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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book
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Summary

Summary

"The subjects of these stories range from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the momentous to the trivial, from the grim to the farcical," writes acclaimed novelist A.S. Byatt in her introduction to this remarkable collection. Indeed, if the eccentricities of the English imagination can be contained in a single volume, an anthology of short stories might be the best book for the task. From Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy through Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf, right up to Graham Greene, J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Ian McEwan, and many others, The Oxford Book of English Short Stories exhibits the capacious and often capricious nature of the English literary sensibility. "There is English empiricism, English pragmatism, English starkness, English humour, English satire, English dandyism, English horror, and English whimsy," notes A.S. Byatt in surveying the stories she has selected. "There are characteristic mixed modes which seem to go back further than Austen and Defoe to Chaucer and Shakespeare." Byatt shows us the links between stories, the literary currents that both connect and distinguish writers as diverse as Mary Mann, V.S. Pritchett, P.G. Wodehouse, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Alan Sillitoe. And although the thirty-seven stories gathered here range from social realism to surreal fantasy, from rural poverty to war-blitzed London, from tales of the supernatural to precise delineations of the mundane, all are unified by Byatt's demanding criteria that the works be both "startling and satisfying." For short story lovers and anyone unable to resist the enchantments of the English imagination, The Oxford Book of Short Stories offers a wide array of unforgettable pleasures.


Author Notes

A.S. Byatt is a prize-winning novelist, essayist, reviewer, and broadcaster. Her books include Possession, The Matisse Stories, and Angels and Insects.


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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