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Posted March 27, 2010
This book, which won the Newbery Award in 1938, might loosely be considered quasi-historical fiction, with emphasis on the fiction. Said to be for those "who want to hear the voice of pagan gods in wind and thunder," it is the epic story of the migration of the Huns and Magyars from Asia to Europe. The author, who may be of Hungarian descent, wrote that it was inspired by leafing through a very modern book on Hungarian history which said that the early history of the Hungarian or Magyar people is a matter of dispute in that their own traditions declare them to be descendants of the Huns but present knowledge tends to disprove this theory. The book is based on the old Hun-Magyar legends which, she said, "cannot bear the weight of facts and dates." The story begins with Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter before the Lord, son of Cush the Great Leader (cf. Genesis 10:8-14). However, "the Lord" he is said to have worshipped was not Jehovah but "Hadur, their powerful God."
This supposed leader of the Huns had followed a miraculous white stag and brought his people from their original homeland to the wild mountains of Altain-Ula. After praying to Hadur, sacrificing his horse, and hearing Hadur's voice in a storm, he learns that his sons, Hunor and Magyar, must follow the stag and lead them from Altain-Ula to the gentle hills by the misty blue lake. Then by the oracles of Damos, their blind prophet, Hunor's son Bendeguz again follows the stag and leads them from Asu (Asia) to Ereb (Europe) where they dwell on the land between the Taiais (Don) and Rha (Volga) rivers. The descendants of Magyar choose to remain there (the legend is that they apparently join the others later), but the descendants of Hun follow Bendeguz's son, Attila, in battle against the "Christian" Europeans under the Western and Eastern Roman emperors and finally, still chasing the stag, he leads them to their new homeland between the rivers Pathissus and Danubius (modern Hungary). Of course, Attila the Hun was a real historical character (c. A.D. 480-453). However, the Encyclopedia Britannica does agree with Ms. Seredy's statement that historically there is no connection between the Huns and the modern Hungarians (Magyars).
The short book is well written from a literary standpoint and quite exciting to read. If considered solely in the realm of pure legend, as Greek myths, it might not be so bad, and would make an interesting adjunct to the study of ancient European history, but the blending of pagan mysticism with Biblical references and even the mention of European Christianity could be a problem. After all, the Huns had their oracles through which their "God" supposedly spoke as well as their prophets, while "Christians...all over Europe prayed that this dreadful thing approaching from the East might be averted from them" (there is even a reference to Pope Innocentius who "sent his priests into far countries to preach Christianity with renewed zeal, to remind people of the words of the angry Lord"). To be honest, I have read much worse that masquerades as children's fiction, but if you are considering this book I would still urge caution.
Posted April 22, 2007
Seredy Kate, The white Stag , The Viking press New York 1938, reading level 6. Kate was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1899. She studied art throughout Europe, served as a nurse during WWI, and finally came to the United States in 1922. She learned English quickly her books, all written in English, show no hint that it was not her native language. After working for many years as a commercial illustrator, at the suggestion of an editor, she wrote a story drawing from memories of her own childhood in Hungary. The Good Master was published in 1935. Seredy went on to write 10 other books, which she also illustrated. Her most famous is The White Stag, which won the Newberry Award in 1938. She never truly considered herself a writer, claiming that she thought in pictures, and that her stories were 'an excuse for making pictures.' She passed away in 1975. briefly explains, the Huns find themselves in a kill or be killed mentality. People who see them coming fight them instinctively so that the poor Huns are forced to become blood-thirsty. They search day in and out for their own place to live, guided by their vengeful god Hadur. In this light, Attila is the Moses that finally leads his people to a land flowing with milk and honey. Bendeguz, Attila` father, decides that the Huns should settle down in a nice land they own and not go slaughtering the innocent, Those who fight others without provocation are holy. And those who would rather not go around killing, 'will be punished for their weakness. This book was bit different. It was not my favorite book but it was ok. Some children may enjoy reading the material. However it does talk about how the tribe killed so many for what seams to be a poor reason for murder. It could be used a historical document if you are discussing tribes and traditions. ¿ Hadur has spoken - we will obey¿Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2006
The White Stag is a story about heroes, myth, and legend. It is superbly told with colorful, romantic proes. It is an exciting story, easy to understand.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.