Saturday, 18 November 2006

In Praise of Saki

Today's Telegraph reminded me that last Tuesday (14 November) saw the 90th anniversary of the death of H.H.Munro (better known by his pen name 'Saki'), who rivals Oscar Wilde as one of the wittiest authors produced by this country. He had joined the army during WWI, despite being over age, and was killed by a German sniper as he hid in a shell crater. A comrade had alerted the enemy to their presence by smoking and Saki's last recorded words are said to have been: 'put that bloody cigarette out.'

As a modest commemoration of Saki, I include below a few of my favourite quotes:

'Isn't there a bishop or somebody who believes we shall meet all the animals we have known on earth in another world? How frightfully embarrassing to meet a whole shoal of whitebait you had last known at Prince's! I'm sure in my nervousness I should talk of nothing but lemons. Still, I daresay they would be quite as offended if one hadn't eaten them. I know if I were served up at a cannibal feast I should be dreadfully annoyed if anyone found fault with me for not being tender enough, or having been kept too long.'

'People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die.'

'Every reformation must have its victims. You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return.'

'The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. It's only the middle-aged who are really conscious of their limitations - that is why one should be so patient with them.'

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Anonymous Don Marco said...

Just to let you know that Vultus Christi (my blog) is now happily linked to yours.
Don Marco

9:30 pm  
Blogger FJM Madden said...

'H.H. Munro who rivals Oscar Wilde as one of the wittiest authors produced by this country.'

Oscar Wilde...Which country? England? Are you serious? At best it was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Different countries!

10:19 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Thank you for your kind comment, FJM Madden. I am indeed aware of Wilde's Anglo-Irish background. However, since Wilde died before Irish Independence, I was indeed thinking of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and was using the term 'country' in a rather loose way, just as I would had he been Scottish or Welsh. I realise that, strictly speaking, this may not be correct and I was certainly not intending to take away from his Irish roots! The point is that Saki was one of the great Victorian/Edwardian wits, like Wilde.

12:03 am  
Blogger FJM Madden said...

Absolutely appropriate Fr Nicholas! Keep up the excellent work!

12:53 am  

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