In the Short StoryThe short story
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A long history of the short story | Bücher
In the last two years I have taken on the job of writing as much as possible about the short story. When I was asked to write a very comprehensive Penguin Book of the Britisch Short Story, I pointed out to my editors that the result of very strict readings was rare.
The majority of manuscripts seem to have been published after the publisher had finished reading a maximum of 200 of them. I probably ended up reading 20,000. It was a win if you assumed that you actually knew very little about the short story. I' ve written down 300 or 400 entries of novels of the last 200 years and researched their citations.
Libraries catalogs are of little help in that they do not often differentiate between a novel and a narrative compilation; nevertheless, the act of entering "and other stories" into the British and London Libraries catalogs brought an enormous number of interesting books from writers I knew, as well as from writers I did not know.
The ensuing exercise of determining whether the writer was UK or not was sometimes a little more intricate. Eventually I resolved to study as many short films as possible in the contexts in which they first appeared: in periodicals, even newpapers. There is an insuperable number of short films out there.
From 1890 to the First Woridewar, there were at least 34 short feature film journals in Britain alone. Daily Mail released a large number of short feature films in the first few years; nothing I saw was really deserving of revival, but it was clear how much fun it had been for the reader on the date of release.
Research has shown that before the First Woridewar magazines liked to give generous money for storytelling - for a famous author the beach could afford 350 pounds in 1914. It was at a year when the avarage of a GP was 400 and when (as Arnold Bennett told us in a splendid story, "The Matador of the Five Cities") the week salary of a celebrity football player was set at 4 pounds a weeks.
It' s no wonder that the best authors of the moment, among them Rudyard Kipling, DH Lawrence, Bennett, Joseph Conrad and HG Wells, put shape at the center of their work. But when I was reading through the vast majority of the works released, something more unexpected became clear.
This short story was certainly at the heart of literature's efforts and had highlighted the place where great female great men of writing had achieved their most amazing achievements in the real world, but that was not all. This short story often produces parts on the fringes of literature. There is often room for a short story that was extravagant experimentally, that was fantastic until the time of the bizarren, in short, tried something.
If you were an editorial journalist with an incumbent and beloved author at the top of an edition, you wouldn't lose much if you really did get something out of the way. He began as a provider of strange little things in science; very quickly he became the author whose name was to be used to publish an edition of a mag.
So when you read the magazines, you come across a story that Charles Dickens in the 1850s told in his journalistic quality, in which a storyteller fell through the earth's crust to end up in an subterranean area completely populated by killer sceletons. In the 1890s Walter Besant made a story that anticipated the magical realisticism of Italo Calvino's The Cloven Viscount by half a hundred years.
My book contains a wonderful and erratic maritime story from the 1840s by Frederick Marryat, in which an ensign desperately fell in love with a breeze in humanity. The mentality often generated by these tales could lead to a novel in a similar way - Lewis Carroll's similar underworld or George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Winds.
Experimenting and imagination went on well into the twentieth centuries, and there is always a story about a conflict between psychic forces and means of transportation, about speaking sausages, about the happenings that took place between a man who falls out a fifth-storey windows and is murdered by the crash, about surreal realities, about the inner workings of a heroinaholic.
However, the short story's fringe and experiential tales are only one way beyond its secure, key area. Authors who saw themselves at a disadvantage in the community through childbirth or natural disasters may be interested in a short story for almost the whole story.
Women authors found that they could be spoiled with a short commissions and took full use of the time. In the 1880', Israel Zangwill and Arthur Morrison published outlines specifically about the East End societies from which they came and, in Zangwill's case, Israeli Jew. Even labour authors such as Leslie Halward and Jack Common could sometimes place a short story; intriguing authors who were only marginally backed by the literature at all.
One of the most beautiful authors in the compilation is a Bradford writer, Malachi Whitaker, who released 78 amazing tales between the end of the 1920' and 1934 before she fell quiet for 40 years. Occasionally, short story authors from even more distant countries were assisted by editor.
Jeannie Rhys could not find work as an actress - her Carribean stress was too much for the London scene - but was able to release short feature films in the 1920'. While the Windrush family found a small paternalist interest in their London adventures, the result was Samuel Selvon and, on a much larger scale, VS Naipaul (Naipaul made the 1950s patronized author's fictional exploration of Carribean drafts in the much later Half a Life and Magic Seeds).
