Florence Goyet's book is remarkable as much for the scope of its corpus (more than a thousand stories in five languages) as for the quality of its analysis. The author defines the short story first by examining its narrative strategies, then by focusing on its print circulation and finally on how the text shapes its own reading. Goyet refines the distinctive features ordinarily accepted by the critics; she then shows that the readers of short stories are always different from the characters depicted, through the specific periodicals in which they are published. This is why the "peasant” stories of Maupassant appear in high society periodicals, and why the "European” stories of Henry James are published in the US, whereas his "American” ones are accepted in English magazines. The primary aim of the genre is to emphasize the picturesqueness of subjects which are a familiar sight for the readers yet in reality strange, because the characters live in another world altogether. Close analysis of this context in which the stories are published leads Goyet to define the genre as "monological” — being at odds with polyphony — a thesis which is confirmed in her subsequent analyses of the stylistic procedures that discredit the characters. Thus, this book provides us with a new understanding of the short text, which is all the more convincing in that it is always rigorously supported by probing theoretical discussions and by precise textual analyses.
"La Nouvelle 1870-1925. Description d'un genre à son apogée by Florence Goyet". Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France (0035-2411), vol. 95e Année, no. 1, 1995.