Refreshing, inclusive approaches to the theory and practice of short fiction
The Art of Brevity gathers fresh ideas about the theory and writing of short fiction from around the globe to produce an international, inclusive exploration of the steadily growing field of short story studies. While Anglo-American scholars have served as the primary developers of contemporary short story theory since the field's inception in the 1960s, this volume adds the contributions of scholars living in other parts of the world. Such Anglo-American pioneers as Mary Rohrberger, Charles May, Susan Lohafer, and John Gerlach join with short fiction scholars at universities in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada to build academic bridges and expand the field, geographically as well as conceptually.
Contributors to the volume weave together themes of time, space, compression, mystery, reader response, and narrative closure. They discuss writers as varied as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Sarah Orne Jewett, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, Mavis Gallant, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Robert Olen Butler. Among the less familiar topics they investigate are the Australian tall tale, the nineteenth-century queer short story, and contemporary Danish "short shorts."
Per Winther is a professor of American literature at the University of Oslo. A former chair of the Department of British and American Studies, Winther is the author of The Art of John Gardner: Instruction and Exploration. He has published articles on Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Lowell, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and Canadian short fiction. He currently serves as the editor of American Studies in Scandanavia. Winther lives in Flateby, Norway.
Jakob Lothe is a professor of English literature at the University of Oslo. He has also taught comparative literature at Oslo and the University of Bergen. Lothe's works include Conrad's Narrative Method and Narrative in Fiction and Film. He has edited or coedited several volumes, most recently Franz Kafka and European and Nordic Modernisms. Lothe lives in Oslo.
Hans H. Skei is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Oslo and chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature. He is the author of three books on Faulkner's short story achievement: William Faulkner, the Short Story Career; William Faulkner, the Novelist as Short Story Writer; and Reading Faulkner's Best Short Stories (published by the University of South Carolina Press in 1999). The editor of William Faulkner's Short Fiction: An International Symposium, Skei has published widely on Southern fiction and Norwegian literature and literary theory. He lives in Oslo.
"The Art of Brevity brings together in one place many of the world's leading authorities on the oft-neglected genre of the short story. A supremely engaging and enlightening collection of essays, it is distinguished for placing the views of the leading American scholars in an international critical-theoretic context, achieving thereby a highly illuminating dialogue indeed."—Gerald Lynch, Department of English, University of Ottawa, and author of The One and the Many: English-Canadian Short Story Cycles
"This important collection of essays will give new impetus and energy to the field of short fiction theory. Bringing together Anglo-American and Nordic critics, the book expands the field in both geographical and conceptual ways. The contributors forge new links between a range of theoretical perspectives and cultural contexts, and map exciting new territories for exploration. Essential reading."—Clare Hanson, Department of English and Drama, Loughborough University, author of Short Stories and Short Fictions, 1880–1980, and editor of Re-Reading the Short Story
"As a fiction writer and critic, I find this collection of original essays to be the kind of exploration of the nature of the short story that I have been looking for. I seek a variety of approaches; I crave a style that is informal, devoid of stilted academic jargon, and discussions that are as stimulating and enjoyable to intelligent students and non-students as to academics. I imagine other readers will be as satisfied as I am. What I have not been seeking but am delighted to find in this collection is a joint effort of Scandinavian and American critics, who conduct strong, insightful, and useful excursions into an international group of master storytellers."—David Madden, Department of English, Louisiana State University, and author of two short story collections and Revising Fiction.