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From Frank J. Miller's Folklore for Stalin: Russian Folklore and Pseudofolklore of the Stalin Era, about the manufactured folklore/fakelore during Stalin's regime. Miller gives us:

"Magical objects play a prominent part in Kovalev's Soviet tales. A peasant lost in a dense forest meets a magician who gives him three flowers that turn him into a bird, a lizard, and a nightingale. The heroes who help free the sister, Rusa, from Koshchei the Deathless are aided by a self-striking cudgel, an invisible hat, and a talisman. During the Revolution and the Civil War, Lenin and Stalin fight with a self-cutting sabre and a destroyer-ball (shar-razrushitel') which weighs a thousands puds.[sic] The Red soldiers ride flying carpets. Chkalov [1] possesses a talisman that enables him to conquer the Tsar of the North. Three comrades--Vodkhvat (Watergrabber), Svetloput (Roadlighter), and Radioslukh (Radiohearer)--help Captain Schmidt, named Iskatel' (Searcher), find a ring that will detect the riches in the depths of the earth when worn by the Leader of the country."

and

"Once there lived in their land a tsar who loved capitalists and landowners. He had an army of Cossacks, as well as an army of priests who would inform on the poor people. During this time, three falcons were born. One day lightning struck and destroyed the tsar's empire. People elected a new leader, the Wise Leader, who enlightened them and created a new law--the constitution. He has taught his falcons to fly steel birds and has given them the task of conquering the Tsar of the North. The Tsar of the North sits in an icy palace, protected by his twelve minister-whirlwinds (with Moroz-Krasnyi Nos [Father Frost]) at their head) and twelve dark storm clouds. As the aviators approached the North, the tsar declared war on them and sent the whirlwinds and storm clouds after them. The falcons overcame these obstacles and also Moroz-Krasnyi Nos. When the tsar himself attacked, the aviator "Chkal" (Chkalov) took a talisman he had been given and threw it at him, rendering him helpless. The capitalist countries are envious, for they have no such brave falcons."

[1] Valery Chkalov, Russian test pilot and Hero of the Soviet Union.
Current Mood:
busy busy
Current Music:
"The Way It Is," Prodigy
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On November 21st, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC), richardthinks commented:
damn, they're way ahead of us. Specifically, way ahead of Philip Pullman.
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On November 21st, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
I'm thinking we need to start up something similar, about Paul Bunyan and Abe Lincoln using magic baseball bats and the wendigo.
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On November 21st, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC), richardthinks replied:
using magic baseball bats and the wendigo against whom, though? Also, possibly, American girls' legs.

I'm with you: this stuff makes China Mieville seem downright pedestrian.
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On November 21st, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
It's a shame it's fakelore. Still, pretty neat.
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On November 22nd, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC), richardthinks replied:
I think it must be an artifact of my current gradschool work that it doesn't bother me at all that the stories aren't "authentic" folklore. At the same time, knowing it's a state's production makes it more interesting to me than a novel, written purely as entertainment/art, would be, no matter how influential that novel.

Hm. I've been sucked into some kooky set of values.
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On November 21st, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Ah, I remember that. Great stuff!
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On November 21st, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC), bryant replied:
Michael Chabon has about 75% of that covered!
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On November 21st, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC), full_metal_ox replied:
I Am Not Making This Up: this Pepto-Max commercial from a couple years ago portrayed Paul Bunyan and Lady Liberty (who, now that I think of it, acted as a sort of benign DaiMajin in "Ghostbusters") as giant Japanese-style latex movie monsters. (You'll probably also recognize Frank Kelly Freas's robot of Astounding Science Fiction and Queen album cover fame.)

http://www.findinternettv.com/Video,item,2437813775.aspx
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On November 21st, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC), crisper commented:
Interesting... just because you want to crush God out of the peasants doesn't mean you want to crush out superstition. Never really thought about it before. "There is no God. Magic? Oh yeah, that's totally valid."
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On November 21st, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Miller goes into some detail about the different views that Stalin et al. held about folklore, whether as enemy of the state (I think "kulak ideology" was the phrase used) or as tool for "educating" the masses.

Very interesting book, really.
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On November 21st, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC), princeofcairo commented:
Obviously Father Frost was induced to change sides after 1941.

On a vastly more pedantic note, "puds" is probably not a misprint for "pounds" but a reference to the Russian weight-measure. A pud (or pood, depending on transliteration), I am reliably informed, is a skoosh over 36 lbs. (As it happened, I knew this because I have a friend who got into crazy Russian weight-training, and the kettlebells are denominated in puds.)
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On November 21st, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
I don't actually take that as pedantic at all. (Or, rather, I'm grateful for whatever knowledge you can drop on me). I couldn't imagine that the publisher had let that slip by as a misspelling, but it seemed so strange to me that I reflexively put the [sic] in. Thanks for the correction.
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On November 22nd, 2008 06:09 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
dammit
Mao Zedong never went in for all that. The closest I think the PRC ever got was comparing the Dalai Lama or Falun Gong to trickster demons.
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On November 22nd, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC), editswlonghair commented:
I've been having to pore through some Stalin-era propaganda films for this gulag doc I'm working on... I'm seeing plenty of healthy, happy, well-fed peasants surrounded by a copious bounty of food and clothes, but there is a glaring lack Treasure Type H goodies! I feel cheated. ;)

Seriously, that's some wild stuff. Thanks for the head's up.
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On November 22nd, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC), emilytheslayer commented:
Hey BTW, I'm assuming you've seen this?
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On November 22nd, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC), shewhomust commented:
Good stuff! Thanks for posting.
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On December 17th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC), lemuriapress commented:
You probably aren't paying attention to this old post anymore, but I thought I'd mention that Gary Gygax made Koshchei into a Dungeons & Dragons demon lord in the original Monster Manual back in 1978.

Heh.

Here's the Wiki about his RPG incarnation.

And here's a picture, in that crude AD&D1 style!
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On December 17th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
I am old enough to have bought that at the time. Still have my copy, somewhere in storage. I've since read Cabell, among others, but can never see the name without thinking of the D&D version.
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