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Page:The Russian Garland of Fairy Tales.djvu/17

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FOREWORD


THE special interest of this volume of Russian Folk Tales is that it is a translation from a collection of peasant Chap-books of all sorts made in Moscow about 1830, long before the Censorship had in great measure stopped the growth of popular literature. It is not necessary to dilate upon the peculiarities of Chap-books and their methods: in the conditions of their existence many of the finest qualities of the primitive stories are eliminated, but on the other hand certain essentials are enforced. The story must be direct, the interest sustained, and the language however fine, simple and easily understood.

It is to be hoped that some of these merits have been preserved in this translation: for this book is intended to appeal to a class of severe and incorruptible critics—the children of to-day. To older critics the matter is also interesting. Who on earth would ever expect to find in a Russian Chap-book printed in Slavonic type on a coarse broadside sheet the Provençal legend of "Pierre et Maguelonne" or the Old English tale of "Bevis of Hampton." And the mystery deepens when

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