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Friday, 11 March 2011

Fairy-Tale Friday: From Russia with Love #10

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
Post 8: Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby and Little Sister of the Sun
Post 9: The Stolen Turnips, the Magic Tablecloth, the Sneezing Goat and the Wooden Whistle

Little Master Misery

This is another long and winding tale and it would make a gigantic post to read so I am just going to give you a sense of what it is about.

There were two brothers. One who went off and made his fortune, loved all things extravagant and enjoyed making merry with the merchants. The other was a poor man, who had no money for food and his wife and children were starving. The poor brother swallows his pride and asks his brother for help. He works for him for a week and the rich brother pays him with a loaf of bread. He also invites him to his name-day celebration – a grand feast. The poor brother and wife his go along but the rich brother is so self-involved that he forgets to asks the servants to give food and wine to his family guests. They go home hungry and that is when they meet Little Master Misery.

The tale goes on from there. What’s different about this tale is that neither brother is defined as good or evil. When the poor brother gets the chance of riches, he takes them and traps little Master Misery. The rich one who at first helps his brother becomes resentful of his change of fortune and of course, he forgot about him at the feast. The characterisation is much more ambiguous than I’ve seen in the other Russian tales.

Little Master Misery is not innocent either. He encourages the poor brother and then later the rich brother to spend away what possessions they own in the tavern. They drink themselves into poverty.

So reading this tale, I wasn’t wishing any of the characters a happy ending. Kindness should be repaid with kindness not cruelty and perhaps that is the heart of this story. This one wasn’t really for me but perhaps it is a more realistic exploration of human nature.


Cliona said...

Yes, it doesn't sound great compared to some of the other tales.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

I agree, this one is not as good as some of the other Russian tales. But yes, envy is a nasty thing and can breed vengeance and cruelty. I will always believe that kindness can only be repaid with kindness.

Thank you for the post, Becky!

Bookworm1858 said...

Last week's story definitely sounded more interesting and more clear-cut. I think I like fairy tales best when there is a definite good and evil character-isn't that kind of the point?

Asamum said...

Sounds like a reflection of todays society, lol.
I love these posts THANKS