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.
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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