Saturday, 9 June 2001

Saki: The Chronicles of Clovis (1911)

Edition: Penguin, 1982
Review number: 836

Saki's third collection of short stories continues the trend toward the macabre shown in Reginald in Russia and The Unbearable Bassington. Many of them feature a new hero, Clovis Sangrail, who is a similar disenchanted upper class youth to but has a more malicious streak than either Reginald or Comus.

There are a fair number of stories in the collection, however, which do not involve Clovis. These tend to be the more supernatural, including The Music on the Hill, which is a further development of the idea of Gabriel-Ernest from Reginald in Russia of the savage demigod in the English countryside. Bringing this theme into a more domestic setting is one of Saki's most famous and most memorable stories, Shredni Vashtar, with its depiction of the childhood imagination as chilling as The Lord of the Flies.

The Chronicles of Clovis and Beasts and Superbeasts are Saki's most consistently excellent collections. The stories here are marred in one or two places by the fact that witty remarks are repeated, but that it a minor blemish.

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