domingo, 21 de octubre de 2018

STORY 17: "FIRST CONFESSION" BY FRANK O'CONNOR

Frank O’Connor, pseudonym of Michael O’Donovan, (born 1903, Cork, County Cork, Ireland—died March 10, 1966, Dublin), Irish playwright, novelist, and short-story writer who, as a critic and as a translator of Gaelic works from the 9th to the 20th century, served as an interpreter of Irish life and literature to the English-speaking world.
Raised in poverty, a childhood he recounted in An Only Child (1961), O’Connor received little formal education before going to work as a librarian in Cork and later in Dublin. As a young man, he was briefly imprisoned for his activities with the Irish Republican Army. O’Connor served as a director of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in the 1930s, collaborating on many of its productions. During World War II he was a broadcaster for the British Ministry of Information in London. He won popularity in the United States for his short stories, which appeared in The New Yorker magazine from 1945 to 1961, and he was a visiting professor at several American universities in the 1950s.
(https://www.britannica.com/biography/Frank-OConnor)

In First Confession by Frank O’Connor we have the theme of conflict, appearance, division, connection, fear, innocence and honesty. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is a memory piece and is narrated in the first person by a man called Jackie. What is interesting about the beginning of the story is that O’Connor may be exploring the theme of conflict and appearance. 
(http://sittingbee.com/first-confession-frank-oconnor/)

sábado, 3 de marzo de 2018

STORY 16: "THE DEVOTED FRIEND" BY OSCAR WILDE

"The Devoted Friend" is a darkly comic short story for children by the Irish author Oscar Wilde.  It was first published in 1888 in the anthology The Happy Prince and Other Tales, which also includes "The Nightingale and the Rose", "The Selfish Giant" and "The Remarkable Rocket". 




The two main characters in "The Devoted Friend" are a poor man known as little Hans and a rich Miller. The Miller claims to be a devoted friend of little Hans. In truth, he selfishly takes advantage of little Hans at every opportunity. Little Hans always does everything that the Miller asks him to do because he does not want to lose the Miller's friendship or offend him. Little Hans' desire to remain the Miller's friend ultimately proves fatal for him. 

lunes, 4 de diciembre de 2017

STORY 15: "THE GIFT OF THE MAGI" BY O. HENRY

(Many thanks to our assistant teacher Camilo Montoya for suggesting this story, perfect for Christmas.)


William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910), known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American short story writer. His stories are known for their surprise endings.
Porter's most prolific writing period started in 1902, when he moved to New York City to be near his publishers. While there, he wrote 381 short stories. He wrote a story a week for over a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. His wit, characterization, and plot twists were adored by his readers but often panned by critics.
O. Henry's stories frequently have surprise endings. His stories are also known for witty narration.
Most of O. Henry's stories are set in his own time, the early 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: policemen, waitresses, etc.
O. Henry's work is wide-ranging, and his characters can be found roaming the cattle-lands of Texas, exploring the art of the con-man, or investigating the tensions of class and wealth in turn-of-the-century New York. O. Henry had an inimitable hand for isolating some element of society and describing it with an incredible economy and grace of language. Some of his best and least-known work is contained in Cabbages and Kings, a series of stories each of which explores some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town, while advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another.

Among his most famous stories is "The Gift of the Magi" we have chosen, and also:
  • "The Ransom of Red Chief", in which two men kidnap a boy of ten. The boy turns out to be so bratty and obnoxious that the desperate men ultimately pay the boy's father $250 to take him back.
  • "The Cop and the Anthem" about a New York City hobo named Soapy, who sets out to get arrested so that he can be a guest of the city jail instead of sleeping out in the cold winter. Despite efforts at petty theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, and "mashing" with a young prostitute, Soapy fails to draw the attention of the police. Disconsolate, he pauses in front of a church, where an organ anthem inspires him to clean up his life—and is ironically charged for loitering and sentenced to three months in prison.
  • "A Retrieved Reformation", which tells the tale of safecracker Jimmy Valentine, recently freed from prison. He goes to a town bank to case it before he robs it. As he walks to the door, he catches the eye of the banker's beautiful daughter. They immediately fall in love and Valentine decides to give up his criminal career. He moves into the town, taking up the identity of Ralph Spencer, a shoemaker. Just as he is about to leave to deliver his specialized tools to an old associate, a lawman who recognizes him arrives at the bank. Jimmy and his fiancée and her family are at the bank, inspecting a new safe when a child accidentally gets locked inside the airtight vault. Knowing it will seal his fate, Valentine opens the safe to rescue the child. However, much to Valentine's surprise, the lawman denies recognizing him and lets him go.
  • "The Duplicity of Hargraves". A short story about a nearly destitute father and daughter's trip to Washington, D.C.
  • "The Caballero's Way", in which Porter's most famous character, the Cisco Kid, is introduced. It was first published in 1907 in the July issue of Everybody's Magazine and collected in the book Heart of the West that same year. In later film and TV depictions, the Kid would be portrayed as a dashing adventurer, perhaps skirting the edges of the law, but primarily on the side of the angels. In the original short story, the only story by Porter to feature the character, the Kid is a murderous, ruthless border desperado, whose trail is dogged by a heroic Texas Ranger. The twist ending is, unusually for Porter, tragic.

