A Brief History of the Short Story

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A Brief History of the
Short Story
Forerunners of the Short
Story
 Parables

Fables

Folk Tales

Ballads
Development of the Modern
Short Story



Carefully
contrived literary
form
Dates from the
19th century
Closely related to
the rise of these
and other popular
periodicals
Washington Irving (1783-1849)


1st important
American short
story writer
Laid the
foundation for the
development of the
short story
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)



Influential in the
development of
the short story
One of America’s
most important
writers
Wrote more than
100 short stories
and sketches
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)



Gave 1st definition of
short story
Clearly laid the basic
principle of all art –
the principle of
artistic unity
Click these links to
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Walken read “The
Raven” and other
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Poe and Artistic Unity

Poe’s essential
characteristics
of the short
story:
 brevity
 unity
 intensity
Poe’s definition of artistic unity:
That condition of a successful literary
work whereby all its elements work
together for the achievement of its
central purpose.
In an artistically unified work nothing is
included that is irrelevant to the
central purpose, nothing is omitted that
is essential to it, and the parts are
arranged in the most effective order for
the achievement of that purpose.
Equation of Literary Elements
Plot +
 Setting +
Characterization +
 Title +
 Point of view +
 Symbol =
____________
THEME


Common Themes of Modern Short
Stories (19th -20th Century)








Anxiety
Doubt
Frustration
Restlessness
Modern war
Space exploration
Computer technology
Social Criticism




Psychological
Maladjustment
Breakdown of human
relationships
Philosophical
searching
Unhappy people - lost
guideposts of
conduct and morality
Main Theme of Modern
American Short Stories

The impact of
harried American
society on inner
lives of its people
Main theme of postmodern short
stories (1960-1980’s)

Deconstruction


Overturning of accepted definitions of
and values about existing systems of
education, religion, legislation,
economy, or any other aspect of life and
society.
Two stories with postmodern
themes


Graham Greene’s “The Destructors”
Eudora Welty’s “Everyday Use”
Deconstruction
by R. Skoracki
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