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4.4 out of 5 stars
Selected Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2007
Katherine Mansfield's quietly devastating prose and absolute commitment to craft remain two of the most potent twentieth century contributions to the difficult genre of the short story. This well-chosen selection demonstrates why.

Rich in colour, atmosphere and poetry, these tales most frequently turn on questions of loss and self-realization. Mansfield often takes as her subjects the resonant emptiness of lives framed by the tightest of parameters - a lonely woman's complete attachment and identification with her canary, a man's dependence on the memory of his dead son - and times where cherished certainties fall away in moments of revelation.

Perhaps the most famous of the latter type is 'Bliss' where the abrupt emptying of juvenile hostess Bertha Mason's boundless, yet ultimately restricting, exhiliration comes as an ambiguous opportunity for both delayed misery and growth. Elsewhere, tiny phrases in conversation unravel inescapable disparities in relationships; the complex emotional tensions of Mansfield's characters lie, as in Chekhov, primarily beneath the glittering surface of her clipped and confident style.

Intricately crafted, the nuanced dimensions of these stories haunt the reader, echoing in your mind long after you've put the book down. I find them compulsively re-readable.

This selection contains all of Mansfield's most famous tales including 'Bliss', 'The Canary', 'The Fly', 'The Daughters of the Late Colonel', 'A Dill Pickle', 'A Cup of Tea' and a recently available, unedited version of 'Je Ne Parle Pas Francais' which restores the full depth of its narrator's deliciously depraved senses of self and sensuality. A must-read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2007
K Mansfield is an author that I really love and admire. I studied her writings at university, and rediscovered her "Selected Stories" recently with great pleasure and awe. Her style is fantastic ; her short stories focus on the characters' inner states and her depiction of human psychology is so accurate, rich and subtle. My favourites stories are Bliss, Prelude, At the Bay, the Garden Party, Mr and Mrs Dove,... The poignant "Life of Ma Parker" as well as the human cruelty depicted in "Ms Brill" will make your heart bleed. An author highly recommended.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2001
With her abundant usage of simile and metaphor, her sensibility and her presentation of the senses, colour, shape and aesthetic and moral perception, the indescribable style of Katherine Mansfield is present within this collection of short stories. Taken from Bliss (1920), The Garden Party (1922), The Dove's Nest (1923) and Something Childish (1924), these stories are set in many places and at many times, being linked together by Mansfield's delight in beauty and the essence of life, and her slight disgust at the crude and the ugly. Mansfield's ability to create such acute pictures within the reader's mind, to veritably sweep the reader into the narrative with her descriptive language, can only be achieved through her masterful skill of crafting language. This collection is wonderful - if you have ever felt slightly disconnected from the world around you, that you have thoughts which others do not, then this collection is for you - relish the similies, melt into the metaphors and let Mansfield take you on her magic carpet ride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2012
These stories are exquisitely written. Each is emotionally powerful. They are evocative, with almost impressionist, lifelike depictions of people and places. Mansfield's mastery of language allows her to give an impression of the character of her subjects just by the texture of her prose. It makes you understand why Virginia Woolf said that hers was the only writing that she had ever been jealous of.

That said, I didn't enjoy this book - it was a struggle to finish. The stories are powerful rather than beautiful, and what they depict so powerfully is human alienation, misunderstanding, pettiness, minor cruelty and selfishness. Occasionally they show us (convincingly) the workings of a really depraved and selfish mind.

The most sympathetic characters are achingly, agonisingly lonely - people with absolutely nothing to live for. They are shown supporting themselves on a few happy illusions or little pleasures, which Mansfield then snatches cruelly from them. They, and we, are left in despair.

So these stories are certainly worth reading for the beauty and skill of the language. Unfortunately they are so despairing and painful, with such a grindingly pessimistic view of life, that they were not pleasurable to read in any real sense - at least for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2010
Katherine Mansfield is a BRILLIANT writer. I love that the reader gets nothing given to them on a plate, she makes you work to find the meaning in her descriptions of a person's thoughts or actions.
I don't think her work is like any other writer I've read, she never quite comes to a conclusion at the end of a story, and you're left to figure it out for yourself.

this particular book has been made with lovely smooth creamy white paper, and the cover is a good quality card, if you're like me and these sorts of tactile things are important to you :)
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on 29 June 2015
Katherine Mansfield's stories are great. But this edition is shockingly bad. The editor is so caught up with her political agenda that virtually every comment or 'explanation' carries a debilitating inaccuracy and a plain trite commentary. This is an embarrassing text and astonishing that the commission standards of Oxford World Classics can sink so low.

Why not choose an editor with some intelligence and sophistication, and without hackneyed political axes to grind? And why not select one whose every worthwhile point is not taken from other, better, editions, and everything else not enveloped in contentious, if not false, assertions? Why not have an editor who at least understands the subtleties of English, French and German idiom, and does not read against the literary and literal grain for the sake of cheap shots playing to her own gallery? The editor is ignorant of the 'objective' cultural conditions of early 20th century New Zealand and England, and has no sense of irony. The author, and history itself, are for Smith merely fodder to the dubieties of the 'post-colonial' political correctness she is hostage to.

This edition is NOT recommended, for it serves neither Mansfield's talent nor content and contexts. Buy instead the Norton Critical Edition, whose editor know something about art history, especially the Bloomsbury variety, and provides more than banal 'translations' of foreign expressions in the stories. What a pity, OUP!
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on 13 April 2014
These wonderfully written, beautifully concise stories capture people at crucial moments in their lives perfectly. I don't even like short stories normally, but these are unputdownable. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates superb literature exploring human foibles and frailties and the beauty and strangeness of everyday life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 November 2007
I am new to Mansfield's work (shameful, I know) and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed her short stories. The selection in this book is broad and vary in length, subject and even style. Mansfield's prose is created with pained consideration to every word - the characters and atmosphere are developed within a short timeframe and hence every word counts for much. Her stories are what I would call 'easy reads' (i.e. not complex sentences or crammed with unusual words) but there is certainly more to each story than meets the eye. They are thought-provoking and it is just as relevant to consider what is NOT said than what is. It would be impossible - and it certainly wouldn't do justice - to summarise Mansfield's stories in this review. The beauty is in the individual interpretation of her work as well as the lingering pleasure derived from every sentence.

I bought this as part of a literature course I was studying but, unlike some of the texts, I'll keep this gem on my bookshelf for future reading pleasure.
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on 19 February 2014
I haven't given this book full stars through no fault of Katherine Mansfield. I discovered I had about one-third of the stories in another of her books which I should have checked first.
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on 20 September 2011
Each story draws you in from the moment you read the first few words. Individually unique and compelling. Lyrically beautiful, some made me laugh and cry! Highly recommend to anyone.
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