"The Gift of the Magi" is a short story about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been a popular one for adaptation, especially for presentation at Christmas time. The plot and its twist ending are well-known, and the ending is generally considered an example of comic irony. It was allegedly written at Pete's Tavern[2] on Irving Place in New York City.
The story was initially published in The New York Sunday World under the title "Gifts of the Magi" on December 10, 1905. It was first published in book form in the O. Henry Anthology The Four Million in April 1906.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._Henry)



jueves, 12 de octubre de 2017

STORY 14. "HAPPY ENDINGS" BY MARGARET ATWOOD

Margaret Eleanor Atwood(born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, and environmental activist. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award several times, winning twice. In 2001, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. She is also a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada's writing community. Among innumerable contributions to Canadian literature, she was a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize.



She is seen as one of the world’s leading women novelists, for some the best of them all; she has written poetry, novels, criticism and short stories; she campaigns for human rights and for the environment. 
Nonetheless, across the years, certain themes, concerns and ways of writing recur. Amongst other things, Atwood writes about art and its creation, the dangers of ideology, and sexual politics; she deconstructs myths, fairytales and the classics for a new audience. 
"Happy Endings" was first published in a 1983 Canadian collection, Murder in the Dark.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Atwood

"Happy Endings" is an example of metafiction. That is, it's a story that comments on the conventions of storytelling and draws attention to itself as a story. At approximately 1,300 words, it's also an example of flash fiction. "Happy Endings" was first published in 1983.
The story is actually six stories in one. Atwood begins by introducing the two main characters, John and Mary, and then offers six different versions -- labeled A through F -- of who they are and what might happen to them.
https://www.thoughtco.com/margaret-atwoods-happy-endings-analysis-2990463

sábado, 1 de abril de 2017

STORY 13: "THE VELDT" BY RAY BRADBURY

Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American fantasyscience fictionhorror and mystery fiction author and screenwriter.
Widely known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) as well as his science fiction and horror story collections The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), and I Sing the Body Electric (1969), Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th- and 21st-century American writers. While most of his best known work is in speculative fiction, he also wrote in other genres, such as the coming-of-age novel Dandelion Wine (1957) or the fictionalized memoir Green Shadows, White Whale (1992).
Recipient of numerous awards, including a 2007 Pulitzer Citation, Bradbury also wrote and consulted on screenplays and television scripts, including Moby Dick[2] and It Came from Outer Space. Many of his works were adapted to comic book, television and film formats.
On his death in 2012, The New York Times called Bradbury "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Bradbury

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create.

In "The Veldt," a family live in a technologically driven house that will do everything for its inhabitants - transport you upstairs, brush your teeth, cook the food, and clean the house. The nursery, the most expensive and exciting room of the house, is a place where childen can play, but something is going wrong. 
In this dark and troubling story, Bradbury writes a precautionary tale of the advance of technology and the importance of maintaining communication during these technological advances. 

http://www.gradesaver.com/ray-bradbury-short-stories/study-guide/summary-the-veldt

domingo, 29 de enero de 2017

STORY 12. "THE HITCHHIKER" BY ROALD DAHL


We come back to Roald Dahl with the story "The Hitchhiker". It was originally published in the July 1977 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, and later included in Dahl's short story collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. The story features a man who picks up a hitch-hiker whilst driving to London

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitch-Hiker_(short_story)


For an analysis of the story click HERE

And this is a short film based on "The Hitchhicker"


domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2016

STORY 11: "BOYS AND GIRLS" BY ALICE MUNRO

                         Alice Munro © Derek Shapton
Alice Munro (10 July 1931, Wingham, Canada) Alice was born in Wingham, Ontario in Canada. Her father was a fox and mink farmer and her mother was a teacher. Alice began writing as a teenager. She also studied at the University of Western Ontario and worked as a library clerk. After marrying she moved with her husband to Dundarave, West Vancouver, and moved again in 1963 to Victoria, where the pair opened a bookstore. Since the late 1960s, Alice Munro has dedicated herself to writing. She is married with two daughters from her first marriage.
Alice Munro has dedicated her literary career almost exclusively to the short story genre. She grew up in a small Canadian town; the kind of environment that often provides the backdrops for her stories. These often accommodate the entire epic complexity of the novel in just a few short pages. The underlying themes of her work are often relationship problems and moral conflicts. The relationship between memory and reality is another recurring theme she uses to create tension. With subtle means, she is able to demonstrate the impact that seemingly trivial events can have on a person's life.
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2013/munro-facts.html
‘‘Boys and Girls’’ was first published in 1968 in The Montrealer, before it was collected with fourteen other stories and published in Alice Munro’s first edition of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968). The story, narrated by a young girl, details the time in her life when she leaves childhood and its freedoms behind and realizes that to be a ‘‘girl’’ is to be, eventually, a woman. The child begins to understand that being socially typed entails a host of serious implications. Thus becoming a ‘‘girl’’ on the way to womanhood is a time fraught with difficulties for the young protagonist because she senses that women are considered the social inferiors of men. Initially, she tries to prevent this from occurring by resisting her parents’ and grandparents’ attempts to train her in the likes, habits, behaviour, and work of women. 
http://www.giuliotortello.it/shortstories/boys_and_girls.pdf
http://www.slideshare.net/emmawxyn/boys-and-girls-3142564
http://www.signature-reads.com/2013/08/a-definitive-biography-to-honor-alice-munros-retirement/