Russian Fairy Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Ghost Stories


THE Russian peasants have very confused ideas about the local habitation of the disembodied spirit, after its former tenement has been laid in the grave. They seem, from the language of their funeral songs, sometimes to regard the departed spirit as residing in the coffin which holds the body from which it has been severed, sometimes to imagine that it hovers around the building which used to be its home, or flies abroad on the wings of the winds. In the food and money and other necessaries of existence still placed in the coffin with the corpse, may be seen traces of an old belief in a journey which the soul was forced to undertake after the death of the body; in the pomniki or feasts in memory of the dead, celebrated at certain short intervals after a death, and also on its anniversary, may be clearly recognized the remains of a faith in the continued residence of the dead in the spot where they had been buried, and in their subjection to some physical sufferings, their capacity for certain animal enjoyments. The two beliefs run side by side with each other, sometimes clashing and producing strange results--all the more strange when they show signs of an attempt having been made to reconcile them with Christian ideas. [1]

               Of a heavenly or upper-world home of departed spirits, neither the songs nor the stories of the people, so far as I am aware, make mention. But that there is a country beyond the sky, inhabited by supernatural beings of magic power and unbounded wealth, is stated in a number of tales of the well-known "Jack and the Beanstalk" type. Of these the following may be taken as a specimen.



[1] Some account of Russian funeral rites and beliefs, and of the dirges which are sung at buryings and memorials of the dead, will be found in the "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 309-344.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ghost Stories
Tale Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Book Title: Russian Fairy Tales
Book Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Publisher: Hurst & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Russia
Classification: Introduction

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