Language, Life and Play in O. Henry’s Short Stories

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Zhdanova D.A.

Postgraduate student at the Chair of Foreign Journalism and Literature, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Section: History of Journalism

Sophisticated language of O. Henry’s short stories derives from the hackneyed language of stories published in American magazines, dual guidance by mass and elite readers’ tastes, keen linguistic feeling framed by years of dictionary studying, and complicated vision of life. Trope and ‘bivoiced’ word (being the two types of ex­pression divided by M. Bakhtin) coexist in O. Henry’s writings as a result of his dual aesthetical aim: at depicting life complicacy and parody making. We identify five main directions in O. Henry’s work with linguistic material: stylistic redundancy and text compression, estrangement, distant concepts confronting, paradox, parody and profanation. Up to 80 stylistic devices are involved.

Keywords: O. Henry, short story, literary stylistics, tropes and figures of speech, parody