Our Notes & References
Charming volume bringing together all six first editions of Bilibin’s Tales, with an added poem by Pushkin superbly illustrated by Vasnetsov.
These Tales illustrated by Bilibin are probably the most famous Russian children’s books and have been reprinted many times. They are here unusually bound in full leather, soberly elegant, which allowed them to retain their freshness and the brilliance of the rich chromolithography produced by one of the most sophisticated Russian presses of the time: the ‘Expedition for the Confection of State Papers’ had indeed printed the prestigious Coronation Album of Tsar Nicolas II and published in 1904 Alexandre Benois’ famous alphabet.
Another publication of this press has been bound at the beginning of the volume: Pushkin’s Song of the Wise Oleg, illustrated by one of the most important Russian artists of the late 19th century and one of Bilibin’s masters, Viktor Vasnetsov. Later set to music by Rimsky-Korsakov, this poem sings the prince of Kiev from the 9th century, one of the founders of ancient Russia and a hero of Russian history.
Published to mark the centenary of the poet’s birth, these images were a huge success and, like Bililbin’s illustrations, are now part of the visual cultural heritage of every Russian.
The six Tales were originally assembled and published by Afanasev; they are: Peryshko Finista Iasna-Sokola [The Feather of Finist the Falcon]; Tsarevna-Liagushka [The Frog Princess]; Vasilisa Prekrasnaia [Vasilisa the Beautiful]; Maria Morevna; Skazka ob Ivane-tsareviche, Zhar-ptitse i o serom volke [Tale of Ivan-Tsaverich, the Firebird and the Grey Wolf]; and finally Sestritsa Alenushka i Bratets Ivanushka. Belaia utochka [Sister Alenushko and Brother Ivanushka. The White Duckling].