Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

Synopsis

This book attempts to analyze a major part of Mansfield's fiction, concentrating on an analysis of the various textures, themes, and issues, plus the point of view virtuosity that she accomplished in her short lifetime (34 years). Many of her most famous works, such as "Prelude" and "Bliss," are explicated, along with many of her less famous and unfinished stories.

Excerpt

Katherine Mansfield's life—34 brief, intense years—was spent in a state of perpetual motion. Born in Wellington, New Zealand on 14 October 1888, she began moving almost immediately. Her family left their home for the first time in 1893, moving to Karori (on the outskirts of Wellington). As though the tone was set, she began a life of flux. In 1903, at the age of 15, she went to London to attend Queen's College. From the time she finished school there in 1906 until her death on 9 January 1923, she moved approximately 72 times. Seventy-two moves in 33 years—a startling number of adjustments when one considers the nature of her life. She was stricken with some sort of venereal disease at about age 22, and then had to combat the horrid effects of a misguided operation designed to "cure" her illness. She developed pleurisy and suffered constant attacks of coughing punctuated by intense fevers. She developed tuberculosis and lived from moment to moment—never knowing when she might die. Yet, in spite of these problems and the resulting physical and emotional pain she lived with, she constantly moved—never once standing still during her life. Why? Why did Mansfield feel driven to move continually? What was it exactly that she was so desperately hoping to find? In this chapter, I will examine these issues and attempt to provide an explanation of her reasons for remaining in constant motion throughout her brief existence.

Katherine Mansfield never seemed to be able to live in one place for very long. With her family in New Zealand, Mansfield must have felt terribly suffocated, especially after she had returned from school in London, her dreams and ambitions, her very self, stifled and repressed. This feeling of suffocation seems to have hounded Mansfield for the rest of her life, constantly at the back of her mind. She always seemed to be searching for something more, trying to be someone better. When Mansfield moved away from . . .

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