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The Canadian Short Story


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Beginning in the 1890s, reaching its first full realization by modernist writers in the 1920s, and brought to its heyday during the Canadian Renaissance starting in the 1960s, the short story has become Canada's flagship genre. It continues to attract the country's most accomplished and innovative writers today, among them Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Clark Blaise, and many others. Yet in contrast to the stature and popularity of the genre and the writers who partake in it, surprisingly little literary criticism has been devoted to the Canadian short story. This book redresses that imbalance by providing the first collection of critical interpretations of thirty well-known and often-anthologized Canadian short stories from the genre's beginnings through the twentieth century. A historical survey of the genre introduces the volume and a timeline comparing the genre's development in Canada, the US, and Great Britain completes it. Geared both to specialists in and students of Canadian literature, the volume is of particular benefit to the latter because it provides not only a collection of interpretations, but a comprehensive introduction to the history of the Canadian short story.

Contributors: Reingard M. Nischik, Martina Seifert, Heinz Antor, Julia Breitbach, Konrad Gross, Paul Goetsch, Dieter Meindl, Nina Kück, Stefan Ferguson, Rudolf Bader, Fabienne C. Quennet, Martin Kuester, Jutta Zimmermann, Silvia Mergenthal, Caroline Rosenthal, Wolfgang Klooss, Lothar Hönnighausen, Heinz Ickstadt, Gordon Bölling, Christina Strobel, Waldemar Zacharasiewicz, Maria and Martin Löschnigg, Nadja Gernalzick, Eva Gruber, Brigitte Glaser, Georgiana Banita.

Reingard M. Nischik is Professor of American Literature at the University of Konstanz, Germany.


Remarkably accessible, ... generally shies away from unnecessary verbosity or jargon.... ideal for scholars interested in introductory overviews ... and for undergraduate courses... though it also extends beyond introductions....Shows the breadth and depth of the Canadian short story from a wide range of perspectives, theories, and approaches. H-NET REVIEWS

Canadian critics ... should welcome ... a big, handsomely produced book, [evidence of the international appreciation of the Canadian short story, appreciation that has often been touted but never demonstrated].... Impressive throughout is each contributor's knowledge of the writer and the amount of research done in secondary criticism.... AMERICAN REVIEW OF CANADIAN STUDIES

The interpretations ... are careful, compelling, accessible, and attentive to previous critics. CHOICE

A welcome addition to any library and a good point-of-departure for any student interested in one of the authors it includes. ANGLISTIK

With this thoughtfully designed and researched collection, Reingard M. Nischik and her CanLit team from the European German-speaking countries make a major contribution to the undeservedly small canon of literary criticism on Canadian short fiction. DALHOUSIE REVIEW

A magisterial, formidable volume . . . a milestone in Canadian Studies worldwide. ZEITSCHRIFT FUER KANADA-STUDIEN

[W]ill help students and scholars to refresh and complete their knowledge of the stories as well as discover their originality. Offers a panoramic view . . . highly welcome as a reference book. . . Very useful as a truly informative overview gifted with extremely perceptive approaches to the stories which make us "feel the road" as we read on. CANADIAN LITERATURE

[A] welcome contribution to the field . . . . [T]he anthology not only sheds interesting light on the historical development and contemporary prominence of the Anglo-American short story but manages to highlight certain patterns and themes that have been instrumental in the astonishing ascendency that this genre has experienced in . . . a relatively short span of time. LITERATUR IN WISSENSCHAFT UND UNTERRICHT


First Published: 15 Apr 2007
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571131270
Pages: 436
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: DS

Details updated on 30 Nov 2015


  • 1  The Canadian Short Story: Status, Criticism, Historical Survey
  • 2  Canadian Animal Stories: Charles G.D. Roberts, "Do Seek Their Meat from God" (1892)
  • 3  Tory Humanism, Ironic Humor, and Satire: Stephen Leacock, "The Marine Excursion of the Knights of Pythias" (1912)
  • 4  The Beginnings of Canadian Modernism: Raymond Knister, "The First Day of Spring" (written 1924/25)
  • 5  From Old World Aestheticist Immoralist to Prairie Moral Realist: Frederick Philip Grove, "Snow" (1926/32)
  • 6  Psychological Realism, Immigration, and City Fiction: Morley Callaghan, "Last Spring They Came Over" (1927)
  • 7  Modernism, Prairie Fiction, and Gender: Sinclair Ross, "The Lamp at Noon" (1938)
  • 8  "An Artful Artlessness": Ethel Wilson, "We Have to Sit Opposite" (1945)
  • 9  Social Realism and Compassion for the Underdog: Hugh Garner, "One-Two-Three Little Indians" (1950)
  • 10  The Perils of Human Relationships: Joyce Marshall, "The Old Woman" (1952)
  • 11  The Social Critic at Work: Mordecai Richler, "Benny, the War in Europe, and Myerson's Daughter Bella" (1956)
  • 12  Myth and the Postmodernist Turn in Canadian Short Fiction: Sheila Watson, "Antigone" (1959)
  • 13  The Modernist Aesthetic: Hugh Hood, "Flying a Red Kite" (1962)
  • 14  Doing Well in the International Thing?: Mavis Gallant, "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street" (1963)
  • 15  (Un-) Doing Gender: Alice Munro, "Boys and Girls" (1964)
  • 16  Collective Memory and Personal Identity in the Prairie Town of Manawaka: Margaret Laurence, "The Loons" (1966)
  • 17  "Out of Place": Clark Blaise, "A Class of New Canadians" (1970)
  • 18  Realsim and Parodic Postmodernism: Audrey Thomas, "Aquarius" (1971)
  • 19  "The Problem Is to Make the Story": Rudy Wiebe, "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" (1971)
  • 20  The Canadian Writer as Expatriate: Norman Levine, "We All Begin in a Little Magazine" (1972)
  • 21  Canadian Artist Stories: John Metcalf, "The Strange Aberration of Mr. Ken Smythe" (1973)
  • 22  "A Literature of a Whole World and of a Real World": Jane Rule, "Lilian" (1977)
  • 23  Failure as Liberation: Jack Hodgins, "The Concert Stages of Europe" (1978)
  • 24  Figures in a Landscape: William Dempsey Valgardson, "A Matter of Balance" (1982)
  • 25  "The Translation of the World into Words" and the Female Tradition: Margaret Atwood, "Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother" (1983)
  • 26  "Southern Preacher": Leon Rooke, "The Woman Who Talked to Horses" (1984)
  • 27  Nativeness as Third Space: Thomas King, "Borders" (1991)
  • 28  Digressing to Inner Worlds: Carol Shields, "Our Men and Women" (1999)
  • 29  A Sentimental Journey: Janice Kulyk Keefer, "Dreams:Storms:Dogs" (1999)
  • 30  Further Reading on the Canadian Short Story
  • 31  Time Chart: The Short Story in the USA, Canada, and Great Britain
  • 32  Notes on the Contributors
  • 33  Index

History of Literature in Canada

History of Literature in Canada

Humor in Contemporary Native North American Literature

Humor in Contemporary Native North American Literature

The Canadian Short Story

The Canadian Short Story