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Saki, The Complete Short Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 2 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (2 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184494
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Born H H Munro in Burma in 1870, Saki was educated in England and returned to Burma to join the police force in 1893. Returning to London in 1896, he worked for the Westminster Gazette and was Balkans correspondent for the Morning Post from 1902. He was killed on the Western Front during World War 1, having volunteered for active service despite being over 40.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE on 4 April 2006
Format: Paperback
The stories of H.H.Munro - better known by his pen-name of Saki - have scarcely been out of print since they were first published around a hundred years ago. Yet it often seems that their particular delights are reserved for the private pleasures of his coterie of admirers.
It has to be admitted that a taste for Saki is something of an addiction. And, like all addictions, once acquired it is hard to give up. In the years since his tragic early death in the trenches of World War I at the hands of a German sniper, fellow addicts have included Graham Greene, Noel Coward and Tom Sharpe. All of us take a slightly wicked satisfaction from his biting wit and the subversive way in which he undermines the staid Edwardian society he purports to merely observe.
But, to a much greater extent than his near-contemporaries, Wilde and Kipling, there is something dark and menacing at the heart of Saki's writing. Behind the refined tinkle of teacups on an Edwardian lawn can be heard the distant howling of a wolf. Hidden among the shrubbery in a carefully manicured garden lurk all kinds of Beasts and Superbeasts, ready to wreak Nature's revenge on an uncaring mankind with its arrogant belief in materialism, progress and the innate respectability of middle-class values. Where Kipling's Jungle Book menagerie tends to simple analogies of human types, Saki's animals can rise up with the full power of Pan himself.
This is not to ignore Saki's ability to turn an aphorism with all the facility and wit of the divine Oscar at his best. Nor does it forget his ability to prick the inflated egos of louche young men with too much time and money on their hands or deliciously dotty aunts and duchesses with their minds firmly fixed on Empire and their Imperial responsibilities.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
It is easy to understand why H.H.Munro, pen name Saki, is still regarded as one of the greatest writers of short stories. His elegant, ironic prose reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse with a sharp sting in the tale.

Although Saki mocked the snobbery and hypocrisy of upper class Edwardian England, he himself seems to have been limited by unexamined prejudice against the lower classes, women in general, and new social movements of his day like female suffrage and socialism.

Organised by date of collection, the tales show a clear progression. The early "Reginald" stories are remarkably short, often barely a page, very dated and a bit too precious in style for my taste. As the years pass, the stories gain in length and depth, culminating in works like "The Square Egg". This captures the muddiness of trench life in World War 1 - the streaming mud walls, the inches of soup-like mud at the entrance to the dug-out, the muddy biscuits eaten with mud-caked fingers. This story also shows Saki's talent for going off at an imaginative tangent, in this case based on a wily Frenchman's novel idea for using the idea of "square eggs" from specially bred hens to try to get some money out of the narrator.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER on 14 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a huge fan of short stories and always read about as many short story collections per year as I do novels, by authors as diverse as Helen Simpson, David Sedaris, TC Boyle, Roald Dahl, Michel Faber, and Wells Tower, to the literary journal McSweeney's. I've heard of Hector Hugh Munro or Saki for a number of years but is one of those classic authors I'd never read that I decided to tackle this year. So how do his stories measure up a century after publication? Not bad, there were a few stories I enjoyed but on the whole they're unfortunately quite mundane.

The ones I enjoyed showed Saki introducing macabre and mystical elements into his tales. "Gabriel-Ernest" is a great baroque story about a boy werewolf while "Sredni Vashtar" is about a boy who befriends a ferret only to create a pagan religion around it, then when his cousin gets rid of the ferret from the house he prays for the ferret-god to get rid of his cousin... then his cousin disappears! "The Peace of Mowsle Barton" is a story of a peaceful village of warring witches while the pagan theme continues in "The Music on the Hill" where an offering to the pagan god Pan is spoiled by an unwitting young woman who is then gored by a stag's antlers. There are also stories of hyenas in the English countryside ("Esme" and "The Quest") as well as talking cats ("Tobermory") all of which I really enjoyed.

Then there are the bulk of the stories which are mostly about young people or children outwitting their elders. These stories are often about slight things like misunderstandings, like a gent who writes rhyming couplets about women, a pet monkey stealing lozenges, a woman transformed into a she-wolf (but not really).
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