The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1


  • Hardcover
  • 800 pages
  • The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1
  • Philip Hensher
  • English
  • 13 July 2016
  • 9780141395999

8 thoughts on “The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1

  1. says:

    With the sun hanging low on its western limit the expanse of the grass lands framed in the counterscarps of the rising ground took on a gorgeous and sombre aspect A sense of penetrating sadness like that inspired by a grave strain of music disengaged itself from the silence of the fields The men we met walked past slow unsmiling with downcast eyes as if the melancholy of an overburdened earth had weighted their feet bowed their shoulders borne down their glancesJoseph Conrad Amy Foster 1901It took me two years and two months to read this delightfully voluminous anthology of 36 short stories written by 36 British authors from cover to cover which made it uite a uniue reading experience to me As I am fond of the short story form never before was I given a birthday present that offered me so many hours of pleasure besides the lovely feline Bella my children gifted me two years ago but cats versus books perhaps constitute a pretty unfair competition? Thomas Girtin The White House at Chelsea 1800As my acuaintance with British literature is at best patchy it would be out of my capacity to judge the uality or representability of the selection Philip Hensher made As a stranger to the Anglosphere I am sure I missed out on the finesse of its peculiar appeal to a British audience but I mostly enjoyed this as a wondrous introduction that gives a flavour of the writing of a great variety of British authors of which I only read one story Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle and eight authors Mary Lamb Dickens Thomas Hardy Conan Doyle Conrad Arnold Bennett Kipling DH Lawrence before Many names were new to me Nine stories were written by women I can be wrong but I don’t think a similar collection for Dutch short stories covering the same period 1706 1926 would do better from the gender point of view I wondered about but couldn’t check Joost Zwagerman's De Nederlandse en Vlaamse literatuur vanaf 1880 in 250 verhalen but among the names I found mentioned in a review on that anthology only features one woman Maria Dermoût At first I had the impression the stories were organised chronologically by the year of birth of the authors starting with Daniel Defoe born in 1660 and ending with Buchan born in 1875 or in order of date of publishing but this was only roughly so Dorothy Edwards whose story precedes Buchan’s in the book was born in 1903; Holiday Group by EM Delafield and Olive and Camilla by AE Coppard as first published in 1926 were recently published than the last story in the collection which was published in 1915 The King of YpresThe anthology gathers some very famous stories like Stevenson’s The Body Snatcher the aforementioned Silver Blaze by Conan Doyle and The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat by Rudyard Kipling – a vicious story of revenge and mass delusion and manipulation Many of the stories have separate entries and are reviewed here on GR I most enjoyed Jonathan Swift Directions to the footman very funny Frederick Marryat South West and by West three uarters West a sailor’s love story with a fairy tale element Elisabeth Gaskell Six Weeks at Heppenheim Thomas hardy The Three Strangers Margaret Oliphant The Library Window beautifully written and atmospheric a tad too long winded Max Beerbohm Enoch Soames for its playful take on the supernatural and social critiue Surprisingly my favourite story turned out to be Joseph Conrad’s Amy Foster – moving profound melancholic and gorgeously written I was also touched by the feminist take of Dorothy Edwards A country house on the oppression of women in marriage Both authors I will read of Stacey Aumonier’s story on a simple man in the Great War The Great Unimpressionable was a punch in the gut T Baron Russell’s A Guardian of the Poor and Arthur Morrison’s Behind the shade are wry stories on abject poverty denouncing a merciless society in which poverty is a shame John Constable Barges on the Stour with Dedham Church in the Distance 1811I was a little proud on myself for having had the discipline to skip the introduction from Philip Hensher who selected and compiled the stories and plunge into the stories directly This turned out a good decision The introduction is instructive as rightly elaborating on how debatable the definitions of ‘British’ and ‘short story’ in this context are touching on the formal limits of the form and situating it as a phenomenon in time in the broader and rigid sense Very interesting I thought how Hensher compares current reading habits of reading collections of single authors fiction instead of like in previous times reading a short story published in magazines or journals clarifying that most of the stories were not intended to appear in a collection Short story writing on a certain moment turned into a very lucrative business for some of the most popular authors like Conan Doyle and the publishing in magazines also implied that stories could swiftly respond to social and political change and events Hensher also points at some of the distinguishing ualities which characterise the British short story yielding to a national taste for the theatrical playfulness interest in the overlooked and the apparently insignificant writing on proletarian subjects characterised by withdrawn exactitudeness as MR James wrote on the ghost story 'Reticence conduces to effect blatancy ruins it' as well as the extravagant and fantastical use of mixed tones within one story dependence on comedy in any and all circumstances its love of Grand Guignol its surprise uality in taking unforeseeable directions its resting on suggestion and airy implication I am not sure whether or not all of these features are really so uniuely or mostly British – all I know is I am glad that when starting this collection back in 2017 I went straight to the first story and didn’t come across Hensher’s in my humble opinion rather bold and disturbing opening statement that ‘The British short story is probably the richest most varied and most historically extensive national tradition anywhere in the world’ Hensher did the Herculean effort to plough through a very large uantity of British stories systematically reading thousands of stories by hundreds of writers in journals collections and magazines to dug out his selection It is hard for me however to imagine he did the same with the American German Japanese or Russian Pushkin Turgenev Gogol Leskov Dostoevsky Chekhov? short story traditions to assess them properly on their merits like he did with the British one I thought this jingoistic slip of the tongue did Hensher’s titanic work a disservice while it is in weird contrast to his acknowledgment later in his introduction 'that there is no point in trying to elevate one’s national writers in the form over another’ by which he criticises Lorrie Moore and an unnamed Indian author for praising their own American and Indian short story tradition as extraordinary and powerfulWalter Richard Sickert The Little Tea Party Nina Hamnett and Roald Kristian 1915–16The book closes with mini biographical entries on all the authors sampled which for someone new to many of these names is highly interesting as also pointing at the links between certain authors like David Garnett and Dorothy Edwards As Philip Hensher in the introduction also alludes on some of the stories and authors he included in the second volume of British short stories The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 2 From PG Wodehouse to Zadie Smith I am tempted to read that second volume as well slowly Glancing through the copy of that second volume that meanwhile has arrived by post I noticed that the general introduction is reproduced integrally First I will however read English Literature A Very Short Introduction hoping it will be of help to gently broaden the horizonWalter Richard Sickert Bath Belvedere 1917 If it is true as some German fellow had said that without phosphorus there is no thought it is still true that there is no kindness of heart without a certain amount of imaginationJoseph Conrad Amy fosterWhere would we be without stories written in the past and at present keeping our sense of imagination alive?


