Found: A Novelette
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From the medieval era to the Renaissance, various cultures adopted short fiction for their own purposes. Even the aggressive, grim spirit of the invading Germanic barbarians was amenable to expression in short prose. The myths and sagas extant in Scandinavia and Iceland indicate the kinds of bleak and violent tales the invaders took with them into southern Europe. In contrast, the romantic imagination and high spirits of the Celts remained manifest in their tales. Wherever they appeared—in Ireland, Wales, or Brittany—stories steeped in magic and splendour also appeared.
This spirit, easily recognized in such Irish mythological tales as Longes mac n-Uislenn probably 9th-century , infused the chivalric romances that developed somewhat later on the Continent. Many, but not all, of the romances are too long to be considered short stories.
The latter was gifted as a creator of the short narrative poems known as the Breton lays. Only occasionally did a popular short romance like Aucassin and Nicolette 13th century fail to address any of the three Matters. Also widely respected was the exemplum , a short didactic tale usually intended to dramatize or otherwise inspire model behaviour. Of all the exempla, the best known in the 11th and 12th centuries were the lives of the saints, some of which are extant. Among the common people of the late Middle Ages there appeared a literary movement counter to that of the romance and exemplum.
Differences Between a Short Story, Novelette, Novella, & a Novel | Owlcation
All were important as short narratives, but perhaps the most intriguing of the three are the fabliaux. First appearing around the middle of the 12th century, fabliaux remained popular for years, attracting the attention of Boccaccio and Chaucer. Some fabliaux are extant, all in verse. Often, the medieval storyteller—regardless of the kind of tale he preferred—relied on a framing circumstance that made possible the juxtaposition of several stories, each of them relatively autonomous.
Since there was little emphasis on organic unity, most storytellers preferred a flexible format, one that allowed tales to be added or removed at random with little change in effect. Such a format is found in The Seven Sages of Rome , a collection of stories so popular that nearly every European country had its own translation. The framing circumstance in The Seven Sages involves a prince condemned to death; his advocates the seven sages relate a new story each day, thereby delaying the execution until his innocence is made known.
This technique is clearly similar to that of The Thousand and One Nights , components of which can be dated to as early as the 8th century but which was not translated as a single collection in Europe until the 18th century. In both the Persian and Arabian versions of the frame, the clever Scheherazade avoids death by telling her king-husband a thousand stories. The versatility Chaucer displays in The Canterbury Tales — reflects the versatility of the age. This short list hardly exhausts the catalogue of forms Chaucer experimented with.
By relating tale to teller and by exploiting relationships among the various tellers, Chaucer endowed The Canterbury Tales with a unique, dramatic vitality. Where Chaucer reveals a character through actions and assertions, Boccaccio seems more interested in stories as pieces of action. With Boccaccio, the characters telling the stories, and usually the characters within, are of subordinate interest. Like Chaucer, Boccaccio frames his well-wrought tales in a metaphoric context. The trip to the shrine at Canterbury provides a meaningful backdrop against which Chaucer juxtaposes his earthy and pious characters.
Behind every story, in effect, is the inescapable presence of the Black Death. The Decameron , likely written between and , is fashioned out of a variety of sources, including fabliaux, exempla, and short romances. Immediately popular, the Decameron produced imitations nearly everywhere in western Europe. In Italy alone, there appeared at least 50 writers of novelle as short narratives were called after Boccaccio.
Learning from the success and artistry of Boccaccio and, to a lesser degree, his contemporary Franco Sacchetti , Italian writers for three centuries kept the Western world supplied with short narratives. Sacchetti was no mere imitator of Boccaccio. Two other well-known narrative writers of the 14th century, Giovanni Fiorentino and Giovanni Sercambi, freely acknowledged their imitation of Boccaccio.
With Masuccio the popularity of short stories was just beginning to spread. Almost every Italian in the 16th century, it has been suggested, tried his hand at novelle. Matteo Bandello , the most influential and prolific writer, attempted nearly everything from brief histories and anecdotes to short romances, but he was most interested in tales of deception. Various other kinds of stories appeared. In the early 17th century, Giambattista Basile attempted to infuse stock situations often of the fairy-tale type, such as that of Puss in Boots with realistic details.
The result was often remarkable—a tale of hags or princes with very real motives and feelings. Or, it may be his use of a frame similar to that in the Decameron. This pattern was repeated in France , though the impetus provided by Boccaccio was not felt until the 15th century. As the most influential nation in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, Spain contributed to the proliferation of short prose fiction. This focus was somewhat new for short fiction, heretofore either didactic or escapist. Despite the presence of these and other popular collections, short narrative in Spain was eventually overshadowed by a new form that began to emerge in the 16th century—the novel.
