Tema 60- La novela corta, el cuento y el ensayo en estados unidos. Selección de textos y análisis de una obra representativa

Tema 60- La novela corta, el cuento y el ensayo en estados unidos. Selección de textos y análisis de una obra representativa

  1. American Short fiction:

Since its debut volume 85 years ago, publication of The Best American Short Stories has been a regular literary event, providing an annual showcase for America’s greatest established writers and consistently discovering and introducing the best talent of the upcoming generation. Just one writer, though, has the distinction of being published in the series five decades running: John Updike. It is therefore fitting that Updike, America’s reigning literary patriarch, was chosen to edit this collection. These 55 stories were chosen from the entire archive of Best American Stories (since the series inception in 1915), a pool of over two thousand. Each in their turn was originally chosen from thousands of stories published that year in the country’s most prestigious journals and periodicals. Updike explains, “not to select stories because they illustrated a theme or portion of the national experience, but because they struck me as lively, beautiful, believable”. John Updike selects the fifty-five finest short stories from America’s oldest and best-selling anthology, published since 1915. Since the series’ inception in 1915, the annual volumes of The Best American Short Stories have launched literary careers, showcased the most compelling stories of each year, and confirmed for all time the significance of the short story in our national literature.

Now The Best American Short Stories of the Century brings together the best of the best, fifty-five extraordinary stories that represent a century’s unsurpassed accomplishments in this American literary genre. Here are the stories that have endured the test of time: masterworks by such writers as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Saroyan, Flannery O’Connor, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Cynthia Ozick. These are the writers who have shaped and defined the landscape of the American short story, who have explored all aspects of the human condition. Of all the great writers whose work has appeared in the series, only John Updike’s contributions have spanned five consecutive decades, from his first appearance, in 1959, to his most recent, in 1998. Updike worked with series editor Katrina Kenison to choose stories from each decade that meet his own high standards of literary quality.

§ F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) He wrote some stories in the collections Flappers and Philosophers (1920), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), and All the Sad Young Men (1926).

§ Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) Hemingway’s fine ear for dialogue and exact description shows in his excellent short stories, such as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Critical opinion, in fact, generally holds his short stories equal or superior to his novels.

§ Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) Her first success, the story “Flowering Judas” (1929), was set in Mexico during the revolution. The beautifully crafted short stories that gained her renown subtly unveil personal lives. “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” for example, conveys large emotions with precision. Often she reveals women’s inner experiences and their dependence on men. Porter’s story collections include Flowering Judas (1930), Noon Wine (1937), Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), The Leaning Tower (1944), and Collected Stories (1965).

§ Eudora Welty (1909- ) Porter wrote an introduction to Welty’ s first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green (1941). Welty modeled her nuanced work on Porter, but the younger woman is more interested in the comic and grotesque. She often takes subnormal, eccentric, or exceptional characters for subjects. Her collections of stories include The Wide Net (1943), The Golden Apples (1949), The Bride of the Innisfallen (1955), and Moon Lake (1980).

§ Joyce Carol Oates In her works, obsessed characters’ attempts to achieve fulfillment within their grotesque environments lead them into destruction. Some of her finest works are stories in collections such as The Wheel of Love (1970) and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (1974).

§ McCorkle, born in 1958 and thus representing a new generation, has devoted her short stories, set in the small towns of North Carolina, to exploring the mystiques of teenagers (The Cheer Leader, 1984), the links between generations (Tending to Virginia, 1987), and the particular sensibilities of contemporary southern women (Crash Diet, 1992).

§ John Cheever (1912-1982) John Cheever often has been called a “novelist of manners.” He is known for his elegant, suggestive short stories, which scrutinize the New York business world through its effects on the businessmen, their wives, children, and friends. The Way Some People Live (1943), The Housebreaker of Shady Hill (1958), Some People, Places and Things That Will Not Appear in My Next Novel (1961), The Brigadier and the Golf Widow (1964), and The World of Apples (1973).

