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The Oxford Book of English Short Stories

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  141 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The first anthology of specifically English short stories, celebrating their eccentric differences and excellences.The thiry-seven short stories featured range from Dickens, Trollope, and Hardy to J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, and Ian McEwan.

These stories pack together comedy and tragedy, farce and delicacy, elegance and the grotesque, ranging form social realism to the sup
Paperback, 439 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1998)
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Kitty Jay
An anthology such as The Oxford Book of English Short Stories may be judged by many measurements: does it anthologize well-known works or hidden gems? Does it have a discernible theme? Are the authors well-balanced, through time and genre?

A.S. Byatt has compiled a singular classic in this one. As an avid reader of anthologies of all kinds, one of the most important criterion for me is whether or not it is a rehash of the canon or introduces something new to the mix, and Byatt does not disappoint
Great collection, I have read most of them at the time of writing this. I have found diamonds among some writers I had consumed to the mine of beneath my notice.

I love what Byatt says in her introduction:

"I found, reading in bulk, that I was developing a dislike for both the 'well-made tale' and the fleeting 'impression'. Manuals on how to write short stories, and much criticism, stress unity of form, stress that only one thing should happen, that an episode or incident should be developed, or a
I read a dozen of these stories with a keen group of Japanese students last year and, based on that experience, I can certainly recommend this collection for non-native speakers of English. Some of the stories (Rosamond Lehmann's "A Dream of Winter," Elizabeth Taylor's "The Blush") rely for their effect on an understanding of class that is beyond most Japanese students' experience, but more straightfoward narratives, such as Mary Mann's chilling "Little Brother" and Penelope Fitzgerald's "At Hir ...more
I like editor A. S. Byatt's selection criterion: "that both the writing and the story should be startling and satisfying, and if possible make the hairs on the neck prickle with excitement, aesthetic or narrative." Though not all the stories live up to that criterion in my opinion, there are some notable ones that deserve special mention:

Thomas Hardy's A Mere Interlude -
It's a very interesting tale, full of twists and tension that keeps you flipping the pages. The plot is one of the most intrig
I was rather disappointed with this. First off, I was expecting it to be short stories in English, rather than specifically English short stories. So immediately, we've cut out many of the best writers on the planet, even just ones who write in English. Then, AS Byatt went and picked a bunch of short stories particularly for their break with the 'traditional' way of writing short stories. I think, based on this book, we can safely say that the 'traditional' way is popular for a reason. It makes ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Leah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in Short Stories
Recommended to Leah by: My University reading list
I'm not usually a fan of short stories but I did enjoy this little collection. I found some of them to be quite dull, but others to be fairly intriguing. As a whole it is a sweet set, and it is great to see a mixture of stories throughout the centuries.

I dislike Angela Carter's Kiss and the overload of description involved. I found 'The Landlord of the Crystal Fountain' dull and unrealistic with a sudden marriage proposal and the fact that she accepted just annoyed me to no end!

I did however en
With a few exceptions, (e.g. Dickens) didn't like most of these stories. Although written by established authors I found them all a bit too well written - if that makes sense - but not enjoyable, or interesting, to read. Maybe a worthy collection, but not for me.
Five stories in this collection were standouts for me:

At Hiruharama (by Penelope Fitzgerald)
Nuns at Luncheon (by Aldous Huxley)


The Destructors (by Graham Greene)
Solid Objects (by Virginia Woolf)
Toys of Peace (by Saki)
A very good mix of stories. Collection has clearly been well thought through. I like the fact that it's in chronological order as it's interesting to see the styles change, not only author to author but decade to decade.

As with all short story collections, some are better than others. A great variety here though.
Matt Wood
It was an interesting book but I have to admit I gave up. You really have to "read" this rather than having it as a bedtime read. That said some of the stories are really entertaining and light hearted.
One of the most teachable anthologies out there. Wonderful scope.
Martin Spinelli
Highlights for me were 'The Kiss' and 'Solid Geometries.
Infinitely re-readable.
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A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize winner Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Ey ...more
More about A.S. Byatt...
Possession The Children's Book Angels and Insects The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye The Virgin in the Garden

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