To the many who are rejecting much modern fiction because of its length and burdensome detail, the revival of interest in the short novel is a heartening symptom. They have been ""step-children"" in the publishing world- underemphasized, rarely getting due reward of continued life, subsidiary recognition, often forgotten when the body of the author's work has been emphasized as more important. This is true, for instance, of the little known Father Sergius, by Leo Tolstoy, Young Joseph, shortest of the immense series by Thomas Mann, John Steinbeck's satirical piece, The Short Reign of Pippin IV -- all included in this collection. Dramatic values have added to the significance of such unforgettable short novels as Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Edith Wharton's The Old Maid, Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, James Hilton's Good-bye, Mr. Chips. Nathan's Portrait of Jennie, never won the recognition it deserved; Conrad's The Duel is virtually unknown when he is considered a master of tales of the sea; de Hartog's The Lost Sea and Saint Exupery's Prisoner of the Sand (the only piece taken from a longer work) are both semi-autobiographical rather than fictional. And Streeter's Father of the Bride provides the touch of humor with a bit of cynicism in its dateless segment of suburbiana. A grand collection- with a real purpose behind it.