The most recent publication of Donoso's short fiction is the Anthologia del nuevo cuento chileno (Anthology of the New Chilean Short Story), which was published in 1993. It gathers in six volumes the vast majority of Donoso's short fiction, dating from 1954 to 1983. The anthology is, in its way, a paradigmatic work of our time, since it offers readers the possibility of attending to the second phase of Donoso's literary career (1955-1983) that has received little critical attention. This period centers on two works that heralded the literary, and above all, experimental phase of the Chilean Boom: the first collection of Donoso's short stories, Veraneo y otros cuentos (1955), and the first volume of his novel, El charlestn (1960). The latter work is what has generally been taken to inaugurate the new literary phase of Donoso's career, although the stories in Veraneo y otros cuentos (1955) are not without a sense of transgression within the traditional novelistic conventions. Finally, the last two volumes of Donoso's stories, Los mejores cuentos de Donoso (1965) and Los mejores cuentos de Donoso (1971), are later collections of stories that were published in the same year that those of El charlestn appeared. The designation of El charlestn as the beginning of the Boom is relatively recent and the collective term itself is a composite one, derived from the indications of both the El libertario review and the Chilean newspaper La Hora.6 The boom having been identified, one may assume a given date for the beginning of the so-called Boom, even if the chronology of the period is problematic. Indeed, as the introductory preamble to the Anthologia reminds us, the period may be represented as lasting from the beginning of the 1950s to the mid-1960s.
The fact that Donoso's short stories are now being reassessed does not, as is often suggested, suggest that his literary output is now being read with a critical eye, or that a coherent body of literary criticism has been developed around the short story. On the contrary, his stories have received little critical attention in the past half century. The often inaccurate and reductive readings of them in El obsceno pjaro de la noche are perhaps understandable in the context of the predominantly Anglophone influence on critical theory and practice in Latin America, which dovetails with the all-pervasive influence of American, English, and French literary criticism. The circumscribed nature of Donoso's literary production as a whole is also explained by this cultural impermeability, which has limited the critical voice he has had to rely on for his literary reputation. But this is not the case with his short stories, which have enabled critical appraisal, despite their marginality, by virtue of the fact that they could be read and reread in the context of a novel. The following comment by Gabriel Garca Márquez, one of the few critics to pay attention to Donoso's work, also captures the critical problem experienced by those who write on Donoso's short stories: 827ec27edc