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European Masters of the Short Story  

Caroline Smadja Discover six short stories of the 20th century by European writers of outstanding talent, and learn about each writer’s life and work in the process. Each week will center on one specific story. In order to foster as lively and candid an exchange as possible, each session will first involve a group discussion based on study questions handed out one week in advance. Participants will be asked to analyze the story in terms of style, themes, point of view, etc. Depending on class size, this interaction will take 50 minutes to over an hour. The instructor will then provide additional information on each author’s life and body of work, including video and/or radio clips. Sources for the readings will be provided to all who register. Week 1. Anton Chekhov, “The Darling” Russian Anton Chekhov was hailed as the greatest short-story writer of all times and credited by many contemporary writers...Tobias Wolff not the least of them...for being a main source of inspiration. Week 2. Isaak Dinesen/Karen Blixen “Babette’s Feast” Danish author Karen Blixen’s “Babette’s Feast” was made into a wonderful movie in 1987. Like many women of the 19th and 20th centuries, Blixen wrote under a male pen name - Isaak Dinesen. Week 3. James Joyce, “A Little Cloud,” There is much about Ireland's national treasure unknown even to his most ardent fans. For example, Joyce studied Dano-Norwegian at University College Dublin in order to to be able to read the work of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in its original form. Week 4. Anais Nin, “Houseboat,” Nin, famous for her diaries, began to write in her native Spanish, then switched to English once she moved to New York City. Week 5. Dino Buzatti, “The Colomber,” The one you may not have heard of, “The Tartar Steppe,” his most famous work published in 1940, was made into a movie in the 1960’s. Week 6. Colette, “Le Kepi” A French writer, Colette was the first woman of letters to be given a state funeral. Caroline Smadja received an M.A. in English from University Paris VII, an M.A. in History from UC Davis and she recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific University in Oregon.has been a teacher/trainer for over 25 years, including 10 years as a lecturer at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. A French native with an international profile, her main interests and areas of expertise include: Literature; writing & editing; cross-cultural communication & understanding; public speaking; language teaching; and history. During her career, she has specialized in teaching adults, working with learners of all backgrounds and nationalities.


  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
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