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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book
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Summary

Summary

Edited by the prize-winning writer and broadcaster A. S. Byatt, The Oxford Book of English Short Stories is the first anthology to specifically take the English short story as its theme. The thirty-seven stories featured here are selected from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, rangingfrom Dickens, Trollope, and Hardy to J. G. Ballard, Angela Carter, and Ian McEwan, though many draw ingeniously from the richness of earlier English literary writing. There are all sorts of threads of connection and contrast running through these stories. Their subjects vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the momentous to the trivial, from the grim to the farcical. There is English empiricism, English pragmatism, English starkness, English humour,English satire, English dandyism, English horror, and English whimsy. There are examples of social realism, from rural poverty to blitzed London; ghost stories and tales of the supernatural; surreal fantasy and science fiction. There are stories of sensibility, precisely delineated, from Hardy'sreluctant bride to the shocked heroine of Elizabeth Taylor's The Blush, from H. E. Bates's brilliant fusion of class, sex, death, and landscape, to D. H. Lawrence's exploration of a consciousness slowly detaching itself from its world. There are exuberant stories by Saki and Waugh, Wodehouse andFirbank, with a particularly English range from high irony to pure orchestrated farce. The very range and scope of the collection celebrates the eccentric differences and excellences of English short stories. Some of A. S. Byatt's choices clearly take their place in the grand tradition ofstory-telling, while others are more unusual. Many break all the rules of unity of tone and narrative, appearing to be one kind of story before unexpectedly turning into another. They pack together comedy and tragedy, farce and delicacy, elegance and the grotesque, with language as various as thesubject-matter. As A. S. Byatt, who has published several collections of short stories, explains: `My only criterion was that those stories I selected should be startling and satisfying, and if possible make the hairs on the neck prickle with excitement, aesthetic or narrative'.


Author Notes

A. S. Byatt is a prize-winning novelist, essayist, broadcaster, reviewer, judge of literary prizes (including the Booker and the Betty Trask), and former academic, who has held lectureships at Cambridge University and University College London.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Byatt, one of the most distinguished contemporary British fiction writers, lends a definite knowledge of the field to her gathering of outstanding short stories from her native land, all written at some point between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. She includes necessary masters--Rudyard Kipling, Saki, D. H. Lawrence, and V. S. Pritchett, to name a few. But, bless her good taste and reading experience, she draws into the fold the work of several extremely talented writers of which few readers on this side of the Atlantic will have heard. Falling into this category are such writers as Malachi Whitaker, H. E. Bates, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Charlotte Mew. The difference between a Charles Dickens story and one by the very contemporary Ian McEwan is no difference at all in terms of talent with the form. Fans of the short story will be delighted by what they discover here. (Reviewed April 1, 1998)0192142380Brad Hooper


Table of Contents

A. S. Byatt
Introductionp. xv
William Gilbert (1540-1603) The Sacristan of St Botolphp. 1
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) The Haunted Housep. 18
Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) Relics of General Chasse: A Tale of Antwerpp. 44
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) A Mere Interludep. 63
Mary Mann (1848-1929) Little Brotherp. 93
M. R. James (1862-1936) Two Doctorsp. 97
Arthur Morrison (1863-1945) Behind the Shadep. 105
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) 'Wireless'p. 110
H. G. Wells (1866-1946) Under the Knifep. 127
Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) A White Nightp. 139
Saki (1870-1916) The Toys of Peacep. 155
G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brownp. 160
A. E. Coppard (1878-1957) Some Talk of Alexanderp. 180
P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) The Reverent Wooing of Archibaldp. 188
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) Solid Objectsp. 204
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) The Man who Loved Islandsp. 210
Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) A Tragedy in Greenp. 233
Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978) A Widow's Quiltp. 243
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) Nuns at Luncheonp. 250
Malachi Whitaker (1895-1976) Landlord of the Crystal Fountainp. 264
V. S. Pritchett (1900-1997) On the Edge of the Cliffp. 270
Rosamond Lehmann (1901-1990) A Dream of Winterp. 286
Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) An Englishman's Homep. 295
Graham Greene (1904-1991) The Destructorsp. 311
H. E. Bates (1905-1974) The Waterfallp. 325
T. H. White (1906-1964) The Trollp. 345
Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975) The Blushp. 355
Penelope Fitzgerald (1916- ) At Hiruharamap. 362
Leonora Carrington (1917- ) My Flannel Knickersp. 369
Alan Sillitoe (1928- ) Enoch's Two Lettersp. 372
J. G. Ballard (1930- ) Dream Cargoesp. 381
John Fuller (1937- ) Telephonep. 396
John Fuller (1937- ) My Storyp. 398
Angela Carter (1940-1992) The Kissp. 400
Rose Tremain (1943- ) The Beauty of the Dawn Shiftp. 403
Ian McEwan (1948- ) Solid Geometryp. 420
Philip Hensher (1965- ) Dead Languagesp. 435

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