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Russian Fairy Tales

Illustration for Russian fairy tale, "The Stone Flower."

Illustration for Russian fairy tale, "The Stone Flower."

Fairy tales do come true!

Once upon a time . . . I was living and teaching in Germany and I had an opportunity to visit the Soviet Union (Russia) over spring break. I jumped at the opportunity and couldn't believe my good fortune when the Soviet Union issued me a visa to visit their county. They are very picky about who they let into their country. A friend of mine had recently visited the Soviet Union and was literally asked to leave (kicked out) and her visa revoked and to this day we don't know why.

I was surprised my visa came so quickly because I was working for the Department of Defense as a teacher, and I thought I would be the last one to get a visa. But, wonders never cease to amaze me and so off I flew to Moscow to visit behind the Iron Curtain as it was the year 1982.

So, my fairy tale of visiting Russia was coming true. One of the most charming and enchanting parts of Russia, to my surprise, were the books I found of Russian fairy tales. I was fascinated by the books and stories but they were all in the Russian language.

A very kind and wonderful sales clerk in an old Russian book store located on Nemsky Prospect somehow found an edition of the fairy tales collected by Aleksandr Afanasyev printed in English. I was able to purchase the book and still manage to grab a spot on the trolley car even though it was shoulder to shoulder Russians.

A Russian gentleman stood up and gave me his seat and the woman next to me with her babushka on her head, smiled and with a twinkle in her eye, pointed to my Russian Fairy Tale book. She said something in Russian that I had no idea what it meant, but she opened the book and showed me her favorite fairy tales to read. She chose them by the gorgeous and colorful illustrations in the book.

Here, were fairy tales, the folk legends of Russians, that were bringing us together in a moment of friendship. I nodded my head yes and told her I would read those tales first, of course in English which she didn't understand. But, through smiles and gestures she understood me and I understood her.

If only the political leaders of our two nations could communicate as well as the Russian woman and I did that day. The Russian fairy tales tell the stories of the Russian people, their beliefs, values, customs and culture in a time far before the reality of the Soviet Union. Just like the fairy tales of my youth, these beautifully illustrated tales enchanted me also.

Therefore, the tales I write about here today are the ones the women on the trolley car recommended to me and I have read from my book. I have read them to my niece and nephews when they were small. These fairy tales are just as important as the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Charles Perrault.

But, who exactly collected the fairy and folk tales of Russia?

Illustration from Russian Fairy Tales.

Illustration from Russian Fairy Tales.

Photo of Aleksandr Afanasyev

Photo of Aleksandr Afanasyev

"Russian Fairy Tales," by Aleksandr Afanasyev.

"Russian Fairy Tales," by Aleksandr Afanasyev.

One of the most popular of Russian fairy tales.

One of the most popular of Russian fairy tales.

Aleksandr Afanasyev 1826 - 1871

He was a Russian Slavist who published nearly 600 Russian folk tales and fairy tales and his collection is one of the largest folk tale collections in the world. Aleksandr Afanasyev has earned the reputation as being the Brother Grimm of Russia.

From 1855 to 1863 he published his world famous Russian Fairy Tales (Narodnye russkie skazki) in eight volumes. It is the most comprehensive work on East Slavic folk tales widely acknowledged internationally. At the time of its publication Russian Fairy Tales was superior to any similar Western European collections. It even surpassed the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.

Afanasyev was so particular in his collecting of tales that this first publication of his is considered to be ahead of its time. He owes his prominent place in Russian literature history of Slavonic philology chiefly to these Russian tales.

He was inspired by the earlier famous collections of the Brothers Grimm, but from a scientific point of view, his collection goes further. He and his collections are noted for the number of contributors he had, and he tried to give the source and place where each tale was originally told. Many of the tales were not written down, but verbally told from generation to generation.

Afanasyev never tried to give any definitive version of a folk tale. For example, if he gathered seven versions of one folk type, he edited them all and included them all in the collection.

