Published last year by Macmillan, the picture book tells the story of Edda, “the littlest Valkyrie”, who lives with her blond and red-haired folk in the magical land of Asgard. Poor little Edda feels unfulfilled and limited by continuing to live among her own kind, so her father, who is “very wise”, enrolls her in a public school where she can mingle with other races.
Edda, who is shown misbehaving in class, throwing a book on the floor, knocking over her chair, and defiantly perching on top of her desk, must learn to be accommodating of those who are different. She must stand in line behind students of other races to get a drink at the water fountain or go for a ride on the playground slide. Eventually a juvenile romance buds between Edda and one of her Lahteeno classmates, guaranteeing that Edda’s “very wise” father has only succeeded in flushing his bloodline down the roach-infested commode of a system of multicultural myth1.
The author, according to the publisher’s website, “was inspired to create Edda while listening to Richard Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle,’ a series of operas based on Norse mythology. Adam has always loved the stories of the rugged Norse gods and monsters.” His children’s book, however, merely conveys his thinly disguised hostility toward Europeans, whom he would clearly prefer to see dispersing themselves through dysgenic mating. In this way Auerbach expresses his Jewishness.
reflects a moment in the transmission of ideas and shows how Jewish thinkers work with the products of the culture that surround them and adjust them to fit their needs. As they reintroduce the cultural product back into society, it moves to the next actor in the line of transmission. The Tannhauser text, as an expression of German folklore, is sabotaged and subverted by Heine, Herzl, and Peretz in such a way that Germanic elements are satirized, suppressed, or replaced with Judaic elements.3Garrett notes how Heinrich Heine, a Jew, inserts toilet humor into the narrative of his 1836 poem “Der Tannhauser”:
The poem keeps intact much of the plot of the original medieval ballad while adding a humorous ending that transplants Tannhauser to contemporary Germany. Like many German romantics, the Tannhauser legend “cast a spell” on Heine, yet rather than using the myth to romanticize Germany, Heine subverted the original by having the poem shift in the latter half to a ribald and humorous account of Tannhauser’s travels through Europe:In Dresden I saw a poor old dog
Who’d made quite a stir in his youth;But now he can only bark and piss,Having lost his one last tooth.4
Rainer Chlodwig von Kook
- Auerbach, Adam. Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014 [unpaginated].
- Garrett, Leah. “Sabotaging the Text: Tannhauser in the Works of Heine, Wagner, Herzl, and Peretz”. Jewish Social Studies 9, no. 1 (Fall 2002), p. 34.
- Ibid., p. 35.
- Ibid., pp. 35-36.