spews flour a hundred versts: near this windmill a golden post stands, on the post a golden net hangs, and around the post a learned cat walks, etc. (Afanasiev. no. 159). As for the squirrel that gnaws on golden nuts with emerald cores, its source is completely unclear: it is unheard of in Russian folklore.

The plot of the fairy tale itself is also very widespread in both Russian and European folklore--or rather, in world folklore. (28) The most interesting and richly detailed texts can be found in the collections of Onchukov, (29) Khudiakov, (30) Azadovsky, (31) and Afanasiev. (32) But it is certain that a number of these texts are of secondary derivation, or in other words that they were influenced by Pushkin's tale; this reverse influence is in fact the reason there is such a large number of variants of the story.

In the European tradition the plotline of the "Slandered Mother" appears in both oral and written literature. The oldest known text is from Giovanni Straparola's famous collection Le piacevoli notti (The Pleasant Night s, vols. 1-2, 1550-58), by way of its widely known French reworking by Madame d'Aulnoy (Contes de fees [Fairy Tales], 1698), where it is called "La Princesse Belle-Etoile." The Straparola-d'Aulnoy story can be summarized as follows.
   The king overhears a conversation held by three sisters. The first
   boasts that she will quench the thirst of the entire court with a
   single glass of wine; the second, that she will weave beautiful
   shirts for the whole court; and the third, that she will give birth
   to three miraculous children--two boys and one girl with golden
   braids, with a pearl necklace around her neck and a star on her
   forehead. The king marries the youngest sister, who fulfills her
   promise while the king is away, but her envious sisters replace the
   newborn children with puppies. The king imprisons his wife in a
   dungeon and orders the children thrown into the river. The
   abandoned children, however, are saved by a miller, who raises them
   as his own. When they get older, they learn that the miller is not
   their father and set off for the capital, where the king lives.
   Later they discover three miracles: dancing water, a singing apple,
   and a prophetic green bird. In search of these miracles, they go
   through various adventures, are turned into stones, etc. They are
   saved by their sister, and the green bird she finds later reveals
   the whole truth to the king.

A text very close to Straparola's in content can be found in the French translation of the Thousand and One Nights completed by Antoine Galland between 1704 and 1717. It is known that the story of "Tsar Saltan" is not contained in the original Thousand and One Nights, and the corresponding tale was apparently included arbitrarily by Galland; his sources are unknown to this day.

Emmanuel Cosquin points to yet another similar story, which appeared in Paris in 1722 in a book entitled Le gage touche and which he knew of only through a short announcement from Eugene Rolland (in the journal Melusche, 1877, p. 214). Of all these versions, Pushkin was certainly aware of those by d'Aulnoy and Galland.

The prose passage in Pushkin's 1828 note is very close to Galland's in content , and the latter may very well be its source. (33)

It is curious to note that, none of these sources--and none of Pushkin's notes--contain the image of the Swan Princess. This character is also typically missing from Russian versions of this fairy-tale plot. Aleksandr Slonimsky has even suggested that Pushkin invented the Swan Princess in order to express his personal feelings for his wife. (34)

It is of course impossible to agree with Slonimsky's arguments and conclusions. The image of the Swan Princess is indeed missing from the source tales we have discussed, but it appears in others and is in fact very typical of the folkloric tradition. We don't know the full extent of Pushkin's familiarity with the oral tradition--though there is no reason to think it was particularly close (35)--but he could have encountered this image in a great number of literary sources that were known to him. "The young woman with a golden star on her forehead" is a beloved image from European folklore, and it can also be found in the Grimm brothers' tales; but Pushkin also had access to another source, and one he turned to rather frequently: Kirsha Dandov's collection.

Pushkin's interest in this anthology is well known. Traces of Kirsha's direct influence can be found in a great number of Pushkin's works. For example, the name Babarikha in "The Tale of Tsar Saltan," which researchers have not explained until now, is without a doubt from this collection. Pushkin took it from a comical song about nonsense:
   Okay then, baba,
   Mother Lukeria,
   Sister--dark haired! (36)

There is no need to ascribe to this source the name Chernavka in "The Tale of the Dead Princess," but the "Circassians from Pyatigorsk" mentioned in the same tale are definitely taken from Kirsha's collection:
   Or to hunt down in the forest
   A Circassian from Pyatigorsk.