A writer who wants to interest or disgust a clientele could always refer to stories about seximinals - and my book covers Henry Fielding's disgraceful dyke story "The Female Husband" as well as Ada Leverson's "Suggestion", the graphic soliloquy of an unmistakeably same-sex teenage boy from the 1890s. Minority members of the sex community, especially gays men and lesbians, sometimes found their most convincing votes in short feature films - W Somerset Maugham, Sylvia Townsend Warner, GF Green, Rhys Davies, Francis King, Ali Smith and Angus Wilson are following each other in my collection, and there are many more, such as EF Benson, EM Forster, CHB Kitchin, Jackie Kay and Ronald Firbank.
Brief histories could deal with pressing societal questions, such as migration, the 1960' sex revolutionary, the New Woman in the 1890s and what they had to do with their life in the 1920s. It took a novel a while to create and publish; a short story could be made to order and printed in the same city.
In September 1914 journals released short histories about living on the battle field. Panter-Downes' first short story about the Second Woridowar was released a few weeks after the declaration of hostilities. That' s not the whole story, and the best short story could be brilliantly ignored - in fact, one of V.S.Pritchett's greatest short story, "When My Girl Comes Home", was rejected by the New Yorker on the ground that her post-war attitude was outdated in 1968.
Nevertheless, much of the enthusiasm for short feature films stems from a common feeling between authors and first-timers that this is not only a current but also an underdevelopment. In 1942, when Alun Lewis's great Privately Jones was first released, no one knew how his hero's story would end - what the immediate upshot was.
It is irresistible the zeal of the final pages, considering that the first English reader had no clue what languages their sovereigns would speak in a year. I was struck to see how a certain atmosphere or theme began to have the best short story.
When I was reading, I could not avoid the feeling of increasing scare in many of the most impressing short story releases before WWI, often with a demon advantage. In Max Beerbohm and his minions in MR James the Satan arrives; a story by GK Chesterton describing the exhumations, insanity, irrationality with a horrible excuse; Saki with every semblance of good humor recounts how it could be to plot the assassination of every Jew in a rural city; and lastly on the brink of an eruption of war, Kipling delivers an unparalleled story about the wailing insanity of the multitudes that culminates in the lower house in Hysterie.
One senses how something goes terribly awry, and the authors who depict all this. By the end of a regular read session I had gathered a bunch of maybe 300 short novels. Having read through the collective histories of all the household name, I had to choose one of each - unbelievably difficult in the case of different and experienced authors like Elizabeth Taylor and VS Pritchett.
Surprisingly, some badly celebrated short storytellers turned out to be highly mechanized when they were widely used. I had also collected a very large number of short novels that seemed interesting, unexpected, captivating or very well-made. As far as I could see, the short story was wild and wild, mostly extroverted, enjoyed humor in the most unexpected places and was not very noble at all.
They came from authors who were not expected to talk, and it was often about those who were not visible. Sometimes, when I talked to general audiences, I was amazed at their expectation of the short story. A few seemed to think that the short story was private, reserved, homely and full of references to underlying sentiments.
Other people seemed to think that the short story was an inspired mystery that probably culminated in what was known as" a turn in the tail" - a kind of epiphany that had made everything rubbish until then. My notion of the short story was narrower than Bennett's "The Matador of the Five Cities", in which a Stoke-on-Trent guest is left by his home and taken by an associate, a physician, to the city' s news agencies and then to a Soccer game.
It contains a vast socio-political overview and is very instructive about many things - how much football players make, how newspapers vendors are paying for their prints, how doves wear the sport results and so on. I was looking for, and what I found in excess was a source of power.
This does not mean noise; some of the most convincing tales I found were nothing more than soft conversations in a room that showed proof of patience, attentiveness and listen. In Delafield's socially accurate way of placing the silent little familiy, we are reading the story of the piano with full absorptio.
When I first saw Delafield's story, I was amazed that I ended up with crying. In short histories, the power can come from an order of magnitude comprehension. An author, like Delafield or Whitaker, could choose that this small room could nicely mirror a calm, unnoticed instant in an inconspicuous world.
Or, one could exploit the limitations and exert oneself at the limits of shape in a great story of hooliganism. Though these tales stay carefully watched and specifically like all the best writings, the detail insists on an insane meaning - as Vladimir Nabokov once watched with awe at a John Cheever story - of something too much going on in it.
But, in reality, with these few thousand words, authors can do anything they want. The tremendous diversity and power of this work is mainly due to the belief among the editorial staff that something interesting, extraordinary and new could find a clientele. Success would mean that the magazine would take up another story by the same author and promote a certain skill.
One of the most persistent editors of the inter-war period, Victor Gollancz believed that a compilation of short films between a fourth and a sixth of an incumbent author's books was on sale with a fixed ceiling of 4,000. There are no UK sales points today that charge an essayist in a way that supports a successful professional life.
