A Companion to the American Short Story
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A Companion to the American Short Story traces the development of this versatile literary genre over the past 200 years.
  • Sets the short story in context, paying attention to the interaction of cultural forces and aesthetic principles
  • Contributes to the ongoing redefinition of the American canon, with close attention to the achievements of women writers as well as such important genres as the ghost story and detective fiction
  • Embraces diverse traditions including African-American, Jewish-American, Latino, Native-American, and regional short story writing
  • Includes a section focused on specific authors and texts, from Edgar Allen Poe to John Updike


 Alfred Bendixen, Professor of English at Texas A& M University, is the founder of the American Literature Association, which he currently serves as Executive Director.  His books include Haunted Women (1985), an edition of the composite novel, The Whole Family (1986), "The Amber Gods" and other stories by Harriet Prescott Spofford, (1989), and Edith Wharton: New Critical Essays (1992). He is the associate editor of the Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature (1999), the co-editor of the recently published Cambridge Companion to American Travel Writing (2009), and one of the five contributing editors to the forthcoming Wadsworth Anthology of American Literature.

James Nagel is the Eidson Distinguished Professor of American Literature at the University of Georgia. Early in his career he founded the scholarly journal Studies in American Fiction and the widely influential series Critical Essays on American Literature. Among his twenty books are Stephen Crane and Literary Impressionism, Hemingway in Love and War (which was made into a Hollywood film directed by Lord Richard Attenborough), and The Contemporary American Short-Story Cycle. He has published some eighty articles in the field, and he has lectured on American literature in fifteen countries. In 2005, he was given the lifetime achievement award for contributions to the field by the American Literature Association.


Notes on Contributors viii

Acknowledgments xiv

Part I: The Nineteenth Century 1

1 The Emergence and Development of the American Short Story 3
Alfred Bendixen

2 Poe and the American Short Story 20
Benjamin F. Fisher

3 A Guide to Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” 35
Steven T. Ryan

4 Towards History and Beyond: Hawthorne and the American Short Story 50
Alfred Bendixen

5 Charles W. Chesnutt and the Fictions of a “New” America 68
Charles Duncan

6 Mark Twain and the American Comic Short Story 78
David E. E. Sloane

7 New England Local-Color Literature: A Colonial Formation 91
Josephine Donovan

8 Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Feminist Tradition of the American Short Story 105
Martha J. Cutter

9 The Short Stories of Edith Wharton 118
Donna Campbell

Part II: The Transition into the New Century 133

10 The Short Stories of Stephen Crane 135
Paul Sorrentino

11 Kate Chopin 152
Charlotte Rich

12 Frank Norris and Jack London 171
Jeanne Campbell Reesman

13 From “Water Drops” to General Strikes: Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Short Fiction and Social Change 187
Andrew J. Furer

Part III: The Twentieth Century 215

14 The Twentieth Century: A Period of Innovation and Continuity 217
James Nagel

15 The Hemingway Story 224
George Monteiro

16 William Faulkner’s Short Stories 244
Hugh Ruppersburg

17 Katherine Anne Porter 256
Ruth M. Alvarez

18 Eudora Welty and the Short Story: Theory and Practice 277
Ruth D. Weston

19 The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Structure, Narrative Technique, Style 295
Kirk Curnutt

20 “The Look of the World”: Richard Wright on Perspective 316
Mikko Tuhkanen

21 Small Planets: The Short Fiction of Saul Bellow 328
Gloria L. Cronin

22 John Updike 345
Robert M. Luscher

23 Raymond Carver in the Twenty-First Century 366
Sandra Lee Kleppe

24 Multi-Ethnic Female Identity and Denise Chávez’s The Last of the Menu Girls 380
Karen Weekes

Part IV: Expansive Considerations 389

25 Landscape as Haven in American Women’s Short Stories 391
Leah B. Glasser

26 The American Ghost Story 408
Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

27 The Detective Story 425
Catherine Ross Nickerson

28 The Asian American Short Story 436
Wenying Xu

29 The Jewish American Story 450
Andrew Furman

30 The Multiethnic American Short Story 466
Molly Crumpton Winter

31 “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” American Restlessness and the Short-Story Cycle 482
Jeff Birkenstein

Index 502


"This accessible and attractive volume is split into four sections offering a history of the American short story. The first three are presented chronologically, with chapters on stories from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and a transitional period in between . . . For all readers, it is what such a Companion should be-a ladder that the newly enthused short-story reader will climb, only to move onto higher ground." (Routledge ABES, 2011)