Two to five

“We will develop natural fantasy or, at least, we will not prevent her from developing in a peculiar way. Reading fairy tales is very important for young children in this regard.. Now you can often meet parents, rebelling against fairy tales. They don't give them to children, striving to educate sober, business people. I have always predicted for such parents, that no mathematics will come out of these children, our inventors…”
The tall-faced one took up his white cap.

– Did you know, who writes this? – I asked him triumphantly. – This is not written by some poet or storyteller., and professor of applied mechanics, book author “Grounds for statics” and “Strength of materials course”, educated generations of outstanding Russian scientists. As a result of many years of pedagogical and scientific experience, he came to the conviction, that the tale is his ally, not an enemy, what engineer, who in childhood was not raised on a fairy tale, hardly capable of engineering creativity. This is what his article is called.: “The value of fantasy to engineers”*. Read it, and you will see for yourself, that a fairy tale not only does not interfere with the technical education of children, but on the contrary, helps and promotes.
* Cm. article by Professor V.L. Kirpichev in “Izvestia of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute” (1903).
But the highbrow put my book aside.
– Don't want to read? – I asked. – Why then?
He stuck out his lip and said gravely:
– Because I'm a day off today.
Luckily, there were young and passionate teachers in the sanatorium, they energetically supported me.
But their efforts did not save “Munchausen”. Highbrow was educated in Kharkov, where at that time a group of pedologists worked, would-be children's reading theorists, who asserted, that proletarian guys don't need any fairy tales, no toys, not a song.
It was thanks to this group that the high-headedness felt completely free from the obligation to think independently..
As it turned out later, around this time A.S. Makarenko wrote with anger about pedologists:
“I have always honestly tried to understand the pedological “theory”, but from the very first lines my brains were liquefied, and I didn't even know, how to qualify this whole theory: ravings of a madman, deliberate sabotage, Homeric devilish mockery of our entire society or simple biological stupidity. I could not understand, How did it happen, that the question of raising millions of children is of great practical importance, that is, millions of future and, moreover, Soviet workers, engineers, military, agronomists, solved with a simple, dark hysteria and at the same time in front of everyone”*.
* Archive of A.S. Makarenko. I quote from the book by E. Balabanovich “A.S. Makarenko”, M. 1951, pp. 112.
“Munchausen” and became a victim of such hysterics.
However, it's not just about pedologists. Among my fairy tales there was not one, which would not have been prohibited in those old years by one or another authority, taking care of the literary education of children.
Fairy tale “It's cold”, eg, was convicted by Glavsotsvos for, that in it I seem to have offended… chimney sweeps. A large group of writers of the time fully agreed with this verdict., among twenty nine (!) human, which stated so in “Literary newspaper” at “Open letter to M. Gorky”:
“Children should not be allowed to memorize:
And to the unclean chimney sweeps
Shame and disgrace, shame and disgrace!
and at the same time implant in their minds, that the work of a chimney sweep is just as important and honorable, like any other”.
WITH “Crocodile” it got even easier: announced publicly (in newspapers and at large gatherings), as if I portrayed in this fairy tale – what do you think? – General Kornilov's mutiny. the fact, what “Crocodile” written a year earlier, how the mutiny was raised, did not cancel this implausible legend.
Prohibition “Crocodile” at 1928 year caused a protest of Leningrad writers and scientists. There is some paper in my archive, addressed to the Pedagogical Commission of the GUS (State Academic Council). Among the signatories of the protest – Alexey Tolstoy, Konstantin Fedin, Yuri Tynyanov, S. Marshak, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Nik. Tikhonov, Lydia Seifullina, Vyacheslav Shishkov, academicians Evgeniy Tarle, Sergei Oldenburg, Shlisselburzhets Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov and many others. Under the influence of this protest, permission was given “publish a book in a small print run”, but after a few months the permit was taken back, despite even Gorky's intervention. And people, signers of this paper, were named “Chukovsky's group”.
However, “Crocodile” was lucky compared to “Flies”, from which Soviet children were saved more than once or twice.
