Quote of the day

August 17th, 2010

“Leonard Bilsiter was one of those people who have failed to find this world attractive or interesting, and who have sought compensation in an ‘unseen world’ of their own experience or imagination — or invention. Children do that sort of thing successfully, but children are content to convince themselves, and do not vulgarize their beliefs by trying to convince others.”

– “The She-Wolf,” Saki (H.H. Munro)

There are an unfortunate number of Leonard Bilsiters in the world, aren’t there, dear readers?

I don’t know why I’m in such short-story mode this week, but if you’ve never read Saki, or perhaps only read one or two of his stories in high school, you ought to go back and take another look. He’s a bit like Jane Austen crossed with Stephen King, only less wordy than either of them.


4 Responses to “Quote of the day”

  1. MelissaJane on August 17, 2010 10:47 am

    Ohhhhhhh, I have loved him since I was a kid (I imagine my comprehension of Edwardian snark expanded over the years, but even as a young teen I thought he was hilarious and brilliant). “Sredni Vashtar” still chills me. I used a piece of his for an audtion when I was 13…glad there’s no video of that. Oh, just thinking about Saki makes my day, so thanks for this post.

  2. allstonian on August 17, 2010 6:52 pm

    Another lifelong Saki fan here. I grew up with a complete collection of his stories in the family library. I think “Sredni Vashtar” was my first of his stories.

    His influence in my family has been long-lasting – our parrot, which is a rescue bird of unknown sex, was christened Esme because of the following (from the story of the same title):

    ” ‘What on earth are we to do with the hyena?’ came the inevitable question.

    ” ‘What does one generally do with hyenas?’ I asked crossly.

    ” ‘I’ve never had anything to do with one before,’ said Constance.

    ” ‘Well, neither have I. If we even knew its sex we might give it a name. Perhaps we might call it Esme. That would do in either case.”

  3. allstonian on August 17, 2010 6:54 pm

    I must also mention that I had done no more than read the name “Leonard Bilsiter” when I recognized that the passage must have been by Saki. His character names are as distinctive as P. G. Wodehouse’s.

  4. MelissaJane on August 17, 2010 10:26 pm

    Oh, yes, they are. I’ve been thinking about Lady Carlotta and the Schartz-Metterklume method all afternoon, after reading this post. I think I loved that story (as so many of his) because I so wanted to have that kind of sang-froid. In another life I will be that self-possessed.

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