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Exploding the Open Book: The Atrocity Exhibition, Vermilion Sands and the Ethics of the Short Story Cycle

March-Russell, Paul (2011) Exploding the Open Book: The Atrocity Exhibition, Vermilion Sands and the Ethics of the Short Story Cycle. Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, 1 (1). pp. 95-108. ISSN 2043-0701. (doi:10.1386/fict.1.1.95_1) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:49106)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
Official URL:
http://doi.org/10.1386/fict.1.1.95_1

Abstract

In 1989, Robert Luscher distinguished the terms 'short story sequence' and 'short story cycle'. Luscher argued that the term 'cycle', associated with texts such as Joyce's Dubliners (1914), presupposes a totality. Instead, Luscher proposed the term 'sequence' to denote collections in which the text does not arrive at a unity, but with each successive story opens and expands. The individual meanings are not subsumed within the whole but instead grow within, what Luscher calls an 'open book'.

Luscher's account is a revisionary exercise that substitutes 'sequence' for 'cycle'. He does not consider their respective differences in terms of the modernist/postmodern paradigm. Instead, Luscher's use of linear and binary thinking places his critique not only on the side of modernism but also on definitions of the short story that emphasize its impressionistic and epiphanic qualities. The openness of the sequence is, in practice, far less liberated than Luscher claims.

While the stories assembled to form Vermilion Sands (1971) can be described as late modernist pieces, the avant-garde design of The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) effectively explodes Luscher's 'open book' by refusing to be reconciled within any meaningful structure. In so doing, Ballard calls into question the academic tendency to define the short story.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1386/fict.1.1.95_1
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Fiona Symes
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2015 11:01 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:20 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/49106 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

March-Russell, Paul.

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