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Perhaps the spirit of the nation manifests itself in its folktales. Czechs have a tendency to satire [I have toned it down]. It can be glimpsed where the story-teller makes fun of the folly of the world, the frailty of fellow-men, and perhaps his own. Hence, in Czech tales there are many who are bad and stupid, and some foolish kings are also prone to break their word.

All the same, the story-teller reveals how bad ones are vanquished and the foolish put to shame. He thereby nourishes the hope in a good outcome of things. And in Czech tales there is a search for a haven of refuge from a often cruel and bad environment. We find fond dream-pictures of circumstances where all is beneficent and every important thing ends well. Great truth and justice have finally conquered and cruel tyrants are taken out. Very many tales nourish such deep-set hopes and longings. (2nd coll. p. xiii-xiii-1)

Ranging between little nursery tales and rollicking devil tales, the stories in the third volume are all of Czech, Moravian, and Slovak origin, and found in many versions elsewhere. Most of Fillmore's versions are retellings rather than translations.

German and Slavic versions seem to have an early common source. For example, "Clever Manka" is very popular among the Czechs and Slovaks and is considered by them especially typical of their own folk wisdom and folk humor. Yet the catch at the end appears in a story in the Talmud. The story of the devil marrying a scold, another great favourite with the Slavs, also has its Talmudic parallel in the story of Azrael, the Angel of Death, marrying a woman. Still, every people puts its own marks of background, humour, and imagination on the stories that it retells.


Czech and Slovak folktales, Literature  

Czechoslovak Fairy Tales. Retold by Parker Fillmore. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe. 1919.

Baudis, Jesef, tr. The Key of Gold: 23 Czech Folk Tales. London: Allen and Unwin. 1917.

The Shoemaker's Apron: A Second Book of Czechoslovak Fairy Tales and Folk Tales. Retold by Parker Fillmore. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe. 1920.

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