Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe
This rich collection of folktales reflects the local and regional flavor of the Slavic people, although the same plots, motifs, and structural elements occur in stories told around the world.
For example, in the tale “The Three Golden Hairs” we see Soudiche- the eastern European equivalent of the Greek Fate Sisters. A peasant child is ordered to be killed to evade an ominous prophecy, is abandoned to die, but survives to fulfill the dire predictions, much like Oedipus in the play by Sophocles. The endangered child is found in a basket floating down the river, and eventually becomes part of the king’s household – as does the biblical Moses. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a message to kill the hero is secretly changed to save the bearer. An apple tree in this Slavic tale bears “The Fruit of Everlasting Youth”, which evokes the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. The ages of the man described by the Fate Sisters are quite similar to the ancient “Riddle of the Sphinx”. A snake impedes the function of the Tree of Everlasting Youth, again reminiscent of the Garden of Eden motifs./ There are many more familiar themes in these tales; perhaps the reader will recognize Cinderella in the character of Marouckla, or Rumplestiltskin in the story of Kinkach Martinko. So, enjoy this sparkling collection of imaginative folktales that stretch back in time and space to a tantalizing remote past. – Dr. Harry Oster, folklorist
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