The Short Story


The Short Story, London & New York, Methuen, 1977 (and several reprints)

Translations into Greek, Chinese, Korean, Bahasa Malay and Farsi/Persian

A facsimile edition issued by Routledge in 2017 in e-book and hardback formats

“Reid’s monograph is both intelligent and thought-provoking and his writing lucid and graceful… His emphasis is on the need to go beyond rigid categories or facile explanations if we are ever to understand the essential generic characteristics of the short story.” – Mary Rohrberger, in Modern Fiction Studies.

“[Its] qualities are clarity and a willingness to confront the hazards of definition with a minimum of polemic… He offers a succinct survey of antecedents of the short story and some useful distinctions between the short story and associated  forms … makes judicious use of both European and Anglo-American criticism.” – Norman Friedman, in Studies in Short Fiction.

“Ian Reid’s little book of history and definition draws the lines for future study of the genre….   Coming out of linguistics and heading into discourse analysis, this book can lead us into a whole new arena for genre studies.” – Susan Lohafer, in Short Story Theory at a Crossroads.

“The last chapter is particularly brilliant, explaining succinctly and methodically how pointless and futile any attempt at characterizing the essential qualities of the short story as a genre is. Extremely clear and with well-chosen examples. Critical when it needs to be and always with proper argumentation.” – Mathieu, in Goodreads



4 thoughts on “The Short Story

  1. Respected Sir,
    I am a lecturer in English at a government college in Gujarat, India. I am a Ph.D. research scholar and I am writing my doctoral thesis on short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov and a regional writer. While reading a Gujarati book on the genre of short story, I have come across a critical remark by YOU. However, the source has not been mentioned and I need to take up that quote in my thesis but I need publication details of it. Would you please tell me in which book was it published? Here is that quotation:-

    “The short story is the most widely read of all modern genres, and favored by many distinguished fiction writers, but as a form it has been relatively neglected by literary historians and theorists. Good books about the novel are legion: books of any sort about the short story are very scarce.”

    I am sure it must be taken from your remarkable book “The Short Story”. Unfortunately, I neither have the copy of it nor publication details. I would be highly obliged to you if you would just send me all the publication details of the book required for citation in thesis. My thesis is almost complete and ready for submission except some patch-works here and there. I would most humbly request you to help me as soon as possible.

    Hoping for your prompt and favorable response,

    Thanking you in anticipation

    – Jay Mehta

  2. Dear Jay Mehta,
    It’s good to know that postgraduate research on the short story is alive and well in India. I wish you all the best with your thesis project. The passage to which you refer does indeed come from my book The Short Story, but is a paraphrase drawn from some of my opening remarks (pp. 1-2), not an exact quotation. The second sentence of the book (which follows an initial statement about the rise of the short story form in several countries during the last 150 years) is this: “Appearing in diverse periodicals as well as in books, it is probably the most widely read of all modern genres, and not only lightweight entertainers but also many distinguished fiction-writers during this period have found it congenial.” Later in the same opening paragraph (p.1) I state that “Theoretical discussion of the form […] was slow to develop and is still in an immature state.” Then on p. 2 comes a remark (almost as given in the second sentence you’ve indicated) that “Good books about the novel are legion; good books about the short story are extremely scarce.”
    The publication details are as shown on my website. You may be interested to know that my book will soon be reprinted.
    Kind regards.

  3. dear Ian , wish u healthy,wealthy
    i m an English Literature master student in Iran and I wanted to translate your great book, The Short Story, in persian but i saw in the preface of your website that it was translated into persian. i wanted more info on that plz.

    best wishes

  4. Dear Majid Valyan,
    Thank you for your enquiry, and your interest in my work.
    The unauthorised Farsi translation of my book is by Farzaneh Taheri. It was published by Markaz (Tehran) in 1997.

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