Two to five

– Tasks are not small! – would answer the Commission of the Union of Writers on Children's Literature. – And even, you can say, colossal. But first of all, notice, what, performing these important tasks, our folk tales, as well as the tales of great writers, have frank contempt for the measures you propose to determine their usefulness. This expressed, eg, in a folk tale, extremely loved by children, – “About the gray wolf and Ivan Tsarevich”, Where, as if to mock your principles, the wolf is a great kind, hunting for his friend Ivan and the golden-maned horse, and the firebird, and Elena the Beautiful, so that children from the very beginning give all their sympathy to the wolf. This was also expressed in the tale of another wolf., written by Leo Tolstoy, where the wolf is depicted as a freedom-loving sage, refusing in the name of freedom from well-fed, wealthy life.
And bears – all kinds of Bears, The group, Mikhail Potapychi – do i need to say, how charming for millions of children the same people made them! And who doesn't know, that the most, so to speak, sincere toys for small children, these are Bears, wooden, rag, plush, – specially made then, so the guys can stroke them, lull, pity and caress, wrap them up in shreds, feed an imaginary porridge, protect from imaginary troubles. And you gotta be a sleepwalker, completely divorced from the true realities of life, that, seeing some Vanya's teddy bear in his hands, take this toy away from him for fear, what he, when will he become Ivan, will not go with a gun or spear on a live forest bear.
So – or something like this – the Commission on Children's Literature was to respond on behalf of the Writers' Union. But, to my great astonishment, she answered him completely differently.
“You are right in the production itself (!) the question, – she said from the very first words. – Unfortunately (?), some of our writers, working in the field (so it is said: “working in the field”) children's fairy tale and children's preschool story, really made mistakes for the sake of amusement, endowing the most harmful beasts, birds and insects qualities of goodies”.
Wild answer, clerical. Indeed, with such an approach to a children's fairy tale, the wonderful tale of Zhukovsky about the same beneficent wolf will turn out to be deeply mistaken, where the poet, following the people, glorifies the kindness and humanity of wolves, and Leo Tolstoy's tale about a bear on a cart, where children's hearts are drawn to the bear, and Pushkin's tale of Saltan, which caused the sympathy of children for the mosquito. Who among us in childhood did not clap our hands, not happy, when those who read us a fairy tale reached the famous poems:
Tsar Saltan marvels at the miracle,
And the mosquito is angry, angry
And the mosquito dug just
Aunt right in the right eye.
The cook turned pale,
She died and blamed.
Servants, matchmaker and sister
They catch a mosquito with a cry…
Why then, asks, Pushkin, Zhukovsky, Tolstoy committed this strange “a mistake”?
The Children's Literature Commission answered this question with such frivolous nonsense.:
“This was explained, in our opinion, – so she wrote, disregard for the truth of life, ignorance of native nature”.
By establishing in this way indirectly, that not only Charushin and I, but also Pushkin, Zhukovsky, and Leo Tolstoy, and with them, at the same time, Nekrasov did not know their native nature and were dismissive of the truth of life, The Children's Literature Commission immediately declared, despite the obvious, that the Russian people in their folklore give almost no positive features to any harmful animals, that is, she chose to keep silent about the above hares, wolves, mice and bears.
Why did she allow all these deviations from the truth?? And for the sake of that, to draw from them the appropriate administrative-practical prohibitive conclusion: the opera by the composer Krasev was recognized as harmful and was no longer played on the air.
repeat: the techniques and methods of our critic are extremely typical of many similar statements. And of course, I would not dwell on them for so long, if they were not based on one delusion, having ideological, principled character.
As stated on the previous pages, people with thousands of years of their pedagogical experience have come to unshakable confidence, that those fabulous images, that surround the child in the early years of his life, will not remain motionless in his mind, and in the process of its development and growth, influenced by life practice, will undergo a great revaluation. In this case, Engels's statement is quite applicable to the people, what “people thought dialectically long before, how did you know, what is dialectics…”*.
* Marx and Engels, compositions, t. 20, pp. 146.
Imagine a child's life as a process, that is, in continuous motion, change, development, many people still cannot do it. These people still sometimes see, that the child is just a chest, in which you put what, take it out. Put your love to the wolf, or to a mosquito, or to a fly, so this love will remain in him until the very end of his life. And they try to stuff there, into this chest, maybe more good things and are very surprised, when taken out of there is not at all the same, what did they put there.
Unaware of the dialectic nature of childhood, they think in the most clumsy way, what, if a child is given as mental food, let us say, some a, then this a will remain in it in the form a and will not be transformed into b, or in, or g. They forget, that like an egg does not look like a chicken, like a seed doesn't look like a tree, so a three-year-old baby does not look like that person, which will come out of it later. The child is only a draft of a man, and much in this draft will be crossed out, and a lot has been redrawn, until Pavlov comes out of the big-eyed and chubby Yurik, Tsiolkovsky or the most low-grade freak.
from, that a child at three years old is going through a period of breaking toys, by no means should, that by the age of fifteen he will become a cracker of fireproof cash registers.
