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Less is More: American Short Story Minimalism in Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme

Greaney, Philip John (2006). Less is More: American Short Story Minimalism in Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme. PhD thesis The Open University.

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This work suggests ways in which 'less' become 'more' in the minimalist approach of three American short story writers, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme. By 'less', I mean minimalism's tendency to create a pared down, seemingly 'innocent' style; to use absence for effect; and to omit vital narrative details. By more, I mean the range and depth of emotional effects minimalism achieves, and the ways in which it demands the reader engage with the text.

Minimalism achieves its effects because, not in spite of, its tendency towards reduction, its reliance on absence. The paring down process creates interpretative indeterminacy, by omitting apparently vital information. Hemingway may be thought of as the originator of the minimalist short story; Carver and Barthelme develop new ways to implicate the reader in the creation of the text, for example by suggesting that the reader is a voyeur, and through the use of the second person narrator. Together, minimalist writing might be reconsidered in light of the ways in which it demands reader engagement.

My reader is an implied one and my choice of writers suggests ways in which the minimalist aesthetic developed; how it might be valued within literary history, and in the history of the American short story in particular. I consider Hemingway in terms of the origins of the minimalist approach in the short story, hence I offer a discussion of how his work developed within the context of literary history, as a reaction to both modernism and tradition. I conclude by suggesting that the status of minimalist writing in literary history might be reconsidered in light of a renewed understanding of how this seemingly impoverished, restrained and slight writing creates works of great richness, emotional intensity, and intellectual depth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 2006 The Author
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > English & Creative Writing
Item ID: 59603
Depositing User: ORO Import
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2019 14:35
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2019 18:49
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