Richly represented in the Russian folktale tradition, the legends are religious tales (types 750-849 in the Aame-Thompson index) in a peasant village setting. Among the standard themes is the return of Christ, who wanders through rural Russia with his disciples. Satan appears here too, as do a cast of spirits and lesser devils. Pre-Christian gods may be recognized in tales of saints Ilya and Nikolai (Elijah and Saint Nicholas). The hapless peasant in these tales - cheated, betrayed, impoverished, foolish, orphaned, crippled - take the reader deep into the traditional village culture of Russia and into the imperfect human quest for moral choice and justice on this earth.
Preface; Introduction; 401. A Poor Man; 402. A Tale; 403. About Ivanushka; 404. The Poor Widow; 405. The Guest; 406. The Serpent; 407. The Envious Man; 408. The Rich Peasant; 409. A Magic Threshing; 410. About Ilia; 411. The Blacksmith and the Devil; 412. The Hermit and the Devil; 413. Saving Your Soul; 414. Sin and Repentance; 415. The Archpriests Daughter; 416. A Thief Forgiven; 417. The Proud, Rich Man; 418. [untitled]; 419. Ivan the Merchants Soon Tells Off the Tsars Daughter; 420. Money; 421. The Death of the Miser; 422. The Soldier and the Landlord as Corpse; 423. Are There Priests Without Sin?; 424. Laboring for the Forest Spirit; 425. The Fiddler in Hell; 426. Money; 427. The Devil and the Landlord; 428. Infanticide Punished by Serpents; 429. The Bigamist; 430. Dusk Burnt Over; 431. [untitled]; 432. The Old Woman in Church; 433. The Priest Musician