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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"The Voyage" by Katherine Mansfield

"The Voyage" by Katherine Mansfield (1921, 16 pages)

"The Voyage" by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) was first published in 1921 then republished in a collection of her work The Garden Party and Other Stories in 1922.       The story begins on a dock on the coast of New Zealand where young Fenella is waiting with her father and her grandmother for the boat that will take them to Picton, New Zealand.  Picton is only an overnight trip away.   Fenella is being taken to stay at the house of her grandmother and grandfather for a while.  The father is there to see them off.  Transportation on the ship  reminded me of a long airplane trip.   The grandmother is shocked by the high price of food sold on the boat (like the food in airports and on planes), some of the boat employees are rude and you get treated with more respect if you have a first class cabin instead of just a chair on the deck.   The boat even has a stewardess.   Like many of her stories, "The Voyage" is set on a trip.     ( One of the central events in Mansfield;s  life had to have been the six weeks or so trip from New Zealand to England.)

Some of Mansfield's stories depict families in conflict.     It is easier to write about families in turmoil than those in harmony.    Everybody from Tolstoy and Flaubert down to writers of TV shows knows this.   In "The Voyage"  Mansfield shows us a a family whose members have a deep love for each other.   She does a very good job of depicting the way in which the relationship of a grandparent to a grandchild differs from that of parent and child.    I was very moved when I found out that when the grandmother makes this trip alone she stays on the deck but when she takes her granddaughter for her first trip she books a cabin.   

1 comment:

Suko said...

Excellent review, Mel, of yet another short story by KM! The last line of your review makes me smile.