There are some great stories here. In 1833 Pushkin took a break from busy city life and retired to his estate where he wrote these tales. Even though many of these are known folk stories, which were originally told to him by his childhood nurse, Pushkin imbues them with his personality. I particularly like the fact that he directly announces his presence in these tales. He finished two by saying:
“And I was there, drinking beer and mead, and hardly wet my moustache.”
This edition has wonderful illustrations by the Australian artist Arthur Boyd. It is really nice to have a book like this as a physical object with a good translation. The favourite story for me is ‘The Story Of A Priest And His Servant Balda’. It finishes with the statement: ‘It isn’t wise to try to take a man’s labour for nothing!’ This might not sound like much; but in the political ferment of the time, and with Pushkin’s position of influence, this maxim is provocative and gives a clear indication of where his sympathies still lie.
A few very pleasant evenings were spent dipping in and out of these stories. I recommend them, and this edition, to you.
Soundtrack: Cake – Commissioning a Symphony in C.