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Linda Collinge-Germain et Emmanuel Vernadakis

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1The 52th issue of the Journal of the Short Story in English is dedicated to Professor Ben Forkner who, twenty seven years ago founded the Journal and launched its first issue. Professor Forkner will complete his final teaching duties at the end of this grading period but we are delighted that he does not intend to retire from his editorial responsibilities.

2The present issue contains fourteen essays, an interview and two book reviews. It also includes an index nominorum and an index nominorum personarum to issues 41-51, printed out on dark-brick folios whose page numbers are in Roman figures. Authored by both European and American scholars, the essays illustrate a variety of approaches investigating such issues as language structure (Jackson, Wheeler, Severn, Sardin), social and individual identification (Olson, Zarebska Sanchez, Collinge, Sardin, Sautour, Hammock), the poetics of modernist and post-modern creative processes (Maisonnat, Miltner, Mundler) and social critique (Aguilera Linde).

3The first three essays deal with nineteenth century writers on both sides of the Atlantic, Dickens, Hawthorne and Melville. In “Dangerous Similitude in Charles Dickens’ ‘To Be Read at Dusk,’” Kimberly Jackson studies the “haunted nature of figurative language.” The self-reflexive structure of this story reveals itself through several layers of narration, each of which “seeks to exorcise the hidden element haunting the similes employed by its narrators, as well as the tales of likeness that they tell.” The embedded narratives do not end well for their protagonists. Their likenesses are harbingers of death. The characters are not able to rid themselves of the ghosts that haunt them but are instead consumed by them, “just as the narrators of their stories are consumed by the snow at the end of the tale.” According to Kimberly Jackson, Dickens’ story suggests that figuration is an extraordinary operation that always carries death within it.

4Steven Olson’s “A History of the American Mind: ‘Young Goodman Brown,’” offers a fresh New Historical reading of Hawthorne’s world famous tale that “takes advantage of” traditional readings. The thesis of the article could be stated thus: “Young Goodman Brown” is a story about the severity of American cultural influences on the identity of its citizenry, about how those influences are internalized for an “American,” and about how they effect and affect that individual’s interaction with society. Because the new democracy is formed by the nation’s combination of individuals, it is also a story about how ideas effect and affect the new nation. It is a short history of an evolving America as Hawthorne saw it from his early nineteenth-century, New England vantage point.

5In the third essay, “The Half Shall Remain Untold: Hunilla of Melville's Encantadas,” K. M. Wheeler explores the issue of silence. The article deals with “Sketch Eighth Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow” which contains a short, enigmatic, and constantly interrupted tale told by Hunilla. According to K. M. Wheeler this forms a most elusive ‘core’ for another structural element: the narrator’s highly-embellished amplification of her tragedy. The sketch’s ‘gaps’ which repeatedly disrupt the telling at crucial moments are brought out by the framing tale. This is achieved through careful deployment of rhetorical devices such as aposiopesis, anacoluthia, apophasis, and paralepsis etc. These features contribute to a dawning sense that the two tales are unspeakable or that any authentic ‘original’ is unreachable. Related to the emphasis upon story-telling as disrupted and breached, the sketch, K. M. Wheeler says, depicts the representation of ‘lived experience’ as virtually impossible, since experience is an already-constructed artifice.

6The next six essays deal with various aspects of modernism. Stephen E. Severn’s article “Linguistic Structure and Rhetorical Resolution in Katherine Mansfield's ‘The Garden Party’” breaks new ground into Mansfield’s much discussed story. The author of the essay explores the extent to which the linguistic structures of “The Garden Party” serve as markers of class identity. In Severn’s own terms, “both the narrator and the upper class characters employ speech patterns that rest upon denial and negativity. Through the repeated use of tag-questions, they establish a hierarchy of expectation that limits choice and prevents challenge. Affirmation and assertion are scarce; denial and repression are the rule. Conversely, members of the lower classes espouse affirmation and take action. Those findings suggest that Laura’s lapse into silence at the conclusion of the text should be read as an act of resistance, a refusal to continue with those forms which have shaped her life and consciousness to that point. The text does not prescribe the course that she should follow in the future, but it clearly decries where she has been.” Severn’s interpretation counters the widely held belief that “The Garden Party” fails to form a clear rhetorical stance on the issues of class interaction that it raised.

7In “La Tentation mélancolique dans ‘One Warm Saturday,’” Claude Maisonnat offers a Lacanian approach to the reflexive and meta-fictional dimension of a story by Dylan Tomas whose “obvious biographical aspect” the reader is invited to take into consideration. Dylan Thomas’s modalities of writing explore, in this story, the mystery of literary creation and reveal the profoundly melancholy source of the creative urge of Dylan Thomas. This is achieved through the medium of fantasy “which pervades the second half of the story and whose relation in the guise of the conventional topos of the writer who successfully overcomes his very inability to put pen to paper by using it as the very theme of his story.” By so doing “he finds a way of turning the symptoms of his paralysis and melancholy into the sinthom of the artist.”

