The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice

The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice

The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice

The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice

Synopsis

The short story is one of the most difficult types of prose to write and one of the most pleasurable to read. From Boccaccio's Decameron to The Collected Stories of Reynolds Price, Charles May gives us an understanding of the history and structure of this demanding form of fiction. Beginning with a general history of the genre, he moves on to focus on the nineteenth-century when the modern short story began to come into focus. From there he moves on to later nineteenth-century realism and early twentieth-century formalism and finally to the modern renaissance of the form that shows no signs of abating. A chronology of significant events, works and figures from the genre's history, notes and references and an extensive bibliographic essay with recommended reading round out the volume.

Excerpt

I have been a student and a fan of the short story since I discovered Edgar Allan Poe when I was in junior high school; I have been studying, teaching, and writing about the form for the past twenty-five years. In that time, I think I have learned something about the characteristic way the short story performs that most primal task of “telling a story.” Maybe not. Readers of this modest little book will have to determine that. What I have tried to do here is compress and exemplify some of my thinking about the form over the last quarter century.

This book is one in a series that attempts to examine the historical development and generic (that is, genre-related) characteristics of specific literary forms. It follows a format designed to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to the genre, as well as to provide an overview for teachers, critics, and scholars. In accordance with that format, the first chapter is a general analysis of the development of the short story over time; the last chapter is a survey and critique of criticism and commentary. The four chapters that make up the heart of the book tell a somewhat more detailed story about the gradual evolution of the form through its four most important historical and/or generic periods. In each chapter, I have provided critical discussions of important stories representative of each of these periods. The Chronology and annotated list of Recommended Titles are meant to provide an historical and critical framework and to suggest further reading.

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