A Fairy-Tale, Leo Tolstoy
A Fairy-Tale
Leo Tolstoy
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"Ivan the Fool" (also known as "Ivan the Fool and his Two Brothers") is an 1886 short story (in fact, a literary fairy tale) by Leo Tolstoy, published in 1886. The name "Ivan the Fool" alludes to a popular hero of Russian folklore.

A Fairy-Tale

About Iván the Fool and His Two Brothers, Semén the Warrior and Tarás the Paunch, and His Dumb Sister Malánya, and About the Old Devil and the Three Young Devils

Leo Tolstoy


In a certain kingdom, in a certain realm, there lived a rich peasant. He had three sons, Semén the Warrior, Tarás the Paunch, and Iván the Fool, and a daughter Malánya, the dumb old maid.

Semén the Warrior went to war, to serve the king; Tarás the Paunch went to a merchant in the city, to sell wares; but Iván the Fool and the girl remained at home, to work and hump their backs.

Semén the Warrior earned a high rank and an estate, and married a lord’s daughter. His salary was big, and his estate was large, but still he could not make both ends meet: whatever he collected, his wife scattered as though from a sleeve, and they had no money.

Semén the Warrior came to his estate, to collect the revenue. His clerk said to him:

“Where shall it come from? We have neither cattle, nor tools: neither horses, nor cows, nor plough, nor harrow. Everything has to be provided, then there will be an income.”

And Semén the Warrior went to his father:

“You are rich, father,” he said, “and you have not given me anything. Cut off a third and I will transfer it to my estate.”

And the old man said:

“You have brought nothing to my house, why should I give you a third? It will be unfair to Iván and to the girl.”

But Semén said:

“But he is a fool, and she is a dumb old maid. What do they need?”

And the old man said:

“As Iván says so it shall be!”

But Iván said:

“All right, let him have it!”

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