Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The Dove's Nest" by Katherine Mansfield

"The Dove's Nest" by Katherine Mansfield (1921, 24 pages-an uncompleted story)


"The Dove's Nest" is the title  story in a collection of  Mansfield's work published by her husband shortly after her death (1923), The Dove's Nest and Other Stories.     The naming of this collection was in the hands of John Middleton Murry (1889 to 1957).    I am assuming given that he named the collection for this story that he considered it one of her best works.    Of the twenty works included in this collection,  15 are unfinished stories.  

Evidently, Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) often worked on several stories at the same time.   As I near completion of my initial reading of her stories, I plan just to do brief "reading journals" on her uncompleted works.   One might say that given the stories of Mansfield often do not have a simple beginning, middle and end structure and do not rely on twists closes as other stories of the period often did, that it would be hard in many cases to tell a fragment from a completed story.

As "The Dove's Nest" opens Milly and her mother are sitting out on the balcony of their stately New Zealand home and admiring the beautiful view.   The beauty of New Zealand was never far from the consciousness of Mansfield.   Her mother says some very funny things as the story opens:

" These are the occasions," said Mother, becoming a little flustered, " when one does so feel the need of our dear English servants. Now if I could just say, ' What is he like, Annie ? should know whether to see him or not. But he may be some common man, selling something—one of those American inventions for peeling things, you know, dear. Or he may even be some kind of foreign sharper." Mother winced at the hard, bright little word as though she had given herself a dig with her embroidery scissors.
The mother begins a conversation with her new friend, Mrs Anderson.   It appears the mother has been widowed for some years and her friend suggests she might want to meet a very nice well single man who was an American business associate of her husband.    The rest of the story is largely devoted to a conversation the mother and the new man.    It is well done and I wish it could have been completed.   To  Mansfield neophytes I would say read her completed stories first.   I am glad I read it.  

It can be read online


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