Maupassant and the American Short Story: The Influence of Form at the Turn of the Century

Overview

Maupassant and the American Short Story isolates and develops more fully than any previous study the impact of Maupassant's work on the writing of Ambrose Bierce, O. Henry, Kate Chopin, and Henry James. It introduces a new perspective to assess their canons, reviving the importance of many often-ignored stories and, in the cases of Maupassant and O. Henry, reasserting the necessity of studying such writers to understand the history of the genre.

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Overview

Maupassant and the American Short Story isolates and develops more fully than any previous study the impact of Maupassant's work on the writing of Ambrose Bierce, O. Henry, Kate Chopin, and Henry James. It introduces a new perspective to assess their canons, reviving the importance of many often-ignored stories and, in the cases of Maupassant and O. Henry, reasserting the necessity of studying such writers to understand the history of the genre.

An important moment in the history of the short story occurred with the American misreading of Maupassant's use of story structure. At the turn of the century, writers such as Bierce and O. Henry seized upon the surprise-inversion form because Maupassant's translators promoted him as championing it. Only a few writers, such as James and Chopin, both of whom read Maupassant in French, appreciated his deft handling of form more fully. Their vision and the impact of Maupassant upon their fiction was largely ignored by later generations of writers who preferred to associate Maupassant and O. Henry with the "trick ending" story. This book details the origins and consequences of this misperception.

The book further contributes to the study of the short-story genre. Through an adaptation of Aristotelian concepts, Richard Fusco proposes an original approach to short-story structure, defining and developing seven categories of textual formulas: linear, ironic coda, surprise-inversion, loop, descending helical, contrast, and sinusoidal. As a practitioner of all these forms, Maupassant established his mastery of the genre. By studying his use of form, the book asserts a major reason for his pivotal importance in the historical development of the short story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271010816
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/4/1994
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Fusco has taught English at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
A Theory on Conte and Structure 4
Maupassant and Short-Story Structure 7
1 Maupassant and the Simpler Structures of the Short Story 11
The Linear Short Story 11
The Ironic Coda 17
The Surprise-Inversion Story 21
The Loop 33
2 Maupassant and the More Complex Structures of the Short Story 45
The Descending Helical 49
The Contrast Story 63
The Sinusoidal Story 84
3 Maupassant and the American Mainstream 99
Maupassant and Bierce 103
Maupassant and O. Henry 118
4 Maupassant and Chopin 139
The Early Stories 146
The Translations 154
Descending Helicals and the Later Stories 159
Sinusoidals and the Later Stories 166
5 Maupassant and James 173
The Reluctant Disciple 174
James and the Contrast Story 188
James and the Descending Helical 204
Afterword 217
Works Cited 221
Index 227
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