The "Elements of Literature" series is designed to introduce students and researchers to the structural and methodological principles underpinning the main branches of literary study. Incorporating scholarship on issues of form and genre, the series offers perspectives that should further understanding of how literature operates within its cultural context. This volume provides an up-to-date introduction to the modern short story in English in 20th-century British, Irish and American literatures, as well as in a range of post-colonial writing from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. Its aim is to introduce readers to theories of the form and to the socio-historical contexts which have shaped its development. The book maps the development of the short story from its beginnings in the 19th century and the work of Edgar Allan Poe, through to the 20th century, and explores the variety of critical approaches that have been brought to bear on it.
Adrian Hunter introduces a wide range of definitions of the short story and the distinctions between "novella", "tale" and "story" are discussed in their historical contexts, as are terms which have evolved in critical study of the form, such as "unity" and "ambiguity". The central concept of the "epiphany" is examined in detail. Exemplary readings of canonical texts by established writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Samuel Beckett are offered alongside readings of work by lesser known writers. This is the first book to set the short story in the socio-historical and cultural contexts in which it has been produced. By examining short fiction in relation to such matters as gender and genre, regionalism, and post-colonialism, the book brings the discussion of the short story into line with contemporary critical practice, and so should an authoritative introduction to this influential and popular form of literature.show more