§ John Updike (1932- ) John Updike, like Cheever, is also regarded as a writer of manners with his suburban settings, domestic themes and his fictional locales on the eastern seaboard, in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. He possesses the most brilliant style of any writer today, and his short stories offer scintillating examples of its range and inventiveness. Collections include The Same Door (1959), The Music School (1966), Museums and Women (1972), Too Far To Go (1979), and Problems (1979).

§ Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) Her works include short story collections A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965); the novel The Violent Bear It Away (1960); and a volume of letters, The Habit of Being (1979). Her Complete Stories came out in 1971.

§ Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) He was a prolific master of short fiction. Through his stories, in collections such as The Magic Barrel (1958), Idiots First (1963), and Rembrandt’s Hat (1973), he conveyed a sense of the Jewish present and past, the real and the surreal, fact and legend.

§ A relatively new group on the literary horizon are the Hispanic-American writers, including the short story writer Sandra Cisneros (Women Hollering Creek and Other Stories, 1991).

  1. American Essays:

The Best American Essays of the Century by Joyce Carol Oates. This collection is a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America’s tumultuous modern age by our foremost critics and commentators. In her introduction, Joyce Carol Oates describes her project as “a search for the expression of-personal experience within the historical, the individual talent within the tradition.” These works are both intimate and important, essays that take on subjects of profound and universal significance while retaining the power and spirit of a personal address. Taken together, these essays fit, in the words of Joyce Carol Oates, “into a kind of mobile mosaic suggesting where we’ve come from, and who we are, and where we are going.”

This volume honours some of the twentieth century’s best-known and best-loved writers on a variety of topics. In a journalistic mode, Ernest Hemingway covers the bullfights in Pamplona, H. L. Mencken reacts to the Scopes trial, and Michael Herr dodges bullets in a helicopter over Vietnam. Nowhere is the intersection of ourpersonal and political histories more meaningful than when the subject is America’s enduring legacy of racial strife, as shown by Richard Wright’s “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son,” and Zora NealeHurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” The wonders and horrors of science, nature, and the cosmos are explored with eloquence, bravery, and beauty when Lewis Thomas writes about “The Lives of a Cell,” Rachel Carson mulls “The Marginal World,” and Stephen Jay Gould preaches evolution and baseball in “The Creation Myths of Cooperstown.”

Writers as Mark Twain, Edmund Wilson, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Susan Sontag, Mary McCarthy, N. Scott Momaday, John McPhee, Tom Wolfe, Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow are all great essayists on subjects as diverse as growing up in America, working abroad, living in the wild or studying forensics or brain surgery.

  1. American Tales:

§ Wigwam Evenings: Sioux Folk Tales Retold, by Charles A. Eastman and Elaine Goodale Eastman. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1916.

1. The Buffalo and the Field-Mouse

2. The Frogs and the Crane

3. The Falcon and the Duck

4. The Raccoon and the Bee-Tree

5. The Comrades

6. The Runaways

7. The Magic Arrows

§ North American Legends, edited by Virginia Haviland, illustrated by Ann Strugnell, Philomel Books, 1979.

8. How Coyote Stole Fire

9. How Glooskap Found the Summer

10. Big Long Man’s Corn Patch

Analysis of The Buffalo and the Field Mouse:


Once upon a time, when the Field Mouse was out gathering wild beans for the winter, his neighbor, the Buffalo, came down to graze in the meadow. This the little Mouse did not like, for he knew that the other would mow down all the long grass with his prickly tongue, and there would be no place in which to hide. He made up his mind to offer battle like a man.

“Ho, Friend Buffalo, I challenge you to a fight! “he exclaimed in a small, squeaking voice.

The Buffalo paid no attention, thinking it only a joke. The Mouse angrily repeated the challenge, and still his enemy went on quietly grazing. Then the little Mouse laughed with contempt as he offered his defiance. The Buffalo at last looked at him and replied carelessly:

“You had better keep still, little one, or I shall come over there and step on you, and there will be nothing left! ”

“You can’t do it! “replied the Mouse.

“I tell you to keep still,”insisted the Buffalo, who was getting angry. “If you speak to me again, I shall certainly come and put an end to you! ”

“I dare you to do it! “said the Mouse, provoking him.

