Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Man Without a Temperament" and three other stories by Katherine Mansfield

I have several ongoing reading projects.    One of my projects is  the short stories of Katherine Mansfield (all of which can be read online at The New Zealand Electronic Text Center, a superbly done resource).    So far I have read and posted on nine of her stories.   Today I will cover briefly (I hope!) four more stories from her collection Bliss and Other Stories (1924).

Gerri Kimber, one of the officer of the Katherine Mansfield Society, posted the web page of the Katherine Mansfield Society in a comment.    It seems to be for sure the best web resource for the study and enjoyment of the work of Katherine Mansfield.   There is even a blog in which which we can read a daily small section from the notebooks, journals and letters of Mansfield.   I have been reading the blog ever since I learned of it.   Some people say her journals and logs are better written than her stories.  

There are still a lot of stories to be read and posted on.   For practical and other reasons I do not desire to do detailed posts on all the stories so today I am more or less doing a reading journal on the last four stories I read.   When a story seems really good to me I will do a longer post on it.

"The Man Without a Temperament" (22 pages) centers on the affluent guests in a Continental pension.  (I think Mansfield spent a lot of time in pensions-sort of a fancy boarding house-while in Europe).   Like a number of her stories it consists more less of a serious of brief look at the lives and persons a group of people.   The tone is a bit detached and ironic.   The level of writing is very high.   There is one passage in the story I liked so much I want to share it:

On—on—past the finest villas in the town, magnificent palaces, palaces worth coming any distance to see, past the public gardens with the carved grottoes and statues and stone animals drinking at the fountain, into a poorer quarter. Here the road ran narrow and foul between high lean houses, the ground floors of which were scooped and hollowed into stables and carpenters' shops. At a fountain ahead of him two old hags were beating linen. As he passed them they squatted back on their haunches, stared, and then their " A-hak-kak-kak ! " with the slap, slap, of the stone on the linen sounded after him.

Maybe the references to the two women doing laundry as "Old hags" will rub some the wrong way.   Mansfield is not above some snobbery but she does see through the limitations of her sense of  class in ways that maybe even Woolf and Ford do not.

"Mr Reginald Peacock's Day"-10 pages-is about a day in the life of a voice teacher.    It is a very interesting study also of a fascinating marriage as well as a brilliant expose of flawed self perception.

"Sun and Moon" is a strange feeling story about two young children and their daily activities.    A times it almost feels like a fairy tale.   The style of writing in an almost child like fashion at times to artistically match the content of the story.

"Feuille d'Album" (11 pages) is a wonderful story about the fantasy of an artist concerning his relationship with a woman he does not even know.   It is also plays on the notion of the artist  as an "old child".   It can be seen as a mockery of some of the people within the Bloomsbury Circle or of some of Mansfield's male admirers.  "Feulle d'Album" is the  name of a solo piano piece by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt published in 1844 and I think it is safe to assume that Mansfield felt her readers would know that.

There are four more stories in the collection Bliss and Other Stories.   I hope to post on them next week.

If you have any suggestions as to short stories I might like, please leave them in a comment.  Thanks

Mel u

1 comment:

Jennifer R said...

Thanks for hopping by my blog! Just stopping by to say hi. :) I like your sky background. Very pretty.