Stories that only have six words. A valid category of ‘Narrative Genre’?

Stories that only have six words. Are they truly a ‘Narrative Genre’? David Fishelov, believes that they maybe. He’s a professor of comparative literature. At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. See his essay on the subject. ‘The Poetics of Six-Word Stories’ * (It’s published in Narrative, January 2019.) The professor considers stories from websites. Such as this one for example. And reaches several conclusions – for instance :

“[…] they offer an original insight, they invite us to delve into the narrative iceberg (to construct implied exposition, context, possible causes), to re-read the (very) short text, and to ponder the contrast between its tiny format and the complex human situations that it evokes.”

But also adds the caveat that :

“ […] while many six-word stories illustrate witty, artistic achievements, there is also the risk that practitioners of the form will mechanically produce dull texts.”

Notes regarding history of the genre. The originator of six word stories? Some assert it was Ernest Hemingway. With his now famous literary work: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” Penned, it’s said, on a napkin. But it’s possibly an apocryphal story. Here is an in depth investigation.

* The essay’s title has six words. Providing that you ignore the hyphen. Counting “Six-Words” as two words. Rather than just one, hyphenated, word.

Research research conducted by Martin Gardiner

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