The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 1, No 3 (2013)

The writerly reporter: Saki as correspondent for The Outlook

Lorene M. Birden


In February of 1914 Saki began to write Potted Parliament (‘potted’ being the English expression for ‘in a nutshell’ or ‘for dummies’) for The Outlook, a London weekly. His commentary contains much satire. Through his tone and barbed comments, he does more than report the speeches and events. He also includes conversations, which are not usually presented in Parliamentary reports. In addition, Saki inserts fictional characters into his reports. Several examples of Saki’s reports and the reasons for and results of his fictional insertions are presented here. This technique allows for the satirical tone mentioned above and allows a mix of styles, from the most reportedly to the most humorous. It makes a distinction between the reportedly voice, which is supposed to be faithful to the facts of the Parliamentary sessions, and the voice of the fictional characters, which can carry the comment and the risk of irresponsibility. These observations suggest that Saki was concerned about a certain form of protection from the censorship of the time and from the average reading public which still took political reporting seriously. Saki’s choice of tones constitutes a departure from habitual political reporting which is refreshing and contributed to a release from earnestness.


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