Cossack Fairy Tales (1916)
Originally translated by British historian and linguist Robert Nisbet Bain in 1894, this collection of stories hail from an area known to us today as western Ukraine. In his introduction Bain describes the tales as being translated from “Ruthenian” (an exonymic lingonym for a language that would become Ukrainian) and gathered from three “chief collections” of folklore by Panteleimon Kulish, Ivan Rudchenko, and Mykhailo Drahomanov.
The tales featured include familiar characters and fairy tale tropes, such as a tale of a mysterious sack which grants food, a ram which gives gold, and a drum that summons henchmen who give people a good beating. This last tale can also be found in a version called "The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Ass, and the Cudgel in the Sack" by the brothers Grimm. In "The Story of little Tsar Novishny, the False sister, and the Faitful Beasts" and "The Vampire and St. Michael", the act of not crossing oneself before drinking or bathing in a stream or river leads to being possessed by the Devil, something we should all keep in mind.
This edition from 1916 is adorned with beautiful illustrations from Scottish artist Noel Laura Nisbet (who also illustrated a 1915 collection of Russian folktales, also translated by Bain.
November 12, 2015
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