The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story

The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story

Frank O'Connor, Russell Banks

Language: English

Pages: 131

ISBN: 2:00215971

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story

Frank O'Connor, Russell Banks

Language: English

Pages: 131

ISBN: 2:00215971

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Author note: Introduction by Russell Banks
Publish Year note: First published 1961

The legendary book about writing by the legendary writer is back!

Frank O'Connor was one of the twentieth century's greatest short story writers, and one of Ireland's greatest authors ever. Now, O'Connor's influential and sought-after book on the short story is back.

The Lonely Voice offers a master class with the master. With his sharp wit and straightforward prose, O'Connor not only discusses the techniques and challenges of a form in which "a whole lifetime must be crowded into a few minutes," but he also delves into a passionate consideration of his favorite writers and their greatest works, including Chekhov, Hemingway, Kipling, Joyce, and others.

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resemblance. Now, this is something that the novel cannot do. For some reason that I can only guess at, the novel is bound to be a process of identification between the reader and the character. One could not make a novel out of a copying clerk with a name like Akakey Akakeivitch who merely needed a new overcoat any more than one could make one out of a child called Tommy Tompkins whose penny had gone down a drain. One character at least in any novel must represent the reader in some aspect of

him, so she forces her Mother, who disapproves of him, to act as matchmaker. The Higgler, knowing the old lady’s business head, concludes that her daughter is a bad bargain and marries instead a stupid girl without a penny. In both stories we catch a glimpse of Coppard’s preoccupation with money, but a glimpse only, for it is kept in its proper place as part of the necessary condition of life. But in “The Little Mistress”—an enchanting story—money, which has been a mere incidental in the other

but it were summat about this ’ere hoss, I believe.” At this point the reader is strongly tempted to ask what it was that Coppard was a-going to say. But the typical Coppard situation is that of “A Wildgoose Chase,” from which I have already quoted the beautiful description of the Italian Riviera. In this story, Martin Beamish, a man with an inherited income of “six or seven hundred a year” (notice the casual way in which the figure is thrown off) decides to separate from his wife for a

experience, which was not mine. It is easier, I think, to teach the short story than the novel; easier still to teach the drama. The short story and the drama have this in common—that there are certain subjects that are necessarily bad, so that one must give more attention to the subject and less to the treatment. The story, like the play, must have the element of immediacy, the theme must plummet to the bottom of the mind. A character is not enough to make a play; an atmosphere is not enough to

adopt a general title for the books of stories that began with “Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.”—is one of the most lovable books I know. Edith Somerville was an art student in Paris and came under the influence of the French Naturalists, as we can see from a novel like The Real Charlotte. George Moore, another member of the Irish landowning class, was also an art student, and also came under the influence of Naturalism, and his novel Muslin stands comparison with The Real Charlotte. But there

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