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The Complete Saki

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  1,863 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
DUPLICATE ISBN: ISBN10:0880292598 ISBN13:9780880292597

Hector Hugh Munro is perhaps the most graceful spokesman for England's "golden afternoon''--those slow and peaceful years prior to the outbreak of World War I. The good wit of bad manners, elegantly spiced with irony and deftly controlled malice, has made Saki stories small, perfect gems of the English language. Here fo
Paperback, 960 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Penguin Classics (first published 1976)
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Dubliners by James JoyceNine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories by Flannery O'ConnorThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
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64th out of 972 books — 672 voters
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270th out of 2,164 books — 1,630 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 05, 2008 Meagan rated it it was amazing
If someone thinks old books are boring, reads a few stories out of this, and still thinks so, i can only conclude they are crazy person. This is ridiculously funny literature; I love Saki!
Apr 23, 2010 Jeff added it
Shelves: fiction
Saki’s short stories are among the funniest things I’ve read in my life. Imagine O. Henry’s stories, with their surprise endings, as if written by Oscar Wilde — the sentimentality replaced by mordant wit and an utter delight in language and wordplay (“the black sheep of a rather greyish family”).

These little gems — most no more than four or five pages long — are positively addictive. Try ‘The Reticence of Lady Anne’, ‘Gabriel-Ernest’, ‘Tobermory’, Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger’, ‘Sredni Vashtar’, ‘Wr
Spike Gomes
Feb 14, 2016 Spike Gomes rated it it was amazing
Saki is like fois gras; in a small plate after careful selection and preparation by the chef, it is absolutely divine, in large doses, one rather feels like the goose undergoing gavage instead.

As the above proves, it's quite hard to be epigrammatic. Saki is the master of the epigrammatic short story. What I find rather interesting is how relatively obscure he is compared with Wilde, Coward and Wodehouse, all writers who satirized the aristocratic and upper middle classes of England. I chalk it
Oct 05, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Wowie zowie this guy is good. I would not suggest reading this clear through. Saki is a short story author and 900 pages of short stories is a long hard slog of a read, no matter how good of an author he is. And he is good. There were two novels and a couple plays built in too. The novels made my back shiver as I finished each of them. The plays I would love to see performed. Saki is an Edwardian satirist. Given how many off that genre exist, the Edwardian age must have been rather risible. He i ...more
Sep 12, 2015 K.N. rated it it was amazing
Saki is definitely someone who should continue to be read and taught. It's been over a hundred years since most of his work has been written, yet his humor and insight are more than relevant now. I laughed out loud several times while I read through this 900+ page collection.

I wrote separate reviews for the novellas/novels at the beginning of the collection. My review of When William Came is here. I was not a fan. My review of The Unbearable Bassington is here. I am a mega-fan for Bassington.

Huck Finn
Jul 06, 2009 Huck Finn rated it it was amazing
This is the most savagely funny writing I've ever stumbled across. I think it is a book to own, and read a few short stories now and then.

Saki was recommended to me by a Science Fiction author speaking at a book festival. She said that Saki was her strongest literary influence when she was a young reader because he expanded her idea of what literature could be. Not sure exactly what she meant, but Saki has a crazy imagination, and he certainly packs a memorable story into a two or three page vi
Sep 08, 2010 Lynda rated it it was amazing
Almost every single story HH Munro ever wrote becomes an immediate favourite. His writing brings to life the mediocrity and occasional poverty of the Edwardian middle and lower classes and the ridiculous oppulence and social ineptitudes of the upper middle Edwardian classes. Always written with a dark humour, Saki has been a firm personal favourite since early childhood when at the age of 7, I was introduced to Clovis in all his cheeky glory, Conradin, the soon to be late Laura and the very late ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
B and N released a great compilation of his works last year that was very reasonably priced. Saki is like having drinks with your most sarcastic, funny, ironic friend -- you leave giggling, with your head still spinning. His stories are all about society life among the rich in England at the turn of the 20th century, and are deliciously mean. Come on, you can't always read about nice people.
Lisa H.
May 22, 2009 Lisa H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite memories involves reading Saki stories aloud to a friend while she drove her VW Beetle (the original ones, not the new type), full of all her worldly possessions, through a torrential thunderstorm outside Philadelphia. The Why of that scenario would take too long to explain, but let's say the whole day was pretty memorable.
Saki (or H.H. Monro) only wrote a handful of novelettes, short stories, and plays before he was killed in WWI. What little he did write was top-knotch quality, full of biting satire and timeless wit. One can only guess what future masterpieces died with him on that battlefield. It's heartbreaking to think about. I have no doubt that he would have been listed among the greatest authors Britain has ever produced.

