Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saki: Sarcy

Saki's mother was killed by a cow when he was a child. If that doesn't turn you into a writer with a morbid fascination with, and deep-seated fear of, the natural world nothing will. Done to death by the very emblem of placidity and plenty; nothing could ever seem safe or homely again. Saki (Hector Hugh Munro, 1870-1916) was raised by his strict, dour aunts and grandmother, and was gay but closeted all his life – for good reason, since homosexual acts between men were still illegal. He died in his 40s in the first world war.
He left stories such as "Tobermory", about a cat that learns to talk and can't be made to shut up. Or "The Music on the Hill", about a woman who offends the god Pan and suffers the consequences. Or "The Hounds of Fate", about a man who thinks he's outwitted his destiny only to find it closing in on him from an unexpected direction. These stories are cut-glass beauties, pitiless and hard-edged and constantly poking fun at the pretensions of the middle and upper classes. Why not be cruel and hard? Life hadn't been especially nice to him...

Naomi Alderman pays tribute to the great Saki in The Guardian.
You can read his brilliant mad evil queeny short stories online here.
The world needs more brilliant mad evil queens, if you ask me.

No comments:

Post a Comment