Myth-Folklore Unit: Russian Folktales

Overview. Ralston calls his book of Russian Fairy Tales "a choice collection of Muscovite folklore," and I think you will enjoy the mixture of fairy tales with other forms of folklore, especially the ghost stories, vampires, and other tales of the "undead." You will even meet the days of the week as supernatural characters in these stories, along with witches and warlocks, the forest demon called "leshy," and other distinctively Russian characters. In creating this collection, Ralston worked with some of the most famous Russian fairy tale and folktale collections of the nineteenth century, and he aimed to produce translations that were as literal as possible, thus conveying the lively, oral quality of these popular folk traditions. Here is how he explains his strategy: "An 'untouched photograph is in certain cases infinitely preferable to one which has been carefully 'worked upon.' And it is, as it were, a photograph of the Russian story-teller that I have tried to produce, and not an ideal portrait." So, instead of literary refinement, be prepared for some really Russian folklore as you explore the stories here.

Language. Ralston tells the fairy tales in modern prose, although he tries to convey a sense of the original Russian style which is highly oral, without a lot of literary refinement.

Story Length. This unit consists of short stories that are just a single page long.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Russian Folktales. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Audio Note. The LibriVox audio files have several stories in each audio file; I've provided a link in each story to the matching audio file, and you can use this LibriVox listing to see what stories appear in each audio file.

  1. The Dead Mother
  2. The Treasure
  3. The Bad Wife
  4. The Three Copecks
  5. The Miser
  6. The Water Snake
  7. Friday
  8. Wednesday
  9. The Leshy
  10. Dnieper, Volga, and Dvina
  11. Emilian the Fool
  1. The Witch Girl
  2. The Headless Princess
  3. The Warlock
  4. The Fox Physician
  5. The Fiddler in Hell
  6. The Two Friends
  7. The Shroud
  8. The Coffin-Lid
  9. The Two Corpses
  10. The Dog and the Corpse
  11. The Soldier and the Vampire