January 01, 2016

The Tale of a Fisherman and a Little Fish

In this issue’s Uchites, we look at one of Pushkin’s most famous fairy tales and go fishing for archaic words hidden in its stanzas. 

Alexander Pushkin’s fairy tales are an important part of his poetry. “The Tale of a Fisherman and a Little Fish” was written in 1833. In it, a fisherman’s wife wants her husband to ask the Golden Fish to give her a new washtub, then a new house, then to make her a member of the nobility, then to make her tsarina, and lastly to make her the owner of the ocean, so that the Golden Fish will serve her. In the end, the old man returns to their dugout (cottage) to find his wife with just her broken washtub. The saying остаться у разбитого корыта is used in modern Russian to mean “to return to where one started, to be no better off than before.”

«Жил старик со своею старухой
У самого синего моря;
Они жили в ветхой землянке
Ровно тридцать лет и три года».

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