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The Frogs Who Begged For A Tsar

5 Stars
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Product Description

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview.

This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.

Krylov’s fables represent a combination of satire, rational moralizing, and details of Russian rural and provincial life, with an admixture of lyricism and references to historical events and figures. As a source of phrases and aphorisms that have entered the Russian language, Krylov’s influence upon his native tongue is roughly analogous to that of Shakespeare upon English.

"I want to tell you how much I’ve been enjoying your translations of Krylov. I read (and often reread) one fable a day, in my order of preference. Your choice of words is excellent – your book should be used in every advanced Russian course."

– Sophia Lubensky, author of Russian-English Dictionary of Idioms

"Two things amazed me—how good her translations are, and how relevant (at least some of) the fables are to our personal and political life."

– Boris Silversteyn

This bilingual, colorfully illustrated edition is an ideal gift for language learners, adoptees and Russophiles of all ages. 

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov was born in 1769 into a family that was situated at the very bottom of the noble class. His father died when he was ten, leaving him virtually no money. But Krylov did inherit a trunk full of books. Virtually lacking any formal education, in his teens Krylov had the good fortune to impress a professional writer with his literary talent. 

Translator Lydia Razran Stone has worked as both a technical and literary translator from Russian into English and currently specializes in translating poetry. She is responsible for most of the poetic translations published in Chtenia and for the past 15 years has been the editor of SlavFile, a quarterly for Slavic translators. [For more information about this important translation, read the Translator's Introduction.]

Illustrator Katya Korobkina was born in Maykop, in the republic of Adygeya. She studied art in Saratov and now lives in Moscow, where she works as an illustrator and theatrical artist, as a theatrical property master and a photographer.

Product Reviews

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  1. The Frogs Who Begged For A Tsar 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 27th Dec 2010

    The stage for delight and interest is set is so many ways -- the title, the illustrations and Lydia Razran Stone's introductory poem. While not able to read Russian, I appreciate the bilingual feature It is tempting to cite favorites but I find new candidates all the time as I dip into this book, firmly placed on the table beside my bed.

  2. A delightful book for young and old, especially those learning Russian 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 27th Dec 2010

    This little volume makes a fine gift, and has much to recommend it for diverse audiences. The playful, humorous verse translation by Lydia Razran Stone makes it especially good to read to children, who would likely not appreciate a literal prose rendition. The same is true for many adults, even though a prose version might be closer to the imagery and vocabulary of the original Russian. The bilingual character of the book--Russian on one side and English on the other--is excellent, indeed indispensable, for anyone who knows or is studying Russian. While the remark attributed to Robert Frost, that poetry is what is lost in translation, is surely an exaggeration, there is no doubt that reading the work in the original language is a huge plus.The illustrations by Russian artist Katya Korobkina are truly delightful. The characters (animals and animate objects) are relocated to a 21st-Century Russian town, usually with human bodies and animal heads. This adds a brilliant dimension of liveliness and timeliness to the text.For comparison, I looked at what else was available on Amazon.com, and found a recent edition by David Karpman, which has only an English verse translation (no Russian). From the excerpts accessible through Amazon, I am doubtful that the translator is a native speaker of English. Sometimes it even seems to be the work of Google Translate. Karpman notes here and there that he has omitted the moral part--by which he means the ironic couplet at the end of a fable, which is integral to the author's idea! (Older translations at Amazon.com did not offer sample pages for review; nor does The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar.)

Other Details

Ivan Krylov
Lydia Razran-Stone
Katya Korobkina
146 (color)

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