Prior to Afanasyev's collection of works in the 1850s, only a few attempts had ever been made to record or study the folk beliefs of peasant Russia. And, it was not until the 18th and 19th century that secular literature developed in the vernacular Russian.

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Afanasyev's collections make a highly valuable contribution to the dissemination and legitimization of Russian culture and folk belief.

He also drew upon the mythological school that treated legends and tales as a mine of information for the study of more ancient pagan mythology. One tale, "Vasilissa the Beautiful" depicts the conflict between the sunlight (Vasilissa), the storm (her step-mother) and dark clouds (her step-sisters). The witch, Baba Yaga, appears in many of the Russian fairy tales and is a favorite character in many of the Russian tales.

As a great archivist, Afanasyev gave lots of information, evidence, documents, and passages of the old chronicles about Old Russian culture, history and tradition. He was asked by the Russian Geographic Society of St. Petersburg to publish the folktales archives that the Society had been in possession of for about ten years. These archives are at the beginning of his collection.

Afanasyev chose seventy-four tales out of these, and he also added to them the enormous collection of Vladimir Dahl which consisted of about 1000 texts from which he kept 148 numbers, finding the other ones too distorted. He included his own collection of about ten folktales from the Voronejh Region and a few other collections.

He also collected folk and fairy tales from amateur collectors all over Russian. His goal was to find as many genuine texts free from contaminations and the combining with other stories. He rejected retelling, polishing or literary revisions of his tales.

He added some tales already published, "Maria Marievna," and "The Firebird and the grey wolf" for examples.

Texts in Afanasyev's collection originate from over thirty Russian provinces, three Ukrainian provinces and one Belorussian. He proposed scholarly strategies for collecting, transcribing, editing and publishing oral sources and criteria for using reliable informants. This is also part of his great contribution to Russian literature and Russian fairy tales.

Afanasyev's contribution to fairy tale literature was his systematic collection, description and classification of material. He was very careful about preserving the peculiarities of oral speech, dialects and their specific grammatical and syntactic structures. He left them all in his collection.

He modeled his fairy tales after Kinder und Hausmarchen, by the Brothers Grimm because he was interested in parallels between Slavic and German folk tales.

The collection had its critics but it was widely appreciated by scholars in Russia and abroad. He not only collected but studied his material. He managed to widen his perspective still further by incorporating folklore genres such as heroic, epic, ritual folklore etc. His classifications of fairy tales: animal tales, magic tales, humorous tales, satirical tales, anecdotes, etc. are still used by folklorists today.

Besides Russian Fairy Tales, Afanasyev also edited Russian Folk Religious Legends (1859) which was a compilation of his collection for children comrpising of a set of animal, magic,and humorous tales. This collection waas banned because of the harsh censorship in Tzarist Russia and the Church thought the colletion was blasphemous. He also collected the Russian Fairy Tales for Children (1870). Besides fairy tales he collected folk songs, proverbs, and parables.

His Russian Forbidden Tales was an assortment of unprintable tales that had to be published in Switzerland anonymously because these tales were deemed obscene and anti-clerical subject matter by Imperial Russia.

Aleksandr Afanasyev died penniless but left a rich legacy through his fairy tale collections.

Below are four of his tales from Russian Fairy Tales and you will see how they also have been "borrowed" by other cultures and placed in their fairy tale collections.

Illustration of Russian fairy tale. "Vasilissa the Beautiful."

Illustration of Russian fairy tale. "Vasilissa the Beautiful."

Illustration from "The Princess Who Never Smiled."

Illustration from "The Princess Who Never Smiled."

The Princess Who Never Smiled or The Unsmiling Tszarevna

There once was a Princess named Euna who never smiled or laughed. Her father promised which ever man made her smile would win her hand in marriage. Many men of all ages tried to make Princess Euna laugh, but none succeeded.

Meanwhile, across town, an honest worker worked hard and long for his master. At the end of the year, the master put a sack of money on the table, told the worker to take as much money as he wanted, and then left the room.

