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Literature / Kolobok

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Illustration of 1913 edition

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"
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Kolobok (Russian: колобо́к) or The Little Round Bun is a Russian Fairy Tale published by Alexander Afanasyev in his (Narodnye russkie skazki) collection. A Kolobok is a Russian little round bread, based on a similar Swedish food.

An old, poor granny bakes a kolobok for her and her husband, but the round bread suddenly comes to life, jumps out of the window and rolls along the road.

The kolobok runs consecutively into several animals (a rabbit, a wolf and a bear) who intend to eat it, but the round bread gets away from them by distracting them with one song. Then Kolobok runs into a fox, and it also tries to give her the slip by singing. However, the fox praises its song, and regretting to be too hard of hearing to understand it properly, asks if Kolobok can come closer and sing again. Kolobok climbs to her face, starts singing, and the fox eats it.

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It can be read here, here, here and here. Original Russian text here.

In the Aarne-Thompson-Uther index it is classified as a Type 2025, "The Fleeing Pancake", a very common tale spread across Scandinavian, Slavic and Germanic countries. Variants include the German tale "The Thick Fat Pancake" ("Der dicke fette Pfannkuchen"; link), the Norwegian tale "The Pancake" (""Pannekaken") collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe, and the English "The Gingerbread Man". Some of those tales can be read here.


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Tropes:

  • Anthropomorphic Food: The main character is a sentient, singing runaway round bread.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Kolobok is eaten by a fox.
  • Bears Are Bad News: A starving wild bear tries to devour the kolobok.
  • Cephalothorax: Kolobok is drawn mostly as a yellow spherical head with limbs.
  • Character Title: The story is named after the main character.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The fox is the only animal which is smart enough to catch and eat the kolobok.
  • Downer Ending: Kolobok is eaten by a fox, and the old couple is left with nothing to eat.
  • Fatal Flaw: Kolobok's Pride gets it eaten. It could have gotten away from the fourth animal, but the fox buttering it up -pun intended- convinced it to stay around.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: One hungry rabbit tries to eat Kolobok.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: The fox wolfs the kolobok down as it is ending the second stanza.
  • One-Word Title: The title is Kolobok.
  • Rule of Three: The kolobok escapes from three animals before meeting its demise.
  • Savage Wolves: A big, ferocious wolf tries to eat Kolobok.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The fox is the only animal which is specifically female.
  • Talking Animal: Kolobok bumps into a rabbit, a wolf, a bear and a fox, all of them capable of speaking human language.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kolobok is about to get away from the fox when the animal asks it to come closer and sing again, claiming to be somewhat deaf. Kolobok obliges the fox and is promptly devoured.


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