The Oxford Book of English Short Stories

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories

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The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A. S. Byatt,herself the author of several collections of short stories, is the first anthology to specifically take the English short story as its theme. The 37 stories featured here are selected from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranging from Dickens, Trollope, and Hardy to J. G. Ballard, Angela Carter, and Ian McEwan, though many draw ingeniously from the richness of earlier English literary writing. There are all sorts of threads of connection and contrast running through these stories. Their subjects vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the momentous to the trivial, from the grim to the farcical. There is English empiricism, English pragmatism, English starkness, English humour, English satire, English dandyism, English horror, and English whimsy. There are examples of social realism, from rural poverty to blitzed London; ghost stories and tales of the supernatural; surreal fantasy and science fiction. There are stories of sensibility, precisely delineated, from Hardy's reluctant bride to the shocked heroine of Elizabeth Taylor's The Blush, from H. E.Bates's brilliant fusion of class, sex, death, and landscape, to D. H. Lawrence's exploration of a consciousness slowly detaching itself from its world. There are exuberant stories by Saki and Waugh, Wodehouse and Firbank, with a particularly English range from high irony to pure orchestrated farce. The very range and scope of the collection celebrates the eccentric differences and excellences of English short stories. Some of A. S. Byatt's choices clearly take their place in the grand tradition of story-telling, while others are more unusual. Many break all the rules of unity of tone and narrative, appearing to be one kind of story before unexpectedly turning into another. They pack together comedy and tragedy, farce and delicacy, elegance and the grotesque, with language as various as the subject matter. As A. S. Byatt explains: 'My only criterion was that those stories I selected should be startling and satisfying, and if possible make the hairs on the neck prickle with excitement, aesthetic or narrative'.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 472 pages
  • 137.16 x 210.82 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 019280376X
  • 9780192803764
  • 1,005,435

About A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt is a novelist, essayist, broadcaster, and reviewer, and has taught at University College London. She won the Booker Prize for her novel Possession (1990), and her other books include Angels and Insects (1992), and Babel Tower (1996).show more

Table of contents

Introduction; The Sacristan of St Botolph; The Haunted House; Relics of General Chasse, A Tale of Antwerp; A Mere Interlude; Little Brother; Two Doctors; Behind the Shade; Wireless; Under the Knife; A White Night; The Toys of Peace; The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown; Some Talk of Alexander; The Reverent Wooing of Archibald; Solid Objects; The Man who Loved Islands; A Tragedy in Green; A Widow's Quilt; Nuns at Luncheon; Landlord of the Crystal Fountain; On the Edge of the Cliff; A Dream of Winter; An Englishman's Home; The Destructors; The Waterfall; The Troll; The Blush; At Hiruharama; My Flannel Knickers; Enoch's Two Letters; Dream Cargoes; Telephone; My Story; The Kiss; The Beauty of the Dawn Shift; Solid Geometry; Dead Languagesshow more

Rating details

190 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 24% (46)
4 35% (67)
3 35% (66)
2 4% (7)
1 2% (4)
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