For a complex of reasons the short story has been largely excluded from the arena of contemporary critical debate: this collection of essays aims to re-establish the short story as a legitimate subject for discussion. Each of the essays was first presented at a Symposium on the Short Story held at the College of St Paul and St Mary, Cheltenham, in September 1986. The idea for the symposium came from a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the current level of debate on the short story form. Some of the contributors had previously worked on the short story, and all shared a sense that a unique area of literary activity was being neglected in critical terms — and this, paradoxically, at a time when it seemed that the short story would prove a particularly fruitful area of study in the light of recent developments in literary theory. In this introduction I have attempted to chart some of the reasons for this paradoxical situation. It caused mixed feelings of exhilaration and frustration for the contributors to this collection: exhilaration at working on such an untouched area; frustration at seeing a wide communication gap and feeling a need to persuade others of the importance of a field which was becoming almost ghettoised. The publication of these essays is a step towards bridging this gap, making for necessary communication.


Short Story Passion Fruit Mixed Feeling Woman Writer Unique Area 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Walter Allen, The Short Story in English (Oxford University Press, 1981);Google Scholar
  2. Clare Hanson, Short Stories and Short Fictions, 1880–1980 (London: Macmillan, 1985);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Valerie Shaw, The Short Story: A Critical Introduction (London: Longman, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. Since this book went to press, John Bayley has published The Short Story: Henry James to Elizabeth Bowen (Brighton: Harvester, 1988).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    Nadine Gordimer in ‘The International Symposium on the Short Story’, Kenyon Review, vol. 30 (1968) p. 459.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Frank O’Connor, The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story (London: Macmillan, 1963).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    For an exploration of the implications of such an exile see Andrew Gurr, Writers in Exile (Brighton: Harvester, 1981).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Angela Carter (ed.), Wayward Girls and Wicked Women (London: Virago, 1986).Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Elizabeth Bowen, ‘Preface’ to A Day in the Dark and Other Stories (London: Jonathan Cape, 1965) p. 9.Google Scholar

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© Clare Hanson 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare Hanson

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