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Katherine Mansfield - Learning Literature

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KathleenBeauchampwasbornon 14thOctober18881903-1906: London, Queen’s College1908:settledin London1911:metJohnMiddletonMurry(marriagein 1918)1915:herbrotherLesliediedin WW11917:diagnosedastubercular1923:diedatFontainbleau
Themodernistshort story:key-features
Limitation and foregrounding of the point of viewEmphasis on presentation of sensation and inner experienceDeletion or transformation of several elements of the traditional plotRejection of chronological time orderingSpatial formIncreasing reliance on metaphor and metonymy in the presentation of the events of existenceFormal and stylistic economyForegrounding of styleThe short story shares all these characteristics with the modern novel, but they ‘look’ different in the short story precisely because it isphysically shortThe emphasis on subjectivity affects the themes of modern fiction: alienation, isolation, solipsism, the quest for identity
WORKSA German Pension and Other Stories1911Prelude1918Bliss and Other Stories1920The Garden Party and Other Stories1922The Doves’ Nest and Other Stories1923Something Childish and Other Stories1924
“Our satisfaction recognizes the skill with which the author has handled perfectly the minimum material”,[sothat the storyis]“what I believe would be called feminine” T.S. Elioton “Bliss” inAfterStrange Gods
Phasesin KatherineMansfield’s career
1908 – 19171917 – 1923:publicationofhermajorstories.Twomaineventsinthisphase:Herengagement withChechovHer accepting an invitation by Woolf to write a story for the HogarthPress
“What the writer does is not so much tosolvethe question but to put the question. There must be the question put. That seems to me a very nice dividing line between the true and the false writer” Letter toMurry, 27 May 1919“Tchechovsaid over and over again[…] thathe had no problem […] the artist takes a long look at Life. He sayssoftly‘So this is what Life is, is it?’ and he proceeds to express that. All the rest he leaves” Letter to DorothyBrett, 17 Nov. 1921With her friend S.S.KotelianskyMansfield translated some of Chekhov’s correspondence
Mansfield- Woolf
“Wehavegotthesamejob anditisreallyverycuriousand thrillingthatweshouldboth,quiteapartfromeachother,beaftersoverynearlythesamething”LettertoV. Woolf“And Iwasjealousofherwriting– theonlywritingIhaveeverbeenjealousof.Thismadeithardertowritetoher; & Isawinit,perhapsfromjealousy,allthequalitiesIdislikedinher”, Woolf’sDiary“Ifeela commonunderstandingbetweenus– aqueersensefobeing‘alike’”LettertoKM
“Whatformisit?youask. Ah, Brett,it’s sodifficulttosay. As farasIknow,it’s more orlessmyinvention[…] IhaveaperfectpassionfortheislandwhereIwasborn.Well, in theearlymorningthereIalwaysrememberfeelingthatthislittleislandhasdippedbackintothe darkblueseaduringthe nightonlytoriseagainatgleamofday[…] Itriedtocatchthatmoment –withsomethingofitssparkleanditsflavour. And justasonthosemorningswhitemilkymistsrise anduncoversome beauty,thensmotheritagainandthenagaindiscloseit, Itriedtoliftthatmistfrommypeople andletthembeseenandthentohidethemagain”LettertoDorothy Brett, 11Oct. 1917
“ThenIwanttowritepoetry. Ifeelalwaystremblingon thebrinkofpoetry. Thealmondtree, thebirds, thelittlewoodwhereyouare, theflowersyoudonotsee[…]ButespeciallyIwanttowriteakindoflongelegytoyou…perhapsnotinpoetry.Norperhapsin prose.Almostcertainlyin akindofspecialprose.”Journal, 22January1916





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Katherine Mansfield - Learning Literature