Ten Tales

Ten Tales

Ten Tales

Ten Tales

Synopsis

Clarin has been acclaimed as nineteenth-century Spain's most profound short-fiction writer, and Ten Tales features selections that have been singled out by critics as among his best efforts.

Excerpt

Copiously cultivated and avidly consumed, the short story is at once the progenitor and the stepchild of the narrative genres. As long as there have been human beings with the power of speech, stories have been told, true stories, made-up stories, hybrid stories. Stories have been told for so long in so many disparate cultures that resurfacing patterns of storytelling have evolved, as students of stories have demonstrated. The folk tale existed many centuries before the novel in its modern rigging came into being, and perhaps for its origins in those primitive realms and perhaps for its diminutive proportions, the short story has suffered some slights by the side of its weightier relative. An unrealized or bobtailed novel is what some consider it; a finger exercise for the budding writer; slight entertainment. Where is the school curriculum that gives novel and story equal billing on its rosters? Yet, some of the finest novelists of the last four centuries, from Cervantes on, have tried their hands at the art of the short story, not always successfully, and the scarcity of stellar figures whose fame rests, exclusively or principally, on their tilling of this genre—Hoffmann, Maupassant, O. Henry, H. H. Munro, Borges— attests both to the appeal of this “lesser” genre and to the special talent that its accomplished realization demands. By now it is hardly necessary to insist that the short story is as serious and legitimate a form of literary expression as any other, rests solidly on its autonomous generic constitution, and is as determined by the nature and conception of its subject matter as is a novel, a poem, or a play. Above all, the short story continues to be, as it has been for ages, a source of pleasure for countless readers. The pleasure of the text—of the texts here included—is for the reader to extract.

This volume contains approximately one-tenth of the total short story output by the writer whom critics have canonized as the fin-

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