Monday, November 12, 2007

Reader's Diary #310- Richard Connell: The Most Dangerous Game

Short Story Monday
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, is a good story that may have been great when it was first written. But until now I've only been familiar with the parodies and remakes, so at first it came across as cliched and even funny. That's not really fair to the original, but you can blame Jean-Claude Van Damme for that.

(Jean Claude Van-Damme in Hard Target, one of my top 10 worst movies ever.)

But fortunately I continued, and ended up appreciating it. The premise is one that hasn't grown old; man hunting man. With wars, genocide, serial killers, and other violence in the world, it's not unfathomable that such a practice would go on. But that's not the only way "The Most Dangerous Game" (written in 1929) was ahead of its time. Early on there's a dialogue that goes,

"...Great sport, hunting."
"The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford.
"For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."
"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"
"Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.

Seems like something you'd read on a PETA ad, doesn't it? Likewise, the whole idea of the villain being a Cossack, and the protagonist being an American seems like something out of the Cold War era.
And I certainly enjoyed the wit as well. A favourite part went
"Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow," remarked the general, "but he has the
misfortune to be deaf and dumb. A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage."
"Is he Russian?"
"He is a Cossack," said the general, and his smile showed red lips and pointed teeth. "So am I."
Pretty sinister stuff.
Finally I liked how subtly the tables turned and the hunter becomes the hunted. It ends with such a squeamish feeling that history may repeat itself.
(Have you written anything for Short Story Monday? If so, leave your link below. If you'd like to host next week, just let me know.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I do recall reading this previously, and it really has been much imitated, hasn't it? To the point of parody, as you point out. God damn Van Damme!

raidergirl3 said...

There is something funny about reading classics that have been done so much. They seem cliche, but they are the original. I remember seeing Casablance and thinking how corny it was, but then realizing - that's where everything came from.
I recall reading this in school somewhere.
ps: I got my book today.

1morechapter said...

Here's mine.

raidergirl3 said...

I read and reviewed a Christmas short story or two. It's here:

John Mutford said...

Barbara: I say that on a daily basis. It's an unhealthy vendetta, I know ;)

Raidergirl: I felt the same way about Casablanca, it seemed liked every line I had heard before.

The story of you getting your book cracks me up!

It's almost that time of year again. Thanks for the Christmas stories, they sound charming.

3M: Thanks for contributing. Interesting choice!