Friday, December 5, 2014

Great English Short Stores

Great English Short Stores, part of the Dover Thrift Editions, is an odd assortment of stories which certainly reflect the time and place of their composition.  

Many of the tales here present the dark underbelly of Victorian and Edwardian England.  There is an obsession with ghosts and the occult.  As English society grew more industrialized, rational, and secular, the need for the occult grew in proportion.

The stories in this collection are deeply concerned with class, a very English preoccupation, repressed sexuality, an undefined but ever present misogyny and fear of female sexuality.  In fact, if anything can be said to hold his collection together, it is this constellation of English anxieties which run through each story to a greater or lesser degree.

So, although this collection often reads as very staid, in actuality there is a great deal of tension brewing below the surface.  It is worth reading, especially for the final story by George Eliot which brings many of these anxieties to the light of day.

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