Educators, not taking into account the dialectical development of childhood, that's exactly what they think. Just like that pregnant woman, who cried bitterly, having learned, that her uterine baby, at the beginning of the second or third month, gills and tail appeared: “I do not want, so that my Vanya was a little tailed!” – without knowing, that both gills and tail will disappear from him even before birth.
These simple people imagine, that every fairy tale, which you will tell the baby, so to the grave and will remain in it with all its morality and fantasy and will determine by itself all his future life.
All the persecutors of fairy tales speculated on this naive confidence even in the days of pedology..
In Rostov-on-Don, someone P. (isn't Peredonov?) squeezed an article at that time, where he severely condemned the famous tale about the Boy with a Thumb for, that the tale depicts cannibals. must be, he believed, that the child, who read this tale, will grow up to be a cannibal himself.
– Why do you eat human flesh? – in horror others will ask him.
– As a child, they read me a fairy tale about a Boy with a Thumb..
And in Orenburg, some Bulgakov so directly and printed on white paper, what a fairy tale – this is a school of sexual debauchery, because, eg, in a fairy tale “Cinderella” angry stepmother, who, out of sheer need to torment, pours ashes into her stepdaughter's lentils, there is, undoubtedly, sadistic, and the prince, delighted with poor Cinderella's shoe, there is a disguised fetishist of female feet!*
* V. Bulgakov, About the dangers of fairy tales. Handbook for educators at a labor school (Orenburg, 1922).
In the city of Gorky A.T-va then published an article about, that the child, after listening to fairy tales, imbued with the psychology of moral indifference, will begin to strive for a non-collective, but to individual happiness – obviously, will become a squander or buyer of stolen goods *.
* Article by A. T-noi in the collection of the Nizhny Novgorod province “School and life” (N.-Novgorod, 1922).
Putting him in jail behind bars, the judge will tell him so:
– Wouldn't you read as a child “Puss in boots”!
The persecutors of fairy tales speculated precisely on the conviction of the ignorant, as if there is no such fabulous image, such a plot, which would not remain conserved in the child's mind for twenty and thirty years, without undergoing any metamorphosis. They frightened innocent readers with a senseless fable about, what, if a five year old boy reads, eg, about flying carpet, is he, having reached the age of thirty, and won't want to hear about any Dneprostroy, and will remain a dreamer until the end of his days, romantic, mystic.
Than from this old, of the now forgotten delirium, the thought of the above-named Trans-Baikal resident is different (and all reputable comrades, who declared themselves in solidarity with him), if the child, who will be read in childhood “Wolf” Evgeniya Charushina, for the rest of his life will retain in his soul an ardent affection for wolves? And as if, listening to the tale of the brave mosquito, defeating the evil spider, child, even becoming an adult, will never kill mosquitoes again?
Here and there – scholastic, medieval thought, as if the concepts and ideas of the child are something frozen, given once and for all.
Not, objects of sympathy of the child over time will change more than once. Today – alone, tomorrow – other. Therefore, storytellers – and, first and foremost, folk rockers – are not too concerned about the choice of these objects, establishing their harm or benefit.
And I just have to repeat it word for word, what was said by me on one of the previous pages – in the preface to the cycle of my fairy tales.
The goal of storytellers – other. It lies in the fact, to cultivate humanity in a child at any cost – this wondrous ability of a person to worry about other people's misfortunes, rejoice in the joys of another, experience someone else's fate, как свою.
* * *
All, what is the story of this chapter, happened ten years ago. Today, the Commission on Children's Literature of the Writers' Union is already different, renewed roster, not in the least responsible for that document, which I just quoted. But does this mean, that self-proclaimed guardians of the people's welfare no longer exist, ready to take away from children this or that work of art on the basis of their scholastic dogmas, infinitely far from the true realities of life?
That's the grief, that these dogmas are terribly tenacious.
For, First of all, they still appeal to naive minds with their seeming, imaginary logic.
And secondly, any, who uses them for polemical attacks against a particular children's book, thereby assumes the noble role of an ardent champion of the public good, and this role is very tempting especially for tartufs and people in a case.
Therefore, it is not so easy to eradicate such methods of critical thought from our everyday life., and it would be ridiculous to hope for quick and rapid success. There will still be relapses – and more than once. The fight will be stubborn. And I will be sincerely glad, if it turns out, that in this chapter I managed at least partially, shake this vicious critical method even in the smallest degree, showing, using the first concrete example that comes across, the complete unsuitability of such techniques for solving the most important question about the pedagogical value of a particular children's book.
