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date: 20 January 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter points out that, by contrast with histories of the novel, discussion of short fiction has been, to an overwhelming and limiting extent, formal and aesthetic rather than cultural and historical. Furthermore, it suggests that the problematic homogenizing of the years 1880-1920 within the modernist paradigm (which this volume as a whole questions and subverts) has mainly been responsible for the critical failure to understand the short story’s simultaneous rise to prominence. It is argued that it was in the 1890s and not the 1910s ‘that the short story became aligned with values and practices of a literary avant-garde, and entered into a distinctively modernist phase’. There are, for example, significant connections between the ‘plotless’ short story (produced by Arthur Morrison) and ‘the representational demands of urban modernity’. References to such women writers as George Egerton explore the relationship between the ‘interrogative short story form’ and female selfhood.

Keywords: naturalism, realism, impressionism, British/Irish literature, French influences

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