Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, lieber Alexander! – Happy Birthday, Dear Alexander!/ Ãëàâíàÿ / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, lieber Alexander! – Happy Birthday, Dear Alexander!
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, lieber Alexander! – Happy Birthday, Dear Alexander!
The best way to celebrate the birthday of Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin is to celebrate it with children – this is what our journalist decided and asked for a reception of the Principal of the State German Elementary School in Erfurt, named after the Great Russian poet – Puschkinschule. Before the reception they agreed, that the “Gagarin” Russian-Speaking Community would help the students celebrate the Pushkin’s day on June 6.
It’s worth mentioning, that the school had not celebrated birthday of its patron for decades and the children did not know almost anything about Pushkin. This is what we wanted to change – to make children familiar with the works of our national poet and to decorate the school’s Pushkin corner, which had lacked decoration for quite a while.
We chose famous extracts from “Ruslan and Ludmila” poem and “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” – the works, where all the authentic Pushkin’s characters are all gathered together. “The Tale of The Fisherman and the Fish” and “The Tale of the Dead Princess and Seven Knights” loved by the Russian children, resemble the Grimm’s Fairy Tales to the German children. And we had a different purpose – to surprise and charm the kids with the Pushkin’s’ fairytale world.
We suggested the famous “green oak” near Lukomorye with all the fairytale heroes to be the main image of the Pushkin corner. That task was easy – we prepared the fairytale oak with chain and the “learned cat” by ourselves and the kids had to listen to the text and draw the characters they liked.
A hut on the chicken legs and a forest spirit inspired the kids most of all – this is what we discovered after the task; these characters caused a literate outburst of imagination. Baba Yaga with stress on “Ya” is one of the most famous characters of Russian folklore within German children, at least for those, who grew up in the eastern part of the country. Many children have old books published in the DDR at home, their parents keep them safe. Many of them even remembered that the hut is the home of the forest recluse.
The children surprised us – many of them knew something about Pushkin and that he is famous in Russia. It turned up, that one of the study groups this year was dedicated to the story of Pushkin’s life.
A third-grader Julian volunteered to tell about Pushkin – he confessed he did not know the works of Pushkin, but showed us how the poet died in detail; he told us everything about the duel. The audience remained mute in a slight shock – the narrator told and showed all the scene characters, including the witnesses.
And we surprised the children with information, that there is hardly a town in Russia, where there is no Pushkin’s monument. And after that recalled and counted all his monuments in our land, Thuringia. They are three here: in Weimar, Jena and Gera. In fact, it is so, but the children corrected this number for four – the school they study at is also to be considered a monument to the poet. It was delightful to hear, that they consider the school to be the best of the monuments known to them. We were excited to agree and to notice, that there is also a street named after Pushkin near the school.
But what stroke the children most of all is our words that every Russian – an adult or a child – can say one of the Pushkin’s works by heart. It was hard to believe for them, especially when we pointed out, that there are 146 million people in Russia, who can easily recall a verse from Pushkin’s works. When I was saying this, it flashed through my mind, that I could easily add approximately a hundred millions of Russian compatriots, who would recall at least a couple of lines. A famous phrase came to my mind: “Where’s the power, bro?” It’s hard to imagine any other classic writer in the world, which is remembered by such an amount of descendants across the world. Well, maybe Shakespeare with his “to be or not to be…” can provide competition to Alexander Pushkin, who at the same time may be not so widely known.
The young listeners were also impressed with the fact that Pushkin learned to speak Russian much later, than French. They were interested to hear about the role played in his life by his nanny Arina Rodionovna. In German nanny sounds funny – “kindermädchen”. The kids told us that they also love listening to their parents and grandparents telling stories, as Pushkin did. And when we asked them about the languages they were going to learn in the nearest future, the standard set of English and French was also extended with the Russian language, and this was the most pleasing part.
Everyone was surprised to listen to Pushkin in Russian, when a second-grader Bruno told “Lukomorye” by heart. Classmates burst into sincere applause. And I, being a mother of the courageous second-grader, was very pleased, that the kids, who understand no word in Russian, were rejoicing for his classmate, who was able to do an impossible task, as they regarded it.
After that, we listened to the tale in German – a mother of one more second-grader Ulrike read it. The translation could not compete with the original, but it was understandable and the kids got fascinated. We managed to make familiar with Gvidon’s adventures during our short meeting. They liked the story and we agreed they would read it to the end by themselves. And we suggested continuing the Pushkin’s tradition next year in the nearest park, where there is a huge age-old oak growing. It will be great to read Pushkin’s tales to each other there and to wait for a learned cat, walking on a chain.
Unfortunately, we were not able to present a book of Pushkin’s tales in German – they are just not sold in the stores. It can be ordered, but the waiting period is over two weeks – it has to be specially printed and glued in a single copy. Well, the conclusion is not many read Pushkin’s tales – when there is no demand, there is no supply.
Maybe other works of Pushkin are more popular? I addressed this question to the owner of one of the biggest and most popular bookstores in the city. It’s not that bad, I can say. There are a couple of Pushkin’s works copies in the store – his stories. They are not sold too often, but there is constant demand for them a couple of times a year. According to the bookstore owner, the best German publications of Pushkin are those, where a reader can find his poems and prose at the same time.
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