The Classic Short Story, 1870-1925: Theory of a Genre

The Classic Short Story, 1870-1925: Theory of a Genre Author: Florence Goyet
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-909254-75-6 £17.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-909254-76-3 £32.95
PDF ISBN: 978-1-909254-77-0 £0.00

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I enjoyed reading Florence Goyet's book. I recommend it to you for its breadth and insight.

— Charles E. May, 29 April 2014, review available on Prof. May's blog

The ability to construct a nuanced narrative or complex character in the constrained form of the short story has sometimes been seen as the ultimate test of an author's creativity. Yet during the time when the short story was at its most popular - the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - even the greatest writers followed strict generic conventions that were far from subtle.

This expanded and updated translation of Florence Goyet's influential La Nouvelle, 1870-1925: Description d'un genre à son apogée (Paris, 1993) is the only study to focus exclusively on this classic period across different continents. Ranging through French, English, Italian, Russian and Japanese writingparticularly the stories of Guy de Maupassant, Henry James, Giovanni Verga, Anton Chekhov and Akutagawa RyunosukeGoyet shows that these authors were able to create brilliant and successful short stories using the very simple 'tools of brevity' of that period.

In this challenging and far-reaching study, Goyet looks at classic short stories in the context in which they were read at the time: cheap newspapers and higher-end periodicals. She demonstrates that, despite the apparent intention of these stories to question bourgeois ideals, they mostly affirmed the prejudices of their readers. In doing so, her book forces us to re-think our preconceptions about this 'forgotten' genre.

Florence Goyet's book is also available on the website, where we are running a Thanks for Ungluing campaign. Please join this initiative to make high-quality research free to read for all. Click here to contribute!

Since publication this book has been viewed over 820 times, with more than 250 free downloads (last updated September 2014)

Title: The Classic Short Story, 1870-1925: Theory of a Genre
Author: Florence Goyet
Publication Date: January 2014
Number of pages: 210
Dimensions: 6.14" x 9.21" | 234 x 156 mm
BIC subject codes: FYB (Short stories), DSK (Literary studies: fiction, novelists and prose writers)
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-909254-75-6
ISBN Hardback: 978-1-909254-76-3
ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-909254-77-0
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-909254-78-7
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 978-1-909254-79-4
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0039


1. Paroxystic Characterisation
2. Antithetic Structure
3. Ending with a Twist
4. The Tools of Brevity
5. Conclusion to Part I

6. Exoticism in the Classic Short Story
7. Short Stories and the Travelogue

8. A Foreign World
9. Dialogue and Character Discreditation
10. The Narrator, the Reflector and the Reader
11. Distance and Emotion
12. Conclusion to Part III: Are Dostoevsky¡¯s Short Stories Polyphonic?
Epilogue: Beyond the Classic Short Story


Florence Goyet
is Professor of General and Comparative Literature within the Faculty of Humanities and Arts at Stendhal University, France. Her research focuses on polyphony and the political role of literature, and her comparative approach encompasses modern French, English, Russian, Italian, Japanese and German literatures, as well as mediaeval French, German and Japanese, Greek and Latin literatures. Her book Penser sans concepts (Paris, 2006) shows that telling stories can be the means of political and ethical innovation. Her current research looks at the concept of  'epic work', in which the structure of an epic text can create new and surprising meaning.