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

Monday, September 27, 2010

"A Suburban Fairy Tale" by Katherine Mansfield

"A Suburban Fairy Tale" by Katherine Mansfield (6 pages, 1917)

"A Suburban Fairy Tale" by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) is set in London right after the end of WWI.   The citizens of London are enjoying an end to war time rationing.   As the story begins Mr and  Mrs B (this use of "B"  had to have been meant to at least make those who knew a bit about her life think of her parents-Annie and Harold Beauchamp-Mansfield's  real name was Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murray) are enjoying the kind of grand breakfast that was not possible during the war years.   

Mansfield's description of their son, little B, is marvelous:

Alas! Little B. was not at all the child that such parents had every right to expect. He was no fat little trot, no dumpling, no firm little pudding. He was under-sized for his age, with legs like macaroni, tiny claws, soft, soft hair that felt like mouse fur, and big wide-open eyes.
It is interesting to see all of he food references in this description which are meant,  I think, to let us see how much food would permeate our mind under the conditions of war rationing.   Little B sees a flock of sparrows out side the window that seem to be crying for food.  We are also drawn to think of the father seeing his son as a kind of sparrow also.   The fairy tale element of the story begins at this point and I do not wish to spoil it.     Katherine Mansfield was very into work of Oscar Wilde and I see the influence of his fairy tales in this story.

Mel u


Suko said...

Interesting post! Food would certainly become an obsession during wartime rationing for many people (myself included). It would be great to have a post of all the reviews and story links from the Katherine Mansfield Reading Life Project (but that would be a lot of work!).

Mel u said...

Suko-the link to the Reading Life Katherine Mansfield project has links to all my posts for it-also linked from the pic of her on a stamp in the side bar-for sure I agree on the food

Suko said...

Ah, yes! That's great! Thanks! :)

ds said...

I really should read more of Mansfield's work--it's been a while. Great analysis of this story. Thanks, Mel!