Monday, 14 June 2010


I couldn't resist, having all but finished The Unbearable Bassington, sprinkling a few Saki bon mots across the blog. You may like to use them and pass them off as your own in social situations.

Of a pompous and shallow gentleman who specialised in dominating dinner parties with his own brand of smug piety:

(he was) a skilled window-dresser in the emporium of his own personality

On dressing:

some people are born with a sense of how to clothe themselves, others acquire it, others look as if their clothes had been thrust upon them.

and a characteristic barb from the arch putter-down of stupidity and pretension, Lady Caroline:

'I can generally manage to attend to more than one thing at a time' said Serena, rashly; 'I think I must have a sort of double brain.'
'Much better to economise and have one really good one,' observed Lady Caroline.

But the book is much more than a collection of waspish observations; Saki writes about the serious aspects of life with equal conviction and power, as the final section, set in an African country, well demonstrates:

Somewhere in the west country of England Comus had an uncle who lived in a rose-smothered rectory and taught a wholesome gentle-hearted creed that expressed itself in the spirit of “Little lamb, who made thee?” and faithfully reflected the beautiful homely Christ-child sentiment of Saxon Europe. What a far away, unreal fairy story it all seemed here in this West African land, where the bodies of men were of as little account as the bubbles that floated on the oily froth of the great flowing river, and where it required a stretch of wild profitless imagination to credit them with undying souls.

The book also delightfully and poignantly observes the various stages of romantic relationships between young people, as well as painting a general and fascinating picture of decadent Edwardian society.


1 comment:

P. Ropecia said...

It says that the Capuchin Classics are "Books to Keep Alive". This is regarding the second round of Saki.