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‘The Animals in the Pit’ by Alexander Nikolaevich Afanasyev


The Animals in the Pit !

A Pig was going to church at St. Petersburg, and the Wolf met him.

"Piggy, Piggy, where are you faring?"

"To St. Petersburg, to pray to God."

"Take me with!"

"Come along, Gossip."

So they went on together, and met the Vixen.

"Pig, where are you going?"

"To St. Petersburg, so please you."

"Take me with!"

"Come along, Gossip."

So they went on together and met the Hare, who said, "Piggy, Piggy, where are you going?"

"On to St. Petersburg, to pray to God?"

"Very well, take me with."

"Very well, Slant-eyes, I will."

Then they met the Squirrel, who also went with them. But on their road they came across a broad, deep pit. The Pig jumped and tumbled in, and after him the Wolf, the Fox, the Hare and the Squirrel.

And they sat there for a long time, and became very hungry, for they had nothing to eat.

"Let's all begin singing," said the Vixen, "and we will eat the animal who has the thinnest voice."

So the Wolf struck in a deep gruff voice, Aw, aw, aw! And the Pig followed in a tone just a shade softer, Oo, oo, oo! But the Vixen came in fine and sharp, Eh, eh, eh; whilst the Hare trilled the thinnest Ee, ee, ee in the world. The Squirrel also sang Ee, ee, ee! So the animals at once set-to tearing up the Squirrel and Hare, and ate them down to their bones.

Next day the Vixen said: "We will eat the person with the fattest voice." That was the Wolf with his great gruff Aw, aw, aw! So they ate him up. The Vixen ate up the flesh and kept the heart and the bowels, And for three days she sat and ate them.

And the Pig then asked her: "What are you eating?—give me some!"

"Oh, Pig, I am eating my own flesh. You tear your belly up and munch it yourself."

So the Pig did, and the Vixen feasted on him.

The Vixen then was left as the last person in the pit.

Did she climb up, or is she there still? I don't know, really!


Alexander Nikolaevich Afanasyev (1826-1871) is known as the Russian version of the Grimm brothers, as he is the author of almost 600 Russian folk tales and fairy tales. His first collection consisted of 74 tales. It was published in full between 1855 and 1863 under the name “Narodnye russkie skazki” (Russian fairy tales).


  1. What do you think the purpose of the story is?
  2. How are the different animals characterised? How does it add to the story?
  3. What do you make of the ending? If you could change it, how would you and why?

Other Russian Literature:

  1. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov, a Ukrainian author who's book was first written in the Russian language
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  4. Russian Emigre Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky by Bryan Karetnyk
  5. First Love by Ivan Turgenev

With credit to:

Story found here and was translated by Leonard Arthur Magnus

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