In Kirsha Dandov's anthology "Circassians from Pyatigorsk" are mentioned several times, in the folk epics "Dobrynia the Miraculous Conqueror," "Skopin-Shuisky," and others (37)

Pushkin could also have taken the Swan Princess from the same source. In the folk epic of the bogatyr Mikhado Potok. we find the following passage:
   And he saw a white swan
   All gold beneath her feathers,
   Her head entwined with beautiful gold
   And adorned with large pearls.

   And the moment he was about to let loose his burning arrow,
   The white Swan Avdotia Likhoviclievna
   Spoke to him:
   "You there, Mikhailo Ivanovich Potok,
   Do not shoot me, a white swan,
   And I will help you in the future."
   She stepped out onto the steep bank,
   And turned into a beautiful maiden. (38)

But the development of this image has one other feature that allows us to conclude with great confidence that we are dealing not only with Russian but also with European (or translated European) sources. Lines 183-86,
   It's not a swan you rescued,
   But a maiden whose life you saved;
   It is not, a vulture you killed,
   But a sorcerer you shot.

were originally worded somewhat differently. A crossed-out variant of Line 184 from the fair copy reads:

You have vindicated an enchantress.

This means that Pushkin's original conception featured an enchantress and a sorcerer--an unmistakable image from the Western European novel that made its way into our luboks and tales. The character of the Swan Princess, then, has a dual origin. Though genetically bound to the European tradition of the picaresque tale, it was later reworked by Pushkin in the context of Russian folklore as reflected in Kirsha Dandov's anthology.

Traces of the European picaresque tradition are in fact quite noticeable in "The Tale of Tsar Saltan." The characterization of the sorcerer and the appearance of Gvidon himself--all this leads us back to the European tales. It is likely that these picaresque traits entered Pushkin's tale not directly, but by way of the Russian lubok. The very title of Pushkin's tale is characteristic of this genre; in its full form, it reads: "The Tale of Tsar Saltan and of his Glorious Son the Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Swan Princess." Pushkin's title in this form is clearly stylized and imitative, and it is not difficult to identify the immediate source of the stylization: this is a typical title for a lubok.. It can be compared, for example, to "The Unabridged Tale of the Glorious, Strong, Brave, and Invincible Hero Prince Bova and of his Beautiful Wife Princess Druzhnevna," or "The Tale of the Brave and Glorious and Mighty Hero and Bogatyr Bova." It is no accident that the name Gvidon is also taken from the lubok tale of Bova, and that Gvidon is referred to as a hero (vitiaz), a term absent from the oral tradition but common in the written one. The name Saltan, which is used in Pushkin's Kishinev note, might have come from the same source as well, but it can also be found in the 1824 note that does in fact derive from the oral tradition.


Pushkin's unfinished fairy tale about a she-bear is also based on literary sources. These sources are as yet almost entirely unidentified. Vsevolod Miller claimed that the tale represented "the same artistic drawing together of folkloric elements from the poet's memory as one finds in the prologue to Ruslan and Liudmila." (39) As one of the tale's sources Miller identifies "the old folk poem about birds," "which contains descriptions of over thirty representatives of the animal kingdom, in which a peasant sees parallels to the different types of people he knows: the nobleman (swan), the lawyer (hawk), and so on."

Miller is absolutely right; "The Legend of the Birds," which can be found in many written inventories and in the oral tradition, unquestionably served as Pushkin's source. Written versions are provided in the Pavel Rybnikov and Aleksandr Gilferding collections.

It is difficult to judge whether Pushkin may have heard the folk legend performed orally, but it is very easy to point to a written source he is known beyond doubt to have consulted: the Chulkov collection, which Pushkin knew well and had in his library. Because the legend is relatively unknown, I will provide the full text:

1 The warm sea did flow, The birds gathered together in flocks, The birds perched in rows; They questioned the little bird,

5 The little blue tit: "Health to you. little bird, Little blue tit! Tells us the whole truth, Tell us the news from the sea:

10 What big birds have you seen there? What small birds have you seen there?" The little bird said, The little blue tit: "You Russian birdies are foolish,

15 All the birds at sea are big, All the birds at sea are also small. The eagle at sea is a warlord, The quail at sea is a scribe, The cock at sea is a tax collector,

20 The crane at sea is a water-bearer: See its long legs, See its French clothes, It walks on the grains of oat; The finch at sea is a painter,

25 The crossbill at sea is a master tailor, The owl at sea is a countess: See her high brow, See her merry looks, See her refined walk,

30 See her yellow booties, Stepping from foot to foot. Raising her high brow; Geese at sea are the gentry, Ducklings at sea are the courtiers,