8In “Identity is a Slippery Fish – the Discovery of Identity in Elizabeth Bowen’s Short Story ‘The Demon Lover’” S. Zarebska Sanches explores the theoretical process of identification. The paper argues in favour of Bowen’s claim that identity is an issue of public and private relationship. The immanent negativity perturbing the conflict-riddled substance as well as the self reflexive-negativity merge in the subject’s death into a meaningful treatise on inseparableness of selfhood and otherness in one body.

9Beckett’s short fiction, first in English, then in English and French, is the subject of the three articles which follow. The first story chronologically, “Echo’s Bones” is studied by Jose Francisco Fernández who looks at this work written originally as a conclusion to the short story collection More Pricks than Kicks published in 1934 but unpublished due to its “odd features”. Fernández’ aims to offer an introduction to this unknown and neglected story in Beckett's canon which deals with the protagonist Belacqua Shuah’s adventures after his death in the penultimate story of the collection.

10«L’Expulsé» and Company were published in both English and French and this bilingualism/biculturalism is the subject of the two articles which follow. The story «L’Expulsé», written in French in 1946 and published as “The Expelled” in a translation by Seaver and Beckett in 1964, is the subject of the article by Linda Collinge-Germain who approaches the work from the angle of cultural in-betweenness. In addition to the fact that the story was written originally in the author’s second language, the topoï of exclusion, uprooting and hesitation between two territories are prevelant and significant.

11In her study of Company/Compagnie, a bilingual novella written by Beckett in the late seventies, Pascale Sardin draws a parallel between Beckett’s texts and Aragon and Breton’s statement “hysteria may in all respects be considered as a supreme means of expression”. Sardin suggests that Beckett found in bilingual writing—understood as a complex rewriting process in the other language—a way of dealing with the intense state of anxiety originating in the uterus; in other words, that he found in bilingual writing his own “supreme means of expression.” Company/Compagnie is a hysterical text both in content and in form, says Sardin, as it relies on a series of dissociative devices.

12Robert Miltner, in his article on Raymond Carver, proposes reading Carver’s three short stories about the writer Myers as a trio, between novel and short story. “Put Yourself in My Shoes”, “The Compartment” and “Kindling” all feature a protagonist named Myers and reflexions on the writing process. The sense of being “between” links the stories as Myers is always found “between”: stories in “Put Yourself in My Shoes,” trains in “The Compartment,” and lives in “Kindling.” This link “furthers the exploration of Myers, and Carver-Myers, as a writer and as an individual, seeking to define identity and selfhood”, says Miltner.

13The following two articles deal with ways in which short-story writers question dominant ideologies. Reading William Saroyan’s stories published during the Great Depression in light of his later 1968 story “Horsey Gorsey and the Frog”, in fact a critique of the dominant culture of abundance despite its appearance as an innocent children’s tale, M.D. Aguilera Linde argues that this short fiction, peopled by eccentric fools and diehard dreamers, can be read as an attempt to contradict, subvert, or resist the values and institutions of the consumer society.

14In his study of James Purdy’s story “The Candles of Your Eyes”, Clinton E. Hammock posits the possibility of a “homosexual narrative”, based on the way in which the defining pressure of heterosexuality shapes the representation of “homosexuality” in the story. Oppositions in characterization and plot structure such as dominance/submission, beautiful/ugly, dynamic/static work as concepts that underlie the deployment of heterosexual/homosexual definitions.

15Michelle Ryan-Sautour studies Angela Carter’s “The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe” and how the concept of theatre is used to explore the nature of illusion, especially in relation to Carter’s perception of identity as performance. “With its pseudo-biographical quality”, says the article’s author, “the text plays upon the reading contract and portrays Edgar Allan Poe as a character on life’s stage, from his first breath to his last performance.”

16The first and last stories of Kate Atkinson’s short story collection Not the End of the World are examined by Helen Mundler in this issue’s final article. “Apocalypse and the Resurgence of the Creative Imagination” is the angle from which Mundler approaches “Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping” and “Pleasureland”, both of which feature two young women confronted with an apocalyptic world. The author of the article reads the stories as “a commentary on the postmodern ‘apocalypse’, in which an end has been put to mimesis and the imagining subject struggles to survive.

17In “Translating a Culture in Stories from the Caribbean - A Conversation with Olive Senior,” Marie-Annick Montout broaches various issues pertaining to her translation of the Antillean rhythm, syntax, and phraseology as exemplified in Senior’s stories.

18The volume concludes with the reviews of Contemporary Debates on the Short Story (edited by J. R. Ibanez) and Adrian Hunter’s Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English, by Carol Birkan-Berz and Teresa Gibert Macada respectively.

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Linda Collinge-Germain, Emmanuel Vernadakis, "Foreword", Journal of the Short Story in English, 52, spring 2009, 15-19.

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Linda Collinge-Germain et Emmanuel Vernadakis, « Foreword »Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 52 | Spring 2009, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2010, consulté le 06 février 2023. URL :

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Linda Collinge-Germain

Organisers of the Conference and Guest-Editors of this issue

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Emmanuel Vernadakis

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