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The Complete Saki (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – May 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141180781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141180786
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Swisher on September 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Saki (H.H. Munro, 1870-1916) is unique. His mise-en-scène is the world of P.G. Wodehouse, with its Edwardian country houses and formidable noblewomen. On the other hand, his septic view of human nature is closer to that of Ambrose Bierce, or Juvenal.
His protagonists - not really heroes - are typically youthful scapegraces, idlers, and dandies. Self-absorbed and perverse, they may come to bad ends, like Comus Bassington. Despite, or perhaps because, of their character defects, they make gorgeous epigrammatic observations, worldly beyond their years, on human nature: "You needn't tell me that a man who doesn't love oysters and asparagus and good wine has got a soul, or a stomach either. He's simply got the instinct for being unhappy highly developed." "People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die." "Waldo is the sort of person who would be immensely improved by death."
Saki is politically incorrect. Like W.S. Gilbert, he lampooned suffragettes; this has led some to call him "misogynistic." His Jewish characters are not always portrayed in a flattering light; this has led some to call him "anti-Semitic." Earnest folk full of impractical good intentions for the uplift of humanity got the fullest dose of his venom. In "The Toys of Peace," children brought up by insufferably and sanctimoniously progressive parents who refuse to give them "warlike" playthings nonetheless improvise violent and destructive games. In "Filboid Studge" he describes a "health food" fad that succeeds wildly on the assumption that if it tastes disgusting, it must be good for you. Saki would have revelled in the gruesome irony of a recent news account about an "animal rights" protestor mauled at Yellowstone by a grizzly.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jay Rudin on November 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Never," said Reginald, "be a pioneer. It's the early Christian that gets the fattest lion."
Saki, in his own way, was a pioneer.
I heard these stories while I was growing up, as one parent or the other was reading them. You keep finding delightful lines that you want to read out to anyone in the same room.
Like one of his characters, Saki can "say horrible things in a matter-of-fact way, and matter-of-fact things in a horrible way." His descriptions of Edwardian England are hilarious, and he is at his best when describing a child or young man who sees through, and punctures all the stuffiness with wit:
"After all," said the Duchess, "there are certain things you can't get away from. Right and wrong, good conduct and moral rectitude, have certain well-defined limits." "So, for the matter of that," replied Reginald, "has the Russian Empire. The trouble is that the limits are not always in the same place."
"Of course," she resumed combatively, "it's the prevailing fashion to believe in perpetual change and mutability, and all that sort of thing, and to say that we are all merely an improved form of primeval ape -- of course you subscribe to that doctrine?" "I think it decidedly premature; in most people I know the process is far from complete."
In "The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope", the gossipers are hilariously mistaken about his secret - which you will not guess. When Laura defends her husband, she is told, "That's different -- you've sworn to love, honour, and endure him. I haven't." The predicament of the Lost Sanjak, once it's pointed out to you, will seem dreadfully possible.
You will laugh out loud; you will re-read your favorite lines, and you will wear out this book. I'm on my third copy.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Dean on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
No one writes as Saki did. The only writers even vaguely similar are Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and such columnists as Russell Baker and Maureen Dowd. He is a true genius in compression, wild imagination, wicked humor. In virtually each line, there is a twist, an extraordinary turn of phrase. I imagine the Clovis and Reginald stories being read by John Gielgud or Rex Harrison in high dudgeon. His stories with surprise endings are simply better and more sophisticated than O. Henry. He is a true master of the extreme short story genre that he seems to have created (far superior to say, Bruce Jay Friedman whose work I do like). I haven't read A.J. Liebling or S.J. Perelman, but cannot imagine the exquisite touch of Saki. They are a true joy - each little story a gem of 3-7 pages. Have fun.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert Sylvan on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I never tire of Saki/HH Munro (1870-1916). His brilliant short stories pack so much in so few pages and usually have wonderful twists or surprises. They are timeless, but take no time to devour. The joy of this collection is that, with a glance at the Table of Contents (for length), you can pretty much find a tale you will be able read in one sitting, no matter how much or little time you might have available. Each time you pick up the book, you will be amused and entertained. Favorites will most likely change as you read new stories, novelettes and plays. And there are many great bedtime stories for young and old (but read them yourself before sharing with little ones -- some may seem rather scary and/or innapropriate for them, though many others are probably fine for anyone - let each care-giver decide for themselves!). I recall "The Open Window" was my introduction to Saki, and that was in my third grade reader (so I guess I was about eight or so), and I thereafter often took out his works from the library, at least until just after college. Nearly thirty years later, I now have the complete collection to enjoy, and even those tales I had read before, still remain as fresh as ever.
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