35 Young teals at sea are the peasants, Sparrows at sea are the riffraff: Everywhere the sparrow causes trouble, Never is the sparrow defeated; Swans at sea are princes,

40 Female swans are princesses, The black woodpecker at sea is a bugler, The raven at sea is our father superior--It always lives behind the threshing floors; Crows at sea are the elder monks,

45 Jackdaws are the nuns, Swallows are our young married women, Gadwalls our beautiful little girls: The night-crow is a beautiful face. In the winter it travels the roads,

50 In the summer, the eaves; The angler at sea is a tavern-keeper, The woodpecker at sea is a carpenter: He pecks at any tree, Wants to build us a church;

55 The falcon at sea is our horseman: It will attack any bird, Bump into it with its breast; The sandpiper is our dispatcher, The cuckoo our hysterical crier,

60 Our pancake-maker is the heron, The linnet, our merchant guest, The magpie is our dandy: Won't sit down without fancy bread, Won't go to sleep without her beloved,

65 Won't get up without some sweet honey, Won't go on foot to mass, Will only travel with a smart equipage, Only in a carriage, Only with raven-black horses,

70 Only in a golden coach, And with young men. All young and single men; The poor little bird, The poor little blue tit

75 Doesn't know how to mow hay, Doesn't have the strength to lead the flock, I, the little bird, am dying of hunger." (40)

This folk legend provided Pushkin material not for his entire tale, but only for its final, unfinished section, which enumerates the animals gathering to see the bear; his list is very similar to that in the legend:

They came one and all, big animals came, And little animals came. The wolf, a court ier, came: He of the sharp teeth,

70 He of the envious eyes. The beaver came, our merchant guest. He of the broad tail. The swallow-noblewoman came, As did the squirrel-princess;

75 The fox-scribe was there, The scribe, the treasurer. The ermine-constable came, And the marmot, the father superior, He lives, the marmot, behind the threshing floors,

80 The bunny rabbit, our simple farmer, came, The poor rabbit, the gray little rabbit ... The hedgehog-tax-collector came: The hedgehog always huddling up, Always bristling ...

A comparison of these poetic texts, and especially of Pushkin's lines 78-79 with lines 42-43 of the Chulkov text, clearly solves the problem of Pushkin's source. His last two lines are also borrowed from the same Chulkov collection, from an old song about the hedgehog:
   Oh, you poor hedgehog, you miserable hedgehog,
   Where are you crawling, where are you huddling up. (41)

In Chulkov's text, however, only birds are mentioned, while Pushkin writes of other animals. But there are, in fact, a number of versions of the old legend that speak of both birds and other animals. For example, in a folk epic recorded by Gilferding, animals are enumerated right after the birds:
   The bear was an animal skinner;
   Many skins has he removed,
   No boots he wears on his feet.
   The wolf at sea is a sheepskin master;
   Many sheep has he skinned,
   But he wears no fur coat on his shoulders,
   Taking on great cold and frost.
   The deer is a speedy messenger,
   The hare at sea is a baker,
   With his fine white legs,
   He bakes soft fine loaves;
   And the fox is a young married woman:
   With a long tad, and it won't step ... etc. (42)

It is very possible that in addition to Chulkov's text. Pushkin had access to another written source that, like Gilferding's version, listed both birds and other animals. Overall, though, the question of this tale's sources has not been answered exhaustively. All that can be identified with certainly is the source of line 26--"And I myself.... will eat the man." This line was definitely inspired by Kirsha Dandov's collection. In the same nonsense fable from which Pushkin took the name Babarikha, we find:
   The bear seized him,
   Started to tear him up,
   And break him to pieces,
   And mangle him to death,
   And ... ate him. (43)

I have not focused on the genesis of "The Tale of the Priest and His Workman Balda" because I consider this issue to be sufficiently clarified. It is beyond doubt that Pushkin's main source was a tale he heard about a priest's workman, a summary of which he wrote down in his 1824 notebook: "A priest comes to look for a workman. Balda finds him. Balda agrees to work for him, and for payment asks only three thumps on the priest's forehead. The priest is delighted, but his wife wonders what these thumps will be like. Balda is very brawny and hardworking, but his time is almost up, and the priest starts to get worried. His wife recommends sending Balda into the forest to get a bear, as if he's going to fetch a cow; Balda goes and brings the bear back to the cowshed. The priest sends Balda to collect rent from the devil; Balda sets off with some hemp and tar and a club, sits by the river, strikes the water with his club, and the water groans ..." The note ends with Balda's healing of the tsar's daughter: "The tsar had a daughter plagued by a demon--Balda on penalty of the gallows undertakes to cure the princess--spends the night with her--brings with him iron nuts, old cards, and a hammer--forces the demon, whom he knows, to gnaw on the metal nuts; plays thumps with him and hits the demon with the hammer," and so on.

