Russian Gypsy Tales

Russian Gypsy Tales

by Yefim Druts, Alexei Gessler, Harry Horse

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Folklorists Riordan ( The Sun Maiden and the Crescent Moon ), Druts and Gessler perform a genuine service by bringing to light these tales from the Gypsy people living in the former Soviet Union. The Gypsies (or as they call themselves, Rom), as a wandering people, took on the customs and even national heroes of the lands in which they made their home. One story anthologized here, for instance, deals with St. George bestowing the blessing of God upon the Rom people. The Gypsies also harbor legends about Rom involvement in the crucifixion of Jesus ( as the maker of the nails of the cross). In a tale evoking the Arabian Nights, an old Gypsy cheats Dame Death by entrancing her evening after evening with songs played on his guitar. The first story, however, may be the best: a fairy tale, complete with evil mother-in-law, about true love triumphing through the ages. In an excellent introduction, the translator gives a brief overview of Gypsy history and culture, pointing out that ethnographic evidence shows the group springs from northern India. In all, this is an immensely entertaining addition to collections of oral tradition. Illustrated. (Jan.)
Gilbert Taylor
Imagine a wizened fireside bard who conjures fantastic monsters, goblins, ghosts, and demons, and these 36 stories could be a strong part of the repertoire. Functioning in part as shivering warnings, they represent the cost, to a restless member of the Gypsy clan, of defying the group's customs or fate in general. Never, ever, may one ignore a portent with impunity, lest a variety of ills come down on one's head. But if the rules are followed, rules about courtship, horse-trading (or stealing, on occasion), or clan leadership, the threatening domain beyond can be kept at bay. Often, heeding a fortune-telling dream pays big rewards, as in "The Adventures of Pichta, Helado and Bota," in which the characters, caught in the act of stealing, have their lives spared by the czar. A vernacular form of acculturation for an itinerant way of life, it is fortunate that these tales have been reduced to writing. Woodblock-style prints add to the attractive rustication.

Product Details

Canongate Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.66(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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