“The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.” —British (Burman-born) short story author Hector Hugh Munro, aka Saki (1870-1916), “Reginald at the Carlton,” from Reginald (1904)
A century ago yesterday, the British author Hector Hugh Munro lost his life, as did so many other soldiers of a literary bent, in the killing fields of France during WWI. (“Put that bloody cigarette out!”, he warned one of his men, afraid that it might catch the attention of a German sniper. Unfortunately, those last words of his proved all too correct.)
At 45, however, unlike poets Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke, he was able to leave a relatively sizable literary output because he wrote prolifically. His heavily anthologized short stories range from the mischievous (“Tobermory,” on the surprising things a cat comes out with once taught how to speak) to the macabre.
In the British paper The Guardian, Stephen Moss offers a fine assessment of why Saki may be due for a revival due to his “brutal dismantling of human stupidities.”