The final text of Push kin's fairy tale presents a combination of various motifs united by three basic themes: 1. A strong farm laborer working for his master, 2. A contest with the devil, and 3. The healing of the tsar's daughter. The addition of the final theme is rather unusual and indicates an idiosyncrasy of the storyteller from whom Pushkin heard the tale. With the instinct of an artist, Pushkin immediately understood the incongruousness of this addition, and he discarded the final theme from his work.

What is characteristic of Russian versions of this tale is the fact that the priest appears in the role of master; as a result, these tales acquire a sharp social commentary. Pushkin was doubtless aware of this when he chose this tale and then removed from it a number of details that were present in the text he used as a source. At the same time, he carefully preserved the anticlerical sentiment characteristic of fairy tales of this type; the priest in Pushkin's portrayal retains all those qualities assigned to him by the folk tale--greed, stupidity, and cowardice.


And so, of the six fairy tales Pushkin wrote, only one, "The Tale of the Priest and his Workman Balda," can be traced directly to the oral tradition; the rest were derived from books--from European and even Eastern (or at least what Pushkin took to be Eastern) literary sources. Of course, Kirsha Danilov and Mikhail Chulkov's collections, as well as French translations of the brothers Grimm, are all folklore too, but they provide a literary understanding of the genre rather than direct access to the authentic essence of the oral tradition. What is more, for Pushkin, as for his entire epoch, there was no real distinction between Chulkov and Danilov (the "compiler" of old Russian poems), or between Washington Irving's tales of Granada and German folk tales in French translation.

This conclusion changes our understanding of the nature and character of the sources of Pushkin's fairy tales while also shedding new light on the significance of his poetic work on them. The very fact of Pushkin's having turned to folkloric themes must also be reevaluated. We noted above that Pushkin's fain' tales represented his answer and contribution to the debate about the national character (narodnost') in literature. Now the meaning and essence of this answer is revealed to us in light of the materials and facts we have presented.

For Pushkin, the problem of narodnost' in literature could not be solved by a one-sided acquisition of "folksy" material. The turn toward a folk vernacular and toward popular tales meant something different for him. In a note on narodnost' in literature, he wrote: "one of our critics, it seems, holds that narodnost' consists in the choice of themes from our national history, while others think it is a matter of word choice, i.e., they rejoice at the use of Russian expressions when speaking Russian...." He explained to Dal that narodnost' consists neither in such a choice of themes nor "in words, phrases, or expressions." Thus Pushkin formulates a cohesive program, essentially rejecting everything subsequent scholars and critics would come to celebrate. In his work on the fairy tales Pushkin took the same path as in the rest of his career, seeking to make the entire richness of world literature his own. Oral and literary sources, as well as European and Russian folklore, were essentially the same to him. The national character was expressed neither by some specially-selected "national" material nor by the faithful reproduct ion of peasant speech with all its mistakes and idiosyncrasies. It is remarkable that Pushkin was one of the first writers to understand the international character and significance of folklore. (44) And he showed particular interest in plots he knew from both Russian and European sources, as was the case with "Saltan" and "The Dead Princess." His task, as he saw it, was to present foreign plots in such a way that they became authentically national, and this is exactly what he did with the story of the golden fish. In the same way and at the same time he was working on "Rusalka," whose plot, he also took from a foreign source (the Viennese dramaturge Karl Friedrich Hensler's comic opera Das Donauweibchen). (45)

For Pushkin the problem of narodnost' was never a question of nationalism, but he strove to convey international, or rather European content by means of a national genre. This was not only a literary, but also a social and political task. Bourgeois ideologues were criticizing the nobility for losing touch with their popular roots, while also claiming that it was impossible for writers of the nobility to express shared national sentiments or ideas. The Moscow Telegraph categorically claimed that writers of "the literary aristocracy"--i.e., Pushkin, Vyazemsky, Delvig, and Zhukovsky--were not national, but "private," expressing the thoughts and moods of just one social group that constituted only a tiny proportion of the population. The turn toward broadly folkloric material and the demonstration of his ability to make use of it were Pushkin's answer to such charges and claim s.