Like the earlier Romans, the Spanish writers of the early Renaissance often incorporated short story material as episodes in a larger whole. The 17th and 18th centuries mark the temporary decline of short fiction in the West. The causes of this phenomenon are many: Another cause for the disappearance of major works of short fiction is suggested by the growing preference for journalistic sketches. The increasing awareness of other lands and the growing interest in social conditions accommodated by a publication boom produced a plethora of descriptive and biographical sketches.
Although these journalistic elements later were incorporated in the fictional short story, for the time being fact held sway over the imagination.
Travel books, criminal biographies, social description, sermons, and essays occupied the market. Only occasionally did a serious story find its way into print, and then it was usually a production of an established writer like Voltaire or Joseph Addison. Perhaps the decline is clearest in England , where the short story had its least secure foothold. It took little to obscure the faint tradition established in the 16th and 17th centuries by the popular jestbooks, by the Palace of Pleasure an anthology of stories, mostly European , and by the few rough stories written by Englishmen e.
During the Middle Ages short fiction had become primarily an amusing and diverting medium. The Renaissance and Enlightenment, however, made different demands of the form. The awakening concern with secular issues called for a new attention to actual conditions. Simply, the diverting stories were no longer relevant or viable. At first only the journalists and pamphleteers responded to the new demand.
Short fiction disappeared, in effect, because it did not respond. The modern short story emerged almost simultaneously in Germany , the United States, France, and Russia. In Germany there had been relatively little difference between the stories of the late 18th century and those in the older tradition of Boccaccio. But a new type of short fiction was near at hand—a type that accepted some of the realistic properties of popular journalism. A short story, for them, had to be realistic.
Perhaps sensitive to this qualification, Heinrich von Kleist and E. Another important writer, Ludwig Tieck , explicitly rejected realism as the definitive element in a short story.
As he noted in his preface to the collection of his works and as he demonstrated in his stories, Tieck envisioned the short story as primarily a matter of intensity and ironic inversion. In the United States , the short story, as in Germany , evolved in two strains. On the one hand there appeared the realistic story that sought objectively to deal with seemingly real places, events, or persons.
The regionalist stories of the second half of the 19th century including those by George W. On the other hand, there developed the impressionist story, a tale shaped and given meaning by the consciousness and psychological attitudes of the narrator. Predicated upon this element of subjectivity, these stories seem less objective and are less realistic in the outward sense.
Some writers contributed to the development of both types of story. Washington Irving wrote several realistic sketches The Sketch Book , —20; The Alhambra , in which he carefully recorded appearances and actions. The short prose of Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates that neither type of modern story, however, has exclusive rights to the use of symbol. George out of the colonial flag, the first act of rebellion against England , but the details are symbols of an underground of conflicting values and ideologies. In contrast, William Dean Howells usually sought an objectifying aesthetic distance.
Though Howells was as interested in human psychology and behaviour as any of the impressionist writers, he did not want his details filtered through a biassed, and thus distorting, narrator.
Impressionism, he felt, gave license for falsifications; in the hands of many writers of his day, it did in fact result in sentimental romanticizing. But in other hands the impressionist technique could subtly delineate human responses. Henry James was such a writer. In at least one way, 19th-century America resembled 16th-century Italy: And, yet, respect for the form grew substantially, and most of the great artists of the century were actively participating in its development. The seriousness with which many writers and readers regarded the short story is perhaps most clearly evident in the amount and kind of critical attention it received.
James, Howells, Harte, Twain, Melville, and Hawthorne all discussed it as an art form, usually offering valuable insights, though sometimes shedding more light on their own work than on the art as a whole. But the foremost American critic of the short story was Edgar Allan Poe. Himself a creator of influential impressionist techniques, Poe believed that the definitive characteristic of the short story was its unity of effect. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents—he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect.
If his very initial sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. Nineteenth-century France produced short stories as various as 19th-century America—although the impressionist tale was generally less common in France.
It is as if, not having an outstanding impressionist storyteller themselves, the French adopted Poe, who was being ignored by the critics in his own country. One of the most interesting writers of 19th-century France is Alphonse Daudet , whose stories reflect the spectrum of interest and techniques of the entire century. The greatest French storywriter, by far, is Guy de Maupassant , a master of the objective short story. During the first two decades of the 19th century in Russia, fable writing became a fad. By all accounts the most widely read fabulist was Ivan Krylov whose stories borrowed heavily from Aesop, La Fontaine , and various Germanic sources.
In a manner all his own, Gogol was developing impressionist techniques in Russia simultaneously with Poe in America.
Analysis of the genre
Gogol published his Arabesques five years before Poe collected some of his tales under a similar title. Ivan Turgenev appears, at first glance, antithetical to Gogol. But like Gogol, Turgenev was more interested in capturing qualities of people and places than in building elaborate plots. A remaining difference between the two Russians, however, tends to make Turgenev more acceptable to present-day readers: Turgenev studiously avoided anything artificial. Developing some of the interests of Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky experimented with the impressionist story.
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