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Katherine Mansfield. Kathleen Beauchamp was born on 14th October 1888 1903-1906: London, Queen’s College 1908: settled in London 1911: met John Middleton Murry ( marriage in 1918) 1915: her brother Leslie died in WW1 1917: diagnosed as tubercular

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Katherine Mansfield

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katherine mansfield
Katherine Mansfield
  • Kathleen Beauchampwasborn on 14th October 1888
  • 1903-1906: London, Queen’s College
  • 1908: settledin London
  • 1911: metJohn MiddletonMurry (marriage in 1918)
  • 1915: herbrother Leslie diedin WW1
  • 1917: diagnosedastubercular
  • 1923: diedat Fontainbleau
the modernist short story key features
The modernist short story:key-features
  • Limitation and foregrounding of the point of view
  • Emphasis on presentation of sensation and inner experience
  • Deletion or transformation of several elements of the traditional plot
  • Rejection of chronological time ordering
  • Spatial form
  • Increasing reliance on metaphor and metonymy in the presentation of the events of existence
  • Formal and stylistic economy
  • Foregrounding of style
  • The short story shares all these characteristics with the modern novel, but they ‘look’ different in the short story precisely because it is physically short
  • The emphasis on subjectivity affects the themes of modern fiction: alienation, isolation, solipsism, the quest for identity
katherine mansfield1
Katherine Mansfield


  • A German Pension and Other Stories 1911
  • Prelude 1918
  • Bliss and Other Stories 1920
  • The Garden Party and Other Stories 1922
  • The Doves’ Nest and Other Stories 1923
  • Something Childish and Other Stories 1924
the question of gender
The questionof gender
  • “Our satisfaction recognizes the skill with which the author has handled perfectly the minimum material”, [so that the story is] “what I believe would be called feminine” T.S. Eliot on “Bliss” in After Strange Gods
phases in katherine mansfield s career
Phases in Katherine Mansfield’s career
  • 1908 – 1917
  • 1917 – 1923: publicationofher major stories. Twomainevents in thisphase:
  • Her engagement with Chechov
  • Her accepting an invitation by Woolf to write a story for the Hogarth Press
chekhov s influence
Chekhov’s influence
  • “What the writer does is not so much to solve the 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 to Murry, 27 May 1919
  • “Tchechov said over and over again […] that he had no problem […] the artist takes a long look at Life. He says softly ‘So this is what Life is, is it?’ and he proceeds to express that. All the rest he leaves” Letter to Dorothy Brett, 17 Nov. 1921
  • With her friend S.S. Koteliansky Mansfield translated some of Chekhov’s correspondence
mansfield woolf
Mansfield - Woolf
  • “Wehavegot the same job and itisreallyverycurious and thrilling thatweshouldboth, quiteapartfromeachother, beafter so verynearly the samething” Letterto V. Woolf
  • “And I wasjealousofherwriting – the onlywriting I haveeverbeenjealousof. Thismadeithardertowritetoher; & I saw in it, perhapsfromjealousy, all the qualities I disliked in her”, Woolf’s Diary
  • “I feel a common understandingbetweenus – a queersense fo being ‘alike’” Letterto KM

“Whatformisit? youask. Ah, Brett, it’s so difficulttosay. As far as I know, it’s more or lessmyinvention […] I have a perfectpassionfor the islandwhere I wasborn. Well, in the earlymorningthere I alwaysremember feeling thatthislittleislandhasdipped back into the dark blueseaduring the night onlyto rise again at gleamofday […] I triedto catch that moment – withsomethingofitssparkle and itsflavour. And just as on thosemorningswhitemilkymists rise and uncover some beauty, thensmotheritagain and thenagaindiscloseit, I triedto lift thatmistfrommy people and letthembeseen and thentohidethemagain” Letterto Dorothy Brett, 11 Oct. 1917

  • “Then I wanttowritepoetry. I feelalwaystrembling on the brinkofpoetry. The almondtree, the birds, the littlewoodwhereyou are, the flowersyou do notsee […] Butespecially I wanttowrite a kindof long elegytoyou … perhapsnot in poetry. Norperhaps in prose. Almostcertainly in a kindofspecial prose.” Journal, 22 January 1916