Short Story Cycles

The one and the many: English-Canadian short story cycles

OVER THE PAST HUNDRED years the short story cycle has become something of a sub-genre within the Canadian short story. This is not to argue that the story cycle has been ignored by American and British writers ( or by French, Australian, and Russian writers, or, for that matter, by the writers of any other national literature) — it hasn’t — only that the form has held a special attraction for Canadian writers. Doubtless there are shared reasons for the story cycle’s current popularity internationally and in Canada, even such commercial reasons as its attraction for publishers who assume that readers are more comfortable with the linkages of the cycle than with the discontinuities of a miscellany. But such matters are not within this paper’s literary-historical and theoretical scope. The present study sketches the history of the story cycle in Canada, gives an idea of its diversity and continuing popularity, considers some of the fundamental questions about this comparatively new form, and concludes with an illustrative analysis of the function of one important aspect of story cycles, their concluding stories.

Lynch, Gerald. “The one and the many: English-Canadian short story cycles.” Canadian Literature 130 (1991): 91-104.

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