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This was the first book to define the "short story cycle" genre. It was originally approved as a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Southern California in 1967, and then published by Mouton Publishing Company in the Netherlands in 1971. Numerous literary critics have since cited to this book's analysis of the genre as the basis for their own discussions of various short story cycles.
The first line of the introduction sets forth this simple description which is later expanded upon: "A story cycle is a set of stories so linked to one another that the reader's experience of each one is modified by the exprience of the others." The rest of the book develops that simple definition and discusses the notion of "cycle" and its characteristics.
After discussing James Joyce's "Dubliners", Albert Camus' "L'Exil et le royaume" ("Exile and the Kingdom"), and John Steinbeck's "The Pastures of Heaven", the author lays out a systematic approach to short story cycles which he then applies in great detail to three twentieth-century cycles: Franz Kafka's "Ein Hungerkunstler" ("A Hunger Artist"--four stories), William Faulkner's "The Unvanquished", and Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio".
Any 21st century author who claims to have first defined the short story cycle genre should read this book and correct the record.
Critical Approaches to TwentiethCentury Short Story Cycles