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The Unbearable Bassington

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
In the staid British society of 1900, the irresponsible Comus Bassington is always getting into trouble. What can be done with him? Ship him to the Colonies, where he can no longer embarrass his mother or break the hearts of girls who find him inexplicably attractive.
Paperback, 152 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Waking Lion Press (first published 1912)
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Dec 14, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The English writer H. H. Munro, writing under the pen name Saki, straddled the19th and 20th centuries. He mainly wrote short stories that often addressed the foibles of high Edwardian society, sometimes with a touch of the macabre. His only novel was the short work, The Unbearable Bassington. I think I first read his short story, “The Open Window,” when I was in my mid teens, almost six decades ago, and was captivated by it. This was my first return to any of Saki’s works. It was a pleasant re-a ...more
Nov 02, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saki (H.H. Munro). THE UNBEARABLE BASSINGTON. (1912). *****. I’ve read some of Saki’s short stories, but this is the first novel I’ve read by him. I thought it was terrific, even though his style of writing is of the period. He was obviously the master of the “put-down,” and the book is full of them. This is the story of Comus Bassington, the only son of Francesca Bassington. Francesca lives in a house in London surrounded by all of her treasured things and is well content to continue living the ...more
A curious book with some hilarious passages early on. Ultimately a sad story of selfishness and wasted lives. I prefer his short stories.
Author’s Note
This story has no moral.
If it points out an evil at any rate it suggests no remedy.

We all know someone like Francesca or recognize something of her in ourselves. ;)

What a set of characters! I wish most writer's were half as good writing characters as Saki is in this book. This made it to my favorites list easily. Funny and witty in a rare way. I will definitely read more Saki in the future.
Oct 10, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in the "Complete Works of Saki" but I think it warrants its own comments.

In re-reading the complete works of H.H. Munro, his short stories teem with irony and mockery regarding human nature and the foibles and essential superficiality of social behaviors, respectively. Perhaps he is merciless but not malicious, as some have described him. Maybe Reginald and Clovis, and even Vera, enjoy upsetting the artificial norm of Victorian/Edwardian behavior, but there is often an undercurrent f
Having never read Saki before, this was a surprise. The reviewers talk about his biting sarcasm and wit - and they're right, but I was floored by his character descriptions, so clear that I could see the person in front of me - I know this person! He is a wonderful writer. Not happy, perhaps, but startlingly perceptive about human nature and personality. I will have to read more!
I will now write my review with the aid of Rin Okumura from Blue Exorcist, my stand-in for Comus Bassington.

Comus Bassington is a devilishly handsome and charming young man.

The key word here is devilish. He usually does exactly the opposite of what he should do.

He gets away with it for a long time, thanks primarily to his loving (and patient) mother, but also due to his almost equally devilish friends.

Of course Mephisto is Courtenay. Of course.

But, eventually life deals him what he's owed.