At the same time, however, Pushkin was also addressing other writers of his circle. He demanded that they too turn to the popular vernacular. It is very likely that Pushkin initiated the well-known competition at Tsarskoe Selo and spurred Zhukovsky to turn to fairy tales, though the latter went in a completely different direction. Defending the rights of the nobility to cultural hegemony, Pushkin realized that the nobility could not achieve such hegemony without breaking free from the limitations of their own feudal caste. He called on them to embrace, on the one hand, the European "Enlightenment," and on the other, the fullness of their own cultural heritage. The turn to the popular vernacular, to folk language and folk themes, seemed to him to represent one way out of the feudal narrowmindedness of the nobility. The turn toward the progressive ideas of the West and the call to embrace the vernacular were two sides of the same coin, and they were the product of the same thought processes. This is what set the tone for Pushkin's work on his fairy tales.

Dmitry Blagoi ties Pushkin's interest in folklore to the problem of the poet "shedding his class identity." Pushkin sought to introduce the vernacular and the folk style into literature and at the same time raise them to the level of development of the European languages, that is. to the heights of education and culture. "Pushkin not only puts forth a demonstrative demand 'to learn Russian from communion-wafer bakers and granary workers,' but also unswervingly follows it in all his subsequent literary work." "As a result of this dual intention--to draw nearer to folk literature and to speak the living vernacular--Pushkin produces his first masterpiece: Ruslan and Liudmila, a fairy-tale epic poem based on a fantasy of old-Russian life." (46)

This argument is oversimplified and does not take chronology into account. One set of sources and interests informed Ruslan and Liudmila, while another was responsible for the fairy tales. Pushkin's calls to embrace the simple people and learn Russian from bakers were from a later period and in no way preceded his first epic poem. In addition, Blagoi's interpretation gives the entire phenomenon a passive character: Pushkin's interest in folklore was, as Blagoi sees it, merely a sign of the social and psychological crisis he was going through. In fact, though, Pushkin's decisive turn toward folkloric themes in the early 1830s was not a passive result, but an active attempt to involve himself in the literary and political struggle; it was how he responded to the literary and social tasks before him at that time. The turn toward fairy tales cannot be separated from other facets of Pushkin's literary activity. We cannot touch on all of these in the present article, but we will note that the early 1830s presented Pushkin with a number of new goals and interests. At the same time as he was turning toward fairy tales, he was also transitioning to writing prose, beginning his serious study of history, and touching on new themes in his writing. During these same years he was also deeply concerned, as Julian Oksman has convincingly proven, by the issue of peasant revolution. For him this problem was inseparable from the fate of the nobility. This preoccupation is reflected in the well-known note to The History of the Pugachev Rebellion, in which Pushkin clearly lays out the division of social forces during the time of the Pugachev movement, or rather, in the face of it. And it is precisely at this time that we see a definitive mobilization of the progressive literary elite. And of course it hardly surprises us that in 1831, when Pushkin and Zhukovsky were publishing their first experiments in the fairy-tale genre, Kireevsky and Yazykov began organizing the mass collection of folk tales from across the country, white Vyazemsky worked on Fonvizin and published (with a dedication to Pushkin) a translation of Benjamin Constant's novel Adolphe. All these distinct and apparently unrelated facts constitute, if we look more closely, a unified whole that reveals the development of literary and social thought. It is in this context that we must understand the role Pushkin's fairy tales played in the formation of his style and his literary and political positions.

Translated by James McGavran

Originally published in Vremennik Pushkinskoi kommissii 1 (1936): 134-63.

(1) N. M. Iazykov, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii, ed. M. K. Azadovskii (Moscow-Leningrad: Academia, 1934); "Pis'ma P. V. Kireevskogo k N. M. Iazykovu," ed. M. K. Azadovskii, Trudy Instituia antropologii, etnografii i arkheologii Akademii Nauk 1 : 4; earlier in Izvestiia Akademii nauk SSSR po Otdeleniiu obshcheslvennykh nauk, nos. 1 and 2 (1935).

(2) A. N. Afanas'ev, Narodnye russkie skazki (Moscow, 1873), nos. 39 and 40

(3) A. M. Smirnov, Velikorusskie skazki (iz arkhiva Geograficheskogo obshchestva), 2 vols. (Leningrad, 1918), nos. 125, 140, 240, 363.

(4) M. I. Semevskii, "Skazochnik Erofei," Otechestvennye zapiski, no. 2 (1864). See also M. K. Azadovskii, ed., Russkaia skazka: Izbrannye mastera (Leningrad: Academia, 1932), 388-89.

