The Short Story in English

By Henry Seidel Canby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
THE TECHNIQUE OF THE MODERN SHORT STORY

THIS is the place and this the time to discuss finally the technique of the narratives which nowadays we name by the phrase short story. After Bret Harte made his success, the type, if not exhaustively developed, was well established, and favorably recognized in America, in England, and in France. Furthermore, such new potentialities of achievement as were possible by means of it had been already comprehended with a thoroughness which could only lead to abundant use, and the accomplishments of the later years of the nineteenth century, and the first of the new one, were not of that revolutionary character which justifies a minute and tedious investigation of form. They are better reckoned by different methods of analysis, the more so since it is dangerous, when the artist is working with methods very well understood by himself and his readers, to waste upon processes which have become obvious that attention which should be given to his purpose and the result. So this, and no later, is the moment for a recapitulation.

Most of the ammunition, in the discussion of the short story which has continued now for some twenty-five years, has been expended not so much upon the technical structure as upon the accomplishment of this new narra-

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