Brander Matthews > The Short-Story > Prefatory Note
Brander Matthews (1852–1929).  The Short-Story.  1907.

Prefatory Note
IT was only in the later years of the nineteenth century that critics of literature came to recognize in the short-story a definite species, having possibilities of its own and also rigorous limitations. Although the short-story still lacks a satisfactory name, it is now seen to be clearly differentiated from the longer novel and also from the tale which merely chances to be not prolonged. From both of these it separates itself sharply—from the novel by its brevity and from the more brief tale by its unity, its totality, its concentration upon a single effect or a single sequence of effects.   1
  In the following pages a number of specimen stories have been selected to show the development of the form,—the slow evolution of this literary species through the long centuries of advancing civilization. The earlier tales here presented are not true short-stories; each of them lacks one or another of the essential characteristics of the type. The more modern examples are true short-stories; and they have been chosen to exhibit the many varieties possible within the species. They have been selected from the chief modern literatures; and they present many contrasting shades of local color.   2
  The introduction traces the growth of the form through the history of literature and seeks to set forth its slow attainment of the essential type. The notes prefixed to the several specimens discuss succinctly the literary position of the authors. The notes appended to each of the specimens are intended to call the attention of the student to the merits and the defects of that particular story, considered as an example of the form.
B. M.      


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