Pre-Washington Irving Short Stories

I’m hoping that you’ll want to post informal comments about the stories we discussed yesterday–maybe something you thought about later or something you want to share with the group.

I enjoyed the approaches that you offered in analyzing the pre-Washington Irving stories–Steve’s insight about how the stories of the late 1700s depict America’s secular move from a Christian society and Sheila’s and Leia’s insights about how students could see these 200-year-old stories as addressing similar relational experiences in the lives of teens today.

We didn’t really talk about the view that New Criticism would have had in evaluating these stories, so I want to mention that the stories lack some basic elements of story structure (as valued by New Criticism).  Plot development, for example, is minimal with limited rising action of conflict that builds to a climax and resolution (denouement).  As we said yesterday, the stories do more “telling” than “showing” the action.  Also, characterization fails to “round out” the characters, leaving them to seem like “cardboard” images rather than real people.  Similarly, the stories fail to delineate the setting and time period, sometimes leaving me to speculate about whether the story takes place in the time of ancient Greece or in a pastoral setting of the early 1700s.

What surprised me was how each of you found enjoyment in reading the stories.

I hope you’ll post a comment for others in the group.


About Denny Bowden

Resident of Volusia County since 1960 Member of Halifax Historical Society since 1986 English teacher (1970-1989), Mainland HS, Spruce Creek HS District/County-Level Teacher-on-Assignment (1989-2009) Ph.D. in Literature and Literary Theory, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Member, Coquina Presbyterian Church, Ormond Beach, FL
This entry was posted in American Literature, Literary Periods, New Criticism, Short Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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