Some sellers make small payments, and sometimes bulk releases take a short story of a very well established name and make respectable payments. A series of well-paid, well-read magazines that would accept a short story author and grow his professional life with an esteeming audience has more or less vanished.
Authors' only opportunity is to be picked up by an US journal like the New Yorker, which has strongly backed the short story career of Zadie Smith and Tessa Hadley. There' s no UK publishing that could have done anything like it - even Granta's interest in the short story seems to have lapsed over the years.
One of the things it has superseded, and what is often announced in the short story as a revival, is the creation of any number of contests. A young short story author no longer sends a play to an editorial staff who can afford it, but sets it up for a com-petition.
Two of the most important short story contests in the UK are the BBC National Short Story Contest and the Sunday Times Short Story Contest. But the BBC has never been given to a playwright from an ethnical group. None of the two prizes has ever short-listed a homosexual man and over the years there have been only three homosexual authors, as far as I can tell.
It is an interesting issue whether the blurred patches and preconceptions of the literature jury also lead to a favor of what one should be reading. It is certainly correct that the focus of the most recent contributions to the contest has changed considerably in relation to the entire traditions.
This short story has always beloved humor, and its greatest cultivators appreciate humor, even in the worst situations. You can' t expected that from an award jury, because it is much simpler to express yourself on a serious subject than on serious literature expertises. Several of the warm-hearted, compassionate and deeply interested in the horrific ferocity of film, Kipling's "The Village That VOED the EARTH WAS FLAT", some of the warm and humble masterworks in my collection, some of them brillant practices in the drama by Wilkie Collins, PG Wodehouse, Taylor and Elizabeth Bowen and a very distinctive story by Pritchett (for my part the greatest of all short storytellers in Britain ) that tell a lively realm ade of what one could call a short story from a small area.
Instead, they were created because the writers believed in them and wanted to see them. I' ve told almost everyone that I' m working on an Anthologie of short story. "When' s the short story starting? This short story is a little different, and the issue is good.
In one point, miniature clichés are as old as thelish. One could argue that there are short histories of a certain kind in the King James Bible and the Anglo-Saxon chronicle; that short Elizabethan narratives are the roots of it.
On the other hand, it should be pointed out that the term "short story", which refers to the literature itself, does not go back further than to the last few centuries of the nineteenth cent. At the latest in the 1820' s a serious practise of US authors was seen in the short story, for a certain reasons - the US general publics prefer cheaper, infringing issues of British fiction to domestic produce.
During the 1830' s the floods of English import plunged the US novel, and US authors such as Edgar Allan Poe found journals as the main source of payment for local literature. Short films have had an interesting, insignificant UK footprint for several years. When the short story narrative began at a certain point in the story, could it - like the epopee and the mask - come to an end?
As a result of the exploding appeal of magazine titles, a craving for short plays that brought information about known and unfamiliar realms began in the shape of facts, but also fictitious exploration of the actual and more remote parts of the globe and fantastical and incredible realms that never did exist.
Chambers's Journal, first published in 1832, the editorial team pledged its readership "many pleasant little tales about travelers in Asia and Africa". Probably they were not yet discussing the subject of fairy tales at the time, but, as you can quickly see, the increasing interest of the general press in foreign short films gave enormous impetus.
So, the response is that the short story as we know it developed slowly between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries and culminated after the beach was founded in 1891 and later. When the short story could begin at a certain point in the story, could it - like the epos, the eclog and the mask - also have an end?
It' s possible that we haven't fully researched how a short story could appeal to a paid public these day. While it could work for a well-respected writer to make an original short story a low-cost e-book, for a first-time writer the publication of a short story as an e-book just fell through a cramp.
Nevertheless, changes in the field of publication could open up a whole series of new opportunities for short film. It is not very much valued by writers or publishers that there would be no length issues in a business where literature was only virtually out there. If you thought someone would buy Ernest Hemingway's six-word short story, you could ask for a pfennig; you could write a 2 million-word novel without having to worry about the cost of producing it or the daunting difficulties of keeping it.
Hopefully the book's short story will show some of this kind of calibre and indicate how the short story included man's own humour. When you give him a shot at finding an esteeming audience, there is no need to lose his serenity. - Philip Hensher est Herausgeber von The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Vols I &II (Penguin Classics).
He' s going to talk to Tessa Hadley, Adam Mars-Jones and Shena Mackay about the short story's upcoming at Waterstones piccadilly, London W1J on November 12th. Penguin book of the British short story: