A Devilish Trap

The Open Window  by Saki (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  August 18, 2015

 

This is an ever so brief ghost tale with a dash of madness and a subtle underbelly of evil. Psychological, supernatural, and mysterious. Saki (H.H. Munro) writes this story, I think, to play with the reader’s imagination. Some readers find it humorous, others dig deeper for a more sinister force, wondering if a devilish trap is really going on. Others claim irony, in the Greek sense of “dissimulation,” a literary technique where the writer intends his meaning to be understood differently from what he overtly says. How would you interpret The Open Window?

 

Frampton Nuttel (love that name!) has just arrived for his stay at Sappleton House in the country for a rest because of his “nervous exhaustion.” Hopeful for a few quiet days, he meets the young Vera—a sweet and charming teen. The window, actually a door, is left open (I won’t tell you why) despite the coldness of the air, and the fireplace is burning.

 

In the short film below, Michael Sheen (currently on the Showtime hit Masters of Sex) gives a memorable performance.

 

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Saki had a reputation as a master of the short story form, often compared to O.Henry and depicted as a minor satirist of the Edwardian period. He produced four volumes of short stories, most notable for their wit and surprise endings. You can read more of his works at Gutenberg.org, including The She-Wolf, Laura, and The Cobweb.

 

 

 

Read the short story here at EastOfTheWeb.com.

Listen to the audio by Librivox.org on YouTube.

 

Watch the film The Open Doors, starring Michael Sheen on YouTube.com

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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GREYLOCK

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7 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, horror, horror blogs, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

7 responses to “A Devilish Trap

  1. Pingback: R.I.P. X Challenge | Bibliophilopolis

  2. Jay

    I’m going to have to look for this one. I own a Saki collection but have only visited it a few times, reading only a few stories. I don’t think I have quite got the (perhaps necessary) acquired taste for him yet. (Though I did enjoy his short story “The Egg” very much, and I also remember a story where the narrator doesn’t realize he’s talking to a blind woman on a train, leading to predictably humorous situations).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris, what I found fascinating was to read the text, then listen to the audio, then watch the film. The different medias carry their own flavors of communication for this story. Yes, you are right, that last line was a kicker for me!

    Like

    • i first heard it many years ago on local radio of all things – someone played a version read by robert powell and i went into it thinking it was in every way a conventional ghost story. so it’s probably one of the many reasons why that final line is so beloved of me, because saki really paces it beautifully

      Liked by 1 person

  4. not a bad adaptation although, sadly, it has to miss that killer final line of the original story. there’s a very loose adaptation of this story in the spanish semi-giallo “a bell from hell” from 1973… it’s my favourite short story of all time and i am very proud that he went to the same school as me and also hated it with a passion. i feel i am in good company

    Liked by 1 person

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