The editor of my book said:
– This whole chapter “The struggle for a fairy tale” hardly needed now. To think wildly, as if now, in the sixties, there may be at least one obscurantist, which the, speculating leftist, ostensibly utilitarian slogans, will demand the destruction of some fantastic fairy tale. The time of rappoports and vaskovskys is over. Now even they have grown wiser! Why bump into an open door?
Вы правы! – I answered. – It seems to me myself, that this chapter is out of date. No need to prove that, which has long been clear as day.
But at that moment they brought in a fresh number “Literary newspaper”, and we read such a letter in it:
“Again and again, the work of Korney Chukovsky about “Flies-Cokotuhe”. This time this work was released in circulation in 1300000 copies.
How long will K. Chukovsky mislead Soviet children??”
Etc., etc., etc.
The letter ends with such an appeal:
“K. Chukovsky's useless book about the Fly (Cokotuhe) you can safely burn, story (?) will not lose anything from this”.
And signed:
“A.P. Kolpakov, Candidate of Historical Sciences (Monday)”.
Among the accusations, nominated by the candidate of historical sciences Kolpakov against my “Flies-Tsokotukhi”, it sounded especially menacing:
“Kornei Chukovsky preaches love for the fly-tsokotukha, he gives her in marriage
For evil, swashbuckling
Young mosquito!
It's unnatural, so that a mosquito can marry a fly, outraged by the candidate of historical sciences Kolpakov. – Louse, – he teaches, – cannot marry a bug and a mosquito on a fly. This is all utter nonsense and deception”*.
* “literary newspaper”, 1960, № 99, from 20 August.
The sincerity of this tirade cannot be doubted. One thing I cannot understand: why, fighting against “utter nonsense”, The caps are limited to one “Tsokotukhoi”? Fight like this fight until the end! If he decided to put things in order in this case, why didn’t demand, to burn a brilliant folk tale as soon as possible “Princess Frog”, where it is plainly said, that a young man of heroic growth marries the most ordinary frog?
“The eldest son married a boyar daughter, average – on the merchant, and Ivan Tsarevich – on the frog”.
And why the venerable scientist has not yet thrown another Russian folk tale into the fire – “Medvedko”, where is the same “incestuous” marriage: beauty for two whole years becomes the wife of a bear!!
And the tale of Nikita Kozhemyak:
“He grabbed the snake princess and dragged her to his den – took for his wife”.
Is not it “unnaturally, that…”?
And this famous folk song for children:
They wooed the owl
For the white goose,
why Kolpakov spared her too?
And why did he spare Leo Tolstoy? After all, in black and white Leo Tolstoy wrote a fairy tale for children “really”, in which the peasant girl Masha marries a big snake and he becomes the father of her children. How did Kolpakov allow this unnatural marriage??
And the question is: why hasn't he burned the immortal Ukrainian folk ballad about the fly-chepurukh so far?, whom he married… – слушайте! слушайте! – the same mosquito!
Ouch, what kind of noise was made,
That mosquito and on the fly got married!
“On the fly” and that means “and flies”. How could this have happened, that vigilant Kolpakov missed such a crime? After all, two hundred million Ukrainian children have been enthusiastically reading and listening to this ballad for two hundred years., in which the same is sung “unnatural” marriage, as in my unfortunate “Cokotuhe”.
If the obscurantist whim has already come to Kolpakov to burn hated books to the ground, he should have known in advance, that a huge bonfire is needed here, for, as we see, both the Russian and Ukrainian peoples have created a lot of such fairy tales and songs for the needs of their children, to which his formidable formula is quite applicable:
“unnaturally, that”.
I'm not talking about Polish, Czech, Mongolian, English folklore, designed for small children. If the candidate of historical sciences Kolpakov had at least some opportunity to get acquainted with this folklore, is he, of course, would despair, for there would not be enough firewood in his fire. Take, for example, English children's folklore – so called Nursery Rhymes, echoes of which are so clearly heard in the works of Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll, Alan Alexander Milne and others. I can imagine, what anger they would incite in our gallant guardian of morality, if by some miracle he knew, that this magnificent cycle of poetry considers it perfectly acceptable for a frog to marry a mouse! And real rage would have gripped the same guardian, if he knew, that the wonderful children's poet Edward Lear has a duck dreaming about, to become the wife of a kangaroo, and the cat gets married with an owl.
Similar tales and poems have existed in English folklore for half a thousand years. – or more! – why none of the millions of children noticed anything odious about them?
I think, reason one: children are not vulgar.
And not only for children, but also to us, adult readers of fairy tales, ingenuously, childishly admiring “The frog princess”, – we don't even think of those dirty thoughts, as a result of which the notorious Kolpakov's formula is composed:
“unnaturally, that”.
In fact, I have to thank Kolpakov, since his letter served as a faithful testimony to me, that this chapter is not out of date and is still valid.