(5) L. N. Maikov, Pushkin: Biograficheskie materialy i istoriko-literaturnye ocherki (St. Petersburg: Izd. L. F. Panteleeva, 1899), 425.

(6) V. V. Maikov, '"Skazka o rybake i rybke' Pushkina i ee istochniki," Zhurnal ministerst-va narodnogo prosveshcheniia, no. 5 (1892): 154: "The tale in Afanasiev's anthology called 'The Golden Fish' presents a story so similar to Pushkin's fairy tale that we are inclined to see in it a case of reverse influence, i.e., Pushkin's tale, once it became known to the people, served as the source of the folk tale."

(7) Jiff Polivka divides all variations on this plotline into five groups: (1) Versions in which the fisherman's wife's insatiable wishes are fulfilled by a magic fish, including Russian, Swedish, Zemaitije, Kaszebsczi, German, Flemish, Croatian, and Southern-French; (2) Russian and Altai versions in which a cat or fox takes the place of the magic fish; (3) Russian and Moravian versions in which a bird is introduced, with a further offshoot of Latvian and Alsace versions in which the bird comes to the poor man of its own accord; a white mouse does the exact same thing in a French tale; (4) The fourth group involves the forest spirit and comprises Russian and Latvian versions; the same is true of Estonian and Romanian tales. In a Polish version this forest spirit takes the form of Saint Michael, while in a Ukrainian version God himself appears in the guise of an old man; (5) Romanic versions that are completely distinct, dovetailing with tales of the giant beanstalk that grows into the heavens, where the poor man ascends; in some variations the man receives from Saint Peter some sort of magic item. J. Poliwka, Lidove povidki slovanske [Slavic folk stories] (Prague, 1929). Polivka mistakenly assigns Russian versions to the "magic fish" type because he was relying on the Afanasiev text.

(8) N. F. Sumtsov, A. S. Pushkin: Issledovaniia (Kharkov, 1900), 289-96. The striking similarity of the two texts was pointed out even earlier by Nikolai Sazonov in an article on a new translation of selected tales from the brothers Grimm by Baudry (Contes choisis de freres Grimm, traduits de I'allemand par Frederic Baudry, Paris, 1855): N. Sasonoff, "Contes populaires russes et, allemands." L'Athenaeum francaise: Revue universelle de la litterature, de la science et des beaux-arts, no. 32 (1855): 685-87.

(9) V. V. Sipovskii, "Ruslan i Liudmila (k literaturnoi istorii poemy)," Pushkin i ego sovremenniki, no. 4 (1906): 81.

(10) Pushkin often abbreviated individual words and the ends of repeated phrases. Restored lines and words are given in angled brackets; words or phrases crossed out by Pushkin, which have in some cases been preserved, are placed in square brackets.

(11) At first the word "silver" was written, then it was crossed out and replaced by something illegible. Bondi reads this word as "fine," though he follows his interpretation with a question mark.

(12) The Grimm brothers' text reads: "A storm rose up and raged so that he could barely stand up; homes and trees came crashing down, and the mountains shook so that rocks tumbled from the cliffs into the sea, and the sky was black, and thunder roared, and lightning flashed, and the sea was filled with tall, black waves like belfries or mountains, capped with large crowns of white foam" (trans. G. Irmer). See Sumtsov, Pushkin: Issledovaniia, 296.

(13) I. A. Khudiakov, Velikorusskie skctzki, vol. 3 (Moscow: Izd. K. Soldatenkova i N. Shchepkina, 1862).

(14) N. E. Onchukov, Severnye skazki, Zapiski Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva po otdeleniiu etnografii 33 (1908): 379.

(15) D. K. Zelenin, Velikorusskie skazki Permskoi gubernii: Sbornik D. K. Zelenina, Zapiski Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva po otdeleniiu etnografii 41 (1914): 280.

(16) J. Bolte and G. Poliwka, Anmerkungen zu den Kinder- und Hausmurchen der Briider Grimm, Band I, 453 (Leipzig: Dieterichsche Verlagsbuchhandlung Theodor Weicher, 1913).

(17) "And then she thought, 'People cannot help you,' and turned to the sun, saying, You penetrate into every crack and shine over the top of everything; have you seen my white dove?' 'No,' said the sun, 'I haven't seen him, but I will give you a little box--open it in your time of need.' She thanked the sun and moved on, walking until evening. When the moon appeared, she asked it: 'You pour light all night over every field and village; have you seen my white dove?' 'No,' said the moon, 'I haven't seen anything, but I'll give you an egg--break it in your time of need.' She thanked the moon and moved on until the nighttime wind appeared and surrounded her. And she asked it: 'You blow over every little tree and under every little leaf; have you seen my white dove?' 'No,' answered the nighttime wind, 'I haven't seen anything, but I will ask the three winds--they may have seen it.' The east and west winds hadn't seen anything, but the south wind said, 'I've seen your white dove, he flew off to the red sea,"' etc.

