The Collected Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Mar 2001
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About the Author
Born in New Zealand in 1888, Kathering Mansfield Beauchamp was primarily a writer of short stories. published Prelude and The Garden Party and Other Stories before her premature death from TB in 1923. One more book (Something Childish) and her journal and letters were published posthumously. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"In a German Pension" was based on Mansfield's experiences staying in such an establishment in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria. Unusually for a work by an English-speaking writer, most of the characters in these stories are German, although Mansfield herself makes an occasional appearance as a detached, ironic observer. She herself was later to describe the collection as "immature", and her views of German life certainly seem jaundiced, even patronising. At times she seems to be pandering to the anti-German feelings which were so prominent in Britain in the years preceding the First World War. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to judge her too harshly, given that she would only have been 23 in 1911, and one or two stories do reveal her as a writer of great promise. "The Sister of the Baroness", for example, in which an impostor passes herself off as an aristocrat, is an ironic account of social snobbery (something as prevalent in Britain as in Germany during this era), and "The Child Who Was Tired" is a striking account of the miserable life of a young servant in a bourgeois family.
Mansfield is sometimes labelled a "modernist" writer, largely because her stories did not always follow the traditional formal structure of "a beginning, a middle and an end". Her stories generally deal with subtle moods rather than with violent emotions or with physical actions.Read more ›
Published from the age of nine, she commented:
"I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was, too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all."
Her short stories, collected here, reflect wonderfully her keen eye for the pretension and absurdity in much of human behaviour - and the strict limitations set on a woman of her class and era. Men departed every morning to carry out mysterious functions at the office while women stayed at home, organising the servants and being decorative.
She dissects family life, marriage and loneliness - both inside and outside relationships. What strikes me most is her piercing humour; but also her equally piercing, sometimes almost unbearable insight into women's exasperating, inescapable compulsion towards a man rather than to independence. Katherine Mansfield strove to free herself from human entanglements and betrayals which were a distraction from her writing; and as her biographer Claire Tomalin shows, caused her life-long health as well as emotional problems.
Her stories often catch the reader between helpless laughter and a sinister lurking horror in the background:
"When I was with Lady Tukes," said Nurse Andrews, "she had such a dainty little contrayvance for the buttah. It was a silvah Cupid balanced on the - on the bordah of a glass dish, holding a tayny fork".
"she wore a black velvet toque, with an incredibly surprised looking seagull camped on the very top of it".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mansfield never fails to please. This Anthology contained some work I hadn't previously read. Brilliant stuff, can readily recommend, worth every penny.Published on 23 Jan. 2014 by Leonard Kennard
I am currently an A level English Literature student, and we are studying the works of Katherine Mansfield- I have to say, I am thoroughly enjoying her short stories! Read morePublished on 26 Oct. 2013 by Oli Brown Lover! x