Dedicated to John W.Howell (Fiction Favorites), who inspired this issue.
Esteemed Readers, I believe that it would be great to discuss some traits of humans participating in Russian fairy-tales too. It will make a world of good to comprehend both the meaning they bear & regard what characters were appreciated by ancient Russians.
As in many other nations, Ivan (John, Jean, Juan, etc.) is a most common name for our heroes, there are two of them you can meet in our tales: Ivan Tsar’evich & Ivan Dur’ak. The first one belongs to a rich or even a prince family & is famous mostly due to his social position. The Russian mentality hostile to richness & a personal welfare depicts him as a hero due to “circumstances”. Ivan Tsar’evich cannot be called too intelligent, he leads a happy calm life full of pleasures when suddenly something terrible happens that makes him follow the hero’s path or…if he is enchanted with a beautiful woman. In almost all tales about him his future wife means “an extraordinary beauty”…nobody mentions any skills or a sort of intelligence. Traditionally his wife’s name is Vasil’isa Prekr’asnaya (Vasil’isa the Beauty). She might belong to a prince kin too.
The hero’s path starts for Ivan Tsar’evich with a stupidity. Rather often he does so stupid things one can hardly believe that he is the prince. Set off to fulfil his mission, he also might behave not in a proper way in the beginning, (tries to kill talking animals, birds or spirits who come to him seeking help or to give him a good piece of advice, – so no respect to nature). Further he learns laws of the nature, becomes mature & saves his precious beauty from Kosch’ei the Immortal or another nasty old grumbler. What happens after he has returned to his land with his beautiful wife, nobody knows.
Ivan Dur’ak (Stupid) belongs to people. As a rule he is an active young man or yet a boy, who often has problems with relatives. His own family disdains him, but always asks him to solve their troubles. (Another paradox of the Russian mentality). Ivan Dur’ak is kind, he forgives them & serves without complaining, no matter what. He is poor,but merry, rich of spirit & intelligence. He enters the hero’s path due to his wish to help others, sympathy he feels to the world around. He comprehends laws of nature, respects any form of life & is courageous. He is destined to solve most difficult tasks, to visit most extraordinary places, to obtain praise & respect both from spirits & animals. An interesting fact is that the wife he gets in the end is both beautiful, intelligent & often a foreigner from a far exotic land. In the end of the story he also becomes a prince or a rich man. The difference is only that he gets all his honours thanks to his grit & patience.
So, wisdom of centuries teaches us that intelligence & education provide wider perspectives than just a peerless beauty. A new Internet generation should take it into account.