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Sredni Vashtar

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  441 ratings  ·  53 reviews
"Sredni Vashtar" is a short story written by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) between 1900 and 1911 and initially published in his book The Chronicles of Clovis. It has been adapted for opera, film, radio and television.

The story concerns an unhealthy ten-year-old boy named Conradin, who lives with his strict cousin and guardian, Mrs. De Ropp. Conradin rebels against her and inven
ebook, 8 pages
Published (first published 1911)
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Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sredni Vashtar went forth,
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.

It was Friday night, I happened to be in an upcountry location. Feeling tired from the exhaustive mundane day-to-day official sequence of events (which are ironically necessary evils for your existence), I wanted to read something short. And searching through the web of internet (after following the pleasant distraction of news abo
Picture a sickly ten-year old Edwardian boy, raised in a big house by a strict guardian. You might think of Colin in The Secret Garden (written and published shortly before WW1, as this was).

Image: Heydon Prowse as Colin Craven, 1993 (Source.)

But Conradin’s unspecified diagnosis seems more of an excuse for “coddling restrictions and drawn-out dullness” than the physical limitations imposed by Colin’s condition. And because Conradin is a child of Saki’s mind, he’s wily, and out to outsmart the e
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laysee by: Cecily
Shelves: five-star-books
Shredni Vashtar is a disturbing morsel of a story by Saki (a.k.a. Hector Hugh Munro). Its eerie and perturbing quality is magnified as the protagonist is only a child and a sickly one.

Conradin is ten years old and not expected to live another five years. He has a guardian, Mrs. de Ropp, whom he deems ‘necessary and disagreeable and real.’ They both derive sadistic pleasure in hating each other, and the venom is veiled.

Conradin lives in his imagination as is sometimes true of children who are in
Leo .
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Long time ago I read the short story, at school, and we were taken to the cinema, lots of young teens, and watched the short film too. I remember at that young age really enjoying the film more than the words. I will probably read it again.

A particular scene in the film stuck with me. The scene where the young boy is told that he must not accept butter for his toast when they have a guest. It would considered rude and too luxurious.

And I wanted a ferret too...but my dad said no because they smel
Andrew “The Weirdling” Glos
“Sredni Vashtar” is tale about a sickly boy, bound to his large home, with no real outlets for his creativity and boredom. He has a hen and a caged polecat-ferret for pets. He is watched over by a kind of governess, for whom he does not care.

Your first hint that something has taken a turn for the weird and sinister is when the author describes the boy’s affection for the ferret turning into a religion. He names the animal “Sredni Vashtar”, a name that just comes to him, and prays that it will d
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you like this story, you’ve got to read Lawrence’s “The Last Laugh”

Ps Reading it for my presentation—at each and every reading I see a (new?) element that makes me go wow.

Mille merci for this mind blowing short story, Saki, you’ve given us a lot of food for thought.
Shabbeer Hassan
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, horror
A disturbing tale of a sickly 10-year-old child, who is verbally abused almost daily by his guardian and in his rich imaginations he decides to invent a new god based on the caged polecat-ferret which was kept caged in the garden.

And then began his regular chants to Sredni Vashtar, his polecat god to take revenge against his tormentors, until one evening while he is slowly spreading butter on his toast, his vengeful dream comes true!

My Rating - 4.5/5
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it

WOW. This short story was weird AF but I'm so here for it.

Sredni Vashtar is a story about a 10 year old boy who is supposedly sick and dying. He is under the guardianship of his older cousin, Mrs. De Ropp, who is a very strict and cold woman. The boy, Conradin, is kept from doing many things due to his state (although we are left to wonder if the poor boy is actually ill or not) and finds joy in only one thing: a ferret he dubs Sredni Vashtar. Conradin buys the ferret off of someone and hides i
Marts  (Thinker)
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The god has been constantly petitioned, but has the god truly spoken?...
Jerry Jose
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
What, Vashta Nerada?

That was my initial thought while starting this story. Saki is very very efficient with words, using the right amount to amaze and unsettle readers. Leaving open interpretations and Lovecraftian vibes in a nonchalant little boy's simulated reality. Oh, and that ironic last line.

