None of these constitutes a short story as it has been defined since the 19th century, but they do make up a large part of the milieu from which the modern short story emerged. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Throughout history humankind has enjoyed various types of brief narratives: jests, anecdotes , studied digressions , short allegorical romances, moralizing fairy tales, short myths , and abbreviated historical legends. This difference alone accounts for their strikingly different effects. Whether or not one sees the modern short story as a fusion of sketch and tale, it is hardly disputable that today the short story is a distinct and autonomous , though still developing, genre. The old speak to the young through tales. Each writer worked in his own way, but the general effect was to mitigate some of the fantasy and stultifying conventionality of the tale and, at the same time, to liberate the sketch from its bondage to strict factuality. Before the 19th century the short story was not generally regarded as a distinct literary form.