The Unbearable Saki: The Work of H. H. Munro

Hardcover | November 15, 2007

bySandie Byrne

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Saki is the acknowledged master of the short story. His writing is elegant, economical, and witty, its tone worldly, flippant irreverence delivered in astringent exchanges and epigrams more neat, pointed, and poised even than Wilde's. The deadpan narrative voice allows for the unsentimentalrecitation of horrors and the comically grotesque, and the generation of guilty laughter at some very un-pc statements. Saki's short stories have been much reprinted as well as adapted for radio, stage, and television, but his novels, The Unbearable Bassington and When William Came, are almost unknown, his journalism and travel writing forgotten, and his plays rarely performed. Sandie Byrne argues that his reputationhas been unfairly overshadowed by his predecessor Oscar Wilde, contemporary George Bernard Shaw, and successors P.G. Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh. In a well-meaning introduction to the Penguin Complete Saki, Noel Coward reinforced the received image of Saki's work as celebrating an Edwardian or even Victorian milieu of privilege, luxury, and affectation; comedies of manners and light satire. Byrne shows that Saki's writing was no nostalgicevocation of a lost golden age, and that he was rarely concerned with the charm and delight Coward describes. His preoccupations were with England, the values of Empire, and the dangerous beauty of the feral ephebe. The threat to the first two of these triggered his alleged metamorphosis fromcosmopolitan cynic and dandy-about-town to patriotic, even jingoistic, NCO, in a manner worthy of his blackest humour.

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From the Publisher

Saki is the acknowledged master of the short story. His writing is elegant, economical, and witty, its tone worldly, flippant irreverence delivered in astringent exchanges and epigrams more neat, pointed, and poised even than Wilde's. The deadpan narrative voice allows for the unsentimentalrecitation of horrors and the comically grotes...

Sandie Byrne was formerly Tutor in English at Balliol College, Oxford, and Professor of English Literature at the University of Lincoln. She is the author of a number of books and articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.18 inPublished:November 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199226059

ISBN - 13:9780199226054

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Three deaths1. Early life and influences2. School and the European Tour3. Burma, Devon4. London, the Balkans, Russia5. London again6. The stories: the young men7. The stories: the men that wolves have sniffed at, the wild, and the boys8. iThe Unbearable Bassington/i9. iWhen William Came/i10. William and Lance-Sergeant Munro

Editorial Reviews

"An insightful and sprightly book."--Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly