Saki ‘The Open Window’ Review

Written by: Matt Molgaard

I felt it time to tackle another short story, and seeing as how I’m a complete stranger to the legendary Saki’s works, I thought it appropriate to seek out some of the man’s work. The first tale to take to my screen was the incredibly brief ghost tale, The Open Window.

It’s always a bit of a shock when I discover a story brief enough to be labeled a glorified synopsis, but it’s an even greater surprise when works of this truncated nature not only serve to spark chills, but actually resonate beyond reading. Saki’s, The Open Window may just be a simple blip on paper, but it’s really rather eerie, and ultimately a very rewarding read.

The story focuses on a man in a foreign town who’s come to deliver a letter to one Mrs. Sappleton. But upon arrival, this man – Framton Nuttel – picks up on an awkward atmosphere in the home, drawn particularly to one specific open window. A window, as told by Mrs. Sappleton’s niece, that is kept open in the hopes that one day her long gone family might reenter.

See, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and two younger brothers exited that window long ago, only to disappear, swallowed by tumultuous landscape. Gone forever, or so it seems. But this lady of the house is an optimist to the bone, and she ensures that her family will return. Indeed they do.

But therein lay the mystery of this story. As all three men return, there is little surprise on Mrs. Sappleton’s part, and her niece Vera isn’t overtly stunned by the visit either.

Saki leaves a lot to the imagination with this tale. The climax is fine and fitting, but questions emerge: just who was this Nuttel fellow, was he crazy, haunted, or completely sane and taken aback by this mysterious arrival?

This is a story meant to be interpreted in many ways. It’s easy to fall into the idea of a trio of ghosts once more making their presence known. But it’s equally as easy to see Nuttel as a quirky, not-quite-there individual. His endless complaints of illness raise questions, and with passages such as this: “He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve,” it’s up to readers to determine exactly what transpired in that old home.

I’m sticking with the standard ghost tale, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find something deeper in this piece of fiction. One way or the other, it’s well worth a read, and you can do so for free right here.

Rating: 3/5

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About Matt Molgaard (1068 Articles)
Writer for Dread Central, Best Horror Movies and Starburst Magazine. Owner, operator and contributor of Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies. Obviously, hooked on all things horror, for a great number of years now!

5 Comments on Saki ‘The Open Window’ Review

  1. You refer to the possiibilities of this being just a ghost story…maybe yes…maybe not .but I find me intrigued with the option.Having been a fan of the ghost tales for many years…more than I intend to mention here… I am looking forward to having a go at reading this short story ….just me…the old hippie

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  2. anantha krishnan // August 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm // Reply

    In my view the story The Open Window is an interesting story. And it also may or may not be a ghost story. The story need the precents of ghost and so we can say it’s a ghost story. The main charactor of the story is Mr. Nuttel he came to this village for the adwaice of his doctor. He is a nerve patient. There he met vera. She is an intelligent girl and also she is so romantic. Hear the story starts…

    Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and two younger brothers exited that window long ago, only to disappear, swallowed by tumultuous landscape. Gone forever, or so it seems. But this lady of the house is an optimist to thebone, and she ensures that her family will return. Indeed they do.
    But therein lay the mystery of this story. As all three men return, there is little surprise on Mrs. Sappleton’s part, and her niece Vera isn’t overtly stunned by the visit either.
    Saki leaves a lot to the imagination with this tale. The climax is fine and fitting, but questions emerge: just who was this Nuttel fellow, was he crazy, haunted, or completely sane and taken aback by this mysterious arrival?
    This is a story meant to be interpreted in many ways. It’s easy to fall into the idea of a trio of ghosts once more making their presence known. But it’s equally as easy to seeNuttel as a quirky, not-quite-there individual. His endless complaints of illness raise questions, and with passages such as this: “He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly duggrave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve,” it’s up to readers to determine exactly what transpired in that old home.
    I’m sticking with the standard ghost tale, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find somethingdeeper in this piece of fiction. One way or the other, it’s wellworth a read, and you can do so for free

    Like

  3. what its the worst summary ever

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  4. SPOILER ALERT! DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE END! Anyway, the last line is, “Romance at short notice was her specialty.” In some cases (including this one I believe), romance means romanticizing [deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is -Google]. It seems to me that Vera just made those stories up for fun. To me, the entire short story as a whole is not a ghost story at all and Mr. Nuttel was just a shy guy with “his illnesses” who got fooled by some “self-possessed” teenage girl who got bored. I think that’s what really happened or else the last line of the story wouldn’t be much of an unexpected twist. This story is more comedic than it is eerie once you read that last line.

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