(18) A. S. Pushkin, Sochineniia, vol. 6, ed. S. A. Vengerov, Biblioteka velikLkh pisatelei (Petrograd: Brokgauz-Efron, 1915), 445.

(19) This edition is often considered the first French translation of the Grimm brothers' collection (see Bolte and Poliwka, Anmerkungen, 4: 437), but this is not true. The 1830 edition of the book was evidently the second; the first came out in 1824 or 1825, as we can surmise from the Russian translation of it published in 1826: Starinnye skcizki dlia uveseleniia detei vsekh vozrastov, perevedennye s frantsuzskogo Konstantinom Alis ... ym, s dvenadtsat'iu gravirovamiymi kartinami (Moscow, 1826). The censor's authorization is signed "11 January 1826." On the cover we find the same drawing as on the French edition of 1830. The number of tales is 28, while the French edition of 1830 contains 35. Whether the Russian translator cut tales from the first French edition or whether the second French edition was expanded is difficult to say, as it was impossible to find the first French edition in any Moscow or Leningrad libraries. The number and content of the engravings in the second French and Russian editions are identical. Whether Pushkin knew of the Russian edition or ever had access to it is unclear, ft, is more likely, however, that he used the later French edition; in any case, the tale "Der singende-springende Loweneckerchen"--"La Princesse Belle-Lion," in French--does not appear in the Russian translation.

(20) We will note here another detail that shows very clearly that Pushkin was working from a French translation and not the German original. In the Grimm brothers' tale, the stepmother is forced to put on red-hot shoes and dance in them until she falls to the ground dead; in the French translation this episode is softened: the stepmother falls ill from spite and dies. The latter is what we find in Pushkin too: "She was seized by heartache, / And the tsaritsa died."

The twelfth volume of Sovremennik, from 1838, contains a story by Evgenii Grebyonka, "The Stepmother and the Young Lady," which is a reworking of a Ukrainian version of the "Dead Princess" plot. The editorial staff provided an interesting note to this story, which was doubtless written by Pyotr Pletnyov himself: "Poetry, which still lives in folk legend, unites nations that at one time made up one people. The Slavs, who have now settled throughout southeast and parts of northwest Europe, have many shared legends that draw them together despite their political and religious differences. The article included here will remind readers of Pushkin's delightful fairy tale 'The Dead Princess,' which he borrowed from Czech legend" (Sovremennik [The Contemporary 12: 4 [1838]: 97). This commentary by Pletnyov is very interesting and valuable, as it points to yet another source for Pushkin's tale.

To what extent Pletnyov was right in this case, as well as what collection and edition he had in mind, cannot at present be determined. Polivka in his commentary to the plotline in question names only one Czech variant from a very late collection.

Perhaps our Slavists will one day be able to clarify Pletnyov's vague recollection. In any case, however, no matter the results of further research, they are not likely to refute the hypothesis that Pushkin's tales were influenced by the Grimm brothers' collection; any new source would only underline the special attention Pushkin paid to similar narratives in the folklore of various peoples. In addition, Pletnyov's note shows clearly that Pushkin's friends were well aware of the non-Russian sources of his fairy tales, though none of this is preserved in memoirs of the time.

(21) A. A. Akhmatova, "Posledniaia skazka Pushkina," Zvezda, no. 1 (1933): 161-76..

(22) Staraia pogiidka na novyi lad ilipolnoe sobranie drevnikhprostonarodnykh skazok, izdana dlia liubilelei onykh, Izhdiveniem moskovskogo kuptsa Ivana Ivanova. Chast' vtoraia.

(23) Pushkin, Sochineniia, 6: 414.

(24) Originally: "The third said: oh, my si<ster>!"

(25) This line had several variants: "Then for the tsar 1 would give birth," "I <would> make the tsa<r> happy," "I would give birth for the tsar."

(26) Originally: "my courtier."

(27) Originally: "three times."

(28) In Aarne's index of fairy-tale plots (Verzeichniss der Marchentypen), it is no. 555; it has the same number in Andreev's Russian version. See also Bolte and Poliwka, Anmerkungen, band 2, 380-394. In addition, Emmanuel Cosquin has surveyed Western European versions of the story: Contes populaires de Lorraine, vol. 1 Paris: Vieweg, 1887), 200.

