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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"All Serene" by Katherine Mansfield

"All Serene" by Katherine Mansfield (1923, 7 pages-an unfinished story)

"All Serene" by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) is one of the 15 unfinished stories included by her husband, John Middleton Murry, in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories (1923) which he published very shortly after her death.    Some of the stories were fully plotted and Mansfield was basically polishing them.   According to Murry she was very critical of her own work and hated to release a work she was not very happy with.    Some of the stories seem to stop right in the middle of the story.    "All Serene" reads like a story that stops in the middle.  

"All Serene" begins at the breakfast table with a very much in love young couple.    Both want very much to please the other.    Their expressions of love for each other initially feel almost "too much".    I know Mansfield well enough by now that she will not allow this simple minded a presentation to stand.    The man appears to be a successful business man.    As they are having their breakfast the man receives a very important seeming letter from a mining company.     His wife gets nervous and he tells her nothing to be concerned about he will open it at the office.     We never learn anymore.   I wonder what happens, of course, and somehow I think the contents of the letter will change their world.   

The standard of prose is high as always.    Some cynics may find the opening love scenes excessively  saccharine.   Personally I think Mansfield is setting us up.

"All Serene", even in its unfinished form, is worth reading online.    I think the unfinished stories of Mansfield, for sure among the top five short story writers of all time, also are worth reading as kind of an exercise if we take  a bit of time to wonder what Mansfield would have done to the stories had she been able to complete them.    

Mel u

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