Yes and No Stories: A Book of Georgian Folk Tales

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Papashvily, George
Papashvily, Helen
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A first surprise for the person opening this book is that the front endpaper is printed upside down! The back endpaper is as it should be. A second surprise comes in the dedication: "For the defenders of Stalingrad and Sevastopol--folk heroes of tomorrow." The twenty tales are intriguing. They are "yes and no" stories because they all begin "There was, there was, and yet there was not, there was once…." Perhaps the cleverest story for my money is "The Man Whose Trade Was Tricks" (115). An anxious king wants to know if there is anyone trickier than he is. Can the court find someone to challenge him? If he proves not to be trickier than the king, the man will become the king's slave for life. Shahkro from a poor village is willing to take up this challenge. When he comes before the king, he says that he came so readily that he could not bring his tools. To get them, he will need a hundred wagons. And it will take him five or six months to get back. Before he departs, Shahkro gets the king to agree on what Shahkro will receive if he tricks the king: "Something you wouldn't miss if you gave it to me." When he returns, he licks the ear of the king's dog, and the dog in return licks his. "This dog tells me that my wife is dying. I need a horse." Shahkro gets the horse and brings back a donkey and claims that the horse has changed into a donkey. When the king expostulates, Shahkro shows that he has fooled the king three times: the king as trickster has never needed tools; his dog has never spoken, and his horse has never changed into a donkey. What does Shahkro claim for his reward? The king's head! Since he never uses it, he will not miss it! Shahkro relents, however, and asks instead for the land around his village for the poor people to farm.
Harper & Brothers
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