Vasily Eroshenko was one of the most remarkable transnational literary figures of the early twentieth century: a blind multilingual Esperantist from Ukraine who joined left-wing circles in Japan and befriended the famous modernist writer Lu Xun in China. Born in a small Ukrainian village in imperial Russia, he was blinded at a young age by complications from measles. Seeking to escape the limitations imposed on the blind, Eroshenko became a globe-trotting storyteller. He was well known in Japan and China as a social activist and a popular writer of political fairy tales that drew comparisons to Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde.
The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales presents a selection of Eroshenko’s stories, translated from Japanese and Esperanto, to English readers for the first time. These fables tell the stories of a religiously disillusioned fish, a jealous paper lantern, a scholarly young mouse, a captive tiger who seeks to liberate his fellow animals, and many more. They are at once inventive and politically charged experiments with the fairy tale genre and charming, lyrical stories that will captivate readers as much today as they did during Eroshenko’s lifetime. In addition to eighteen fairy tales, the book includes semiautobiographical writings and prose poems that vividly evoke Eroshenko’s life and world.