  2. says:

    Varied and inspiring collection of some of the most beautifully written British short stories Philip Hensher has chosen an eclectic group of stories some from famous names such as Defoe and Dickens others by authors who are less well known today like Stacy Aumonier and Viola Meynell There is a wide range of topics covered including those which have a particular resonance today such as poverty exploitation of workers and hostility towards immigrants There are also entertaining detective stories ghost stories studies of love and hate slices of the lives of ordinary people My favourites were Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad and Behind the Shade by Arthur Morrison both of them are powerful but understated tales of the human condition There were none I didn't enjoy although I do find it hard to engage with stories where the dialogue is written in dialect while it does make the story feel authentic it's just too much effort for meI also have the second volume of stories covering contemporary writers and am looking forward to another enjoyable collection


  3. says:

    The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1 Daniel Defoe to John BuchanThirty five stories by thirty five authors all significant writers of English literature It’s like travelling through the history of the British short story from 1705 to 1925It begins with Daniel Defoe’s A True Relation of the Apparition of Mrs Veal the title itself giving a clue to this verbose and incomprehensible affair which I found almost unreadable Then follows Swift’s advice to his footman typically satirical and a surprisingly unexpected story of a lesbian crossdressing deceiver by Henry FieldingTowards the middle within the Victorian age the stories tend to settle into domestic scenarios though the writing gets tighter and a greater economy of words and for the final uarter of the book the stories have a contemporary familiar feel about themI enjoyed this book though for me there was a lot to get through 750 pages I had intended to dip in and out of this while reading another book but in the event they drew me in Some names were unfamiliar but good to discover such as Mrs Ernest Leverson Margaret Oliphant James Hogg and Frederick Maryatt while others confirmed an earlier disliking of them what is it with GK Chesterton? I don’t get it and some old favourites; Dickens Conan Doyle Holmes and H G Wells There were also some well known names in literature which I hadn’t read before such as DH Lawrence Rudyard Kipling Saki and Arnold BennettThe authors’ biographies at the back of the book make interesting reading too A diverse range of professions these people had before turning to writing Some unfortunate lives as well All in all a good collection