In a way, though, it's fitting that he would die the way he did. Two of his novelettes
Faith Bradham
Jan 09, 2008 Faith Bradham rated it really liked it
Whenever someone gets together a huge bookful of short stories I always get tired and a little bored in the middle. This happened here, but there were novels and plays in the back and so I just skipped to those. But I did make it all the way to "Toys" before skipping out. ;)
However, the short stories were very funny and/or disturbing, as the case may be and I enjoyed them. But after about 100 one gets tired of them.
Now for the novels.
The Unbearable Bassington needed another chapter to tie up
Jun 18, 2008 Christiane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I never heard of Saki until I was in college, in London on a study abroad and we saw a play based on his short stories. I laughed so hard I almost peeded my pants (it didn't help that we'd stopped at a pub first).

Saki wrote witty little stories about Edwardian society that sometimes, in "Sredni Vashtar" for example, turn quite satisfyingly horrible.
Saki did not have a particularly happy life. He was raised by strict aunts (who get what they deserve in his stories), was (most likely) homosexual
Dec 10, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The short story is, with the possible exception of the sonnet in English, the most difficult literary form to write successfully. The successful short short story is even more rare. Yet H. H. Munro (writing under the nom de plume "Saki") was able in his brief life to create scores of gems in this challenging literary form. Of the short stories I remember from my school years, I include Saki's "The Open Window" and "Sredni Vashtar" along with O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," D. H. Lawrence's "T ...more
Brandon Henke
Conniving countesses croqueting in tea gardens. Fox hunting in South Staffordshire with men of vague Teutonic complexion. Missing aunts, lugubrious uncles, and beasts of a great variety. 944 pages of luxurious Edwardian prose.
Apr 30, 2014 Evan rated it liked it
His short stories make me feel like I am ready Stanley Kubrick's naughty godfather, or maybe Oscar Wilde's more worldly newphew. It is like what one should read in winter for a macabre sense of humor and moments of ironic suspense that feel like a pocket-sized Hitchcock film. I never fail to gasp at the climax of certain short stories and never fail to roll my eyes at his plays. Munro's plays are a testament to the observation that a not every writer can compose well in every medium. Well worth ...more
David Kowalski
Jan 19, 2016 David Kowalski rated it liked it
Ok. This is tough. In fact it's unfair. In reading the complete short stories of a writer I feel placing one single rating, on what is essentially the bulk of Saki's created output, feels gauche at the very least.
I did not enjoy a lot of it. The earlier material jarred me. I suppose of all the forms, comedy fairs least well with time and satire worst of all. The ins and outs of upper British middle class did not engage me and there was a pettiness and viciousness at times that didn't appeal to
Oct 10, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my treasures, a 2nd hand copy that took a nip out of my wallet in poorer days. I have several favourite short story authors including Guy de Maupassant and W. Somerset Maugham, but Saki has been in my heart since school day anthologies included "The Window" and " Mrs. Packletide's Tiger."

H.H. Munro has been often described as malicious, which I have never thought was a good description. Mocking and merciless perhaps, even unforgiving, but not malicious... although Reginald or Clovis, or e
Apr 06, 2015 Rhnair rated it it was amazing
I had read a few of his stories many years back and I still recollect the humour quotient in those. Saki is a master of a flippant humour. His characters like Clovis are naughty to the core, but he makes them so lovable that I almost wish to emulate them in real life.
This is a very good collection of his stories. And this exposed me to another variety of his work like the novel The Unbearable Bassigton. It a very serious one , so unlike of Saki.

The other ones which I particularly like are -
Stephen Brooke
Jul 02, 2014 Stephen Brooke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, humor
I plowed through the entirety of this book in my senior year of high school, lo these many years ago. On returning to Munro's stories nearly half a century later, I find that I like them almost as much as the first time --- I'm inclined to think them not quite so insightful but just as delightful as I did then.