– Not, – I told the editor, – will have to keep this chapter. It's too early to exclude her from the book. Vaskovskie and rappoports, turns out, marvelously tenacious and still eager to fight, not at all afraid of being a universal laughing stock.
true, there are significantly fewer of them. The vast majority of readers' letters, received by me and the editors “Literary newspaper”, written in defense of my fairy tale. I do not quote these many letters, because I don’t want to upset Kolpakov: he is unlikely to like those epithets, with which the letter writers reward him so generously.
However, why not quote the most harmless of all these letters, well it's so short?
“Our dear Korney Ivanovich! We perfectly understand, how a fluttering fly got married to a daring mosquito. It comes down to our consciousness. But there is no way we can understand, like this (omitting the unflattering epithet. – KC) received a PhD in History”.
I don't understand for the life of me, from what, calling for book burning, he considers it necessary to back up this wild call with an indication of his degree.
Chapter Four
Human eye has not heard,
man's ear has not seen…
In Shakespeare “A dream in a summer night”
Bear flies through the skies,
In the claws yes he carries the cow,
A sheep and an egg lays in a misfire,
A pig and a nest on an oak tree.
Russian folk song
“Actor's slip:
“Keys locked, pocket doors”.
V. Sleptsov. Diary excerpts
I received such a letter:
“Ashamed, T. Chukovsky, boggle the heads of our guys with all sorts of confusion, Something like that, that there are shoes on the trees. With indignation we read such fantastic lines in your little book:
Toads are flying in the sky,
Fish on the field walk,
Mice have caught the cat,
The trap planted.
Why are you twisting the real facts? Children need useful information, not fantasy about polar bears, who seem to be crowing. This is not what we expect from our children's writers.. We want, so that they explain to the child the world around them, instead of obscuring his brains with all the confusion!”
I read this letter, and I felt not that sad, it's stuffy.
What a musty and hopeless ignorance! It's not about me or my poor rhyme, but on the huge question of the principles of children's reading, which cannot be solved with the help of only one philistine “common sense”, because “common sense” is often the enemy of any scientific theoretical truth.
Admit, I even felt pity for my accuser: take his hand, take out into the sunlight and explain to him from the heart, without irritability, in the simplest words, what he cannot understand in his philistine cellar.
If, кроме “common sense”, he had some other resources, he would see, what “confusion”, which seem so malefic to him, not only do not interfere with the child's orientation in the world around him, but, opposite, strengthen his sense of reality, and that it is in the interests of the realistic upbringing of children that such verses should be cultivated in the children's environment. For that's the way a child is, that in the first years of his existence, we can plant realism in his soul not only by familiarizing himself with the world around him, but most often and most successfully it is through the medium of science fiction.
So that my accuser can fully assimilate this obvious truth, I would speak from afar and tell him something like the following:
– Have you noticed, my poor friend, what is in Russian folk rhymes for children – these masterpieces of poetry and pedagogical wisdom – rarely will anyone ride a horse, and more and more on the cat, on chicken – on the most inappropriate animal:
Knocks, thunders down the street,
Thomas rides a chicken,
Timoshka on cat
On a crooked track.
Not, it seems, such a bird, such an animal, which would not be ridden by people in Russian nursery rhymes:
Grandma's village is a sheep,
She jumped in the mountains…
The doctor rides a pig,
Ten rods on the back…
I'll harness the cat,
And the cat in the tie…
Sit on the chicken,
Go to the forge…
Masha left the house,
Rolling on a sparrow down the street…
And Erem of the ducklings
Pahati went…
Everywhere in these rhymes deliberate deviation from the norm: from a horse. How do you explain this “absurdity”? Village children, aged two to five, for some reason refuse to introduce the canonical rider and horse into their song. Only yesterday they learned this canon, only yesterday they comprehended the great truth, that a horse exists to ride, what is its main function, and today they endow this function with every obviously inappropriate creature:
Like a river, down the river
Redhead rode on a bull.
He met red
On the goat.
By all means, they strive to replace the riding or draft horse with some ridiculous surrogate., and the more perceptible this absurdity, the more willingly she cultivates her children's song:
The cook rode on the chumichka,
Two pans in front.
It comes down to it, that a huge animal for a child's eye is replaced by a microscopic booger, to further emphasize all the apparent eccentricity of this deviation from the norm:
Little kids
On little boogers
Let's go for a ride.
But it should be noted right there, what, with all these sharp deviations from the norm, the norm is vividly felt by the child.
No matter what boogers the heroes of the rhymes ride, each time a horse is opposed to these boogers in the child's mind, which is invisibly present right there.
Sometimes, however, she is visibly present, but only appears to, to make her removal even more noticeable:

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Korney Chukovsky
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  1. Darina

    I liked the production