Russia Literature Pushkin Fairytale The Tale of the Golden Cockerel

The Tale of the Golden Cockerel

Tsar Dodon takes counsel from his nobles in order to devise a means whereby the constant plotting of a neighbouring hostile ruler may be frustrated. Before a practicable scheme has been evolved, there enters an Astrologer, who proffers a golden cockerel. With the bird watching over the city, the Tsar may sleep; danger will be sounded by a warning crow. At the cockerel’s first alarm the Tsar despatches his two sons to lead his army; at the second he decides to betake himself to the field of battle. The first sight that meets his gaze is that of his two sons, who have done each other to death. At dawn he perceives a tent. Dodon and his general mistake this as belonging to the leader of the opposing army, but to their astonishment there emerges from it the lovely Queen of Shemakha. She completely infatuates and ruthlessly fools the old Dodon, who finally asks her to share his throne. On their return in state to the capital, Dodon is reminded by the Astrologer of his promised token of gratitude. The Tsar, asking his price, is horrified by a demand for the person of his bride. Infuriated, he slays the Astrologer. The Queen deserts him, and he is killed by the golden beak of the avenging cockerel.

Vladimir Konashevich illustrated The Tale of the Golden Cockerel in 1948 and 1962. The light and grotesque heroes of the artist’s first illustrations later gave way to more restrained characteristics and the attempt to treat the book as a single whole. Konashevich’s drawings are among the most popular illustrations to The Tale of the Golden Cockerel in Russia. They have been constantly reprinted and many generations of youngsters have grown up reading the fairytales of Alexander Pushkin in the illustrations of Vladimir Konashevich.

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