"Kolobok" is one of the most famous Russian folk tales, but many are wondering who is the author of this story? After all, the entire Russian people cannot be the author of one fairy tale, besides, from somewhere, after all, a "canonical" version of the text arose, which is published over and over again in colorful children's books. So who wrote Kolobok?
How people became the author of the fairy tale "Kolobok"
Folk tales are related to oral folk art, folklore. Such tales were not written down - they were passed from mouth to mouth, told from memory, "overgrown" with details, modified, as a result, one and the same fairy tale plot could exist simultaneously in many variations.
At the same time, some fairy tales are repeated in the folklore of different countries. And Kolobok is no exception. According to the classifier of fairy-tale plots, the story about the bun that ran away from grandfather and grandmother belongs to the type of stories about "a pancake run away", and not only Slavic peoples have similar tales. For example, the American gingerbread man is the hero of the same story about how baked goods come to life, run away from their creators, and in the end still end up being eaten. This story can be found among German and Uzbek, English and Tatar fairy tales, in Scandinavian countries and other places in the world.
Thus, the author of the fairy tale "Kolobok" is really a people who have been retelling this story to each other for centuries. However, in recent decades, we most often get to know this story by reading collections of fairy tales. And the text published in them really has an author.
Who wrote "Kolobok" - the author of the generally accepted text
Folklorists began to record Russian fairy tales from the middle of the 19th century. Since that time, collections of fairy tales and legends recorded in different parts of the country have been actively published in Russia. The same stories featured in multiple variations. And each of the versions, recorded from the words of the narrator, had its own advantages and disadvantages.
And at the end of the 30s of the XX century, the Russian writer Alexei Nikolaevich Tolstoy decided to prepare some "standardized" versions of Russian folk tales for children's book publishers. He met with folk storytellers, studied many versions of folk tales recorded in different parts of the country, chose from them the "root", the most interesting - and added bright verbal phrases or plot details from other versions, "gluing" together several texts, editing, supplementing. Sometimes, in the process of such a "restoration" of the plot, he had to finish writing something, but Tolstoy, very sensitive to the poetics of Russian folk art, worked in the same style. And the fairy tale "Kolobok" was also included in the number of folk stories processed by Tolstoy.
In fact, in this case we were talking about the author's processing of folk tales, which Alexei Tolstoy performed with brilliance. The result of his work was two collections of folk tales, published in the forties, as well as a posthumous edition of 1953. Since then, in most cases, Russian folk tales were published in the USSR (and then in post-Soviet Russia) under his editorship.
Therefore, Alexei Tolstoy can rightfully be called the author of the fairy tale "Kolobok" - or at least a co-author. Indeed, despite the fact that the plot of this story belongs to the folk, it was he who wrote the generally accepted (and very popular) text.