First of all on the ground, what fly (according to a witty guess of the same GUS Commission) – “disguised princess”, a mosquito – “disguised prince”.
Next time – for it, what's in it “was dragged through” me such a couplet:
A horned beetles,
guys rich,
and this, according to the Commission, shows, that I express my sympathy for the kulak elements of the village.
For the third time the ill-fated “Fly” was convicted for, that she seems to undermine children's faith in the triumph of the team…
Of course, I'm happy, that at the present time I can cheerfully laugh at such masterpieces of critical thought. And then, admit, it was not at all laughing.
In the same way, such an official letter did not cause me much joy., which I received from the head of the children's section of the Leningrad State Publishing House:
“Protect and demand the reprint of your previous books (“Telephone”, “Cockroach”, “Aibolit”, “Crocodile”) we, as you understand, we can not, since children currently need, of course, other food: The Glavsotsvos Commission allows only “Moydodıra” (but needs to be thrown away “chimney sweeps”)” etc.
At the same time, a dispute about a children's book took place in Moscow.. The writer D. Kalm gave an account of this dispute in “Literary newspaper” under this title: “We will protect our child from alien class influences!” There, with the greatest sympathy, it is said about the speech of one of the leading employees of GIZ:
“Tov. Razin stated, that the main danger of our children's literature is Chukovism”.
One of the magazines of the time published a whole article “About Chukovshchina”, dedicated to the book “Two to five” (which was then called “Small children”).
The article said bluntly:
“We must take Chukovsky and his group under fire…”, “We must and will fight against the ideology of Chukovsky and his group” etc., etc., etc.*.
* “Red stamp”, 1928, № 9-10, pp. 92-94.
Another magazine a few months later titled its speech: “We call to fight “Chukovshchina”.
“It's cold”, said in the magazine, “develops superstition and fears”, “Tsokotuha fly” “praises kulak accumulation”, but “Cockroach” and “Crocodile” “give a misconception about the world of animals and insects”. As a consequence of all this, in the same article, parents and educators were asked: but) do not read these books to children; b) protest against their publication; at) urge kindergartens in Moscow and other cities to join this protest, etc., etc., etc.*.
* “Preschool education”, 1929, № 4, pp. 74.
Luckily, it's all far behind, but you shouldn't think, that in later years, when “anti-fairytale campaign” the end was put, different volunteers stopped saving babies from me.
When I dared, eg, publish your translations of English folk poetry for children, such a review by T. Chugunov appeared in the press:
“This formalistic antics and rhymed lisp of Chukovsky, reinforcing the inaccuracies of language, found in children, interferes with the development of their speech… Children should be ashamed (so it is said: “should be ashamed”) from that, that he publishes such poor quality books, as “Kotausi-Mausi”.
Only towards the end of the fifties, when the spiritual life of the country entered new rails, children managed to defend their right to a fairy tale. And at that time, which I just talked about, during the period of Proletkult and RAPP, there were still dozens of barriers between a small child and a fairy tale.
Especially fierce hysteria was distinguished at that distant time by the Moscow specialist in raising children E. Stanchinskaya.
Speaking in print and in different tribunes, she triumphantly proved from the most extreme leftist positions, that the vast majority of fairy tales are extremely dangerous for Soviet children.
AND, when another is the same hysterical, E. Yanovskaya, published a brochure “Fairy tale as a factor of class education”, containing the same attacks on the tale, Stanchinskaya welcomed the appearance of the brochure with words:
“We emphasize the need for wide distribution of Yanovskaya's book”.
A regrettable thought was expressed in the review, as if a fairy tale should be given to children at the wrong time, when they urgently need it for the normal development of their mental powers, and later, when the need for a fairy tale has passed. It does not matter, that a person should be allowed to marry only after, how will he reach the age of eighty.
A strange thing happened to this Stanchinsky once.. Her own son rebelled against her obscurant theories.
With all her might she protected this son from fairy tales and, even talking to him about animals, told him only about such, whom he saw with his own eyes.
You need to educate him as a realist!
Slightly less, less evil fantasies!
Folk tales seemed especially terrible to her. “with wonderful transformations, goblin, babami-yagami and so on.”.
