Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Mrs Peckletide's Tiger" by Saki-UK/USA 1910 Short Story Shoot Out-Round One

Saki-UK-1870 to 1916
Round One- Trans-Atlantic Battle of the Twist Ending Short Stories from the 1910s
O Henry-USA-1862-1910

The U.K. is represented by the elegant  Edwardian, Saki

The USA is championed by a writer of the common man, O Henry

"Mrs Peckletide's Tiger" by Saki (1913, 6 pages)

Almost by accident this is the seventh story by Saki I have read and posted on in the last few months.  
Hector Munro (1870 to 1916)  writing under the pen name of Saki is considered a master of the very short story (under 5 pages)and is often mentioned as an English O Henry.   Saki was born in Burma (I prefer the old name) in 1870 where his father was serving as inspector general for the Burmese police.   Burma was part of the British Empire at that time.   At age two Saki is sent back to England to be raised by his grandmother when his mother died as a result of an incident with a cow.   His father later retired to England and he and Saki appeared to have had an amiable relationship as perhaps indicated by Saki also joining the office of the Burmese police inspector at age 23.   Saki caught malaria at age 25 and returned to England where he would become journalist.   He worked for a couple of years as foreign correspondent in Russia where he witnessed the infamous bloody Sunday episode.   He also gave that up and for about the last ten years of his life he was not formally employed on a regular basis  and was supported by family wealth.   It is during this period that he wrote most of his work. 

I am reading this story based on a suggestion of Risa of Bread Crum Reads that we read and both post in the same time frame on this story of Saki and "Ransom of Red Chief", one of the most read short stories by the very famous American writer, O Henry.     Both writers wrote brief stories for popular magazines and both are famous for twist endings.    I hope to explore a bit more their similarities and differences in my next post.

As the story opens we meet Mrs Peckletide  on a trip in India.  She is in a dither because her arch-rival and close friend Loona Bemberton was written up in newspapers all around the world  because she rode eleven miles in a plane with an Algerian aviator.   Mrs Peckletide has decided that if she shoots a tiger and lots of pictures of the event get in the Texas newspapersshe will be over Mrs Bemberton in status.  It  is never made real clear why she decided on this.   .    How the tiger hunt is arranged and what happens next is really a lot of fun so I will not reveal more of the plot.   Like the other Saki stories I have read, it is entertaining and the ending will make you smile and maybe even think a bit.    

The story can be read online here

Mel u


Song said...

I didn't know those little tid-bits on Saki's life. How strange that the bringer-on of his mother's fate should be a cow!

Nice post, Mel! Just one tiny observation - Mrs Packletide is from England.:)

I've finally got my post up and have linked to yours. Have mentioned the Saki vs O'Henry battle as well!:D

Hannah said...

Saki's photo looks astoundingly like one of Buster Keaton. How funny!

These sound like wonderful stories.

Suko said...

Mel, I didn't know about Saki vs O. Henry until I arrived here; it will be interesting to learn more about their similarities and differences. Thanks (again!) for the short story link.

Someone important is missing from your collage header.