History of Short Story

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The Short Story
History:
as a form dates back to the oral tradition of the tale
written tales emerge in poetic forms - Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Boccaccio's Decameron (1351-1353) often cited as the precursor of the short story form, as is the French translation of The Thousand and One Nights (1704) short story really begins to emerge as a form in the 19th century Grimm's Fairy Tales (1824-1826) an early collection of folk stories that paved the way for the development of the genre of short stories early and mid 19th century saw the rise of the short story in America for example: Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales (1842) and Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1836) set a standard for one branch of short fiction - the gothic mid and late 19th century saw the blossoming of the short story in Britain - Hardy's Wessex Tales (1888) first major success of a volume of short stories the proliferation of literary magazines and journals in the latter 25 years of the 19th century created a market demand for short fiction - stories between 3,000 - 15,000 words short story peaks as a form in the mid 20th century and while still respected, it has become less marketable than its prose cousin, the novel Poe (on Hawthorne): he finds "a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out" and "he then invents such incidents - he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect ... In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to one preestablished design." Poe on plot: "A short story in which nothing at all happens is an absolute impossibility." Thomas Hardy: "A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling ... Therein lies the problem - to reconcile the average with that uncommonness which alone makes it natural that a tale of experience would dwell in the memory and induce repetition"

Characteristics of Modern Short Fiction:
challenges the 19th century...
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