ByMagdalena Batlecter, writer at
illustrations, sculpture, forests and witch costumes. @batlecter
Magdalena Batlecter

(pronounced [ǐv̞ana bř̩ːlit͡ɕ maʒǔranit͡ɕ]


18 April 1874 – 21 September 1938) was a Croatian writer. Within her native land, as well as internationally, she has been praised as the best Croatian writer for children. Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić started writing poetry, diaries and essays rather early but her works were not published until the beginning of the 20th century. Her stories and articles like the series of educational articles under the name "School and Holidays" started to be published more regularly in the journals after the year 1903. Her book Croatian Tales of Long Ago (Priče iz davnine), published in 1916, is among the most popular today in large part because of its adaptation into a computerized interactive fiction product by Helena Bulaja in 2003/2006. In the book Mažuranić created a series of new fairy-tales, but using names and motives from the Slavic mythology of Croats. It was this that earned her comparisons to Hans Christian Andersen and Tolkien who also wrote completely new stories but based in some elements of real mythology. Brlić-Mažuranić was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times – in 1931 and 1935 she was nominated by the historian Gabriel Manojlović,and in 1937 and 1938 he was joined by the philosopher Albert Bazala, both based in Zagreb. In 1937 she also became the first woman accepted as a Corresponding Member into the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts. After a long battle with depression, she committed suicide on 21 September 1938 in Zagreb.

She was born on 18 April 1874 in Ogulin into a well-known Croatian family of Mažuranić
She was born on 18 April 1874 in Ogulin into a well-known Croatian family of Mažuranić

However, she is my favorite Croatian writer and I want to share one very famous story of hers. I'll do my best to translate it correctly and to achieve atmosphere she has mastered in describing. It will surely be much shorter.


A young man entered in Stribor's forest to chop logs for warming. While he was sitting on a stump, he saw a beautiful snake and on sunlight she seemed to be encrusted with silver."What a beautiful serpent!" he said. "If she wasn't a snake, I would have married her!" and when silver snake heard what he said, she rushed into a bush and a beautiful snake became a beautiful girl. But as she was evil and corrupted, a snake tongue remained unchanged. When she appeared, he fell in love and took her home.

He lived with his old mother. Though she was old, she was very smart and very loving mother. After very short period of time, she noticed what son's bride has in her mouth. She warned her beloved son right away, but foolish son, blinded by love and beauty snake possesed, refused to listen what his mother advised and got angry.

Since the first day the girl came in that house, life of man's old mother became hell. Every day the maiden tried to think of something worse than previous evil to unease woman's old days. She would send her to the top of the mountain to bring her fresh snow to wash her young face and she had many more bizarre requests and ideas; every time old mother attempted to fulfill any, she would almost die trying, but God was merciful upon her fate and helped her survive every time.

One day while old mother was sitting in front of their little house, poor and beautiful girl was passing and offered her to buy some kindling. Girls sleeve was tattered and old mother offered to sew it so she doesn't feel the cold, and girl offered her free kindling to show her gratitude and appreciation.

In the evening old mother was left home alone; her son and his wife went out. She lit the kindling. The fire started crackling and little men started coming out of flames. They are called little natives , I guess that would be proper translation, and they had long white beards, blushing cheeks and red caps, red as magical fire they have come out from.

They started dancing and they made mess while doing so, but old mother was very happy and entertained. When they were done with the show, they notices old mother has something heavy on her mind and they decided to help her to show her son how evil his bride is.

When Christmas day arrived, entire village garthered in snake maiden's new home since she invited everyone to show them how she has chicks in winter, but old mother replaced chicken eggs with magpie's eggs as leader of little natives, Malik Tintilinić, advised her. Snake maiden couldn't resist so she sticked out her snake tongue and encircled little magpies. Everyone were shocked, old mother was in hope that her son will now see the truth; son was furious! He repeled his old mother out on snow and she only took some kindling and a piece of bread. He was sorry after doing so and he told his wife this: "We should follow my mother to see how far will she succeed to go and how will she die" and she believed he really wants to see his mother die, as did she.

Old mother came on a snowy field in the middle of the night and since it was very cold, she lit kindling. Once again little natives danced out of fire and cheered her up. Seeing how miserable she was now, they decided to take her to Stribor, the king of the forest. They brought a deer with glowing horns and helped old mother climb him, and they climbed 12 squirrels and raided to mighty Stribor. Now the cool part with cool guy Stribor.

Stribor patiently listen what she had to say and then said: "There is silver fence. behind it there is village in which you were born. You just go there and you will go back in time, you will be young and happy again."

Old mother approached the silver fence, then stopped and asked him: "But what will be of my son?"

"You will not know of any son or any pain you have been through" he said. "You will be happy and young."

no matter how appealing that thought sounded, no matter how pleasing his words, the idea of being young and happy again sounded, she said: "I would rather be unhappy with my son than exchange it for the whole happiness of this world."

When she said these words, everything dissappeared, little natives, Stribor, maiden became snake again and crawled back in the bushes. Son and old mother were alone again in the middle of the forest. He realised how unfair he was to his good mother, how he misbehaved and he asked her for forgiveness. They returned to their home and he married beautiful young girl who once traded with his old mother for kindling. She was very nice and kind, and they lived happyly after all that.


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