The Reading Life Katherine Mansfield Project
"Violet" was first published by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) in 1913 and was republished in 1924 in the collection edited by her husband, John Murry, Something Childish and Other Stories. "Violet" is a bit of a strange story (as could be said of numerous of her works) by which I mean we are forced to think about what is being presented to us and are left without a method of validating our opinions.
"Violet" centers on a remembered series of events and conversations from the privileged late childhood of the narrator. I loved this passage in which we see the narrator talking to her friend (real or imaginary) about one of the girls living in a nearby house:
I began to imagine an adorable little creature named Yvette who lived in one and all of these houses. … She spends her morning in a white lace boudoir cap, worked with daisies, sipping chocolate from a Sèvres cup with one hand, while a faithful attendant polishes the little pink nails of the other. She spends the afternoon in her tiny white and gold boudoir, curled up, a Persian kitten on her lap, while her ardent, beautiful lover leans over the back of the sofa, kissing and kissing again that thrice fascinating dimple on her left shoulder."Violet" has no real plot no action it just sort of starts and then it stops. There is a great opening paragraph in which the narrator takes apart a series of old English proverbs. There is real wisdom in this passage:
THERE is a very unctuous and irritating English proverb to the effect that “Every cloud has a silver lining.” What comfort can it be to one steeped to the eyebrows in clouds to ponder over their linings, and what an unpleasant picture-postcard seal it sets upon one's tragedy—turning it into a little ha'penny monstrosity with a moon in the left-hand corner like a vainglorious threepenny bit! Nevertheless, like most unctuous and irritating things, it is true."Violet" can be read online HERE