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Ruslan and Lyudmila (Oneworld Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2010
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Ruslan and Lyudmila is a mock-epic narrative poem set in the days of Vladímir the Great’s Kievan state. Ruslán has just been married to the lovely Lyudmíla, and is about to enjoy the first night of his marriage, when his bride is spirited away just seconds before their consummation by Chernomór, a lecherous wizard-dwarf with an immense magical beard that he has sported from birth. Angry at the loss of his daughter, Vladímir sends Ruslán out to recapture her, accompanied by three antagonistic knights, each with their own fatal flaw: Rogdáy (wrath), Farláf (sloth/cowardice), and Ratmír (lust). Before Ruslán arrives, Lyudmíla has managed to seize the wizard’s enchanted cap, making her invisible, but he must still battle Chernomór, find Lyudmíla, and survive the return journey. A hermit-sorceror of Finnish descent, a disgruntled witch named Naïna, and an enormous severed head complicate the picture, as does a last-minute invasion by the pagan Pechenegs.Read more ›
The tale is simple. On the night of their wedding Lyudila is kidnapped from her husband, Ruslan, by Chernomor, an evil wizard. The king, Lyudila's father, promises her hand to anyone who can find her. Naturally Ruslan volunteers and so do three others: Rogday, a fearless knight; Farlaf, a braggart who much prefers eating to battles; and Ratmir a Khan with an intense personality. Then the story traces Lyudmila in her captivity and how she tricks Chernomor, then flips to the other 4 men showing their travails. For example, Ruslan meets a large head which challenges him to a fight. There are many adventures for all. Toward the end Ruslan is killed and we expect he is gone for the duration. But a friendly monk revives him just in time to end a battle and revive poor Lyudmila. He is once again united to her and they both go off to live happily ever after.
For those of you that enjoy this poem, there is a Russian made movie, 2.5 hours long, with English subtitles available on-line at [...]. It stars the beautiful Natalya Petrova as Lyudmila. For a movie made in 1972, the special effects are well done. I would very much enjoy seeing a new version made with modern graphics.