Monday, October 3, 2011

Mysterious Mondays: Saki's "The Open Window"

Modified from Door&

For the month of October, Mystery Mondays will become Mysterious Mondays and will feature spooky short stories by authors associated with something mysterious.  I start the month off with a very short story called "The Open Window" by Saki (H. H. Munro), which you can read here.  Saki, the pen name of Hector Hugh Munro (1870-1916), was a British writer born in Burma who excelled at the short story.  His tales are witty, clever, and often feature an unexpected twist at the end.  His mother died in a rather bizarre incident when he was only two years old -- she was charged by a cow, suffered a miscarriage, and never recovered.  He was sent to live with a rather strict grandmother and aunts in England, and his stories often reflect very negatively on such relatives.

Saki's pen name is somewhat of a mystery as no one seems to know for sure why he chose it.  One theory is that Munro's pen name refers to the name of the cupbearer in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, a work mentioned in a few of his stories.  A second theory postulates that it is a reference a small South American primate of the same name that appears as a central character in one story.  Saki was killed in World War I at the age of 45, and the secret of his pen name died with him.

"The Open Window" is only slightly scary.  If you would rather read a slightly more gruesome tale by the same author, here is a link another short story called "Sredni Vashtar".  Both have his characteristic twist at the end, but in very different ways!

Hector Hugh Munro (from Wikipedia)

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