An ardent opponent of fairy tales, she published it in one of the Moscow magazines:
“We offer to replace folk unreal, fantastic tales with simple real stories, taken from the world of reality and nature!”*
* “On the Road to a new school”, 1924, № 1.
No concessions, no indulgences! Throw away all fairy tales without exception, epics, all Russian and world folklore!
And everything would be all right, but, unfortunately, as a loving mother, she began to keep the most detailed diary about her little son and, without noticing it herself, with this diary she refuted all her conjectures about the malignancy of fantastic fairy tales.
With my own hand, so to speak, destroyed her own ideas.
As seen in her diary – and this diary is printed, – her little boy, as if in revenge for, that a fairy tale was taken away from him, began to indulge in the most violent fantasy from morning to night. It will invent, that a red elephant came to his room, as if he has a girlfriend – bear bark; and, you are welcome, don't sit on the chair next to him, because – can't you see? – a bear on this chair. AND – “Mama, where are you going? wolves! After all, there are wolves!”*
* E.I. Stanchinskaya, mother's diary. The history of the development of a modern child from birth to 7 years old, M. 1924, pp. 52.
And a little snow fell, he immediately became a fawn, little deer in the taiga; but as soon as he sat on the carpet, how the carpet immediately became a steamer. Any minute out of thin air, out of the void boy, by the power of your childish imagination, could make any animal.
“I returned home today, gently holding something in hand.
– mammy, I brought you a tiger cub, – and shows an empty hand. You like my tiger cub?
– Yes, Yes, baby!
– Let him live with us, – pleading tone.
Sits down to dinner and puts a plate next to his plate, and when food is brought to him:
– mammy, a tigrenku?
And at the same time he tells lively:
– I went into the sea, tumbled there, suddenly a big tiger came, I hid under the shore, then I threw the net and caught a fish.
– Where is she?
– I ate it… raw”*.
* E.I. Stanchinskaya, mother's diary. The history of the development of a modern child from birth to 7 years old, M. 1924, pp. 66.
So almost all his days passed. Every minute he created a fairy tale for himself.
“- Mama, I'm a bird, and you are a bird too. Yes?”*
* E.I. Stanchinskaya, mother's diary. The history of the development of a modern child from birth to 7 years old, M. 1924, pp. 92.
“- Mama, one bug came to visit me, sat down at the table, gave me a honey”*, etc., etc., etc.
* E.I. Stanchinskaya, mother's diary. The history of the development of a modern child from birth to 7 years old, M. 1924, pp. 48.
And mother, see, that he literally bathes in a fairy tale, as in the sea, protected him in every possible way, so that he is not defiled by the printed fairy tale.
As if there is any fundamental difference between that tale, which the child composes, and He, which a great people or a great writer composed for him!
It's all the same, will you give him this fairy tale or not, – he is his own storyteller, Andersen himself, Grimm and Ershov, and his every play is a dramatization of a fairy tale, which he immediately creates for himself, animating all objects at will, turning any stool into a train, to the house, into the airplane, into a camel.
I knew a little boy, which the, playing chimney sweep, exclaimed:
– Dont touch me, Mama, you get dirty!..
And another, which, during the game, turned into a cutlet for a long time and, conscientiously hissing in a frying pan, in my hearts pushed my mother away, when she rushed to him with kisses:
– How dare you kiss me, fried!
My little three-year-old Mura, I play, spread her books on the floor, the books immediately became a river, where she fished and washed clothes. AND, accidentally stepped on one book, she screamed so naturally: “Ouch, I got my foot wet!”, which I believed for a second, like these books – water, and almost rushed to her with a towel.
In all these games, the guys act as authors and at the same time performers of fairy tales, embodying them in stage images.
And their thirst to believe in their fabulous fiction is so great, that any attempt to put them in the frame of reality causes them a strong protest.
