William Shedden Ralston - Russian Fairy Tales (1.2 MB)
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Fairy tale is an English language term for a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de f'ee, the German term M"archen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish ba's'n or the Swedish saga. Only a small number of the stories thus designated explicitly refer to fairies. Nonetheless, the stories may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends and traditions (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables. Fairy tales typica... More >>>
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Fairy tale is an English language term for a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de f'ee, the German term M"archen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish ba's'n or the Swedish saga. Only a small number of the stories thus designated explicitly refer to fairies. Nonetheless, the stories may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends and traditions (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables. Fairy tales typically feature such folkloric characters as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. Often the story will involve a far-fetched sequence of events. In less technical contexts, the term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in "fairy tale ending" or "fairy tale romance" (though not all fairy tales end happily). Colloquially, a "fairy tale" or "fairy story" can also mean any far-fetched story or tall tale. In cultures where demons and witches are perceived as real, fairy tales may merge into legends, where the narrative is perceived both by teller and hearers as being grounded in historical truth. However, unlike legends and epics, they usually do not contain more than superficial references to religion and actual places, people, and events they take place once upon a time rather than in actual times. Fairy tales are found in oral and in literary form. The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult to trace, because only the literary forms can survive. Still, the evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a genre the name "fairy tale" was first ascribed to them by Madame d'Aulnoy. Many of today's fairy tales have evolved from centuries-old stories that have appeared, with variations, in multiple cultures around the world. Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are still written today. The older fairy tales were intended for an audience of adults as well as children, but they were associated with children as early as the writings of the pr'ecieuses the Brothers Grimm titled their collection Children's and Household Tales, and the link with children has only grown stronger with time. Folklorists have classified fairy tales in various ways. Among the most notable are the Aarne-Thompson classification system and the morphological analysis of Vladimir Propp. Other folklorists have interpreted the tales' significance, but no school has been definitively established for the meaning of the tales.
William Ralston Shedden-Ralston (1828-1889), born William Shedden and later known as William Ralston, was a noted British scholar and translator of Russia and Russian.
William Ralston Shedden-Ralston born on 4 April 1828 in York Terrace, Regent's Park, London, he was the only son of W. P. Ralston Shedden, who made his fortune as a merchant in Calcutta and set up home in Palmira Square, Brighton, when he returned to England. William spent most of his early years there. Together with three or four other boys he studied under the Rev. John Hogg of Brixham, Devonshire, until he went to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1846, where he graduated with a BA in 1850.
During this period William's father entered into a lengthy but unsuccessful litigation over his claim to Ralston estates in Ayrshire. The cost dissipated his fortune. The family pressed the claim for many years. Shedden's only sister took up the pleadings, and at one stage conducted the case before a committee of the House of Lords for more than thirty days. William had been called to the bar before the litigation began, but the change in the family's fortunes forced him to seek immediate remunerative employment. He also adopted the additional surname of Shedden.
In 1853 he went to work as a junior assistant in the printed-book department of the British Museum, where his zeal and ability won the respect of his superiors. The work began with the requisite two years copying titles for the printed books catalogue, and thereafter he rose slowly through the ranks. When he saw a need for someone who could catalogue Russian books, he began studying Russian, and even learned pages of the dictionary by heart.
He also studied Russian literature. He translated 93 of Ivan Andreevich Krylov's two hundred fables, and this work, published in 1868 as Krilof and his Fables, ran to numerous editions. The following year he brought out a translation of Ivan Turgenev's Nest of Gentlefolk as Liza; in 1872, his 439-page Songs of the Russian People as Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life, and in 1873 a bloodthirsty collection of Russian Folk Tales. He made two or three journeys to Russia, formed numerous literary acquaintances there, and had a lasting friendship with Turgenev. He also became a corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. He visited Serbia twice, and made numerous visits to Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland.
In 1874 he published Early Russian History, the substance of four lectures delivered at the Taylor Institution in Oxford. His visits to Russia were mainly to collect material for another, more comprehensive account. Having contracted for its publication with Messrs. Cassell & Co, at the last moment he allowed them to cancel the agreement and publish instead Donald Mackenzie Wallace's book Russia.
He also possessed a gift for narrating stories orally. He devised a novel form of public entertainment, telling stories to large audiences in lecture-halls, making several successful appearances at St. George's Hall (for the Sunday Lecture Society) and St James's Halls. He gave story-tellings to the young princes and princesses at Marlborough House, and to other social gatherings; and also, in aid of charities, to audiences in east London and the provinces.
His health failing, he resigned from the British Museum in 1875 and sought to devote himself to literary work, but he was susceptible to acute depression and became increasingly withdrawn. Nevertheless he wrote for the Athen'um magazine and the Saturday Review, as well as the Nineteenth Century and other magazines.
Early in 1889 he moved to 11 North Crescent, London, where he was found dead in bed on 6 August the same year. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery. He was unmarried.