Do Short Story Cycles Capture the Fragmented Self?

From an Open Edition Journals Roundtable discussion:

“Part of what I think Lynch is pointing to is that where the novel (particularly the bildungsroman form) constructs sense of self as made over time, short story or short story cycles seem in some ways to capture the fragmented nature of the experience of selfhood. My question is whether this is a representational aesthetic strategy that mirrors a changed and changing sense of “self” or “subject,” or whether as some critics have argued (Deidre Lynch’s Economy of Character comes to mind), the novel itself as a genre helped to create a particular experience of interior self as “character” under a particular socio-economic regime? In that case, are we perhaps pointing to the short story (that is, the modernist short story) as likewise contributing to construct a more fragmented, epiphanic sense of self and of character under a changed socio-economic and political regime? A “novel” like James Joyce’s Ulysses or Virginia Woolf’s The Waves could in this frame also be read as likewise contributing to that fragmented, “kaleidoscopic arrangement” that Lynch suggests “unfold[s] unfamiliarly in the minds of readers accustomed to the pace and panorama of novels.” Perhaps the “novel” we have in mind here is more akin to the high realist nineteenth-century novel, rather than some of the early twentieth-century experiments.”

Check out the whole discussion here – but beware: It’s pretty deep stuff!

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