The Complete Saki
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The Complete Saki

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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,388 ratings  ·  103 reviews
"This edition first published by Doubleday & Company Inc., 1976"--T.p. verso.
Paperback, 960 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

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Meagan
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!
Huck Finn
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...more
Jeffrey
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
Jeff
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...more
Lisa H.
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.
Faye
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...more
Faith Bradham
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...more
Christiane
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...more
Lynda
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
Lisa
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.
Evan
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
Stephen Brooke
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...more
Sps
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
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
Tony
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
Originally published on my blog here between February and October 2001.

Reginald

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...more
Tracey
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...more
Karen D.
I have only read maybe the first twenty stories, but some of them are hilarious. I read the first set of "Reginald" stories--some of the sarcasm was lost on me because I'm not really up on that time period in British history, but they were fun, nonetheless. I love "The Reticence of Lady Anne," "The Sex That Doesn't Shop," and "Blood-Feud in Toad-Water." I thought the last two were so funny that I read them aloud to my mom and sister-in-law. I'm looking forward to more from Saki!

I continue to add...more
Tiffany Chang
the hardest short short stories anyone could come across. many of them are only 2-/3- page long but can take some serious amount of time to not only get what is going on, but appreciate the hell out of Saki's crafty manipulation of language and wicked sense of humor. probably the only high art i don't mind sucking up to.
Keeko
Clever with a good heart. He has more than a few lines and observations that made me laugh and want to grab a pen to write down what he said so I could always remember it. Truly a good read.
Jessica Draper
I love "watching" Clovis--he's the ultimate in bright, self-absorbed, cruel, and funny "bad" boys. I definitely want somebody to get the better of him. The other stories range from dull to strange to mildly amusing. It's interesting to realize how badly stories age when they hinge on contemporary events; I'm sure that some of the political satires were much more amusing (or infuriating) back when the issues and personalities they mock were in the newspapers every day. Now, they're either incompr...more
Daniel Mcbrearty
Saki - HH Munroe - was like a cross between PG Wodehouse and Roald Dahl, but queerer and darker. His stories are as sharp as a razor. He just rips apart moralistic, hypocritical upper class Britain, with such wit and savagery.

I did have the complete works years back, but not this one. I only ever read the short stories. Works like "Tobermorey" (about a man who teaches a cat to talk, and the unexpected consequences) and "The Rest Cure" and so on are English language classics. There are also plays...more
Mark Mitchell
Hadn't read Saki before but I love epigrammatic wit and a snarky voice. I started at the front of this brick of a collection and read a good number of the Reginald short stories. They're brilliant little gems, but I soon found myself enjoying them less than I expected to. Reading them back to back was like dining on nothing but quail eggs and soon my taste for them diminished. Reading one, every once in a while, would be a joy -- but I would not recommend immersing yourself in the way I did. I m...more
Ian

Some of the best short stories ever written. The "Reginald" and "Clovis" stories are superb examples of the sort of upper-class comedy of manners popularized by P.G. Wodehouse, although with a rather more acidic sense of humor, but his range also included a number of gems of slow-burning horror and black comedy, most notably the collections BEASTS AND SUPER-BEASTS and THE TOYS OF PEACE. There are a few missteps, like the godawful THE WESTMINSTER ALICE, which is notable for its hamfisted attempt...more
Julie
The shorter stories were funnier than the longer ones. I could see where Wodehouse got his inspiration, but didn't find it at all as funny as Wodehouse.

Michael Wirdnam
Brilliant story teller from a bygone age.
Bunny
Saki is wonderful!
Abby
Saki is one of those authors (like most, I believe) who are better taken in moderation. The Complete Works become wearing, though not entirely devoid of charm. One becomes steadily more aware of his woman-problem, however, whether it’s his opposition to Suffrage or his portrayal of women as shrill harpies or pure killjoys. I’m rather good at putting things like that aside, however: the man is dead, so he can’t profit from it, so I can put on my blinders and enjoy the brilliant, if rather empty,...more
John Beeler
I read this when working in a call center, and despite its age I was surprised to catch myself laughing out loud mid-call.

I could be completely revealing my ignorance of British literature, but I wonder if one could consider Saki England's "Mark Twain." Maybe less political...

Here's a few gems:
"A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation."

"Every reformation must have its victims. You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return."

Divyaroop Bhatnagar
Saki was a favourite of my father. We discovered him in our teens and I must have read his works a dozen times. Wit, epigrams and humour do not do justice to Saki. There is a whole world here. Full of eccentric duchesses and beautiful young men. Serious concerns are frowned upon. The world is your oyster and the greatest decision is about which waistcoat to wear for dinner. Alas that this paradise is gone for ever!
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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
More about Saki...
The Collected Short Stories of Saki The Best of Saki The Open Window The Chronicles of Clovis Beasts and Super-Beasts

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“The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go, she went.” 15 likes
“Find yourself a cup of tea,
the teapot is behind you.
Now tell me about
hundreds of things.”
14 likes
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