Sunday, 3 May 2009

Katherine Mansfield (part 2)

Has Katherine Mansfield gone out of fashion? I couldn't find her in Waterstones or W H Smith. Not on the literary shelves. Not on the 20th century fiction shelves. Nothing in the library. Unless it was all out on loan, which I doubt. I finally found this collection in an academic bookshop. When I first discovered Mansfield back in the 80's she was always well-stocked in bookshops and there were quite a lot of articles about her in the media, too. After all, this was a young woman whose writing was not only admired and fostered but envied by Virgina Woolf.

I've now finished reading this collection and I would recommend The Daughters of the Late Colonel a bleakly comic tale about two delightful sisters, Josephine and Constantia, who have been so oppressed and bullied by their late father they still feel the need to defer to him even after his funeral has taken place. I also liked Marriage a la Mode in which a man's wife is heavily influenced by her pretentious literary and artistic friends who lounge around his house, eat all his food and sneer at him for working for a living. The Woman at the Store is a great, if disturbing, tale set in New Zealand which reminded me a little of the contemporary stories of Annie Proulx.


Laura said...

I just finished reading a collection of Mansfield's short stories too. I plan on publishing an ebook of her stories on Girlebooks soon, so maybe we can revive a little interest in her.

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Laura, yes, the reclaiming of Katherine Mansfield starts here! Persephone books have re-published her stories and journal, too.

StuckInABook said...

I really hope she hasn't gone out of fashion - perhaps I have a clouded view, since Oxford bookshops stock her. She is one of the finest writers of the 20th Century, I think, and certainly one of my favourites. Anybody with any desire to write, read or study the short story should be introduced to KM.

Sorry for all these comments, I've not had time to visit blogs for so long, and all your posts are wonderful!

Vintage Reading said...

Simon, heading over to your blog right now to check out your Katherine Mansfield posts! A brilliant writer indeed and I think short stories are the hardest to do well.