A.S. Pushkin did not write anything specifically for children, but many of his poems, fairy tales, excerpts from poems and the novel “Eugene Onegin” entered the circle of children’s reading.
In the 20s of the 19th century, they wrote and argued a lot about nationality . In a draft sketch “On Nationality in Literature” A.S. Pushkin said: “Climate, government, faith give each people a special physiognomy, which is more or less reflected in the mirror of poetry. There is a way of thinking and feeling, there is a mass of customs, beliefs and habits that belong exclusively to some people.
In 1828, in the second edition of the poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila”, which at one time caused critics to criticize for muzhik rudeness and “areal” democracy, a prologue appeared (“At the seashore, a green oak …”) . He testified that eight years after the publication of the work, the poet did not abandon his views on the folk tale as a source of beauty, emphasizing the main difference between folk magical fiction and fiction in a literary fairy tale: the world of folk fantasy is endless, miracles have no count, no limit .
The prologue is perceived as an independent work. The principle of its construction is mosaic. The created images-pictures are held together only by the basis of a fabulous , mysterious world , in which every step is a miracle. Each of the image-pictures can be expanded into a separate fairy tale, and the whole prologue is built as a single fairy tale – with a saying, with a chain of actions of fairy-tale characters and an ending.
The protagonist of the prologue and his narrator is a “scientist cat”, songwriter and storyteller. A.S. It is not for nothing that Pushkin precedes the mosaic of fairy-tale plots with a saying about where and how songs and fairy tales are born: folk fictions are so unusual and shrouded in mystery that they cannot be composed by a person.
The list of miracles in the second part of the prologue (“There are miracles …”) begins with the goblin and the mermaid – not fabulous, but demonological characters in which the people believed. The following describes an unknown world, either fictional or real: “There on unknown paths / Traces of unseen animals …”. Immediately after it, a transition is made to the world of the fairy tale itself: “The hut is there on chicken legs / It stands without windows, without doors …”. This image in a folk tale has the meaning of the border between the field and the forest, i.e. between two kingdoms: human and “other” (non-human). In the words: “There the forest and valleys are full of visions …” – the poet emphasizes the close relationship of mysterious nature and magical fiction, describes the appearance of a miracle from the sea: “There, at dawn, waves will come / On the sandy and empty shore, / And thirty knights beautiful // A succession of clear waters emerge, // And with them their sea uncle … “. Then we see the prince, captivating the formidable king, and the flying sorcerer, carrying the hero, and the princess, who is faithfully served by the brown wolf. Finally, the most majestic creations of the common people’s imagination appear – a stupa with Baba Yaga and Tsar Kashchei, languishing over gold.
A.S. Pushkin understood that fairy-tale miracles require trust. In this respect, a fairy tale is a perfect art, if pure fiction, which seems to have nothing in common with reality, has a powerful force of influence on a person and makes him see even what is not there. Not without reason, in the end prologue, the poet himself “meets” with a wonderful cat and listens to folk tales performed by him, giving them the highest rating: “There is a Russian spirit … there it smells of Russia!” Literally citing the folklore ending in the prologue (“And I was there, and I drank honey …”), A.S. Pushkin thus declared folk poetry the source of his creativity.
Fairy tales were one of the poet’s favorite genres of folklore. In 1824, he wrote to his brother from Mikhailovsky: “… in the evening I listen to fairy tales – and thereby make up for the shortcomings of my accursed upbringing.” Common folk tales of the nanny Arina Rodionovna A.S. Pushkin put it on a par with “high” literary genres: “What a charm these fairy tales are! Each is a poem!
His tales A.S. Pushkin created in the early 1830s: “The Tale of the Priest and his worker Balda” (1831), “The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his glorious and mighty son, Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the beautiful Princess Swans” (1831), “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish” (1833), “The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Bogatyrs” (1833), “The Tale of the Golden Cockerel” (1834). The poet also wrote the fairy tale-ballad “The Bridegroom” (1825) and the fairy tale-excerpt about the bear “Like a warm spring at times …” (1830). Soon they all entered the circle of children’s reading, although they were intended for adults.
A.S. Pushkin created fairy tales based on folk sources, but he did not process any one fairy tale, as the writers of that time did, but collected and processed various motifs from world folklore. As a result, an expressive, poetically complete and folk-Russian in spirit fairy-tale work appeared. According to P.P. Bazhov, Pushkin’s fairy tales form “a wonderful fusion, where folk art is inseparable from the personal work of the poet.”
“The Tale of the Priest and his Worker Balda” (1831) belongs to the satire of the folk style , not only in content, but also in form: written in the manner of folk raeshniks (free tale verse); the episodes are deployed like a theatrical panorama; the characters give remarks not only to each other, but also to the “hall”; the action is rapidly moving towards an expected and yet unexpected denouement; laughter is the main active force in the tale, except for its dramatic finale.
In a folk household tale, a crafty worker deceived a stupid and greedy owner (priest or master) and harmed him, but his intrigues seemed to have been justified in advance. The plot of the folk tale served for A.S. Pushkin is only an occasion for reflection. In his fairy tale, he solved the questions: what is stupidity – a vice or a misfortune? Is reason always right before stupidity?
To identify the main features of the characters of the fairy tale, the poet used folk nicknames: ” pop – oatmeal forehead ” (according to V.I. Dal’s dictionary – this is “fool” ) and Balda (according to V.I. Dal’s dictionary – this is “dylda, blockhead, dunce” ; “lanky and clumsy fool “; “big hammer, thresher, sledgehammer”; “fist from 8 to 15 pounds”).
The main features of the nature of the priest are stupidity and greed, not controlled by reason. Balda is smart, strong, an excellent worker. The plot of the tale is predetermined by the development of the characters of these characters, which acquire their own national specificity: Balda is characterized by the Russian “cunning of the mind”, which he masks with innocence and stupidity; the priest, considering himself smart and cunning, hopes for a Russian “maybe”.
In a fairy tale built on a contest of minds, A.S. Pushkin used an unusual technique: in the story of a real , albeit unusual , agreement between a priest and Balda, a much larger and deeper story about a false agreement between a priest and devils is included.
The priest’s “thick forehead” (“mind”), multiplied by the “cunningness” (cunning, deceit) of the priest, still could not surpass the mind of the quick-witted Balda, who did not deceive the priest, as the worker did in the folk tale, but served him “gloriously , diligently and very regularly” in just three clicks a year and for “boiled spelt” (according to the dictionary of V.I. Dal, this is porridge cooked from cereals of an ear plant, the middle one “between wheat and barley”). The actions and decisions of Balda did not agree with the usual logic, they were absurd, because this “fool” turned out to be stronger than the usual “wise men”.
In the work of A.S. Pushkin there is no wonderful magic, because. it is not characteristic of a satirical tale. The role of the miraculous beginning is played by Balda, who cancels the “correct” order of things with his imaginary stupidity (this is the meaning of such a popular comic type as a fool).
The joking, at first glance, morality of the tale (“Don’t chase cheapness, priest”) has a great social meaning: a cheap product (Balda’s work) turned out to be expensive for the priest. Balda’s victory is natural and fair. However, A.S. Pushkin suddenly interrupts his laughter at the greedy fool with the words: “The old man’s mind was blown out.” Unexpectedly, the fairy tale appears not just a conditional character (pop), but a very specific image – an old man who “died” at the hands of a strong young man. Laughter is no longer possible, because retribution under the contract turned into a massacre. To take pity on a stupid, greedy, insignificant person and to condemn in good conscience the one who acted from a position of strength – this is the ethical meaning of A.S. Pushkin.
“The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish” (1833) is written in a special size – “folk”, or recitative, verse , in which there are no rhymes. This size gives the fairy tale narrative a solemn dimension and epic melody. To match the size and serious moral and philosophical content of the tale, which raises the question of what is the highest wisdom: the desire for the heights of power and wealth, or the rejection of temptations.
The calm world of the old family is tested for strength by a great event. Having caught a goldfish, the old man was not happy, but “scared”: he understood that an unknown creature would rather destroy a measured life than bring good. The old woman sees in the goldfish the performer of her vain desires. She behaves as people usually do: at first she wants only what is necessary – a new trough, and then more and more and, even after becoming a queen, she cannot stop. A wise old man in every new situation sees the same old woman, only in different clothes, and her whims seem to him madness: “What are you, a woman, overeating with henbane?” She, rising more and more, remembers her origin as a “black peasant woman” less and less and fancies herself a pillar noblewoman and queen, each time emphasizing the class difference between herself and her husband.
The old woman is content with only external signs of power, she does not understand at all the inner content of the noble or royal service, which seems to her an endless feast. A.S. Pushkin exposes the deceitfulness of such naive popular ideas about power and argues that it is better to spin yarn or fish with a net than to play someone else’s “great” role without doing any useful work.
An important role in the fairy tale is played by the image of the sea, which for A.S. Pushkin has always been a “free element”. The goldfish living in it does not know bondage and does not pay off for its release (the old man refused to pay it off), but renders grateful help to the old man: “Do not be sad, go with God …”. These words are similar to the blessed affectionate word of the old man: “God be with you, goldfish!” However, the harmony is disturbed due to human stupidity and greed, which is increasing, so the sea is becoming more and more restless and menacing (“slightly played out”, “clouded”, “not calm”, “blackened”, “black storm”).
At the end of the tale, the old order of things is restored: the old man finds his old woman at the same dugout in front of a broken trough. The outcome of the conflict can be understood both as the defeat of greed and lust for power, and as the victory of wisdom.
“The Tale of the Golden Cockerel” (1834), like the previous one, also tells about the test of a person , but now with an oath and moral duty . Tsar Dadon was a sinful and empty man who thoughtlessly ruled the kingdom, so in his old age retribution came to him: the neighbors began to take revenge on the decrepit king with raids. For the sake of peace, he promised the astrologer to fulfill any request at his first word in gratitude for the magical bird that warns of threats. The astrologer explained what the golden cockerel could warn about: “But only a little from the outside / Expect war for you, / Or a raid of belligerent force, / Or another uninvited misfortune … “. It was another (not military) misfortune that caused the fall of the kingdom of Dadon. She lurked in the king himself – in his oblivion of human norms . He did not understand the formidable sign of the “terrible picture” (sons lying on the ground who killed each other) in front of the mysterious tent of the young beauty. At first, the king’s sorrowful cry is echoed by the army, the valleys groan heavily and the mountains shake, but as soon as he enters the tent, he instantly forgets grief and feasts with the Queen of Shamakhan for a week. A sinful person carelessly enters the limits of the magical world with its unearthly laws and behaves just as stupidly and sinfully as he used to in his kingdom. Refusal to fulfill the promise was the last mistake and sin of the king.
Two divas are contrasted in the tale: on the one hand, the golden cockerel , which was given to the king for good : he woke up the sleepy kingdom with a sharp cry and told the king the unpleasant truth; on the other hand, the Shamakhanskaya queen is the embodiment of evil , a sweet lie and an insidious temptation, which disappears like an obsession after the death of the astrologer and the death of the king. Forgetting the bitter truth for the sake of a sweet deceit is the main fault of King Dadon. Tale of A.S. Pushkin allows us to understand the logic of fate that pursues a weak person, to explain the cruel vicissitudes of fate by the behavior of people.
In September 1834 A.S. Pushkin sketched out a plan for publishing his fairy tales as a cycle , in which he arranged them not according to the chronology of creation, but according to the main ideas (a fairy tale-ballad about the groom, about Tsar Saltan, about the dead princess, about Balda, about the goldfish, about the golden cockerel). This plan gives the key to understanding the general idea of the cycle and all the fairy tales separately.
Pushkin’s fairy tales are divided by endings : some end happily (about Tsar Saltan, about the dead princess), others – unhappily, but fair (about the priest, about the golden fish, about the golden cockerel).
In fairy tales of the first kind, good and evil are unambiguous; positive and negative characters are beyond doubt; the main attention is focused on the family, on the “homely” feelings of the heroes, whose social status does not play any role (Tsar Saltan, Prince Gvidon, the Queen Mother, Prince Elisha, the Princess, seven heroes are depicted as ordinary people with “good feelings”).
In fairy tales of the second type, the characters (the priest, the old woman, King Dadon) are depicted from the social side, but at the same time their personal, psychologically motivated weakness is emphasized (the pop is a miserable old man with a “thick forehead”, the old woman is a grumpy wife with immense greed, King Dadon – a fool with a load of terrible sins on his conscience); they face the irresistible laws of the world, which are higher than vain human desires, and suffer defeat, which is explained by their unreasonable desire to rise above other people and subordinate someone’s unearthly magical power to their whims. A.S. Pushkin raises the question: is it reasonable to expect something more from the world than is given to everyone in the lot of life itself?