H. H. (Hector Hugh) Munro (1870-1916), better known by his pen name Saki
, was a British writer of over 100 short stories, three novels (The Unbearable Bassington
, When William Came
, and The Westminster Alice
), and three plays (The Death-Trap, Karl-Ludwig's Window
, and The Watched Pot
). Full of sarcasm
, wit, and Black Comedy
, the influence of Oscar Wilde
shows through in his work— and he, in turn, is a major influence on writers like P. G. Wodehouse
and Dorothy Parker
His work has entered the public domain, so a little searching will make all his stories available.
This author's works include examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: "The Lumber-Room", "The Storyteller".
- Alternate History: When William Came speculates on life in London after the Germans win World War I ("William" is Kaiser Wilhelm II).
- Ambiguously Gay: Most of Saki's young male leads, particularly Clovis Sangrail and Reginald [last name never given].
- Baleful Polymorph: "Ministers of Grace." It has overtones of Grand Theft Me, as politicians' minds are put in animal bodies and angels take their place.
- Blackmail: Several stories, including "Mrs. Packeltide's Tiger" and "The Treasure Ship".
- Cats Are Superior: "The Achievement of the Cat".
- Deadpan Snarker: In spades.
- Ear Worm (in-universe): "Cousin Theresa", "The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope"
- The Edwardian Era
- Famous Last Words: None of his characters, but reportedly the man himself: "Put out that damn cigarette!" seconds before being shot by a German sniper.
- Fractured Fairytale: A nice one in "The Storyteller".
- Grande Dame: Plenty.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted horribly in "The Easter-Egg".
- If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: "Filboid Studge, or the Mouse That Helped"
- It Will Never Catch On: "Cousin Teresa".
- Kids Are Cruel: Quite a few, most notably in "The Strategist" and "The Penance" (as Disproportionate Retribution).
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Saki may well have been one in life, given the affectionate depictions of them in various stories.
- Lost Him in a Card Game: "The Stake".
- Mister Muffykins: The eponymous "Louis", with a twist. Louis is dead and his owner uses her pretended affection for him and his alleged needs to get her way.
- My Beloved Smother: Several, though the most unpleasant example (in "Sredni Vashtar") is the protagonist's adult cousin and appointed guardian.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: "Gabriel-Ernest".
- Reincarnation: "Laura".
- Royal Brat: The eponymous "Hyacinth", and Victor in "Morlvera".
- Stylistic Suck: "Reginald's Rubiyat", "The Recessional".
- Take That: The Westminster Alice is an Alice in Wonderland parody that takes potshots at the prominent politicans of the time.
- Talking Animal: The eponymous housecat "Tobermory". Hilarity Ensues when it turns out Tobermory has no concept of tact.
- Values Dissonance: Anti-Semitism is treated as a joke in stories like "The Unrest-Cure" and "A Touch of Realism", and several stories (in particular "Hermann the Irascible— A Story of the Great Weep") play up the idea that women's suffrage was just too ridiculous a concept to be taken seriously.
- Uncatty Resemblance: Taken to an extreme in "The Remoulding of Groby Lington."
- Upper-Class Wit: Oh my yes.
- Wham Line: "The Interlopers" ends with this.
- World War I: The short story collection The Square Egg (published posthumously) were written during his service on the Western Front. Saki himself was killed in action in Beaumont-Hamel (probably during the Battle of the Somme).
- You Can Keep Her: "The Disappearance of Crispina Umberleigh"— to the point that the kidnappers demand ransom by threatening to return her.