Thereupon the other rushed upon him. He trampled thc grass clumsily and tore up the earth with his front hoofs. When he had ended, he looked for the Mouse, but he could not see him anywhere.

“I told you I would step on you, and there would be nothing left! “he muttered.

Just then he felt a scratching inside his right ear. He shook his head as hard as he could, and twitched his ears back and forth. The gnawing went deeper and deeper until he was half wild with the pain. He pawed with his hoofs and tore up the sod with his horns. Bellowing madly, he ran as fast as he could, first straight forward and then in circles, but at last he stopped and stood trembling. Then the Mouse jumped out of his ear, and said:

“Will you own now that I am master? ”

“No! “bellowed the Buffalo, and again he started toward the Mouse, as if to trample him under his feet. The little fellow was nowhere to be seen, but in a minute the Buffalo felt him in the other ear. Once more he became wild with pain, and ran here and there over the prairie, at times leaping high in the air. At last he fell to the ground and lay quite still. The Mouse came out of his ear, and stood proudly upon his dead body.

“Eho! “said he, “I have killed the greatest of all beasts. This will show to all that I am master! ”

Standing upon the body of the dead Buffalo, he called loudly for a knife with which to dress his game.

In another part of the meadow, Red Fox, very hungry, was hunting mice for his breakfast. He saw one and jumped upon him with all four feet, but the little Mouse got away, and he was terribly disappointed.

All at once he thought he heard a distant call: “Bring a knife! Bring a knife! ”

When the second call came, Red Fox started in the direction of the sound. At the first knoll he stopped and listened, but hearing nothing more, he was about to go back. Just then he heard the call plainly, but in a very thin voice, “Bring a knife!”Red Fox immediately set out again and ran as fast as he could.

By and by he came upon the huge body of the Buffalo lying upon the ground. The little Mouse still stood upon the body.

“I want you to dress this Buffalo for me and I will give you some of the meat,”commanded the Mouse.

“Thank you, my friend, I shall be glad to do this for you,” he replied, politely.

The Fox dressed the Buffalo, while the Mouse sat upon a mound near by, looking on and giving his orders. “You must cut the meat into small pieces,” he said to the Fox. When the Fox had finished his work, the Mouse paid him with a small piece of liver. He swallowed it quickly and smacked his lips.

“Please, may I have another piece?” he asked quite humbly.

“Why, I gave you a very large piece! How greedy you are!”exclaimed the Mouse. “You may have some of the blood clots,” he sneered. So the poor Fox took the blood clots and even licked off the grass. He was really very hungry.

“Please may I take home a piece of the meat?”he begged. “I have six little folks at home, and there is nothing for them to eat.”

“You can take the four feet of the Buffalo. That ought to be enough for all of you!”

“Hi, hi! Thank you, thank you!” said the Fox. “But, Mouse, I have a wife also, and we have had bad luck in hunting. We are almost starved. Can’t you spare me a little more?”

“Why,”declared the Mouse, “I have already overpaid you for the little work you have done. However, you can take the head, too!”

Thereupon the Fox jumped upon the Mouse, who gave one faint squeak and disappeared.

If you are proud and selfish you will lose all in the end


“The Buffalo and the Field Mouse” is about a mouse who is getting ready for the winter. As this mouse is getting ready for the winter a buffalo comes along. The mouse asks the buffalo to leaven but he wouldn’t. The mouse wanted him to leave because he was eating all the grass that the mouse would hide in. After telling the buffalo that he was going to fight the buffalo if he didn’t leave the mouse crawled into the buffalo’s ear twice, bit him numerous times and killed it. The mouse then saw a wolf and convinced him to cut up the meat if he gave him some. After he cut it up the wolf ask more many pieces of it but the mouse wouldn’t give it to him. Eventually he let him have the legs, piece of the liver, and the head and when the wolf went to get the head he jumped on the mouse and killed it.

The Buffalo and the Field-Mouse is a legend in which we learn a special message. The message is “If you are proud and selfish you will lose all in the end.” Each time the mouse is asked to give up something, he always gives up the least amount of something that he can. He is selfish and doesn’t give anything away.