Brilliantly written stories of alienation, loss, and emptiness,
This review is from: Selected Stories (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
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.