The Unrest Cure and Other Beastly Tales

“‘But hang it all, my dear fellow,’ said Blenkinthrope impatiently, ‘haven’t I just told you that nothing of a remarkable nature ever happens to me?’

‘Invent something,’ said Gorworth. Since winning a prize for excellence in Scriptural knowledge at a preparatory school he had felt licensed to be a little more unscrupulous than the circle he moved in. Much might surely be excused to one who in early life could give a list of seventeen trees mentioned in the Old Testament.”

I picked up this volume of Saki at a book sale last summer, and the short stories (often only a few pages), have been the perfect respite for a busy schedule. The Unrest Cure and Other Beastly Tales has 44 stories in total.

It’s hard to pick a single favorite, but the title story and the “The Open Window” were certainly among of them (click the link to read). I hadn’t even realized until Googling it right now that it is also one of his most known.

Most of his Saki’s stories have similar elements: middle and upper-class characters with few better things to do than gossip and entertain, and a frequent appearance of those who could be considered instigators. His recurring characters Clovis, Reginald, and Bertie all have a talent for fabricating or embellishing the truth at the drop of a hat, and delight in the discomfort of those they dislike. His observations and dialogue are witty deadpan.

The beastliness referred to in the title is both literal and metaphorical. Many of the stories involve real animals, but as “The Remoulding of Groby Lington” points out, we are not above animalistic tendencies ourselves. Social competition is a strong motivator, and often the pride that comes before a fall. This wicked humor runs throughout, so that we too are laughing at the follies of others and feeling superior.

Simon over at Stuck in a Book has often extolled these stories and also has a few posted in their completion, so head on over and take a look if you’re interested!

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Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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