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The Scarlet Flower: A Russian Folk Tale

by Sergei Aksakov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dobré slovo (23)

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604320,498 (3.82)None
A young woman's love transforms a monster into a handsome prince in this retelling of a classic Russian folktale, a version of "Beauty and the Beast."



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Showing 4 of 4
Hm.  Sorry, I didn't care for this so much.  Diodorov's illustrations are not to my taste, and distracted me from the text.  The text was too long for the story it told, and too long for a picture book, but too short for consideration for a chapter book, imo.  And the girl never had a name.  If the many instances of the merchant's young daughter, the rare beauty" were abbreviated to 'Beauty' or "Flora" or something, it would have been a much shorter book.  I mean, after a couple dozen references, she's not so "rare" anymore....  However, it's a strong story, and Aksakov never did anything to ruin it, so, three stars overall." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
The Scarlet Flower, illustrated by Boris Diodorov.

I have a bit of a passion (or addiction, you might say) for collecting different illustrated versions of the classic fairy-tales. I've lost count of how many editions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty I've amassed over the years. I have any number of Rapunzel and The Snow Queen retellings on my shelves.

Sergei Aksakov's The Scarlet Flower, a Russian retelling of Beauty and the Beast, is another case in point. In addition to this edition, published by Harcourt Brace, with illustrations by Boris Diodorov, I also own an edition put out by Moscow-based Progress Publishers in 1976, with artwork by Yulia Ustinova.

As mentioned in my review of The Little Scarlet Flower (the Ustinova edition), this story of a beautiful young woman who agrees to go and live with a hideous monster, in order to save her father's life, corresponds in almost every detail to the French fairy-tale, La Belle et la Bête. I am not well enough informed, as it concerns Russian folklore, to state categorically that this tale does not arise from an indigenous folk tradition, but I suspect that, much like Pushkin's The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights, this was a conscious literary adaptation on Aksakov's part.

However that may be, anyone who loves the tale of Beauty and the Beast will enjoy this story. Diodorov's colorful illustrations are quite beautiful, and I think I prefer them to Ustinova's more stylized work. As an online friend has noted, this is a text-heavy book, but the distribution of illustrations in this version is to be preferred to that in The Little Scarlet Flower.

In sum: if you're a fairy-tale nut like me, get both. If not, this is the better version.. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 9, 2013 |
The Little Scarlet Flower, illustrated by Yulia Ustinova.

Once upon a time, in a distant kingdom, there lived a wealthy merchant with three lovely daughters. Finding himself about to depart on a long trading voyage, the merchant asked each of his daughters what gifts they desired. While the elder two asked for great treasures, the youngest simply requested the "Little Scarlet Flower," more beautiful than anything in the world.

When the merchant's attempt to grant this wish leads him into danger, his youngest and best-beloved daughter agrees to become the prisoner of a terrible beast, in order to save his life. But the "Beast of the Forest, Denizen of the Deep" is not what she expected, and a strange courtship begins...

If this tale sounds oddly familiar - as folktales so often do - it is because it is a Russian version of the French fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, first popularized by Madame le Prince de Beaumont in the 18th century. This tale, written by Sergei Aksakov in the 19th century, reads more like a self-conscious literary adaptation than a genuine folk variant, although my knowledge of Russian folklore is not sufficient to state categorically that it does not spring from some indigenous tradition.

Whatever its specific national origin, The Little Scarlet Flower will appeal to any reader who loves Beauty and the Beast "type" tales. This edition was printed by Moscow Raduga Publishers, and features the illustrations of Yulia Ustinova. Although these are charming, I find that I prefer the artwork of Boris Diodorov, found in the edition of this tale published by Harcourt as The Scarlet Flower. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 8, 2013 |
My brother's and I were given this book when I was a child. I always enjoyed the illustrations. ( )
  TullyFamily | Oct 19, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sergei Aksakovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Diodorov, BorisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levin, IsadoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riordan, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ustinova, YuliaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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