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The Collected Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Mar 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183688
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,282,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Virginia Woolf apparently was intimidated by the work of Katherine Mansfield and reading the collected short stories certainly gave me an idea of why contemporary Woolf was awed by the talent of Mansfield. There are brilliant glimpses into the human character evident in this work. Though it may seem more tempting to buy a smaller selection, for example "The Garden Party and other short stories" it is through a more comprehensive collection such as this one that you get a sense of the author and her progression. She died young, never completing a full length novel yet the medium of the short story - I think - makes her accessible to a wider audience, even if up till now she has not been considered as a "mainstream" modernist writer. Short stories are perfect for just dipping into the book, seeing how the style and theme changes. The stories can be read as superficial glances into the upper class society of that era, yet I think a darker edge pervades the text. The symbolism of stories such as "Bliss" or "Prelude" reveals Mansfield's ingenuity in creating an underlying sense of unease. She accomplishes so much in so few pages, and this is why she threatened experimental novelist Woolf, and is so worthy of reading.
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Format: Paperback
This volume contains all of Katherine Mansfield's short stories, together with a number of unfinished fragments. She published three collections of stories in her lifetime, "In a German Pension" in 1911 and "Bliss" and "The Garden Party" in the early 1920s towards the end of her life; her husband John Middleton Murry was to publish two collections more after her death in 1923 at the age of 34.

"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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Katherine Mansfield, born in Wellington, NZ in 1888, was strangely unfitted for her time, with an independent spirit that led her to deny many accepted conventions. Writing was her whole life's focus.
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".
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Format: Paperback
If you can read, or can be read to, buy this book. A collection of brilliant stories for under £2.00? Good grief, if you're umming and ahhing about it, it's most peculiar. It's worth it for "At The Bay" - Mansfield captures children's dialogue so poignantly and humorously. Unusually for a Modernist writer, she has a coherence and contemporaneity that means the reader can access the worlds she creates. From the seediness of "The Little Governess", where a naive young traveller is molested by an ancient man, to "The Daughters of the Late Colonel", a bleakly comic tale of two spinsters both afraid and excited by the death of their domineering father, this collection is a treat. You don't need to be a fan of Virginia Woolf or James Joyce or 'literary fiction'. These are stories of humans, outsiders who are trying to connect with one another and questioning their place in the world.
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