The honest worker took only one coin so as not to sin and take too much. As he walked home from work with his coin, he stopped by the well for a drink of water. As he bent down to drink some water, the coin fell into the well and disappeared and so he lost it.

A year later, the same thing happened to the honest workman. The third year rolled around and the worker again took only one coin, but when he drank from the well this time, he did not lose the coin and the other two coins floated up to him and he retrieved them.

He decided to see the world with all his money and good fortune. He then came across a mouse who asked him for alms and so he gave the mouse a coin. He then did the same for a beetle and a catfish.

On his wandering, he came across the castle and saw Princess Euna looking at him. This surprised and astounded him and he fell in the mud. The mouse, beetle and catfish came to his aid and the Princess burst out laughing at their antics.

She pointed to him as the man who had made her laugh. When he was brought to the castle he had turned into a handsome man. He married Princess Euna and . . . they lived happily every after.

Ilustration from "The Flying Horse."

Ilustration from "The Flying Horse."

Illustration from "The Frog Princess."

Illustration from "The Frog Princess."

The Frog Princess or Tsarevna Frog

Once upon a time a King wanted his three sons to marry so he set up a test to help them find brides. The test was to shoot arrows and find their brides where ever the arrow landed.

The two oldest brother's arrows landed in the houses of the daughters of an aristocratic wealthy merchants. The youngest son was named Ivan and his arrow landed in the mouth of a frog in a swamp, who turned into a princess at night, though Ivan was clueless that this happened.

The King assigned his three prospective daughters-in-law various tasks such as spinning cloth and baking bread. In every task, the frog out performed the other two lazy brides to be.

But, Ivan was ashamed of his frog bride; however, when she outperformed the other two, she turned into a beautiful human princess.

Ivan and his beautiful princess lived happily ever after.

Note: This fairy tale exists in several countries with many different versions of the tale. Englishman, Andrew Lang included an Italian variant entitled, "The Frog" in his volume, The Violet Fairy Book.

Italo Calvino included another Italian variant from the Piedmont region of Italy titled, "The Prince Who Married a Frog," in his Italian Folktales. This tale was common throughout Europe.

Georgios A. Megas included a Greek version, "The Enchanted Lake" in Folktales of Greece.

From "The Glowing Bird."

From "The Glowing Bird."

Illustration from "Father Frost."

Illustration from "Father Frost."

Father Frost

There once was an old woman who had both a daughter whom she loved and a step-daughter that she hated. One day the old woman ordered her husband to take her step-daughter out to the winter fields and leave her there to die and the husband obeyed her.

Father Frost found the step-daughter there but she was so kind and polite to him he gave her a chest full of beautiful things and fine clothing. After a while, her stepmother sent her father to bring back the girl's body to be buried which the husband also obeyed her.

Soon the family dog told the old woman that the girl would be coming back and that she was beautiful and happy.

When the old woman saw what the step-daughter had returned with, she ordered her husband to take her own daughter out into the fields. Unlike her step-sister, the daughter was rude to Father Frost and so he froze her to death.

When the husband went out to bring the daughter back, the dog told the old woman that she would be buried.

When the husband brought back the dead and frozen body of the daughter, the old woman sobbed and wept.

Note: Englishman, Andrew Lang included this tale as "The Story of King Frost," in the Yellow Fairy Book (1894).

Beruska dolls depicting "The Fisherman and the Magic Fish", from Russian Fairy Tales.

Beruska dolls depicting "The Fisherman and the Magic Fish", from Russian Fairy Tales.

Illustration from "The White Duck."

Illustration from "The White Duck."

The White Duck

A King had to leave his beautiful newly-wed Queen to go on a journey. He sternly warned her against leaving the women's quarters and listening to bad advice.

But, a wicked witch lured the beautiful Queen bride into the garden and into a pool and turned her into a white duck.

Then, the wicked witch took the Queen's own form and place next to the King. Meanwhile, the Queen, now the white duck, built a nest and laid three eggs. Two eggs hatched into fluffy ducklings and one ugly drake.

The White Duck warned her three ducklings against the castle because an evil witch lived there, but the three ducklings couldn't stay away from the castle. One day the wicked witch lured them inside. Here, the ducklings slept but the drake stayed awake.

When the witch called for them, the drake answered. But, after two answers, the witch went into see and saw the ducklings were asleep, so she killed them. The Queen, now the white duck, found the bodies and lamented over them.

The King wondered at what was happening and the witch tried to persuade him it was nothing but quacking. The King however ordered the duck be captured. His servants could not catch the white duck, so the King went himself.

The White Duck flew into the King's arms and then the white duck turned back into the Queen. The Queen told the King of a bottle of water in her nest in the garden. They sent a magpie to retrieve it, sprinkled water on the ducklings and drake and they turned into three lovely children.

The evil witch was put to death through dismemberment and nothing remained of her. The King, the Queen and their three children lived happily ever after.

Note: Englishman Andrew Lang included this tale in The Yellow Fairy Book.

Also note the beautiful illustrations that have always accompanied the tales in Russian Fairy Tales. They are bright colors and many times set on black backgrounds to make the illustration 'pop off' the pages. The illustrations are as beautiful and interesting as the tales themselves. Most of these illustrations were painted by Vainetsov Neimeyana, Victor Vasnetsov, or Ivan Bilibin, all Russian illustrators.


Beautiful Russian lacquered box that depicts a Russian fairy tale.

Beautiful Russian lacquered box that depicts a Russian fairy tale.

The Frog Princess Part 1

The Frog Princess Part II

The Frog Princess Part III

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    I have always loved fairy tales. When I was a child, I especially loved them when I sat on my father's lap and he read them to me. I was safe and secure no matter how many hobgoblins, witches, ice queens, or mean step-mothers were out there. Sitting.
  • The Brothers Grimm and their fairy tales
    Besides Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark, the two most well-known storytellers of European folk tales are the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm of Germany, who developed an interest and curiosity in folklore and as scholarly researchers...
  • French fairy tales
    Some of our favorite fairy tales we listened to as children were originally written and/or collected by these three top French fairy tale writers who introduced us to the genre of fairy tales.


RussianInHere on March 23, 2017:

Suddenly I surfed on this page and read comments. And I am very disappointed about what "Suzette Walker suzettetaos" says about my country. I would like to say that most people visiting Russia and that visited the Soviet Union had utterly other experiences.

And as a citizen of Russia I can say that that was extremely biased opinion of a person which is most probably hate Russia.

Greeting all the other people on here, I am glad you liked the tales.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on November 03, 2014:

StayPos: I am so glad you enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for you kind comments. I was very fortunate to be able to go to Russia and I was enchanted by their fairy tales. Thanks for your visit and your enthusiasm for this.

StayPos from Florida, USA on November 02, 2014:

Suzette, thanks for sharing such tremendous hub! Your writing was engaging, entertaining and very educational :-) In particular, the anecdotal references to your trip to Russia draws us in and let's us feel the wonder of it all! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on October 14, 2014:

M\arie: I am so glad you read this especially since your are Slavish. Many of these tales are Slavish so you must have enjoyed this. How wonderful that your grandfather told you these fairy tales himself. How special that is. Thanks so much for your kind comments and I thank you for reading this.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 14, 2014:

Suzette, I had to read this firstly because of the beautiful illustration leading this hub and secondly because I'm half Slavish.

I, too, love fairy tales. I wish I could remember my grandfather's version of Loftebroda, Voliverk, and Myeszezelizo (phonetic spellings)!

This is a well organized, personalized article. I enjoyed the writing so much that I didn't feel a need to watch the videos.

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful cultural experience!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on October 13, 2014:

What a wonderful idea and performance. It sounds lovely and I would haveovex to see this. Russian fairy tales are near and dear to my heart. Thank you for telling me this and for your lovely comments.

