Short Story

Topics: Fiction, Short story, Literature Pages: 5 (1817 words) Published: June 11, 2013
Short story: Definition and History.
A short story like any other term does not have only one definition, it has many definitions, but all of them are similar in a general idea. According to The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, Vol. 12, L-354), “the short story is a short work of fiction that usually centers around a single incident. Because of its shorter length, the characters and situations are fewer and less complicated than those of a novel.” In the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (third edition) short story is defined as “an invented story which is no more than about 10 000 words in length.” At the same time online Britannica Encyclopaedia (, 21.02.2012; 12:04 p.m.) adds that “short story is a brief fictional prose narrative that is shorter than a novel and that usually deals with only a few characters. It is usually concerned with a single effect conveyed in only one or a few significant episodes or scenes. The form encourages economy of setting, concise narrative, and the omission of a complex plot; character is disclosed in action and dramatic encounter but is seldom fully developed. Despite its relatively limited scope, though, a short story is often judged by its ability to provide a “complete” or satisfying treatment of its characters and subject.” The short story has its early predecessors in history. As World Book Encyclopedia (1994, Vol.17, Sh-434) says, “ the short story is one of the olderst forms of literature. As early as 3000 B.C., brief fictional tales were written down in Egypt.” Many characteristics of the short story come from earlier literary forms that tried to teach a lesson. Acoording to the same information source that was mentioned before, “ the Bible contains short stories called parables, which teach moral lessons.” The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, Vol.7, F-90) writes that novels and short stories are the most popular forms of fiction . Storytelling is as old as humidity. Since the mid-1700’s, the chief forms of fistion have been the novel and the short story. As we can found in The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, Vol.17, Sh-434), “During the 1800’s, many writers began to consider the short story as a separate form of literature. Edgar Allan Poe, an American author and literary critic, was perhaps the first important writer to analyze short stories as a distinct literary form. In some of his writings, Poe discussed the dramatic effects, such as fear and surprise, that could be achieved in a short story. The first book about short story writing was The Philosophy of the Short-Story (1901) by Brander Matthews, an American critic. This book contained many of Poe ideas.” In his work "The Philosophy of Composition" which was written by him in 1846, Poe argued that a literary work should be short enough for a reader to finish in one sitting.

In the latter 19th century, with the growth of print magazines and journals, short fiction of between 3,000 and 15,000 words started to be popular. Adrian Hunter in his book ‘The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English’ writes “The 1880s and 1890s years saw the dramatic expansion of a magazine market that had been growing exponentially since the 1840s. By 1891 penny and six-penny journals alike were no longer carrying serialized novels at all but were instead publishing an original short story by a distinguished writer in every number. According to the historian Peter Keating, it is unlikely that the short story would have developed much at all in this period ‘if the market had not been so desperate to fill periodicals columns with fiction’.”

According to information given in The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, Vol.12, L-357), “ the short story suffered a decline during the mid -1900’s because many magazines devoted to publishing stories either went out of business or turned to printing nonfiction. A number of magazines sponsored by individuals...
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