Not a beach-read, but I am not at a beach, so it is not a problem

Being on a break means reading books for me. Probably it is not only me; bookstores make a corner for books to be read on beach, usually light and fun. Nowadays I am reading W.Somerset Maugham’s Collected Short Stories. It is definitely not a beach-read, but I am not at a beach, so it is not a problem.

Maugham's book I am reading

Maugham’s book I am reading nowadays.

I met Maugham’s stories this year, with the help of one of my professors (Thanks Prof. Rotheim!). At the back of the book it says that Maugham himself learnt a lot from Maupassant, who is considered as the master of short story writing. Even though I should admit that I haven’t read any of Maugham’s works, I remember learning about Maupassant in one of my Literature classes at high school.

We learned about the two types of short stories; stories that are based on situation and stories that tell an incident. While Anton Chekov is the first name that comes to mind for situation based short stories, Guy de Maupassant is famous with short stories that tell an event.

In situation short stories we don’t see elements like exposition or climax; rather we read more about the character and the situation that the character is in. What we are reading is the fraction of an event, not the event itself, since the author is more interested in telling the impression of the event on the characters and the reader. Chekov’s quote explains that he values not only the incident but also the impressions:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ~ Anton Chekov

What a nice quote!

On the other hand, short stories that tell an event have clear exposition, climax and denouement. For the author the incident matters, therefore we read about the event. These kinds of stories are like short novels.

Who are your favorite short story writers and short stories? Feel free to comment below!



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