Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

By Patrick D. Morrow | Go to book overview

Chapter Five

Stories from The Garden Party
and Other Stories (1922)

The Garden Party and Other Stories was published by Constable on 23 February 1922, and in New York later that year. After having already published two largely successful volumes, what could Mansfield possibly have wanted to do? KM wanted to demonstrate her maturity as an artist. She still felt a need to be accepted by the public, and she wanted to exhibit what she viewed as perfection in her own work. Whereas in Bliss she had concentrated on the imagination, she now wanted to write about feeling. She also wanted to show a more positive outlook on life, and for her to do this, she had to focus on childhood. The stories in The Garden Party and Other Stories are much brighter than the others KM had written. It seems strange but true that as her health declined, her stories brightened. She began to withdraw into herself, and, "like Wordsworth, invalided and isolated, she nurtured her youthful experience and made it the center of her work in her later fiction. The depiction of children—herself and those she had known—became her trademark" (Magalaner 122). Although her later fiction has a large emphasis on children, her primary emphasis is on the interpersonal relationship between characters. She writes, in this volume, a good deal about feeling in these interpersonal relationships. Magalaner remarks that "a heightened sensitivity to personal relationships in fiction is perhaps Mansfield's foremost asset as a writer of short stories" (Magalaner 125).

The Garden Party and Other Stories continues Mansfield's interest in exploring her New Zealand childhood, but new themes are introduced in some of the stories, and KM's outlook has also changed. Death plays an important role in stories such as "The Garden Party" and "A Voyage." Portraits of women on their own also figure prominently in The Garden Party such as "Miss. Brill,"

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