The British and Irish Short Story Handbook

The British and Irish Short Story Handbook

The British and Irish Short Story Handbook

The British and Irish Short Story Handbook

Synopsis

The British and Irish Short Story Handbook guides readers through the development of the short story and the unique critical issues involved in discussions of short fiction. It includes a wide-ranging analysis of non-canonical and non-realist writers as well as the major authors and their works, providing a comprehensive and much-needed appraisal of this area.
  • Guides readers through the development of the short story and critical issues involved in discussions of short fiction
  • Offers a detailed discussion of the range of genres in the British and Irish short story
  • Includes extensive analysis of non-canonical writers, such as Hubert Crackanthorpe, Ella D'Arcy, T.F. Powys, A.E. Coppard, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Mollie Panter-Downes, Denton Welch, and Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • Provide a wide-ranging discussion of non-realist and experimental short stories
  • Includes a large section on the British short story in the Second World War

Excerpt

This book is divided into five parts. Part 1 offers a brief history of the short story, first in Britain, and then in Ireland (as far as the developments are distinguishable). Part 2 addresses important issues in short-story studies: the question of the definition of the short story; whether the short story is a genre, or a higher-level category; the importance of the collection for interpretation of short stories; the matter of the short story’s predilection for dealing with marginal characters; and the vexed topic of the canonicity or non-canonicity of short fiction. In Part 3, I present the spectrum of genres that has marked British and Irish short fiction from the 1880s through to the present. Part 4 presents brief discussions of almost fifty key authors for the British and Irish short story. I have attempted to strike a balance between well-known and less canonical writers, although I have given substantial space to lesser-known but important writers, such as Richard Aldington, Hubert Crackanthorpe, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Mollie Panter-Downes, and Sylvia Townsend Warner. The final chapter contains extensive discussions of individual key short-story texts, both in the British and Irish traditions.

Writing a book involves discovery and disappointment for the author. While working on this text, I have gained considerable respect for an English tradition (and as a Scot, I use the term “English” advisedly) in short-story writing since 1880. Hubert Crackanthorpe, James Lasdun, W. Somerset Maugham, Michael Moorcock, T. F. Powys, and V. S. Pritchett – these are very fine and very varied English voices. They take their place beside other great English short-story writers, such as H. G Wells, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf; and alongside their Irish peers, such as James Joyce, Seán O’Faoláin, John McGahern, William Trevor, and Bernard MacLaverty. The motif of immigration that runs throughout so many texts – for example, those by George Moore, Joseph Conrad, William Trevor, and Hanif Kureishi – discussed in this volume has also surprised me (although perhaps it should not . . .

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