Read this fairy tale in Russian here
Chapter 6 - Yemelya the Simpleton
When I reread Russian folk tales, I am always surprised at how much I enjoy them. But how would I not? Reliving that magic world that is part of every Russian’s earliest childhood brings back memories of waking up in the morning to see a big dish of freshly baked aromatic cabbage pies… or putting three kopeks into a street soda machine, and feeling your throat get particularly dry while watching the syrup and fizzy water fill the glass… or meeting the train from the far north arriving at a Moscow station, the scent of the lilac blossom I am holding in my hands mixing with the smell of soot…
The clever fox and the stupid bear, the round bread Kolobok who goes off into the woods looking for adventures; Prince Ivan and his loyal Grey Wolf; the wicked old magician Kashchei the Deathless, who arrives like a tornado stealing beautiful ladies and is impossible to kill, unless you know where his death is hidden – in a needle, within an egg, inside a duck that is hiding in a big tree; the Frog Princess who creates magic lakes with swans with a wave of her sleeve; the evil witch Baba Yaga who lives in the deepest woods in a log cabin on hen’s feet and likes to eat little children and wandering knights…
And of course Yemelya and his magic pike, and his Russian stove that can double as a means of transport.
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Click on the image below to read the folk tale in English:
illustration to Russian folk tale "Yemelya and the Pike" by N.Kochergin
image source: http://librarything-svetlana.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/illustrations-to-russian-folk-tales-on.html
“По щучьему велению…” – “By the pike’s command” – you can use this phrase when talking about something good that comes out of nowhere, as if by magic – “как будто по щучьему велению”. Or to tell someone he is lazy and wants everything to happen by magic, “by the pike’s command”.
Щука – pike. A desirable catch for Russian fishermen, as its gamey flesh is considered a delicacy. As they can be as much as 1.8 metres long, catching a big pike is something to boast about. Gefilte fish is a staple dish among Russian Jews, and is often made with pike.