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Something Short and Sweet
Story Collection
Page Count
Jonathan Cape
Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd
Publication Year
Document Types
available as ebook

London: Jonathan Cape, 1937 (July 16).
Dedication: "To H.A. Manhood" (an author of stories also published by Cape in the 1930s).

Of the sixteen stories in Bates's sixth collection, "Cloudburst" and "Spring Snow" are vignettes of human struggle in a rural context, similar to much of Bates's earlier work, and "Finger Wet, Finger Dry" and "The Sow and Silas" continue Bates's success with the antics of Uncle Silas. The remaining twelve stories display new themes and techniques, especially a running treatment of sex, and its power both for good and evil. Most of the stories focus on problematic relationships and have discouraging endings.

Graham Greene, who lavished praise on Bates's previous two collections of stories, wrote in the Spectator that the characters in this new collection were "dominated and dwarfed by an undifferentiated sexuality." He criticizes the collection for its "absence of detachment" and, while finding "moments of brilliant illumination," he concludes that "this is a collection which Mr. Bates's admirers, of whom I am devoutly one, may prefer to forget." Richard Church, writing in John O'London's Weekly on the other hand finds the new collection only confirms his belief that Bates "is an immortal...Here is a creative artist whose technique in the art of the short story is comparable with that of the great masters in this form." The Morning Post commented that "each story stands out individual and distinct...In each the theme has been worked over, walked round, sifted, considered, a stance as viewpoint selected, the ultimate significance determined; thus, in its sense of inevitability, security is given to writer and reader alike. In the deliberate, discrete use of artifice in these stories lies their distinction and their delight." Geoffrey West in Times Literary Supplement characterizes the outlook of the collection as "life is vain effort and bitter defeat" and further comments that "with rare exceptions, Mr. Bates's characters end with their stories; Tchehov's [Chekhov's] live on. Mr. Bates too often gives the impression of knowing no more of his men and women than he puts into his writing: they are beings without roots."

The story "The Palace," became the subject of a legal dispute when it was included in Country Tales in 1938.


  • John O'London's Weekly (July 23, 1937, p. 637, attached)
  • The Morning Post (July 20, 1937, attached)
  • Now and Then (Autumn 1937, p. 8, Ronald Lewin, attached)
  • The Spectator (August 6, 1937, p. 252, Graham Greene, attached)
  • The Times (July 16, 1937, p. 21, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (July 17, 1937, p. 527, Geoffrey West, attached)
  • Daily Telegraph (August 17, 1937, p. 5, John Brophy, attached)
  • Sunday Times (August 29, 1937, p. 8, L.A. Pavey, attached)

Contains: Cloudburst; Purchase's Living Wonders; Something Short and Sweet; The Captain; Italian Haircut; The Palace; Finger Wet, Finger Dry; The Kimono; Mister Livingstone; The Case of Miss Lomas; The Sow and Silas; The Landlady; No Country; Breeze Anstey; The Man Who Loved Cats; Spring Snow.