Not being able to find this book keeps me up at night
October 5, 2009 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Bookfilter: I have searched everywhere, I have exhausted all resources. You are my last hope. I had a book as a child, it was in Russian, but the stories in it were middle-eastern/Arabic/Persian... I know that the name of the book was Three Oranges (Tri Apelsina in Russian)

- It was a children's book, but all the stories were really creepy and sad, in a Hans C. Anderson or Brothers Grimm kind of way.
- It reminded me a lot of some of the stories from One Thousand and One Nights, only more grusome and weird (especially for a children's book)
- It had several short stories that were unrelated (I think) to each other.
- One of the stories was, in fact, called Three Oranges.
- Lots of ethical, moral, religious undertones.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I would love nothing more than to track down a copy of this book somewhere in Russian or English.
posted by icarus to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Worldcat lists it...
posted by gyusan at 4:18 PM on October 5, 2009

Not the book, but does this story ring any bells?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:22 PM on October 5, 2009

Response by poster: gyusan, that book is translated from Italian. I'm pretty sure that's not it, unfortunately.

MonkeyToes, I'm certain that the story was not Italian. May have been retold from the Italian version, but definitely no cheese involved... The motif sounds about right, but I really can't remember much about the story itself (or any other ones). In the book I had it was never called "the love for three oranges", just "three oranges"

A little hurdle: I'd like to find the actual book with all the other stories , not just the title story.
posted by icarus at 4:30 PM on October 5, 2009

Response by poster: I take it back, that wikipedia summary doesn't sound right. I think there was something about an old lady and three oranges and having to go to hell, come back, go to hell again, etc. All while doing something with these three oranges.
posted by icarus at 4:34 PM on October 5, 2009

Maybe out of print?
I did find these links, maybe they show some of the other stories in the book?

The Love for Three Oranges has a bit different story here: The Love for Three Oranges Prokofeiv
same here

another link to one at Amazon

This list has multicultural stories, but similar in title only The Orange Fairy Book (1906)

Some lists with links to stories of Fairy Tales

More links to folklore

Maybe that will jar a memory or allow you search and find the book... hope it helps.
posted by clanger at 5:24 PM on October 5, 2009

Ohhhhh. I have read this book. Now I am going nuts too. Let me see if my parents remember.
posted by prefpara at 5:28 PM on October 5, 2009

Ah, drat. Giambattista Basile wrote The Pentamerone, a collection of fairy tales which ends with "The Three Citrons." Some of the tales seem rather creepy, sad and grim(m). I thought it possible that you had read a Russian translation. Best of luck with your search!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:40 PM on October 5, 2009

I checked with my dad, and my "Three Oranges" book was indeed a Russian translation from the Italian. How sure are you that the book was from the Middle East?
posted by prefpara at 6:03 AM on October 6, 2009

You read the book as a child --- in roughly what time period were you a child or even more, when about was the book published?

I ask because I think prefpara is right, and you have to remember that if the book was published during the Soviet era, you're talking about a translation from Italian into Russian during a tme when people who were native Russian speakers weren't even allowed to read some of their own literature in its entirety (Dostoevsky in particular comes to mind).

If this book was published during the Soviet era, it's entirely possible the story and the books were altered to reflect Soviet values appropriately --- and depending on the person responsible for censuring, editing, or altering, the details changed could have been as asinine as removing cheese from the story.

Baba Yaga is also a very popular folk character in Russian lore, and so it's not out of the realm of possibility that she, or someone like her, was added into a story somehow to make the story appear Russian/Soviet in origin.
posted by zizzle at 8:31 AM on October 6, 2009

Response by poster: I read the book in 1991 or so. My grandmother had it for years and years. If I had to guess, she probably got it in the late 60s or early 70s.

prefpara, I will double check on the Italian version. Maybe my memory's total crap and it was Italian. Has your dad, by any chance, been able to tell you what other stories were in that book?

zizzle, no baba yaga here. And from what I recall no other Russian motifs were in this book per se (no sneguratchka, no stupid son, Ivan, scoring a girl, etc)
posted by icarus at 10:48 AM on October 6, 2009

icarus, this Wikipedia link contains descriptions of some of the other stories.

Could you be mixing up two books? I definitely remember reading some books with stories from Persia. Do you remember one with a dwarf who was a good cook?
posted by prefpara at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2009

Response by poster: The wikipedia link doesn't look like the right book at all. Definitely didn't have any variants of Puss In Boots in my book, for instance. Although I do remember reading Kot v Sappogach (Puss In Boots) in a different anthology of children's stories. Don't remember the day-separation at all, either.

The dwarf/cook doesn't ring any bells :(

I may be wrong about the Persian/Arabic influences, but this Italian version with the listed stories sounds totally not like what I remember. Maybe I just had a weird, uber-reworked-retranslated version. Who knows what kind of crazy books my parents used to make me read when I was a kid...

I'll keep looking; this book's been haunting me for the last 10 years. I'm bound to get a phone call from my grandmother someday saying that she had finally found it in her attic.
posted by icarus at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2009

It appears that all the "Tri Apelsina" books in the National Library of Russia's "General Author/Title Catalogue of Books in Russian" are collections of Italian stories:

Here is a Russian version of the story that mentions that there are variations of the story in Italy and then it tells the "real" story:

Does it seem closer to the story you remember?
posted by derforsher at 10:20 PM on October 25, 2009

« Older How do I fight back these tears?   |   Bill Gates I ain't... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.