I remember, eg, three-year-old Bubu, who surrounded himself with cubes and declared, what is this zoological garden. “Can not, i am locked!” – he answered, like a prisoner from a dungeon, when he was invited to walk. “And you step through the cubes”, offered him, but this destruction of the fairy tale he was making seemed to him insulting to tears: he stubbornly continued to remain in his voluntary prison and only then agreed to leave it, when a small cube was put forward in its building, that is, pretended, that opened the gates for him.
For guys with a sophisticated imagination, such games sometimes reach eccentricity.. Levik, two years old, sitting on his father's neck, loved to find himself in the most inappropriate places: under the lamp – not, in the thimble – not, in a jug – no, etc. “Where is Levik? – Disappeared! probably, climbed into a cigarette!”*
* N.I. Gavrilova and M.P. Stakhorskaya, mother's diary, M. 1916, pp. 52.
Once, when playing the war, Natasha played the role of a soldier, who seemed to have remained in the hut and hosted. They came running to her to say, that her husband was killed. Natasha screamed at the top of her voice. Other children tried to calm her down. They repeated, that Borya, who played her husband, alive. Natasha continued to scream and did not calm down until the evening. At night she sobbed in her sleep and, when the elders tried to console her, говорила:
– well, that Borya is alive, but my husband was killed!
Playing Sleeping Princess, the children were somehow distracted from the game and for a long time did not come to the princess who was sleeping on the bench.
– Go to dinner! – grandmother is calling her.
– Can not. I am a princess. I sleep.
Not only games, but even the simplest conversations of young children testify, that the fabulous perception of the world is a common norm for them:
– And the alarm clock never sleeps?
– And a stocking from a needle does not hurt?
And this professional storyteller was protected in every possible way from the fairy tale, which he breathes like air.
Luckily, almost never succeeded. Because, saving my child's psyche, the child goes underground with a fairy tale and uses it, so to speak, illegally, smuggling her into his world.
The famous children's writer T.A. Bogdanovich was raised by her sister from early childhood. “Jacobins” P.N. Tkacheva, once also wrote for children, Alexandra Nikitichna Annenskaya.
Under the influence of the enlightenment of the sixties, she so zealously guarded the baby from fairy tales, that she was even afraid to take a nanny – no matter how the nanny tells her a story. The girl read only scientific books, mainly in botany and zoology.
But at night, when the teacher finally fell asleep, girl, freed from control, filled the whole room with the most outlandish creatures.
Then the monkeys climbed onto the bed, a fox with foxes suddenly appeared on her chair, in her clothes, folded by the bed, some birds began to swarm, and she talked to them for a long time every night. Talked – because every child talks to all objects, and all objects talk to him.
This fabulous life among illusory animals gave the girl great joy., because she was a healthy and normal manifestation of her childish nature.
So the poor child instinctively defended his right to a fairy tale, secretly indulging in that very fantasy, from which adults protected him, like typhoid.
The teacher has achieved only that, that drove a fairy tale underground and thereby gave it a tenfold charm. Wouldn't it be better just to read to the girl “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood”?
Dostoevsky wrote about the need to develop children's imagination by reading fairy tales to one of his parents at the end of his life.:
“You speak, that until now they have not allowed your daughter to read anything literary, afraid to develop fantasy. It seems to me, that it's not quite right: fantasy is a natural force in man, especially in every child, who has it, from an early age, predominantly in front of all other abilities is developed and requires satisfaction. Without giving her satisfaction, or kill her, or vice versa, – let her develop, precisely excessively (which is harmful) on their own already. The same strain will only drain the child's spiritual side prematurely.”*.
* F.M.Dostoevsky, Letters, t. IV, Goslitizdat, M. 1959, pp. 196. Letter to N.L. Ozmidov, 18 August 1880 r.
We have already seen, what did the five year old child do, when one smart Moscow mother, wanting to introduce him to the true realities of life, prematurely told him in detail about the conception and birth of children: after listening to her lecture, he immediately changed the whole science in his own way and told his mother, what, when he was in her belly, he played in the kindergarten there and drank tea with the local uncle.
This is what a five-year-old child did with that strictly scientific knowledge., who were told at the wrong time.
He seemed to tell his mother: you see yourself, what I need now is not embryology, and a fairy tale, to make it as complete as possible, luxuriantly, richer to survive this period, which is most useful for my mental development. Do not rush to inoculate me before the time “Adult” thinking, because every one of your “adult” the truth is I, according to the laws of their nature, I will immediately transfer it to the fantasy world and even pour sand into your womb, and divorce there now, and put stalls with mosselprom workers.
Deprived of the Munhausen, Gulliver, humpback skates, the child unconsciously compensates himself with many homemade fairy tales. So pedologists, taking away from him folk tales and tales of great writers (i.e, in fact, robbing him), committed this robbery in vain and still did not achieve their goal.
The fairy tale still flourished in a child's life, only instead of folk, or Pushkin's tale, or the tales of one of the modern poets, the guys were forced to self-serve with their own random handicraft.
And to use their attraction to a fairy tale, so that with the help of classic, centuries of proven books to develop, reinforce, to enrich and channel their ability to creative dream and fantasy, – the organizers of the children's reading still did not bother to think about it seriously.
Meanwhile in our time, in the era of the realization of the most sweeping scientific and social fantasies, which until recently seemed like crazy fairy tales, we needed to create a generation of inspired creators and dreamers everywhere at all costs, in all areas – in science, technique, agronomy, architecture, politics.
Without fantasy, there will be complete stagnation in physics and chemistry., since the creation of new hypotheses, inventing new devices, new methods of experimental research, guesses about new chemical compounds – these are all products of fantasy.
Sober, cautious rutiners own the present, and so, who fantasizes, – future. No wonder the famous English physicist John Tyndall so ardently stood up for the fantasy. “Without the participation of fantasy, he insisted, – all our information about nature would be limited to one classification of facts. The relationship of causes and their actions would crumble to dust, and at the same time science itself would have collapsed, the main purpose of which is to establish connections between different parts of nature, for creative fantasy – it is the ability to quickly form new and new connections”*.
* John Tyndall, The role of fantasy in the development of science. I quote from the article by V. Kirpichev “The role of fantasy for engineers” at “Izvestia of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute” за 1903 year.
Why did our pedologists make their word “fantasy” abusive? In the name of what they exterminated him from the psyche of little guys? In the name of realism? But realisms are different. There is Bacon's realism, Gogol, Mendeleev, Repin, and sometimes blunt and stuffy realism of a meadowsweet, samovar realism, cockroaches and dimes.
Is this realism we should bother? And don't we think, what's his real name – philistinism? The bourgeoisie achieves great miracles in this area: to such an extent it displaces a fairy tale from children's life, that others are especially unfortunate – children, even underground, do not take her away, and from an early age they become poor-minded practitioners. We have not yet completely pulled them out of the little things of philistine. And among them there are many such, which are more sober, older, more practical than us; and if they need to be saved from anything, so it is precisely from their terrible practicality, inspired by the philistine life. And teachers sometimes worry, shaking, no matter how children really think, like boots grow on trees. These unfortunate children are so suspicious of everyone – the most poetic – fiction, that everything that goes beyond the ordinary is considered an arrogant and senseless invention. When they took them to the same school, eg, talk about sharks, one of them hurried to protest:
– Sharks do not happen!
For there is nothing outlandish for them at all on earth., but there is only bread and cabbage, yes boots, to rubles.
Be afraid, that some fairy tale will make them romantics, unfit for practical life, could only those clerical inventors, that, sitting on commissions from morning to night, never seen a living child.
Keeping babies safe from folk songs, extravagances and fairy tales, these people hardly knew about the philistine essence of their practicality. Meanwhile, their very look at every children's book, how to something like that, which should immediately, this very minute, bring the visible, tangible benefits, like it's a nail or a clamp, revealed the shallowness and narrowness of their philistine thought. They were all terribly afraid of science fiction, meanwhile they were the dreamers, metaphysicians, mystics, completely out of touch with real life. Their fictions about the malevolence of fairy tales – the craziest fairy tale, disregarding any concrete facts. This is the only fairy tale, which we had to fight, – a tale of retarded teachers about a fairy tale.

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  1. Darina

    I liked the production