Fekete István and the Vuk
István Fekete (Gölle, 25 January 1900 – Budapest, 23 June 1970) Hungarian writer, winner of the Attila József Prize, author of numerous novels, books for young people and animal stories. Together with his friend, Kálmán Csathó, he is one of the best known cultivators of “forester-hunter literature”.
The Vuk is a novel by István Fekete Fekete, first published in 1940 as one of the writings in the collected volume Csí. It was first published as a stand-alone volume in 1965. Of all the animal stories the author wrote between 1940 and 1966, Vuk is perhaps the best known and most successful today, thanks in part to the cartoon film based on it. It is both an animal story and a coming-of-age novel, and although his novels are nowadays mostly known as fairy tales or novels for young people, the style and characterisation of Vuk goes beyond the scope of a children’s story. The publisher has subtitled the novel “an animal novel”.
The author tells the story of Vuk’s life from his first independent steps to adulthood in his usual charming and interesting style. Vuk, the fox cub, was born eight months old in a fox lodge by a lake. His father Kag and mother Íny, both prominent members of the fox family, hunt from dusk till dawn to feed the ever-hungry cubs. One day, the fox family’s already troubled but happy life is disrupted by a horde of vengeful hunters who set out on a manhunt for the foxes that often prey on the flock. The two fox parents and six baby foxes are killed, Vukot is rescued from the burrow by his mother before the hunters arrive, and his only surviving brother is taken in by a hunter from the village.
Vuk inherited his grandfather’s legendary blood, his sniffing and his passion for hunting, which is why his father gave the lively little fox cub his name, in honour of his famous grandfather. Vuk, which means that all foxes should get out of the way when they go hunting.” His uncle, the lonely Karak, takes Vuk under his wing and teaches the little fox all the cunning and science of the life of a free trapper.
Vuk is an excellent pupil, and Karak is proud to see that the boy is slowly surpassing his master and becoming like his grandfather, “the first among the foxes”. During one of his nocturnal forays to find prey, Vuk also comes to the hunter’s garden, where he finds his caged brother and promises to free him from captivity with Karak’s help. The mission to free him is a success, and the three of them continue to live with Karak in a summer fox nest in the middle of the field.
Soon Karak falls victim to man’s passion for hunting, and the two brothers stay together in the old cave on the mountainside for a while longer, and then, obeying nature’s word, each with his own mate, they live their free, dangerous but wonderful lives in the wild.