(29) N. E. Onchukov, Skazki severnogo kraia. no. 21.

(30) Khudiakov, Velikorusskie skazki, nos. 87, 112.

(31) M. K. Azadovskii, Skazki Verkhnelenskogo kraia, no. 2 (Irkutsk: Izd. Vostochno-sibirskogo otdela Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, 1925).

(32) A. N. Afanas'ev, Narodnye russkie skazki [Russian Folk Tales], 2nd and later editions: no. 159 and variations.

(33) The proximity of "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" to Galland's text has already been pointed out by Sipovsky ("Ruslan i Liudmila," 82) and, more decisively, by E. Anichkova in "Opyt kriticheskogo razbora proiskhozhdeniia pushkinskoi skazki o tsare Saltane," Iazyk i literatura 2: 2 (1927): 98-102. Anichkova, however, mistakenly takes Galland's version to be a French translation of the Arabic original: moreover, the Chaucer tale she suggests as a possible source of "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" bears only the most distant similarity to Pushkin's text.

(34) A. S. Pushkin, Skazki, ed. Aleksandr Slonimskii (Leningrad: Molodaia gvardiia,1933), 20. Slonimskii bases his opinion on a great number of biographical facts and references. "Everything in the tale is described with a jocular and somewhat mocking tone. Only when the Swan Princess and Gvidon's love for her are brought up does Pushkin's tone change and become serious and lyrical. Gvidon tells the white swan of his heartache even before she turns into the beautiful princess; he says, 'Sadness and heartache gnaw at me. People are getting married--and 1 look, and I alone am unmarried.' This is a poetic echo of Pushkin's words to Krivtsov on the eve of his wedding: 'So far I have lived differently from the way others usually live. At thirty people usually get married--now I'm doing the same.' The Swan Princess's reply reflects Pushkin's prior fear of a family man's duties: 'But a wife is not a glove--you can't shake her off your hand, nor can you tuck her behind your belt,' There is no Swan Princess in folk tales about the slandered wife, nor was she in the story Pushkin heard from his nanny. What is reflected in the image of the beautiful Swan Princess and of Gvidon in love is Pushkin's personal feeling for his wife Natalia Nikolaevna."

(35) It should be kept in mind that in Pushkin's time there was not a single anthology of genuine recordings of oral tales, so his direct acquaintance with this tradition was limited to the relatively small number of storytellers he happened to encounter.

(36) Drevnerossiiskie stikhotvoreniia, sobrannye Kirshei Danilovym (Moscow, 1818), 396. I cite the 1818 edition because it is the one used by Pushkin.

(37) Ibid., 201, 275, and passim.

(38) Ibid., 217-18.

(39) V. F. Miller, Pushkin, kak poet-etnograf (Moscow, 1898).

(40) Cited according to the re-publication by P. K. Simoni, Sochineniia M. D. Chulkova, 1: Sobranie raznykh pesen (St. Petersburg, 1913), 235-39.

(41) Pesennik, pt. 4 (1780), 174.

(42) A. F. Gd'ferding, Olonetskie byliny (St. Petersburg, 1872), 334 (no. 62).

(43) Danilov, Drevnerossiiskie stikhotvoreniia, 400. Danilov's anthology is also doubtless the source of Pushkin's epithet "Shamakhan" ("the Shamakhan tsaritsa," or in the rough draft, "the Shamakhan wise man") in 'The Tale of the Golden Cockerel." The attempt by Anna Akhmatova, and later by Aleksandr Slonimsky (Skazki), to explain the epithet with reference to Russia's territorial acquisition in 1820 of the Azerbaijani city of Shamakhi, is unjustified and unconvincing.

(44) The novelty of this approach in Pushkin's day can be gleaned from one of Yazykov's unpublished letters (from the 1830s), in which he describes Pyotr Kireevsky's astonishment at finding, in the Grimm brothers' anthology, plots he knew from Russian tales.

(45) I. N. Zhdanov, Sochineniia, 2: 323-74.

(46) D. D. Blagoi, Tri veka: Iz istorii russkoi poezii XVIII, XIX i XX vv. (Moscow, 1933), 48-49.
COPYRIGHT 2019 Slavica Publishers, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Alexander Pushkin
Author:Azadovsky, Mark
Publication:Pushkin Review
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jan 1, 2019
Previous Article:From the Archives of Pushkin Scholarship: Three Essays.
Next Article:The Duel.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |