M Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests

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Monday, November 22, 2010

"A Man and His Dog" by Katherine Mansfield

"A Man and his Dog" by Katherine Mansfield (1921, uncompleted story)

The Reading Life Katherine Mansfield Project

"A Man and his Dog" is one of the  uncompleted works that Mansfield's (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) husband John Middleton Murry included in  one his collections of her work, The Dove's Nest and other Stories (1923).    Here is how the story begins:

TO look at Mr. Potts one would have thought that there at least went someone who had nothing to boast about. He was a little insignificant fellow with a crooked tie, a hat too small for him and a coat too large. The brown canvas portfolio that he carried to and from the Post Office every day was not like a business man's portfolio. It was like a child's school satchel; it did up even with a round-eyed button. One imagined there were crumbs and an apple core inside. 
In the hands of a lesser writer this might have turned into a Walter Mitty story with a twist ending.    Mansfield does a beautiful job bringing Mr. Potts to life without reshaping him into something he is not or without ridiculing him.     Readers of Mansfield's most popular stories only will be surprised to see the illumination she can bring to the character of someone other than the young women that are often the center of her stories.

This feels like  complete story in terms of basic content line.   Murry tells us in his introduction to The Dove's Nest and other Stories that Mansfield was a harsh critic of her own work and continually refined her stories in small ways.    I would urge anyone interested in Mansfield to take the time to read Murry's introductions to her collections.

It can be read online here

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1 comment:

LifetimeReader said...

I just discovered Mansfield a few weeks ago and have been loving her stories. How wonderful to find your reviews!