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18 votes
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Why does "it always turn out to be the King of Sweden"

The quote is a parody of the folklore motif known as the king in disguise. In Norse mythology Odin was said to wander in disguise among humans. Shakespeare used the king-in-disguise motif in Act 4, ...
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11 votes
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What are nuts and super-nuts in Saki's "Beasts and Super-Beasts"?

nut, n. 6.c. British slang. A fashionable or showy young man. Cf. knut n., nutty adj. 4. Obsolete. 1904   in Notes & Queries (1913) 26 July 78/1   I'm one of the nuts, one of the nibs. 1913   ...
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9 votes
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What is the significance of a raised black flag?

Under the provisions of the Capital Punishment Amendment Act 1868, the Home Secretary (probably Henry Bruce) had issued the following rules for executions: A black flag to be hoisted at the moment of ...
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9 votes
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What does "The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went" mean?

The "she" who went is the cook, who was also a woman. I think this is your misunderstanding. It's the cook herself who went, not the Woman (the main character of the story, referred to with ...
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7 votes

What inspired the writing of Sredni Vashtar?

It seems that Sredni Vashtar, like many of Saki's stories pitting children against adults, was inspired from his childhood. Saki had lost his parents at an early age, and was fostered by tyrannical ...
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7 votes

What inspired the writing of Sredni Vashtar?

Firstly thanks for a question about Saki, one of my favourite authors sadly forgotten between Wilde and Wodehouse. I think this is a matter of interpretation; I have read all of Saki's short stories ...
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7 votes
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What does "It's the Early Christian that gets the fattest lion." mean?

This is a slight twist on the common aphorism that "The early bird gets the worm", i.e. that being the first one, a pioneer, means you're also the first to face the danger. Here, they're ...
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6 votes
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What is the influence of Louis Quinze and Wilhelm II on furniture styling?

Louis Quinze and Wilhelm II are relevant to the styles of furniture in the room, though perhaps not in a way some readers might expect. Louis XV's name is connected with one of several styles of ...
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6 votes

Why does "it always turn out to be the King of Sweden"

Many Swedish kings have been known for travelling incognito, but the most likely reference is to Gustav IV Adolf, who was deposed in 1809 and spent the rest of his life travelling the continent using ...
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6 votes
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What does it mean to declare "on a weak red suit"?

"the partner who declares on a weak red suit and hopes for the best" is certainly a reference to the card game Bridge, specifically the early form called Bridge Whist. The game is played by ...
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4 votes
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What does "To die before being painted by Sargent is to go to Heaven prematurely." mean?

I believe that this is exactly the artist he is referring to, and the meaning of the phrase is to essentially say that being painted by Sargent is something that should be done in one's lifetime, with ...
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3 votes
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What does "beauty is only sin deep" mean?

It's a play on "beauty is only skin deep" -- the second character agrees about the vanity but is willing to accept the sin for the beauty.
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3 votes

Why is it that Hohenzollerns "can't help taking life seriously"?

The idea that these are the “only two classes that really can’t help taking life seriously” is (like everything else Reginald says) utter nonsense, but is there a joke or satirical point behind it? I ...
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3 votes

Is there any connection between the reticence of Lady Anne and the cat-bird subplot?

(Couldn't fit this into a comment….) I think that, in this story, the cat primarily serves the function of atmosphere (that of having something else in the room rather than just Egbert and Lady Anne); ...
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3 votes
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What is the hidden meaning of "Bad News" known to Egbert and Lady Anne?

The context is explained by the previous sentence, which "tells" what the specific description of a painting "shows": They leaned towards the honest and explicit in art, a picture,...
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3 votes
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What is the Ruff of Don Tarquinio?

The cat’s pedigree is Persian. If we look at the Persian Breed Standard we read: COAT: long and thick, standing off from the body. Of fine texture, glossy and full of life. Long all over the body, ...
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3 votes
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Why does Reginald call Britain "a suburb of Jerusalem"?

What does the line mean? Reginald is probably commenting on the increasing number of Jews living in England (and doing it in a snide, anti-Semitic, way). From Wikipedia: In the late 19th and early ...
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1 vote

What does "To have reached thirty, is to have failed in life." mean?

It is simply an ironic summary of the preceding sentence: “Someone who Must Not be Contradicted said that a man must be a success by the time he’s thirty, or never.” If you have achieved nothing of ...
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1 vote

What does "To be clever in the afternoon argues that one is dining nowhere in the evening" mean?

Without more context it could mean People want their dinner guests to be dull and staid, to avoid offense. Being clever in the afternoon risks having no one be willing to have you as a guest. (...
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