Originally Posted by Hamlet53
I found Sredni Vashtar the most disturbing story. Conradin warrants some intense psychiatric help under involuntary commitment.
While I think Saki's most brilliant story is "The Lumber Room" I would agree that "Sredni Vashtar" is truly deeply disturbing, despite it's superb construction and undoubted emotional impact.
Perhaps it begins to become moving rather than horrifying when one puts it into the context of Saki's life. The "woman" is modelled on the more dominant of the two horrible aunts who "raised" the three Munro children. Conradin is undoubtedly an alter-ego for Saki himself and it is quite possible that Conradin's actions mirror the deeply felt desires and poisonous anger that Saki himself experienced when he was a sickly little boy.
For those who are interested in Saki's life a reasonable biography is:
A Life of Hector Munro
Hamish Hamilton Ltd.,
366 pages including 6 unpublished stories
I don't think this is available as an e-book, though it should be available at a library. I imagine one could get a copy from ABE.
I think Saki was a deeply conflicted person. He was educated in the "right" public schools and was thus eligible to be a member of the "elite". Yet he refused a commission when he entered the army and insisted on joining the men in the trenches--something his peers felt was demeaning. Many writers who served, were emotionally deepened by the experience of the horrors of WWI and I have often wondered what he might have contributed to literature after the war if his life had not been cut short by a sniper's bullet.