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Foreword

Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun
p. 13-14

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1This double issue of the Journal of the Short Story in English collects a number of articles that were initially presented at the annual ENSFR (European Network for Short Fiction Research) conference that took place in Montpellier in October 2019, and three original contributions on Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, and Alice Munro. Jean-Michel Ganteau and Christine Reynier who organized the “Short Fiction as Humble Fiction” conference in Montpellier, sponsored by their research center, EMMA EA 741, have devoted in the recent years much of their time and energy to exploring the theme of the humble in literature—be it long or short. They have published several books on this topic in an attempt to “reveal the depth and philosophical relevance of literature, its ethical and political dimension as well as its connection to life,” as they put it in their collection The Humble in 19th- to 21st-Century British Literature and Arts (edited with Isabelle Brasme, Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2017). With the special section they edited for the Journal of the Short Story in English, their focus is on the way short forms “thematise characters, objects, situations of a common type, moving in an ordinary context,” as they explain in their introduction. The contributors analyze a wide range of stories that include works by Katherine Mansfield, Julian Barnes, Mireille Silcoff, J. D. Salinger, Virginia Woolf, Nirmal Verma, Malcolm Lowry, Mina Loy, Radclyffe Hall, Jean Rhys, Ali Smith, Daisy Johnson, and Edwige Danticat. They succeed in making us see, as Raymond Carver would put it, “the smallest things” and to reflect upon “an ethics of the ordinary.” We are thankful to both guest editors for their thorough editorial work on an issue which will undoubtedly provide us with new ways and means of exploring the short story.

2The three articles included in the general section might be read as invitations to explore the classics from new perspectives. At a time when Stephen Crane is getting attention by way of Paul Auster’s Burning Boy, Yves Carlet reassesses the pictorial and photographic aspect of Crane’s work focusing on “narrative strategies which herald those of American movies.” Using Gilles Deleuze’s The Moving Image as a theoretical framework, Carlet shows how fixed and moving images are brought into play to create an effect on the reader. Willa Cather, who is the subject of the next contribution, had put together a fictional interview with Crane, “When I Knew Stephen Crane,” and reviewed his collection Wounds in the Rain praising the way he manages to “handle detail.” Analyzing a selection of early Willa Cather stories in relation to hypotexts by Edgar Allan Poe, Stéphanie Maerten demonstrates that a careful intertextual reading makes it possible to trace Poe’s presence and understand how much he haunts Cather’s early work. Discussing Alice Munro’s “Dance of the Happy Shades,” Matthew M. Davis also pays close attention to details by providing an attentive reading of the ending of the story that leads him to perceive Munro’s text as a reflection on utilitarianism and its limitations. The general section thus echoes the special section by offering readings of “humble” texts: Crane’s sketches, Cather’s stories, which she herself disregarded as she found them weak compared to her novels, and Munro’s early story, whose narrator “realize[s] the importance of the aesthetic and art for art’s sake,” as Davis puts it.

3The editorial board would like to thank all the contributors and all the readers for their submissions and continuous support. We would like to extend our thanks to Zoé Hardy and Aurélie Reuillon for their technical and practical help, and for their friendship.

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Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun, « Foreword »Journal of the Short Story in English, 77 | 2021, 13-14.

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Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun, « Foreword »Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 77 | Autumn 2021, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2023, consulté le 19 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/jsse/3585

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Auteurs

Gérald Préher

Artois University, JSSE Editor

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Xavier Le Brun

University of Angers, JSSE Associate Editor

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