Myth-Folklore Unit: Czech Folktales

Overview. While there are several Czech folktale collections available in English, The Key of Gold by Josef Baudis is my favorite. It contains some stories which are distinctively Czech, such as the weird and wonderful story of the water demon called "Waternik" (Czech vodyanoy), but most of the storiesare Czech variations on famous European tales. So, for example, Sleepy John is a Czech version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses — except that this time there is just one dancing queen, and she goes through twelve pairs of shoes all by herself each night that she goes dancing on the "green meadows in Hell." Or, to take another example: the story of The Three Roses here is a variation on Beauty and the Beast, but this time it is the beauty's mother, not her father, who plucks the rose from the beast's garden, and the beast takes the form of a basilisk this time. I won't tell you just what it is the beauty must do to free him from the spell of enchantment, but I can tell you that it is certainly not a kiss!

Language. Baudis tells the fairy tales in modern literary prose, so it is not difficult reading.

Story Length. The stories in this unit are all single page stories, with just one two-page story.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on a single page: Czech Folktales.