Автор Анна Евкова
Преподаватель который помогает студентам и школьникам в учёбе.

What is the importance of short stories?


Rasskaz - as one of the popular prose genres, occupies an important place in the literature of many nations. A short plot of stories, cemented by a single idea, easily sinks into readers and causes a variety of experiences. People compare the fate of their characters with big life situations and strive to be like their favorite heroes. Love for living and instructive stories is inherent in nature and manifests itself already in childhood. Therefore, instruction in the form of stories is considered more effective than teaching and philosophical texts.

History of short stories

Folklore tales, often of a didactic nature, are well known from the literatureThe Middle Ages. Folk tales with a magical element-fairy tales-were cyclized when written. So, there were complexly structured collections of tales, where the everyday and magical are intricately intertwined: «The Panchatantra", "Ocean of tales», «Sinbad’s Book", "The Thousand and One Nights", "Hezar-Efsan", etc.

Many subjects of the middle Ages are "wandering": for centuries they roamed from country to country. So, Indian "The book of the seven sages" crossed the entire Arab world and, once in Europe, took the form of "A novel about the seven Roman sages". Collections — whether of the Maqam of al-Hariri, Castilian "The book of examples of count Lucanor" or "The Canterbury tales" Chaucer — invariably built on the principle of a framed story.

Renaissance Novella

At a time when the Black Death was raging in Europe, a book appeared in Italy Giovanni Boccaccio "The Decameron". The frame of this collection is as follows: several people, fleeing from the plague outside the city, tell each other short stories. The term itself is borrowed from a popular collection "Novellino" ("One Hundred Ancient Novellas", late 13th century) and came from the Occitan language, where the word nova ("new") denoted a story that was a new treatment of old fabulist material. The source for Boccaccio's hundred novels, in addition to Novellino, was also Fablio, stories interspersed in the "Dialogue on Pope Gregory", hagiographic apologies of the Church fathers, fables, folk tales.

Boccaccio (1313-75) created a classic type of Italian novella, developed by Franco Sacchetti ("Three Hundred Novellas"), Masaccio ("Novellino") and other numerous followers in Italy itself and in other countries. Very old stories were re-interpreted as the history of everyday life in the Renaissance Italy, completely secular in spirit, and gradually cleared of the touch of moralizing characteristic of the old Latin exempla ("examples"). In Boccaccio, morality followed from the novella not logically, but psychologically, and often was only an occasion and a device the novels of his followers demonstrated the relativity of moral criteria.

A short story in the spirit of Boccaccio (in the terminology of E. Meletinsky, " Situational pre-novella») it becomes the dominant trend of artistic prose in Romanesque Europe.Revivals. In France, under the influence of the translation of the "Decameron" around 1462, the collection appeared "One hundred new novels", and Marguerite of Navarre, modeled on the Decameron, composed 72 short stories "Heptameron" (1559). Completing the development of the genre is a collection of 214 short stories Matteo Bandello (from where Shakespeare drew his comedies), "Pleasant nights" Straparola (1550-55), which, despite the prohibitions of the Church authorities, survived at least fifty editions, and "Edifying novels of the Spaniard Cervantes, which can be considered as a prologue to the development of the novel of Modern times.


In the context of postmodernism, hybrid, "blurred" or fragmentary semi-novellistic narratives are becoming increasingly common in European literature. Short-story discourse is often disguised as other narrative formats, such as photos ("The devil's drool"Cortazar, 1959; "Snapshots" Robbe-Grillet, 1962) and video ("sixty-Minute zoom" by J. R. R. Tolkien). Ballard, 1976; "Video for adults" by W. J. Smith. Boyd, 1999).

In the Wake of the protest movement of the 1960s, postmodernism began to permeate the literature of the United States. Young innovators (D. Barthelme, J. R. R. Tolkien Barth and others) experimented with deconstructing mimesis and identifying the conventions of literary techniques. Metal-literary games, parody references, cutting and shuffling fragments of the narrative (pastiche) were used. For example, D. F. Wallace prefers cumbersome syntactic constructions and the transfer of a significant part of the content of the story to a section with footnotes. He sees irony and banter as the indestructible Foundation of modern consciousness and at the same time its curse.

Later, American short stories returned to the traditional "slice of life" model. To indicate the artistic style of R. Carver and his followers (Tobias Wolfe, Richard Ford) in the early 1980s, the term "dirty realism «was coined. At present, it has been replaced by a more comprehensive concept of "minimalism", which also covers the female generation, which was raised in the 1970s by university seminars on short stories: Alice Munro, Amy Hempel, Louise Erdrich, Annie Proulx. A prominent place in the work of these writers is occupied by the theme of gender and queer.

In the latest Russian literature, Carver's search is closely related to the hopeless "cruel romances" of L. P. Blavatsky. Patrushev’s, set out in a predicate manner with numerous cliches, repetitions and solecisms. Another popular author, p. Dovlatovcontrasts the Soviet mainstream with an unappreciated story-an episode on a documentary basis, often with a touch of absurdist humor. Dovlatov's refusal of descriptive passages, abundance of dialogues, restrained tone, and stinginess of artistic techniques are the legacy of mid-century American short story writers, perceived through the prism of translationsWright-Kovalevoy.

What makes a good short story?

  • A short story is a piece of prose fiction which can be read at a single sitting.
  • It ought to combine matter-of-fact description with poetic atmosphere.
  • It ought to present a unified impression of temper, tone, colour, and effect.
  • It mostly shows a decisive moment of life.
  • There is often little action, hardly any character development, but we get a snapshot of life.
  • Its plot is not very complex (in contrast to the novel), but it creates a unified impression and leaves us with a vivid sensation rather than a number of remembered facts.
  • There is a close connection between the short story and the poem as there is both a unique union of idea and structure.

Short Story Elements

Setting — The time and location in which a story takes place is called the setting. For some stories the setting is very important, while for others it is not. There are several aspects of a story’s setting to consider when examining how setting contributes to a story (some, or all, may be present in a story):

  • Place – geographical location. Where is the action of the story taking place?
  • Time – When is the story taking place? (historical period, time of day, year, etc)
  • Weather conditions – Is it rainy, sunny, stormy, etc?
  • Social conditions – What is the daily life of the characters like? Does the story contain local colour (writing that focuses on the speech, dress, mannerisms, customs, etc. of a particular place)?
  • Mood or atmosphere – What feeling is created at the beginning of the story? Is it bright and cheerful or dark and frightening?

Plot — The plot is how the author arranges events to develop his basic idea; It is the sequence of events in a story or play. The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and end. The short story usually has one plot so it can be read in one sitting. There are five essential parts of plot:

  • Introduction /Orientation– The beginning of the story where the characters and the setting is revealed.
  • Rising Action – This is where the events in the story become complicated and the conflict in the story is revealed (events between the introduction and climax).
  • Climax – This is the highest point of interest and the turning point of the story. The reader wonders what will happen next; will the conflict be resolved or not?
  • Falling action – The events and complications begin to resolve themselves. The reader knows what has happened next and if the conflict was resolved or not (events between climax and denouement).
  • Resolution / Denouement – This is the final outcome or untangling of events in the story.


  1. Рассказ // Литературная энциклопедия терминов и понятий / Под ред. А. Н. Николюкина. — Институт научной информации по общественным наукам РАН: Интелвак, 2001.
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  3. Winther, Per; Jakob Lothe; Hans H. Skei, eds. (2004). The Art of Brevity: Excursions in Short Fiction Theory and Analysis.