I highly suspect Bradbury of borrowing "Cup of Tea" for his Veldt from here.
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was another story recommended to me by my daughter. After reading a couple other gothic short stories, I was a little bored by ghosts and wanted a little something different. She recommended that I give Sredni Vashtar a read because it's about a killer ferret. The story did not disappoint. The ferret was cool. 4 stars. ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every few years, I have to re-read Saki's short stories. Utterly wicked, completely brilliant. This particular one is a favorite, in which a wicked aunt gets her just desserts. ...more
Jay C
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just completed my third reading. A masterpiece of a short story! “And while they debated the matter among themselves, Conradin made himself another piece of toast.”
Polly Baker
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A creepy tale that captures the frustration of adolescence in opposition to the arrogance of adulthood. When children covet secrets and adults do everything in their power to unearth them, convinced they must be 'up to no good'. Too often, I imagine, adults wished they'd never taken a peek down the rabbit hole... ...more
Parth Shahanand
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this in school as part of my curriculum and the mystery around it intrigued me to a great extent. I had forgotten about it and only recently rediscovered it after furtive amounts of searching and racking my brains. Reread it after more than ten years. Still not disappointed.

“Sredni Vashtar went forth,
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.”
James Biser
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent story, where an intelligent, but ill youngster learns what really is. He comes to worship a pole cat like an idol, but it frees him from the difficulties he has with an abusive care-taker.
K. Anna Kraft
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I have arranged my thoughts into a haiku:

"Loss of compassion
Through worship or power trips,
Sets new rules on strength."
Nightfall  Mysteries
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The malevolent atmosphere of this story has ranked it high for me. The outline of Saki’s story is simple, but the effectiveness of his words is brilliant; he is able to recreate an eerie scene within plain household elements.

This story is about a sickly young boy, Comradin, living with a relative, Mrs De Ropp and neither of them is much fond of the other. The boy in aversion to his cousin’s behaviour looks for a haven, an out from that oppressive domesticity and invents a new religion.

•Paige Hope•
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a super short, but really impactful and memorable story. I am incredibly moved by the account of this ill and mistreated little boy. It seems to me like the whole “religion” he creates is a way to cope with his struggles in the only way he knows how. He is so deprived of joy—his illness, the harsh way he is treated, and I assume the loss of his parents, has made him despise his life. It’s terribly sad, especially because children really are this unfortunate in reality sometimes. I think ...more
Andy Hickman
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
"Sredni Vashtar" by Saki ***

Dysfunctional relationship between a sickly 10-yr-old boy and his over-bearing governess cousin. His hen and caged polecat-ferret make for peculiar secretive. Black comedic conclusion.

"Sredni Vashtar went forth,
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful."

"The Houdan hen was never drawn into the cult of Sredni Vashtar."

"Hope had crept by inches into his heart..."
C.M. Rosens
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
I loved the picture of a sickly boy with his own religion, and the questions arising for the reader around it. I think there’s a lot in here, with echoes of Golding’s philosophy about young boys left to their own devices (LORD OF THE FLIES), with some Edwardian exoticism of the nature of ‘savagery’ and the vengeful god Conradin makes of a ferret in the shed. It’s multilayered in this respect, and the prose is lyrical and playful.

It is a very straightforward story in many ways, too, with a predi
Hassan Mallah
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read few short stories by the writer. All interesting with good plot and short :)
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dark and bloodthirsty!
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Seems people either like Saki or not. I love him personally. His wit and humor are my style. This is my favorite story he wrote. Funny and chilling. Great ending.
Marwan Emad
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A few pages that tell a story that reminded me very much of King’s “Carrie”. Carries quite a potential for a good Novel tbh.
Taha Babar
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the style and subject. Stephen Fry gave a nice introduction on a Guardian short story podcast
Azarudeen Abdul Haleel
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well written by the Master Saki. One of his best.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ap-lit, favorites
I quite enjoyed this short story. An excerpt was on an AP Lit MC but I wanted to read more. I was pleased with how it ended!
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love this. I can’t wait to read more gothic literature
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Good Listeners' Club: Sredni Vashtar by Saki 1 2 Jul 06, 2020 06:36AM  

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Hector Hugh Munro, better known by the pen name Saki, was born in Akyab, Burma (now known as Sittwe, Myanmar), was a British writer, whose witty and sometimes macabre stories satirized Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and is often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. His tales feature delicately drawn characters and finely judged narratives. "The Open ...more

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