Snow White and the 7 Hot Guys: A Russian Fairy Tale

Yeah… in Russia we had none of that Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey shit. Penned by Pushkin in 1833, the Russian version of the classic fairy tale, morbidly titled “The Tale of the DEAD PRINCESS and the Seven Knights,” had the princess living with seven “lusty” bogatyrs. I’m sure that many a girl who grew up with this fairy tale thought to herself, “yep, this is how life should be.”

Scanned for your viewing please are some illustrations from my childhood copy of this tale – a well-worn hand-me-down originally printed in 1970 and bought for 18 kopeks (that’s 10¢), with gorgeous illustrations done in 1954 by Tamara Ufa.

There are many similarities between the Russian version (full translation of the poem here) and version that most of us grew up with, including the poisoned apple and the glass coffin. One of the most interesting differences is there’s no kiss, a far cry from the one of the earliest versions of the tale, in which the princess is actually raped and abandoned by the prince, only to be awoken by newborn children. In the Russian version, the grief-stricken prince simply throws himself onto the coffin, and the shattering  of the glass is what wakes the princess. Also, it’s interesting that the princess (or Tsarina, in Russian) doesn’t have a name. In fact, the only people in the story who have names are the Tsarina’s suitor, Prince Yelisei, and Smudge, the evil queen’s chambermaid.

There was also a 1951 cartoon by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, “patriarch of Soviet Animation”:

After the jump are some very dialup-unfriendly Tamara Ufa scans with captions from the translated Russian poem. Enjoy!

Long the Tsar sat lonely, brooding.
But he, too, was only human.
Tears for one sad year he shed…
And another woman wed.
She (if one be strictly truthful)
Was a born Tsaritsa—youthful,
Slim, tall, fair to look upon,
Clever, witty—and so on.
But she was in equal measure
Stubborn, haughty, wilful, jealous.
In her dowry rich and vast
Was a little looking-glass.

Soon the Princess left with Smudge
For the woods. So far they trudged
That the Princess guessed the reason.
Scared to death by such foul treason,
Loud she pleaded: “Spare my life!
Innocent of guilt am I!
Do not kill me, I beseech you!
And when I become Tsaritsa
I shall give you rich reward.”
Smudge, who really loved her ward,
Being loth to kill or bind her,
Let her go, remarking kindly:
“God be with you! Do not moan!”
And, this said, went back alone.

The Tsaritsa was still livid
Every time she saw in vivid
Memory the Princess fair.
Long the mirror, lying there,
Was the object of her hatred.

Said the mirror in reply:
“You are fair, I can’t deny.
But where Seven Knights go riding
In a green oak-grove residing
Humbly lives a person who
Is more beautiful than you.”
The Tsaritsa’s wrath descended
On her maid: “What folly tempted
You to lie? You disobeyed!”
Smudge a full confession made…
Uttering a threat of torture,
The Tsaritsa grimly swore to
Send the Princess to her death
Or not draw another breath.

And in time they grew to love her.
Thereupon all seven brothers
Shortly after dawn one day
To her chamber made their way
And the Eldest Knight addressed her:
“As you know, you are our sister.
But all seven of us here
Are in love with you, my dear,
And we all desire your favours.
But that must not be. God save us!
Find some way to give us peace!
Be a wife to one at least,
To the rest remain a sister!”

And the Prince in tears dissolving
Threw himself upon the coffin…
And it broke! The maiden straight
Came to life, sat up, in great
Wonder looked about and yawning
As she set her bed see-sawing
Said with pretty arms outstretched:
“Gracious me! How long I’ve slept!”
Down she stepped from out the coffin.
O the sighing and the sobbing!
Carrying his bride, he strode
Back to daylight. Home they rode,
Making pleasant conversation
Till they reached their destination.
Swiftly rumour spread around:
“The Princess is safe and sound!”

8 Responses to “Snow White and the 7 Hot Guys: A Russian Fairy Tale”

  1. Ben Says:

    красиво. очень красиво.

  2. Jack Says:


  3. Tequila Says:

    While I’m more of a Sleeping Beauty fan (easily Disney’s best character designs of the era behind Peter Pan) I like this version of Snow White more than others I’ve heard. I remember my grandma use to tell me a Spanish version that was pretty dark and wildly different from the Disney one most of us know.

    What I like about this one is that it kinda makes more sense with the brothers and what not falling in love. Though the inner pervert in us all could probably thing of a different scenario coming from her only marrying one and being a “sister” to the rest. The illustrations are fantastic…especially the colors. Then again I like that kinda pattern work and use it a lot.

    Haven’t gone through all the videos yet but the style does feel like a much more realistic version of the Disney style.

  4. BlueAnchorNatasha Says:

    Marked, this is great! A little morbid, but this IS part of Russian culture were talking about. The videos will be great for listening practice!

  5. Gaisma Says:

    Спасибо, старые русские сказки они замечательные. :)
    Музыка не обязательно должна нравиться, просто настроение подходящее- “русский дух”.

  6. AlisonF Says:

    Beautiful! I’m appreciating what fairy tales can bring and show about different cultures. Not to mention, what beautiful illustrations to accompany this!

  7. Amanda Says:

    Bolshoi spacibo!

  8. Ashbet Says:

    So, how does Snow White choose between the seven brothers? Or is the Prince totally unrelated, like the Western version is unrelated to the dwarfs?

    (HAREM, DAMMIT — that’s the way to go! *grins*)