Mythic Shorts: Collected Works


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Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses. The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Romance of the Grail: In between Campbell proffers his interpretations of the major works, emphasizing their use of archetypal figures and situations. Product details File Size: November 15, Sold by: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

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Please take note of the following information regarding Returns: Additionally, you will be entitled to a replacement item if available or a full refund -. If you have a preference then please state it in your initial message to us. Romance of the Grail: By far the majority of criticism on the short story focused on techniques of writing.

Many, and often the best of the technical works, advise the young reader—alerting the reader to the variety of devices and tactics employed by the skilled writer. These two terms establish the polarities of the milieu out of which the modern short story grew.

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The tale is much older than the sketch. Usually filled with cryptic and uniquely deployed motifs, personages, and symbols , tales are frequently fully understood only by members of the particular culture to which they belong. Simply, tales are intracultural. Seldom created to address an outside culture, a tale is a medium through which a culture speaks to itself and thus perpetuates its own values and stabilizes its own identity.

The old speak to the young through tales. The sketch, by contrast, is intercultural, depicting some phenomenon of one culture for the benefit or pleasure of a second culture. Factual and journalistic, in essence the sketch is generally more analytic or descriptive and less narrative or dramatic than the tale. Moreover, the sketch by nature is suggestive , incomplete; the tale is often hyperbolic , overstated. The primary mode of the sketch is written; that of the tale, spoken. This difference alone accounts for their strikingly different effects. The sketch writer can have, or pretend to have, his eye on his subject.

The tale, recounted at court or campfire—or at some place similarly removed in time from the event—is nearly always a re-creation of the past. The sketch writer is more an agent of space , bringing an aspect of one culture to the attention of a second. It is only a slight oversimplification to suggest that the tale was the only kind of short fiction until the 16th century, when a rising middle class interest in social realism on the one hand and in exotic lands on the other put a premium on sketches of subcultures and foreign regions.

Nikolay Gogol , Hawthorne, E. Each writer worked in his own way, but the general effect was to mitigate some of the fantasy and stultifying conventionality of the tale and, at the same time, to liberate the sketch from its bondage to strict factuality. The modern short story, then, ranges between the highly imaginative tale and the photographic sketch and in some ways draws on both. The short stories of Ernest Hemingway , for example, may often gain their force from an exploitation of traditional mythic symbols water, fish, groin wounds , but they are more closely related to the sketch than to the tale.

Indeed, Hemingway was able at times to submit his apparently factual stories as newspaper copy. Faulkner seldom seems to understate, and his stories carry a heavy flavour of the past. Both his language and his subject matter are rich in traditional material. A Southerner might well suspect that only a reader steeped in sympathetic knowledge of the traditional South could fully understand Faulkner. Faulkner may seem, at times, to be a Southerner speaking to and for Southerners.

Whether or not one sees the modern short story as a fusion of sketch and tale, it is hardly disputable that today the short story is a distinct and autonomous , though still developing, genre. The evolution of the short story first began before humans could write. To aid in constructing and memorizing tales, the early storyteller often relied on stock phrases, fixed rhythms, and rhyme. Consequently, many of the oldest narratives in the world, such as the ancient Babylonian tale the Epic of Gilgamesh , are in verse. Indeed, most major stories from the ancient Middle East were in verse: Those tales were inscribed in cuneiform on clay during the 2nd millennium bce.

The earliest tales extant from Egypt were composed on papyrus at a comparable date. The ancient Egyptians seem to have written their narratives largely in prose, apparently reserving verse for their religious hymns and working songs. Of all the early Egyptian tales, most of which are baldly didactic , this story is perhaps the richest in folk motifs and the most intricate in plot. The earliest tales from India are not as old as those from Egypt and the Middle East.

Perhaps more interesting as stories are the later tales in the Pali language , the Jataka s. Although these tales have a religious frame that attempts to recast them as Buddhist ethical teachings, their actual concern is generally with secular behaviour and practical wisdom. Another, nearly contemporaneous collection of Indian tales, the Panchatantra c. Most of those tales come from much older material, and they vary from the fantastic story of a transformed swan to a more probable tale of a loyal but misunderstood servant.

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During the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries bce , the sophisticated narratives that are now a part of the Hebrew Bible and the Apocrypha were first written down. The book of Tobit displays an unprecedented sense of ironic humour; Judith creates an unrelenting and suspenseful tension as it builds to its bloody climax; the story of Susanna , the most compact and least fantastic in the Apocrypha, develops a three-sided conflict involving the innocent beauty of Susanna, the lechery of the elders, and the triumphant wisdom of Daniel.

The books of Ruth , Esther , and Jonah hardly need mentioning to those familiar with biblical literature: Nearly all of the ancient tales, whether from Israel, India, Egypt, or the Middle East , were fundamentally didactic. Some of those ancient stories preached by presenting an ideal for readers to imitate. The early Greeks contributed greatly to the scope and art of short fiction. Apollodorus of Athens compiled a handbook of epitomes , or abstracts, of those tales around the 2nd century bce , but the tales themselves are no longer extant in their original form.

They appear, though somewhat transformed, in the longer poetical works of Hesiod , Homer , and the tragedians. The Cyropaedia also contains other narrative interpolations: Moreover, the Greeks are usually credited with originating the romance , a long form of prose fiction with stylized plots of love, catastrophe , and reunion. The early Greek romances frequently took shape as a series of short tales.

The Love Romances of Parthenius of Nicaea , who wrote during the reign of Augustus Caesar , is a collection of 36 prose stories of unhappy lovers. The Milesian Tales no longer extant was an extremely popular collection of erotic and ribald stories composed by Aristides of Miletus in the 2nd century bce and translated almost immediately into Latin.

As the variety of these short narratives suggests, the Greeks were less insistent than earlier cultures that short fiction be predominantly didactic. By comparison the contribution of the Romans to short narrative was small. The other major fictional narratives to come out of Rome are novel-length works by Gaius Petronius Arbiter Satyricon , 1st century ce and Lucius Apuleius The Golden Ass , 2nd century ce.

Like Ovid those men used potential short story material as episodes within a larger whole.

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The Roman love of rhetoric , it seems, encouraged the development of longer and more comprehensive forms of expression. Regardless, the trend away from didacticism inaugurated by the Greeks was not reversed. The Middle Ages in Europe was a time of the proliferation, though not necessarily the refinement, of short narratives. The short tale became an important means of diversion and amusement.

From the medieval era to the Renaissance, various cultures adopted short fiction for their own purposes. Even the aggressive, grim spirit of the invading Germanic barbarians was amenable to expression in short prose.

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The myths and sagas extant in Scandinavia and Iceland indicate the kinds of bleak and violent tales the invaders took with them into southern Europe. In contrast, the romantic imagination and high spirits of the Celts remained manifest in their tales.


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  8. Wherever they appeared—in Ireland, Wales, or Brittany—stories steeped in magic and splendour also appeared. This spirit, easily recognized in such Irish mythological tales as Longes mac n-Uislenn probably 9th-century , infused the chivalric romances that developed somewhat later on the Continent. Many, but not all, of the romances are too long to be considered short stories. The latter was gifted as a creator of the short narrative poems known as the Breton lays.

    Only occasionally did a popular short romance like Aucassin and Nicolette 13th century fail to address any of the three Matters. Also widely respected was the exemplum , a short didactic tale usually intended to dramatize or otherwise inspire model behaviour.

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