The Ant and the Pigeon
The great Russian writer Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy war born and spent most of his life on his estate at Yasnaya Polyana. He was very fond of children and wrote many stories for the serf children on the estate.
Tolstoy published his stories for children in two books entitled ABC and Russian Reader. Many children learnt to read and write from these books. Tolstoy included his own versions of Greek and Roman legends and tales from other peoples. He was particularly fond of the fables composed by the Greek writer Aesop.
Tolstoy's translations of Aesop's fables sometimes takes the form of a proverb (The Shipwreck) or a folk tale (The Fox and the Wood-Grouse), and are sometimes like an everyday story (Two Companions). He shifted the action of the fables to his native land, where they became Russian fables, independent creations of the great Russian writer.
Greek fables usually ended with a moral of some kind. Tolstoy did away with this ending, retaining only the action and characters, confident that children would work out for themselves what the fables were about and what conclusions should be drawnn from them.
To translate Aesop faithfully, Tolstoy studied Greek and read a lot. Many legends have survived about Aesop. Some say he was a happy man, because he understood the language of animals and nature. Others say he was unhappy, because he was a slave of a rich man called Xanthes. But the important thing is that Aesop was a wise and kind philosopher. he made people laugh at his characters' tricks. And the more they laughed, the wiser they became.
There are all sorts of characters in this book, humans, gods and animals, but no matter who they are the writer is talking, first and foremost, to children. Perhaps this is why his characters sometimes seem like children with masks on. Time and again the mask slips and a pair of twinkling child's eye peep out. The artist Mikhail Romadin has taken care to preserve this feature in his illustrations. (Foreword by Eduard Babayev).
Author: Lev Tolstoy
Publisher: Raduga Publishers Moscow
Publishing year: 1988
Weight: 290 gram
Number of pages: 160