I know
Aug 19, 2013 Undine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I file this one under "interesting failures." Like some other writers with a genius for writing short stories, Saki seemed unable to master the very different skills required to construct a first-rate novel. "Bassington" reads more like a series of disconnected vignettes than one seamless narrative. Worse, while his usually "unbearable" characters are entertaining, even weirdly lovable, when briefly encountered in a short story, they become simply obnoxious when you get a steady diet of them in ...more
Kelly Crigger
I realize this was first written in the early 20th Century and the style is completely different, but in today's "get-to-the-point" instant gratification world this book takes a long time to develop. Each chapter starts with lengthy scene-setting prose or character descriptions that are sometimes irrelevant to the story. The meat of the book comes in bits and pieces and doesn't flow forward very well. On the flip side, this is an incredible look into 19th Century England that does an incredible ...more
May 25, 2014 Ruthiella rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Everyone is fairly unbearable in this novella. A satire of the Edwardian era upper classes, centering on a vapid, selfish young man and his materialistic, selfish mother. Saki can be very funny in a scathing way, although there were quite a few political references that I am sure I didn’t get.
George Ilsley
Feb 09, 2016 George Ilsley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, satire
A strange and funny satirical novel by the inimitable Saki. Odd for the young "Comus" to be described as the central character; his mother is really the centre of this book. The novel opens and closes with her, and dwells on her hopes and dreams. Comus, on the other hand, is a blank slate, albeit an attractive one.
Oct 06, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Noel Coward talked about Saki
Another short -- just more than 100 pages -- satiric novel by Saki, this one written in 1912. The ending is surprising and much more serious than most of the book. The setting is interesting -- London and its environs.
Feb 19, 2014 Aimee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me 10 years to read the last 3 pages. I'm sorry I did. Brilliantly written, crushingly depressing.
The novel was not Saki's best genre (his short stories were much better), but still full of funny lines.
Fuzzy Logic
Oct 05, 2015 Fuzzy Logic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good this, short, sharp, cutting satire.
Aug 07, 2013 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not for everyone, these funny English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts. Oh wait... i went off on a tangent. But Saki is the king of the snarky English put-down. Perhaps John Cleese got his inspiration from him. One of those books you need to own so that you can read a few chapters or a short story on sleepless nights or rainy afternoons.
Jun 15, 2012 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Unbearable Bassington is like hanging out with Oscar Wilde at 4 in the morning at a bar after he's had a bad breakup. It's laugh-out-loud funny, it's got snarky put-downs in spades, and it has an undercurrent of cynicism, even bitterness. It's great entertainment (clearly, humor is Saki's defense mechanism, too!) but it's got a bitter aftertaste as well. I find something very human and relatable about Saki's writing, and this is a keeper.
Brian Dahlvig
Mar 23, 2016 Brian Dahlvig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humorous Saki start, heavy Saki ending.
Timothy Ferguson
As Saki’s first novel I suppose I should cut him some slack. Witty, but not as witty as his later short pieces. Terribly cruel to his characters, but not quite so charmingly as later.

Recommended for people who like class satire; Oscar Wilde fans, for example.

This review originally appeared on book coasters
Morag Gray
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2013 Cris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but failed novella. So cynical and bitter it leaves you a bit empty. The end is abrupt and ,as promised by the author, leaves you wanting for meaning. I enjoy the short story Saki much more.
Marts  (Thinker)
Young Comus Bassington just doesn't give a damn, but he does have good looks and much charm, he eventually realises that this gets him nowhere and despite his mother's urgings, eventually ends up as an exile...

Can be read online:
Johanna Bouchard
Feb 09, 2011 Johanna Bouchard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, reviewed
I was really let down after reading this book. I had such high expectations for it, considering how much I love Saki's short stories, but found it was nothing like them. It was very verbose, almost a chore to read, because the plot line went absolutely nowhere. What a shame!
Mar 21, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story resemebled those by Virginia Woolf and I couldn't help feeling that, as with Woolf, there was a lot of subtext in the story I wasn't quite able to hang on to. I enjoyed the book, but it tends to encourage readers to analyze it rather than read it for pleasure.
Oct 01, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
I actually possess the Nook edition, not Kindle.

What an unusual story! Much of his humor is reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's, but HH Munro turns this tale into much more than an amusing romp. In its way, it is unforgettable and I highly recommend it.
Sam Reaves
Saki is remembered for his dry, wicked, finely honed short stories; I had heard of this novel but never seen a copy. I scooped this one up for a dollar and it was the bargain of the year. Saki's lofty skepticism and contempt for pomposity are pure oxygen.
Judith Lewis
Saki always worth reading - though don't remember this novella as clearly as many of his short stories. He was a wonderfully perceptive writer and is surely overdue for rediscovery.
Curious book. Some wonderful epithets. Written approximately 1912. As one critic wrote of it, it gives a good feeling for society as it was in 1914 just before WWI.
Adore Saki.
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Hector Hugh Munro, better known by the pen name Saki, was born in Akyab, Burma (now known as Sittwe, Myanmar), was a British writer, whose witty and sometimes macabre stories satirized Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and is often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. His tales feature delicately drawn characters and finely judged narratives. "The Open ...more
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“I'm living so far beyond my means that we may almost be said to be living apart.” 19 likes
“Pluralism is a merciful narcotic.” 1 likes
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