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on October 13, 2014:

Thank you for this, thoroughly enjoyed it. In my drama class I used the Firebird story often, turning it into a drama with a small group, including one or two autistic young men. We did the whole thing - built a big Firebird out of different materials, created a magic apple tree and set the scene for our play. A very magical experience. From the Tzar to Babayaga, from the crow to the Firebird itself, a wonderful rich story.

Voted up and shared.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 30, 2014:

ecogranny: Thank you so much for your comments and your interest. I have been surprised to see how many of these fairy tales are included in many different countries with only a little bit of a different version of them. I think the western world has a very common culture, values, and beliefs. It is so interesting to see how each country tells and illustrates the story. The Russian illustrations top everyone else, in my opinion. Thanks so much for your visit.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on August 28, 2014:

Well said. Whatever culture we may find ourselves visiting or embracing, quite often we have so much more common ground than we think, and our folk tales show it.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 26, 2014:

ecogranny: Thank you so much for your kind comments. Travelling to Russia was one of the highlights of my time living in Europe. I will always refer to it as Russia, because of its rich culture and history and the Russian people were wonderful and kind to us. I was not meeting Soviet Communism at all. I saw it in my surroundings, but the people were Russians, not Soviets. Their fairy tales do acknowledge them as Russians, certainly not Soviets. That is why fairy tales are so important to every culture - they present who the people of a country really are, despite the political situation at the times.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 26, 2014:

DDE: Thanks so much for your kind words. I bet there are many Croatian fairy tales too, I just have not heard them yet! LOL! I find it interesting that many of these fairy tales are found in each country just a different version. I think basically we are all human and we can all relate to these fairy tales. The Russian ones are so beautifully illustrated and stand out to me.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on August 26, 2014:

From your own story of almost magically getting to go to Russia and finding the book, to the story of Mr. Afanasyev and his careful attention to collecting and preserving the integrity of the folk tales, to the the tales themselves, you have written a simply gorgeous article. Thank you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 25, 2014:

Awesome! I enjoyed learning more about such tales. The introduction was approached so interestingly.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 25, 2014:

beth: I am so sorry you didn't have a chance to know your grandmother and your father for that matter. Let me tell you, that the Russian people were so friendly when I was there. I say the Russian people because although they lived under Soviet Communism, they were not really Communists and didn't like their style of government. They wanted so much to connect with Americans because of our freedoms and liberties we had. They wanted to show us that they were Russians and not Soviet Communists. Russia and its people have a rich culture and history and that's what they wanted us to take home with us from our visit. And, that is what I took home with me. I have nothing but respect for the Russian people but distain for the Soviet Communist government. That's why I loved bringing Russian fairy tales home with me. I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this and thanks so much for your comments and insight.

Beth Perry from Tennesee on August 24, 2014:

suzettenaples, I wish I had met her. I barely knew my biological father, though he did leave many family heirlooms and things with my mother. From what I've been told Grandmother's family had quite an interesting tale, though tragic. But father was in his 50's when I was born, and his mother had already passed on by the time I met him.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 24, 2014:

bethperry: I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this. Yes, the illustrations to these fairy tales are just as wonderful as the tales themselves. How interesting that your grandmother was from Russia. I am sure she introduced you to these wonderful fairy tales. What a wonderful culture you come from.

Beth Perry from Tennesee on August 24, 2014:

suzettenaples, this is a LOVELY introduction to Russian fairytales! I had a grandmother who was born in Russia, and I've always been impressed with the beauteous way the manuscripts were put together. And indeed, the tales are richly told, and often have valuable lessons to be found in the storylines (even for the adult reader). Great job!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 24, 2014:

mckbirdbks: LOL! I also voted for you but now I can't remember the category. It might have been the same category, I'm not sure but I know voted for you. Thanks so much and I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Afanasyev kept publishing works in Russia that were banned and/or censored and so he died penniless. But, he was rich in the fairy tales he collected and published and left us with some great stories as well as the other fairy tale writers in Europe. Thanks so much for your visit.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 24, 2014:

