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Friday, 25 February 2011

Fairy-Tale Friday: From Russia with Love #8

Each week Irena @ This Miss Loves To Read hosts Friday is for Fairy-Tales.

It is an opportunity to share a love of the fairy-tale genre throughout the blogosphere and discuss your favourite character, your childhood memories, new authors and all time favourites. You can find out more by visiting her POST.

Ever since I read Marcus Sedgwick’s Blood Red Snow White, I have wanted to read Arthur Ransome’s Old Peter’s Russian Tales. If you’ve read Blood Red, you’ll understand why. If you haven’t, then I suggest you add it to your wish list. I never realised how poetic fairy-tales could be until I read it.

So I am going to read one of Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome each week and then share it with you here.

Post 1: The Hut in the Forest, The Silver Dish and the Transparent Apple

Post 2: Sadko
Post 3: Frost
Post 4: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
Post 5: Baba Yaga
Post 6: The Cat who became Head-Forester
Post 7: The Little Daughter of the Snow

Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby and the Little Sister of the Sun

This is a very long tale and I didn’t understand the ending even though I read it twice so I’m not going to summarise it for you. I will say that it was very much in the tradition of the other tales I’ve read and there were certain elements that I loved about it.

One thing that was different about this tale is that the main character is a boy prince and he has a name – Ivan. He was born mute and so his parents didn’t love him. They believed that any child who could speak would be better than Ivan. So they prayed for such a child. They got what they wished for – a daughter. But she was born an evil witch with iron teeth. She ate her parents and she wants to eat her little brother but Ivan escapes. He goes to the end of the world on a black stallion and lives in the cloud castle of the little sister of the sun.

I really liked Ivan. He was kind-hearted and innocent. Very much in the tradition of the child victim/ hero of these Russian tales. I hadn’t realised until I started this feature how much the familial situation features in fairytales. Be it sibling, parent, or step-relation, the family figure always seems to be a source of external and sometimes internal conflict.

The other characters that Ivan met along the way all added a charm and quirky feel to the story – the two grandmothers who sew, the tree-rooter and the mountain-thrower. Again there were the three meetings before reaching the hero reaches destination.

I was enchanted by the little sister of the sun. She was a happy-go-lucky and caring girl who didn’t stop Ivan following his heart.

I loved this line: ‘They borrow the stars to play ball, and put them back at night whenever they remember’.

It would have been my favourite tale if only I understood how Ivan and little sister of the sun conquered the baby witch. There is definitely something sinister about an overgrown baby with gnashing iron teeth.


Bookworm1858 said...

What an odd fairy tale that you couldn't even understand the ending; I think fairy tales are supposed to be the kinds of stories where things are pretty clearcut and understandable so that disappoints me.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wow! So, the downside of this fairy-tale is the very confusing ending, but other than that, it sounds great. There IS something very sinister about a baby with iron teeth eating her parents and terrorising her brother. Creepy!

Ivan sounds great! It's sad that his parents didn't want him because he was mute (they kind of deserved being eaten, hehe), but it's so sweet he found happiness.

That line is so nice!

Thank you for this wonderful post, Becky!

Asamum said...

I really enjoy these posts Becky. Thanks for doing them