a taste of the world's best short stories


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  • The protagonist of Leo Tolstoy's short story "God Sees The Truth, But Waits" is a carefree young man named Ivan Dmitrich... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • In 'Good Country People', Flannery O'Connor introduces us to Joy Hopewell, whose leg was blasted off in a childhood accident.... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • In Flannery O'Connor's short story "Greenleaf," the author depicts an embittered and self-centered old woman who is incapable of seeing... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) by Karen Bernardo: The French writer Guy de Maupassant grew up in a home dominated by his artistic and ambitious mother; the father...

  • H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) by Karen Bernardo: Most of us have, at one time or another, wrenched ourselves out of the grip of a nightmare, only to reflect back upon the dream's...

  • The thematic inspiration for Winesburg, Ohio may have been the novels of D.H. Lawrence, although Anderson used Lawrence's ideas more as a... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Happy Endings is one of Margaret Atwood's most frequently-anthologized stories because it is so unusual. In... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • The title of Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness" refers both to the depths of the "Dark Continent," Africa, which the... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Heinrich Bölll (1917-1985) by Karen Bernardo: Heinrich Böll was born in Cologne during the waning years of World War I, the son of a sculptor. He came of age during the...

  • Some of the sites listed below are official links to a living author; some are sponsored by academics who have taken a special interest in a particular writer...

  • Henry James (1843-1916) by Karen Bernardo: Henry James was what might be called an Anglophile; although born in New York City, he felt much more at home in England, and...

  • Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," like "Cat in the Rain," illustrates the relationship of a couple who cannot... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Tobias Wolff's 'Hunters in the Snow' is a fascinating study in self-absorption. Three friends,... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Isaac Babel (1894-1941?) by Karen Bernardo: Isaac Babel was born in the Russian city of Odessa. His father was a merchant, and sources differ about the family's economic status...

  • James Baldwin (1924-1987) by Karen Bernardo: James Baldwin is probably best-known for his novel Go Tell It On The Mountain , a searing account of the religious conversion...

  • James Joyce (1882-1941) by Karen Bernardo: The literary reputation of the Irish writer James Joyce rests largely on books few people except literature scholars have actually...

  • James Thurber (1894-1961) by Karen Bernardo: James Thurber has been called one of the world's greatest humorists. Full of sophistication, charm and wit, his stories and essays...

  • John Champlin Gardner by Karen Bernardo: He was born in Batavia, New York in 1933; his father was a dairy farmer and lay Presbyterian minister, and his mother was an...

  • John Cheever (1912-1982) by Karen Bernardo: John Cheever had the unique ability to see the monstrous in the mundane. He wrote about the American suburbs, and chronicled its...

  • John Updike by Karen Bernardo: John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1932, but spent his teenage years in Shillington, PA, which would form the model...

  • Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) by Karen Bernardo: Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, the novella "Heart of Darkness," forms an integral part of the school curriculum in English-speaking...

  • Karen Bernardo is the director of the Coburn Free Library in Owego, New York. She's also a freelance writer and editor; and a desktop publishing consultant...

  • Kate Chopin (1851-1904) by Karen Bernardo: Kate Chopin is best known for her novella The Awakening -- if, in fact, she is 'known' at all. After her death, three generations of...

  • Geoffrey Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" reflects the courtly love tradition's idea of what the male's relationship to the female should be. - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Late 20th Century American Stories - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) by Karen Bernardo: There are some artists who spend their lives shrouded in mystery -- whose works obscure as much about the person behind them than...

  • In 'Ligeia,' Edgar Allan Poe has written a love story with a bizarre twist. His unnamed narrator is married to a beautiful, dark-haired woman,... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Heinrich Böll's "Like A Bad Dream" concerns an upwardly mobile young German couple in the 1960s; we do not know the narrator's name,... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Bessie Head's "Looking for a Rain God" tells the story of a family of African villagers who make their living by farming the... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • On the surface, Guy de Maupassant's "Mademoiselle Fifi" reflects the same world as "Boule de Suif" in its focus on prostitutes and... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Margaret Atwood (1939- ) by Karen Bernardo: Born in Ottawa, Canada, Margaret Atwood's childhood was anything but ordinary. Her father, an entomologist, worked and raised his...

  • Modernism by Karen Bernardo: When we think of the modernist school of literature, we normally think of the seminal writers who came of age in the 1920s -- Joyce, Pound, Eliot...

  • Many of us have at some point felt we are living out our parents' vicarious dreams -- or are at the mercy of them. Sherwood Anderson's 'Mother,'... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • In 'Mrs. Packletide's Tiger,' Saki (H.H. Munro) tackles the Victorian-Edwardian fascination with wild-game hunting, as well as the... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • In Poe's 'Murders on the Rue Morgue,' his fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin, together with Dupin's friend and narrator, read in the... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Isaac Babel's story, 'My First Goose,' tells the story of a young, educated Jew named Liutov who is serving in the Cossack army during... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) by Karen Bernardo: Nathaniel Hawthorne is best-known as a novelist, the author of such seminal works as The Scarlet Letter. Yet few people realize...

  • Naturalism by Karen Bernardo: The literary movements of naturalism and realism are often confused, and indeed the difference does not seem to lie so much in style as in philosophy...

  • Nineteenth Century American Stories - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Nineteenth Century British Stories - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • It is ironic that the unnamed hero of Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground" considers himself to be the quintessential man, given the fact that... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Other Cultures - Other Times - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • The title character in Willa Cather's 'Paul's Case' is one of the most beautifully-drawn figures in modern literature, and the epitome of... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Plot in Literary Fiction by Karen Bernardo: Most people think that authors, when they write fiction, begin with a plot. This is actually very seldom true. Many stories and novels...

  • In Rappaccini's Daughter, Hawthorne tells the tale of a botanist who has raised his daughter as a rare flower in a clinically-controlled setting. - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Raymond Carver (1938-1988) by Karen Bernardo: The short stories of Raymond Carver feature ongoing themes of loss and disillusionment, set against a backdrop of drinking...

  • Readers familiar with John Gardner's biography cannot help but be struck by the similarity between the story line of "Redemption" and the facts... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • The "Revelation" in Flannery O'Connor's short story of the same name opens in the waiting room of a doctor's office, where the smug Mrs... - Commentary by Karen Bernardo

  • Romanticism by Karen Bernardo: The literary period known as Romanticism stretched from the late eighteenth century through the middle of the nineteenth. This deeply emotional...

  • Saki (H.H. Munro) (1870-1916) by Karen Bernardo: Hector Hugh Munro -- more commonly known as Saki -- was born in Akyab, Burma. This was during the period when Burma, like...