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The Tale of Tsar Saltan is one of Alexander Pushkin's first fairy tales Istaknut

The Swan Princess Illustration by Ivan Bilibin The Swan Princess Illustration by Ivan Bilibin

The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of His Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan is one of the most famous fairy tales from Russian folklore which was inspired many artists. In general, there are two versions. The first was written in the 19th century when dozens of scholars in Europe began to collect old stories, fables, fairy tales, legends, and everything that might help to preserve cultural heritage in the rapidly developing society where new norms replaced traditions without much thought if everything old is so bad to deserve to be forgotten. The most famous collection of that time is known as Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm. The second, and even better-known version today is the poem The Tale of Tsar Saltan which was written by Alexander Pushkin in 1831, and published a year later in the collection of "poem A. Pushkin".

The tale of Tsar Saltan is composed of a series of verses, amazingly lyrical, bright and figurative, and full of magical twists and beautiful depictions. There are also brilliant characterizations, unusual for traditional fairy tales. Many interpretations saw this fairy tale as an allegory of Alexander Pushkin's exile and reunion with his homeland and closeness to the Russian Tsar Nikolai. Whether or not Tsar Nikolai did see the parallels between Pushkin and Prince Gvidon, he allowed the writer to continue publishing and even commissioned literary works from him.

The Tale of Tsar Saltan begins as a lyrical song of eight verses. Namely, listening to the conversation of the three sisters, Tsar Saltan decides to marry the youngest, because she emphasized the birth of a child as the most important, and determines the other two elders to work in the court as cooks and knitters. When the tsar goes off to war, the tsaritsa gives birth to a son, Prince Gvidon. The older sisters are jealous and send a message to the tsar that his wife gave birth to a "poor freak". They arrange to have the tsaritsa and the child sealed in a barrel and thrown into the sea. Only the sea took pity on them, answered their pleas, and threw them on the shore of a distant uninhabited island. Years later, Prince Gvidon goes hunting, where he saves an enchanted swan from a predatory bird. In gratitude for the salvation, swan built a whole city for Gvidon and made him the prince. He proved to be a successful ruler, but he begins to long for his father and his home. The swan turns him into a mosquito to help him. He visits Tsar Saltan's court, where he stings his aunt in the eye and escapes. Back in his realm, the swan gives Gvidon a magical squirrel. But he continues to pine for home, and the swan transforms him into a fly. In this guise, Prince Gvidon visits Saltan's court again and he stings his older aunt in the eye. For the third time, the prince is transformed into a bumblebee and stings the nose of his grandmother. In the end, he expresses his desire to get married, and the swan is revealed to be a beautiful princess, whom he marries. When Tsar Saltan heard about the fact that Prince Gvidon married a beautiful princess, he went to get acquainted with the prince, which heard so much wonderful. Seeing the mother queen, he immediately recognized his wife in her, and son in Prince Gvidon. At the joy, they forgave the envious and arranged a feast.

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