Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany

Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany

Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany

Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany

Excerpt

First of all I should like to tender my thanks to the various persons who have helped me to make this collection of short stories. They are Jacques de Lacretelle, of the French Academy, and Paul Morand; Dr Carl Stransky, Bruno Frank and Stefan Zweig; Baroness Budberg, Graham Greene and Nella Henney. I must also declare my indebtedness to Fred Lewis Pattee whose book, The Development of the American Short Story, is invaluable to the student of this form of fiction.

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When I set about gathering material for this anthology it was with the ambitious aim of showing how the short story had developed since the beginning of the nineteenth century. My notion was to trace its evolution as the evolution of the horse may be traced from the tiny creature with five toes that ran about the forests of the Neocene period to the noble beast that, notwithstanding the mechanization of the age, still provides a decent living for bookmakers and tipsters. It is natural for men to tell tales, and I suppose the short story began in the night of time when the hunter, to beguile the leisure of his fellows when they had eaten and drunk their fill, narrated by the cavern fire some marvellous incident of which he had heard. In cities of the East you can to this day see the storyteller sitting in the market place, surrounded by a circle of eager listeners, and hear him tell the tales that he has inherited from an immemorial past. But I chose to start with the nineteenth century because it was then that the short story acquired a character and a currency that it had not had before. Of course short stories had been written: there were the religious stories of Greek origin, there were the edifying narratives popular in the Middle Ages, and there were the immortal stories of The Thousand and One Nights; throughout the Renaissance, in Italy and Spain, in France and England . . .

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