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Friday, 15 July 2011

Fairy-Tale Friday: From Russia with Love #17

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.

Click HERE for link to Posts 1 – 10 of this feature.

Post 12 - The Golden Fish
Post 13 - Alenoushka and Her Brother
Post 14 - The Firebird, The Horse of Power and the PrincessVasilissa
Post 15 - The Hunter and his Wife
Post 16 - The Three Men of Power – Evening, Midnight andSunrise

This is the last fairy-tale in the collection. There is just one final post to follow in this feature.


Salt is a story of three brothers. You may remember that I read a Welsh fairytale for St David’s Day and that too was all about salt but actually they are rather different stories.

This Salt is not really about where salt comes from or why the sea is salty (which is what the Welsh tale explored).

This story is like many of the Russian tales I have read is about family and about the archetypal fairytale characters. The hero of this tale is the youngest brother Ivan who is a Ninny. Ivan is lazy and his father believes he is a ninny. Ivan’s elder brothers are given ships by their father to make their fortunes but Ivan is not. Eventually Ivan decides he wants to make his fortune and pleads with his parents for a small ship. They grant him his wish but the ship is old, his crew are ancient sailors and his cargo is rags and scraps.

When Ivan sets sail, he encounters a great storm and eventually his ship runs a ground on an island. Ivan who knows how to speak to the old sailors sets them to work on mending the sails with the scraps and rags while he investigates the island. He comes across a mountain of white. Being thirsty, he puts a handful of the white snow in his mouth but he spits it out again because it is not snow but salt.

Realising he has found real Russian salt he gets his sailors to throw everything overboard and fill the ship with salt. Then he sets sail and soon arrives at the palace of a Tsar. He tries to sell him the salt but the Tsar thinks he is trying to fool him. So Ivan puts salt in the Tsar’s food and it has never tasted so good. So the Tsar calls for Ivan and they agree a price for the salt (Ivan gets his fortune). The Tsar’s daughter wants to see on board the ship and to be honest she too is a bit of a ninny. She and Ivan are made for each other. She wants to see the anchor, they raise it and of course the ship sails with the princess on board. So she leaves her home behind, falls in love with Ivan and they marry.

Nearing home, Ivan spies his two brothers at sea. He decides to sail with them home. But seeing his success in business and beautiful wife, his brothers cast him overboard. They return home and claim to their father that they have earned the prizes themselves.

To cut a long story short, Ivan is not dead and with the help of a giant returns home and regains his riches and his loving wife.

My thoughts:
I think this story has a message for both parents and their children. Parents can often underestimate their children’s potential – this story shows that children can and do prove their worth and value. Parents can also compare their children and this something that they should never do. Children must also realise that their parents don’t know everything and that they can teach them important lessons too.

1 comment:

Pepca said...

I agree with your interpretation of the fairy tail it sends an important message how we have to be patient with other people and give them a chance as they might surprise us by what they can do. Thanks for sharing this.