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Old Peter's Russian Tales

Arthur Ransome

Book Overview: 

Arthur Ransome is best known for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series of children’s books. These stories are all from Russian folklore, some comparatively well-known, others less so. Ransome spent some years in Russia as a newspaper correspondent fir the ‘Daily News’ and the ‘Manchester Guardian’ and was peripherally involved in the revolution. In the late twenties he married Evgenia Shvelpina, Trotsky’s secretary, retired from newspapers and started writing his children’s books.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .She ran to meet him, and shouted out,—

"Where are the little ones?"

"In the sledge."

She snatched off the blankets and pulled aside the rushes, and found the bodies of her two cross daughters.

Instantly she flew at the old man in a storm of rage. "What have you done to my children, my little red cherries, my little pigeons? I will kill you with the oven fork! I will break your head with the poker!"

The old man listened till she was out of breath and could not say another word. That, my dears, is the only wise thing to do when a woman is in a scolding rage. And as soon as she had no breath left with which to answer him, he said,—

"My little daughter got riches for soft words, but yours were always [68] rough of the tongue. And it's not my fault, anyhow, for you yourself sent them into the forest."

Well, at last the old woman got her breath again, and scolded away till she was tired out. But in t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A couple of these were creepy-cool, but it's starting to feel like fairy tales are pretty much all the same no matter where you go. Women are assholes, men are emasculated by their asshole women, someone recommends you give her a good beating be she daughter, step-daughter, or wife, there's occasion

Amazing folks/fairy tales. Not quite appropriate for my kids yet (5 and 7y/o), but can’t wait to read it to them. A needed escape during these cold snowy days.

I remember these stories fondly from my childhood. My father read them to me when I was very young, and then I read them myself when I was a little older. I remember in particular being rather scared by the witch with iron teeth, Baba Yaga! Now, nostalgically reading these stories again as an adult

Read it for research. It's a very westernized approach to Russian fairy tales.
It didn't help much but it was short and got me into the "fairy tale" research mood.

This is an entertaining mix of old fairytales - some myths, some fables, but most just stories set in traditional Russia. It would be very interesting to see Russian versions of these and compare them to Arthur Ransome's edition/translation - just how far has he Anglicised it all? How much of the st

Brilliant collection of Russian fairytales! Loved it! ( Note for parents/teachers - just be aware that a stepmother calls her stepdaughter a hussy and a whore in one story...your child may need an explanation!)

I love Russian folktales and these are nicely retold by Arthur Ransome. I enjoyed the way he connected all of the stories by having a grandfather relate them to his grandchildren. I need to read about Arthur Ransome's Russian period, apparently he was suspected of being a spy and married Trotsky's s

Bettie's Books

A collection of fairy tales from Russian, rewritten for English children. . . .

You can tell the rewritting not only because it's done up in a frame story of Old Peter telling his two grandchildren, but because of literary effects in some of them. Still some interesting tales, variants on familiar Ru

More than merely a collection of short stories, this book sets the mood through using the character of a grandfather (Old Peter) telling tales to his two grandchildren. In between tales, we glimpse a bit of everyday family life through events and conversations in their hut in the forest.

As for the

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