It’s Fairy Tale Saturday and this week we have a very special book that comes to us from our very own rq. It’s Latvian and a real departure from the fairy tales we’ve looked at so far. The pictures are very bold and some are darkly intriguing. I know you’ll enjoy it.
I don’t know Latvian so I’m including the publishing details in a photograph. I would surely botch it up if I tried to translate.
I’ve attached photos of a classic Latvian family book – a large (perhaps THE) comprehensive compilation of Latvian folktales. Some are quintessentially Latvian, some are older than others, some resemble your well-known fairy-tales, and some are quite distinct and individual.
The artist is Pāvels Šenhofs, born 1924, died in 2011.
In any case, it’s a classic, and they don’t publish like they used to!
First, you have the book cover, which is a bit melodramatic.
Then there is the fabric cover of the book itself- how I knew it, as the copy we had when I was growing up did not have the cover anymore. It’s a dark green print on rough (almost canvas) textile, also the spine.
Then there is the inside covers, which are very traditional in style.
Then some samples of the inside art: each story begins with an “illuminated” letter, drawn to look like it’s carved from wood, along with a distinctive introductory illustration, and most stories also have other line illustrations along the margins or at the end.
But the colour plates are simply fantastic. The stories are just as horrifyingly charming!
An extra picture for the antireligionists among us: the book has a whole series of stories about duping the local priest or pastor in a myriad of ways: as with German barons, if they’re not cast as the Devil himself, then they’re cast as the fool. And even the Devil can be tricked!