It is articles such as this that gained you my vote for, 'Best Hubpages Teacher' hope you enjoy your tee-shirt. Aleksandr Afanasyev sounds like quite the bibliophile and dying penniless is just the price that is to be paid. This article is a great addition to your Fairy Tales theme.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

travmaj: You really have the insight for this article. Isn't it something that through fairy tales we all experience the same stories and the cycle you state - darkness, challenge and then the light and happy ever after. I couldn't have said it better. I'm with you when you say that at this time in our lives we question the happy ever after bit. Life does not always end that way, but I think we keep trying to believe. I think as different cultures we have more in common than we do differences. I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this and thanks for your visit.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

lambservant: Thank you so much for your comments. I will never forget that trip to Russia for that reason. The Russian people were so friendly to us and really wanted to connect with us. I am so glad we could connect over the Russian fairy tales because it proved that as human beings we are not that different from one another. I have always loved the illustrations of the fairy tales as much as the tales. Thanks so much for your input and I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

Hi Faith: I have always had a soft spot on my heart for Russian fairy tales and for the Russian people. They really reached out to connect with us on a human level. I found that we had more in common than we did differences and the Russian fairy tales are a great example of that. It is a shame that 'we just can't all get along.' What a wonderful world it would be if we didn't have the Vladimir Putin's of the world. They wish to divide rather than to come together and make this world a better place.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

Nell, yes I was very fortunate to experience that trip. It was amazing on so many levels. The Russian people at that time wanted so badly to reach out to us and communicate. What I find amazing is we found a way to connect with them and make ourselves understood with one another. It is a shame that politically we are arch enemies. Left to the people we would be friends. Russia has such a rich history and culture, that it was so sad to see it under the Soviet Union. I would love to visit there now, even though I despise Putin, and see the differences from the Soviet days. It really is a small world.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

Jackie: Thank you so much for your input as I agree with you so much. As people, we can connect on some level with those different from us. I also connected with the Russian people when I visited St. Basil's in Red Square. A friend and I walked into St. Basil's and there were two little elderly woman in their babuska's and when they saw us, made the sign of the cross. We were so started by that because under the Soviet Union we assumed everyone was atheist. Well, we made the sign of the cross back to them, and watched as tears streamed down their faces. To this day, I get tingles up and down my spine when I remember that moment. When we left St. Basil's we realized those two women were probably about 80 years old and would have remembered Russia and their religion before the Russian Revolution. I was so touched by the Russian people on my trip and I will never forget their attempts to speak and connect with us Americans. Their fairy tales, like ours, can bring us together and not divide us. We have more in common with the rest of the world than we do differences.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

Audrey: How wonderful to have had a Russian grandmother that read these to you and in Russian. Did you understand and/or speak Russian as a child? Even if you didn't understand the Russian, I bet you could follow the story by the pictures/illustrations. Thanks so much for your input. Very interesting!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

John: Thank you so much for reading and for your input. I do not find it silly for a grown man to have a good fairy tale book. I think fairy tales are so important to our growth as children and human beings. I have a book and collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales on my bookshelf. As an adult, I find them as interesting as a child; however, as an adult, I can see and understand the 'moral' or the message the tale gives us. Thanks so much for your visit and I am pleased you enjoyed this.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

SANJAY: Thank you so much for reading this and for your input. I am amazed at how many countries have shared or have their own versions of these fairy tales. I don't know much about Indian fairy tales, but it doesn't surprise me that your country has its own version of The White Duck. Basically, all our our countries have the same set of values, customs and cultural entities. We all have more in common than we do differences. It truly is a wonderful world!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 23, 2014:

