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Nineteenth-century French short stories were devoured by their readerswith an insatiable appetite. A reading public that was itself expandingrapidly, as education and leisure opportunities grew, created anunprecedented demand for short fiction. Writers quickly responded tothis; it was a lucrative market, and at the same time it offered theintrinsic artistic challenge of brevity. From Romanticism to Naturalismand beyond, novelists such as Balzac and Zola explored the potential ofthe short story as an alternative form to the novel in depicting modernlife. The poetic intensity of 'contes fantastiques' in the manner ofPoe's mysterious and cruel tales was championed by Baudelaire. Flaubertshowed that short story fiction could be a serious as well as popularliterary form. Specialists of the short story emerged, such as Merimeeand Maupassant.
Bristol Classical Press
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