Short Story Cycles

Sequences, Anti-Sequences, Cycles, and Composite Novels: The Short Story in Genre Criticism

First paragraph:

Several recent books and collections of criticism focusing on short story cycles or sequences suggest that there may be a renewed interest in this hybrid genre—in some sense oxymoronic, since the brevity and concentration of the short story are contravened by their assembly in a larger fictional entity. Although stories have historically been published in gatherings, in earlier centuries often with framing stories (the Canterbury Tales, the Decameron), the idea of a short story sequence or cycle as we currently think of it is basically a modernist (i.e., early 20th century) invention: Joyce called his Dubliners (finished 1907, published 1914) “a series of epicleti” that composed “a chapter of the moral history of [his] country” (Dubliners 259, 269), though George Moore may have beaten him to the punch in The Untilled Field (1903); Sherwood Anderson and Faulkner wrote “classic” ones in Winesburg, Ohio (1919) and Go Down, Moses (1941and The Unvanquished (1938); Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923) is meant to be read as one (though it’s not even all prose stories), as is Welty’s The Golden Apples (1947). Hemingway’s In Our Time (1925, 1930, 1955) is more complicated, as Michael Reynolds has shown (see Kennedy, 35-51): although Hemingway spoke and wrote of it as a single entity, the interchapters relate to the stories by a perceptibly arbitrary association, and the stories themselves yield a pattern only with much good will and/or agility on the part of the reader. Yet even at the margins, these are all examples we would likely agree about: we know ‘em when we see’ em.

from Suzanne Ferguson, « Sequences, Anti-Sequences, Cycles, and Composite Novels: The Short Story in Genre Criticism », Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 41 | Autumn 2003, mis en ligne le 30 juillet 2008, consulté le 11 janvier 2022. 

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Note: This is a general discussion article so I have not tagged this entry with any authors or titles of short story cycles.


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