Russian Hidden Tales
Русские заветные сказки
by Афанасьев А.Н.
These are Russian folktales not likely to be found in any other collection, most probably because of taboo topics and taboo words. Still, the tales make a part of Russian folklore. A considerable and a rather important part, I would say. Anyway, folklorists and ethnologists should study that kind of tales, too. I suppose it goes without saying readaholics just will read all kinds of books, so this kind makes no exception.
What I like best about these tales is many of them make stupidity the object of derision. Like the one telling of a fellow about to woo a girl and going to the prospective bride`s home. A girl has to brag. So she does:
– А шел ты мимо гумна?
– Ну, шел.
– А видел кучу говна?
– Ну, видел.
– Это я насрала!
– Ничего, большая.
The EN for this goes, kinda, like this: ‘And did you walk past the barn?’ – ‘Well, I did.’ – ‘And did you see a pile of shit?’ – ‘Well, I did.’ – “It was me that shat that!’ – ‘Not bad, it`s big.’ Again, the translation is but so-so, but I think it will do.
Of course, not every tale is like that (ironic/comic, I mean); some are but vulgar jokes; some are not unlike the Canterbury Tales or the Decameron stories, the only difference being those told by Chaucer or Boccaccio are rather well known to general public, while the Russian tales are more like a news even to Russians… most of them, at any rate. Oh well… you have to write one of The Five Languages to be read worldwide or about that. So much the worse.
Back to the tales, though. I would not call those “erotic”, as stories need something more to be really erotic; yet I would not call those “ outright porn”, either. Just a specific part of everyday life, perhaps? And yes, there`s this: the “taboo” words are diffidently and bashfully “short-cut” throughout the book. Would make a modern teenager laugh, as the words flow freely nowadays. On the other hand, words considered “taboo” now used to be just words back then. You never know…
To make a long story short: I`d say the book is worth reading, as it is informative, in more senses than one. Presumably, the book is worth translating, as well. But translating might prove problematic, as, besides the taboo words easy to translate, there are lots of archaisms, and those do not always translate easily.