They are very clever and very entertaining, and I can certainly see that they had an effect on that impressionable teenage reader. Especially when I look at my own attempts to write wittil
Jun 18, 2011 Sps rated it liked it
A treat when I began it Lo These Many Years Ago* but very long, and not portable, so I put it aside. My estimate? At least 24 oz. and 120 cubic inches of wit and knavery, which is a lot of wit and knavery to hold in one hand on a crowded commuter train. Saki is kind of an Edwardian, upper-class James Thurber. Style trumps virtue in general, but also specifically at bridge-parties. Bores are disposed of creatively, vulgarity is frequently indulged, genteel subversive plots are hatched in drawing- ...more
Sam Quixote
Sep 19, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it liked it
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 ...more
Saki (H. H. Munro). WHEN WILLIAM CAME: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns. (1913). ***. and, WESTMINSTER ALICE. (1902). **. Both of these novels by the author, along with The Unbearable Bassington, (see earlier blurb) are included in this volume of his complete works. Unfortunately, they do not rate as well as the Bassington novel, though they were unique for their time. “William,” is set in London after a war between England and Germany in which Germany was the victor. It was an entry in ...more
Simon Mcleish
Oct 25, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here between February and October 2001.


Monro's first collection of short stories is itself extremely short; twenty or so in under forty pages in this edition. Most of them are not really stories, but little anecdotes, providing context for a witty remark from effete, advanced and cynical Reginald. These include what is probably Saki's most famous phrase: "She was a good cook, as cooks go, and as cooks go, she went."

The purpose of these vignettes is to sati
Mikey Campling
Apr 25, 2015 Mikey Campling rated it it was amazing
Let me set the tone of this book review with three simple words: I love Saki.

I discovered Saki's writing by accident whilst rifling through a pile of unpromising paperbacks on a second hand book stall, and since then, that battered old book has been with me all over the World. It's a perfect companion for journeys of all types and durations, and a great book to have by your bedside for those days when you're not sure what to read.

Saki is a complete master of the short (and often very short) stor
Dec 21, 2007 Tracey rated it really liked it
Shelves: libraryread, stalled
To be honest, I didn't get all the way through The Complete Works of Saki - but since it's due back at the library today, I did want to comment on what I had finished.

Saki is probably best known for his short stories: I imagine most of us have read "Tobermory", "Filboid Studge" and/or "The Schwartz-Metterklume Method" - all demonstrating his sly wit and tendency to write a twist in the story. The character of Reginald pokes fun at the high society of the Edwardian era in the first grouping of sh
Oct 23, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saki is a fantastic writer, and most of his work is short stories (my favorite form!). His work is very relevant to today's time and culture. There are many allusions in his writing that I would need to research in order to fully understand, but even without fully appreciating his references, I enjoy his works. I did not read the entire tome, but I read a sampling of his stories. I enjoyed "Ministers of Grace"... Could have been written about our own Congressmen today!
Greg Kerestan
Jan 29, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it it was amazing
Imagine if Oscar Wilde had a child with the Dowager Countess from "Downton Abbey," and that child grew up under both their influence to become a writer in Britain's interwar period. That's Saki in a nutshell- blending arch humor, cutting cynicism and a taste for horror and unsavory things just lurking in the background. Saki is very witty and very British- anyone who loves Masterpiece Theatre or "The Importance of Being Earnest" will find a familiar voice here.
Jun 29, 2015 Nisha-Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
I haven't finished this, no, and I may never.

Because as wonderful as Saki is when you start, it doesn't take long for his rampant misogyny and racism to come through. Yes, I laughed out loud several times. And then I stopped laughing.

It was rather intriguing though how consistently he wrote in third person until the abrupt switch to first person and that only happens when he's at the front. And even then, it might only have been that first story? All the more eerie when you realise he died in t
Dec 10, 2015 Kirstyn rated it liked it
Definitely an acquired taste of humor that requires quite a solid base in history to understand many of the allusions. Some stories were superb, Esmé for example, others seemed to be less poignant and geared solely towards social commentary. Could be someone's cup of tea, just wasn't mine
Shashank Garg
Feb 03, 2016 Shashank Garg rated it it was amazing
Wild stories. Unconventional. Caustic. And somewhat whimsical. Saki has Wodehouse's appeal, but not the fervor to please, so his writing is as frank and keen as it can be. His short stories are really short, but they do pack something substantial, almost hostile in them. Do try a few.
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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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“Find yourself a cup of tea,
the teapot is behind you.
Now tell me about
hundreds of things.”
“The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go, she went.” 24 likes
More quotes…