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, July 16, 2011

"Bains Turcs" by Katherine Mansfield

" Bains Turcs" by Katherine Mansfield (1912, 3 pages)

A Neglected Early Mansfield Story
A Turkish Bath in Paris-Ladies Only Day

There are about 15 or so short stories by Katherine Mansfield that were not included in any of the four collections edited by Mansfield or her husband John Middleton Murry.   Sometime ago I completed what I called Phase One of my Katherine Mansfield Reading Project in which I posted on all 85 or so of her collected short stories.    Last week with my posting on "At The Club", a delightful satirical pass through of an upper class social club, I began to start posting on the uncollected stories.   Most of these stories are quite short and one can assume that Mansfield and her husband in most cases did not deem them worthy of inclusion in a collection.

That being said, inferior work by Katherine Mansfield is not just a curiosity for those very into her work, it can well be a beautiful work superior to today's prize winning stories.    I will keep my posts brief and will supply a link where you can read the stories.  The total body of these stories is not more than 50 pages.

"Bains Turcs" (Turkish Bath) is told in the first person through the eyes of a young woman going into the bathing rooms at a Turkish Bath in Paris.   This is a kind of autobiographical story in that Katherine Mansfield's mother attempted to cure her of a sexual attraction to women by sending her to treatment at baths.   I know that sounds really odd but it was a common practice at the time to think bad impulses could be sweated out of people.   The story is very like "At The Club".   We listen in as various women say nasty things about each other.   It is really very well done and quite funny.   The women, in various stages of undress at the bath, are sizing up each other's bodies and style in a very unmerciful way.

You can read this story HERE


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