|About the Book|
Many persons, otherwise well-informed, wrongly think that folklore relates to stories about Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and the Glass Slipper, and other pretty legends of the kind told to keep good little girls and boys from howling at bedtime.The present tales are nothing of the sort. Full of homely jest and Rabelaisian humor, they deal with incidents that a child would find it impossible to understand. But their startling plainness of speech is not of the obscene kind that deliberately chooses a word because it is course. If the actors in these realistic scenes call a spade a spade, it is because they have not learnt to veneer over, with hypocritical phrase, actions that to them are as innocent as eating and drinking.These tales have a two-fold value to the folklorist and observer, for whilst they stimulate his zeal to solve some of the questions which they raise, they also aid him with clues to some of the problems which have long puzzled him. Russia is, physically and intellectually, a barrier between Europe and Asia. On the one side Western civilization surges against it- on the other side it is laved by Eastern influences, rich in sensuous imaginings and legends that were old already when Europe was inhabited by a horde of savages.