Bill: Who knew about Russian fairy tales? I didn't until visiting Russia. Visiting Russia was really the trip of a lifetime. I saw it under the Soviet Union, but the Russian people are so kind and friendly. They wanted so much to reach out to Americans, especially. I would love to visit it today and see it under 'freedom.' Although, I despise Vladimir Putin, I still think the Russian people would embrace Americans. I had so many wonderful experiences connecting with the Russian people when I was there. I was so surprised when the woman in the bookstore pulled out the Russian fairy tales in English. I have wondered if an American had perhaps exchanged and English book for a Russian one. I also brought home two volumes of Russian poetry written in Russian. Like I can read those! LOL! But it is wonderful to have poetry books written in Russian. That trip was a real eye opener to the Cold War and at the same time I saw the Soviets and communism beginning to crumble. I had also seen the Berlin Wall and I literally cried when I saw the Berlin Wall come down on the news programs. Freedom, and freedom in literature, were amazing to watch and realize. Thanks so much for your visit, Bill and I am pleased you enjoyed reading this.

travmaj from australia on August 22, 2014:

Suzzette, I found this fascinating too and the images are stunning - keep wanting to re examine them. Interesting how fairy tales universally embrace darkness, before a resolution and a happy ever after. Hmmmm - I used to believe the happy bit - perhaps age has wearied me! Then there's the familiar wicked stepmother and of course I'm accustomed to the innocent girl kissing a frog and he was a Prince. I'm impressed with the Russian fairy tales. I'm impressed with russian literature too - it all blends together.

Lori Colbo from United States on August 22, 2014:

Fascinating. I, too, loved the structure of this article. First your personal experience, then a bio of a fairly tale editor, and finally, the stories. Love the images too. Nice job.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 21, 2014:

Thank you for sharing of the beautiful Russian Fairy Tales as well as your trip to Russia which added much interest. That is sweet about you and the Russian woman relating to the book of Russian Fairy Tales. Such beautiful artwork in the imagery. I have never read a Russian Fairy Tale before but I want to do so now. The videos are wonderful.

It is truly sad about the countryside and such poverty.

Voted up ++++ and away

Blessings always

Nell Rose from England on August 21, 2014:

That's amazing that you visited Russia, and sad that it was in such a poor state, that's why that woman I expect showed you those pictures in the book, she probably thought why can't it still be like this? beautiful hub and those pictures are amazing!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 21, 2014:

Beautiful Fairy Tales and I love the conversation you had with the Russian woman and yes what a wonderful world it would be if we didn't have such power seeking leaders. Guess it makes sense that one day in the good and bad will be divided forever. Then we don't have to wonder who we can speak to. ^+

Audrey Howitt from California on August 21, 2014:

My grandmother read these to us in Russian when we were little--some of my very best memories!!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on August 21, 2014:

Wonderful hub Suzette. As a grown man I shouldn't admit this- but I am a sucker for fairy tales :) I have a book that has a collection from around the world and another of Hans Christian Anderson, etc. the thing I like most about fairy tales is the moral to the story in each of them. Love the wonderful Russian art work accompanying these. Voted up.

Sanjay Sharma from Mandi (HP) India on August 21, 2014:

In the Indian version of tale of, The Frog Princess, there is mice instead. In another version of, The White Duck, the Indian tale has a witch who puts a nail into the head of the princess and makes her a bird. The prince while caressing the bird pulls the nail and she again becomes the princess.

Another tales too have similar variations even among the illiterate folk in remote areas. I am surprised, why it is so. It may be a matter of research.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 21, 2014:

I love that you started this with a personal story explaining your visit to Russia. There personalized this and made it much more interesting. Very well done, Suzette, and I envy you that trip.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 21, 2014:

ologsinquito: Under the Soviet Union rule, no the Russian countryside was not charming. It was muddy, dirty, broken down farm houses and barns. The animals were skinny with bones showing through the skin. It was hard to see the poverty and how hard the Russians worked to eek out a living. I felt sad for the Russian people an grateful for the U.S. The Russian fairy tales are from another time before the Soviet Union, under Tzarist rule. And, because they were verbally passed down from generation to generation, the illustrations are so beautiful because they depict the scenes from centuries before.

ologsinquito from USA on August 21, 2014:

You're fortunate to have been able to visit Russia. I imagine the Russian countryside as very charming, almost like a fairy tale, as depicted by your illustrations.

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