  4. says:

    I love short stories and knew that this magisterial collection of the best of British short stories would be a must have A few not so subtle hints later it magically appeared in my Christmas stocking I've been alternating reading it with my other books and am uite surprised that I've got through the first volume by mid May It's a beautifully produced book and wonderfully edited and introduced by Philip Hensher I'd only read three of the stories of the many contained in this first volume those by Conan Doyle M R James and Saki so there were many surprises in store The most pleasing discoveries among many were the stories by Thackeray Elizabeth Gaskell T Baron Russell Arnold Bennett and E M Delafield The range of stories is excellent covering everything from humour crime ghost stories social comment and studies of environment and character It's difficult to imagine a effective or entertaining overview of the development of the short story in Britain Now for volume two


  5. says:

    A truly awesome selection of 36 early British short stories all by different authors originally published between 1705 and 1926 The authors include a few that are still uite well known together with others that have lost favour and vanished in the elapsed time Conseuently the style varies considerably yet the uality is high throughout For example stories by Conan Doyle Saki Chesterton and Kipling have been reprinted an incredible number of times yet in the midst of this you will find a beautifully written piece by Margaret Oliphant in 1896 an author apparently responsible for than 100 novels My point here is that many of the authors were famous in their time and many of the stories were not reprinted subseuent to their original publication and perhaps subseuent inclusion in the authors anthology This might make a great sampler for the authors included if only their other works were accessible but I shall keep looking Brilliant


  6. says:

    Man man man wat heb ik hier lang over gedaan Dat is natuurlijk prima want het is zo'n boek wat je gewoon af en toe kan oppakken om weer eens een oud Engels verhaaltje te lezen Dat kon ook eigenlijk niet anders want de taal was af en toe lastig lezen Maar helaas ook waren de verhalen vaker saai dan vermakelijk Helaas


  7. says:

    Wonderful and varied collection of short stories starting with a story by Daniel Defoe written in the early eighteens century I’ve been dipping into this book over the last two years Now on to the second volume of Philip Hensher’s selections covering mostly the twentieth century and ending with a story by Zadie Smith


  8. says:

    8230108 P3988 2015


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The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1 Hilarious exuberant subtle tender brutal spectacular and above all unexpected these two extraordinary volumes contain the limitless possibilities of the British short story This is the first anthology capacious enough to celebrate the full diversity and energy of its writers subjects and tones The most famous authors are here and many others including some magnificent stories never republished since their first appearance in magazines and periodicals The Penguin Book of the British Short Story has a permanent authority and will be reached for year in and year outThis volume takes the story from its origins with Defoe Swift and Fielding to the 'golden age' of the fin de siècle and Edwardian periodEdited and with an introduction by Philip Hensher the award winning novelist critic and journalist


About the Author: Philip Hensher

2005 he has taught creative writing at the University of Exeter He has edited new editions of numerous classic works of English Literature such as those by Charles Dickens and Nancy Mitford and Hensher served as a judge for the Booker Prize From 2013 he will hold the post of Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University3Since 2000 Philip Hensher has been listed as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people in Britain4 and in 2003 as one of Granta's twenty Best of Young British Novelists1In 2008 Hensher's semi autobiographical novel The Northern Clemency was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize In 2012 Hensher won first prize German Travel Writers Award and is shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize He also won the Stonewall Prize for the Journalist of the Year in 2007 and The Somerset Maugham Award for his novel Kitchen Venom in 1996 He wrote the libretto for Thomas Adès' 1995 opera Powder Her Face This has been his only musical collaboration to dateHis early writings have been characterized as having an ironic knowing distance from their characters and icily precise skewerings of pretension and hypocrisy1 His historical novel The Mulberry Empire echos with the rhythm and language of folk tales while playing games with narrative forms1He is married to Zaved Mahmood a human rights lawyer at the United NationsYou can find out about Philip on his author page at 4th Estate Books