Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

By Patrick D. Morrow | Go to book overview

Chapter Three

Stories from In a German Pension

As is the case with most any artist, the need for recognition and acceptance is a very strong motivating factor. In the case of Katherine Mansfield, this need for recognition and acceptance, coupled with her trying to prove her artistic merit to an overbearing and hypocritical father, was the primary factor in her publishing her first volume of collected short stories, In a German Pension. In a German Pension was published in London by Stephen Swift in 1911, and in this first volume, her stories, for the most part, reflect the progressive maturity of an artist. Since it is her first volume, the Mansfield we have is an unformed, struggling writer who is both trying to achieve notoriety and prove to her father that this rebellion from her father was necessary in her development as an artist. When the volume was published, it received rave reviews, and KM had partially accomplished her purpose. "Thus at long last Kathleen was vindicated in front of the whole family" (Alpers 145).

But the contents of this volume reflect the artistic immaturity of the writer. That "the majority of the stories of In a German Pension are told in the I form" (Friis 121) is rather significant. Mansfield had not yet mastered the technique of going into a principle character's psyche to determine the inter-workings therein. Also, the experiences she relates are largely autobiographical. "In the sketches of In a German Pension Katherine Mansfield is herself the teller of the stories, which are made up by her experience during her stay as a convalescent at Woerishofen in Bavaria in 1909" (Friis). The critics' response to In a German Pension was largely positive, but in comparing these stories to the later Mansfield, "the stories of In a German Pension represent a phase of cynicism and disillusionment; the world is amusing, but rather despicable; people in it are ridiculous and rather stupid" (Friis 168). The major limitations of this volume are

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