Thursday, 6 September 2001

Saki: The Toys of Peace (1923)

Edition: Penguin, 1982
Review number:936

The first of two collections of Saki stories published after his death in the First World War, stories originally printed beforehand, was given a bitter title, an indication of how remote the world chronicled by Monro seemed even ten years later. (The other, The Square Egg, contains stories written during the War.)

As far as the stories themselves are concerned, they are generally poorer in quality than those collected in Monro's lifetime. The edge is missing, particularly in the eerie supernatural themes which run through much of the fiction. On the other hand, there are some excellent stories here, and both the merciless dissection of the stupidities of society and the evocation of the savagery that children sometimes have is present.

Standout stories include Morleva, about a doll, and Shock Tactics, about a young man whose mother still reads his letters, severely cramping his social life.

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