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16

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, scene 1 of Henry V. Outside of fiction, a number of real kings and queens have been said to disguise themselves, e.g. King Charles XI of Sweden (1655 – 1697), who ...


6

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 the capital W). With that it makes more sense. Just to break it down since it's a fun paraprosdokian (and thank you for teaching me that word today!): The cook ...


6

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 multiple times, and I don't find Sredni Vashtar to be one of the darkest, or even dark at all. I think it's just a combination of two things: Many of Saki's ...


5

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 aunts. From Reading Saki: The Fiction of H.H. Munro by Brian Gibson: Munro's true mother was run over by a cow and Ethel notes that Aunt Augusta was afraid ...


5

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 alluding to possibly apocryphal situation where the Roman emperors would sacrifice Christians to the lions in the Coliseum for sport. The emperor Nero is referred ...


5

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 the name Colonel Gustafsson (and other aliases). He would have met many people who at first didn't realize he was a former king of Sweden. At the time Saki was ...


4

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 furniture developed in France because several French rulers (or those around them, e.g. Louis XV's mistress Madame de Pompadour) were patrons of the arts. It is no ...


3

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 execution, upon a staff placed on an elevated and conspicuous part of the prison, and to remain displayed for one hour. The bell of the prison, or if ...


2

(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); otherwise the (already very short) story would be even shorter, and boring. I don't think any deeper symbolism needs to be looked for: while, as far as "...


2

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, for instance, that told its own story, with generous assistance from its title. This says that their taste in paintings is to prefer things that don't need ...


2

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, including the shoulders. The ruff immense and continuing in a deep frill between the front legs. Ear and toe tufts long. Brush very full. From this we can ...


2

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 the mention of going to heaven being used as an allusion to dying. So if you die before you get your portrait painted by Sargent, you died too early. Imagine a ...


2

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.


1

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 note by the time that you have attained your thirtieth year, you are unlikely to achieve anything afterwards.


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