Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-dc8c957cd-fcmtc Total loading time: 0.262 Render date: 2022-01-27T06:39:55.469Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Book contents

2 - Short Prose Narratives of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2016

Donald J. Newman
Affiliation:
retired professor of English
Dominic Head
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
Get access

Summary

In his survey of British short fiction in the early nineteenth century, most of which was first published in periodicals, Tim Killick argues that the perceived lack of imaginative fecundity of the short fiction narratives published between 1800 and 1830 resulted in a large corpus of short fiction being marginalized in the history of the modern short story. The same point can be made about the original short fiction published in the eighteenth century, and there was a good deal of it. Robert D. Mayo catalogued 1,375 titles of fiction at least 5,000 words long that appeared in British periodicals other than newspapers between 1740 and 1815, about half of which were written by British authors, and he emphasizes that his catalogue lists but a tenth of the fiction published in periodicals during that period. Shorter pieces, he reports, enjoyed a ‘vast preponderance’. Benjamin Boyce estimates that this remainder could amount to as many as 15,000 to 18,000 pieces. In the beginning of the century, the bulk of this short fiction consisted of ‘tiny tales and diminutive sketches’, but over the course of the century these tiny tales became the literary groundwork for the tradition that British authors in the middle of the nineteenth century disrupted to create the modern short story, a genre with aesthetic qualities based on narrative brevity that distinguish it from the story that is merely short. This chapter traces the transformation of those tiny tales into full-blown stories.

The beginnings of the modern British short story can be located at the opening of the eighteenth century when innovations in publishing launched fiction on a course of development that steered it towards the modern short story. This is not to say that short fiction did not exist previously, but it is to assert that a variety of circumstances hindered fiction's development. Almost all the short fiction available to English readers was imported. These stories were primarily translations of Roman and Greek authors familiar to the classically educated and classical European authors of interest to those who were, or wanted to be, familiar with Continental literature; French writers of romance who told stories of the sexual escapades of Europe's elite; and, towards the end of the century, fables and exotic tales from the East.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Adburgham, Alison, Women in Print: Writing Women and the Women's Magazines from the Restoration to the Accession of Victoria (London: Allen & Unwin, 1972).
Lawrence, John Abbott, John Hawkesworth: Eighteenth Century Man of Letters (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982).
Newman, Donald J., ed., The Spectator: Emerging Discourses (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2005).
Newman, Donald J. and Wright, Lynn Marie, eds., Fair Philosopher: Eliza Haywood and the Female Spectator (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2006).
Shevelow, Katherine, Women in Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical (London: Routledge, 1989).

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×