Katherine Mansfield's fairytale food.
Terry Eagleton. (1)
Frank Sargeson seldom pulled punches when it came to bitchery about his fellow New Zealand writers. Katherine Mansfield--'our Kathie' as he liked to call her--had long been one of his favourite targets. (2) When a piece of 'imitation Mansfield' beat out his own entry in a Christmas short story competition, he complained that Mansfield herself, 'who should have been born in England and only come out here on comfortably conducted tours', had 'led practically everyone down the garden path'. 'Our kicking-off point', he insisted, 'should have been something resembling Huckleberry Finn'. (3) Mansfield--Becky Thatcher to his Huck--he consigned to a minor, 'feminine' tradition. (4) In 1954 the scales fell from his eyes: 'I've fallen for Katherine Mansfield at last', he told Dennis McEldowney. (5) He had re-read the collected stories in the wake of Antony Alpers's recent biography and 'got more than ever previously', yet something still nagged, and on 24 June that year he offered his friend John Reece Cole a curious explanation for it:
Strikes me the Hans Andersen influence has been overlooked, also Wilde's fairy stories--perhaps it was that side of Wilde that influenced her more than she was aware of. Anyhow there are endless fairy tale passages, & particularly the food is always fairy tale--& no wonder she got phthisis if she tried to live on it, which isn't altogether unlikely. Also Maeterlinck is important--the Blue Bird. It was always fairyland happiness she was after, & eventually it was identified with the place she'd come from. (6)
At first glance, this acerbic insight seems like an almost wilful overstatement: while cream puffs, honey cake and a collapsing ice pudding perhaps have a girly, insubstantial quality, a burnished roast duck, lamb chops, porridge, juicy pears, cherries and pineapples more than tip the scales in favour of representations of robust, savourous food. So what, if anything, might Sargeson have his finger on? And what might he mean by 'fairy tale food'? And, given that in the world of the fairy story as much as in Mansfield's fictional world, the exchange and consumption of food marks rites of passage and zones of transition, what might his observation have to tell us about food and transformation in Mansfield?
'I Am Dead Nuts on Pasta'
Sargeson's case for the fairytale influence requires a relatively partial sense of Mansfield's representations of food, and of her own relationship with food. Even a cursory glance at the stories proves that the food isn't always 'fairy tale', if that is taken to mean in some way ethereal or insubstantial. The vegetarian narrator of 'Germans at Meat' may well be nudging readers to agree that the meal she describes is excessive, if not downright disgusting--but the bread soup, veal with sauerkraut and potatoes, beef with redcurrants and spinach accompanied by dark rye bread, followed by stewed apricots and cherry cake with whipped cream find enough parallels in other stories to at least qualify the observation, also heard in recent criticism, that snacks and 'eating on the fly' are Mansfield's preferred tropes for consumption. (7) Further, Sargeson's suggestion that her food choices may have contributed to her illness is simply not sustained by the biography. Family photos show Kathleen Beauchamp as the chubbiest of the four sisters, and Annie Beauchamp was known to torment Kathleen about her size (8)--to the point where Mansfield could use her subsequent weight loss to assuage her mother's concerns about Murry's health:
He is NOT consumptive. [...] [T]hough he is a lean bone he is a very sound one. Talking about lean bones. Farewell to my portliness. For I, who weighed 10 stone 3 age of fifteen now weigh 8 stone 6. At this rate I will be a midget tooth pick at fifty. (9)
Despite her ambivalence about her own body image, (10) her letters suggest she often ate with relish, even when 'on the fly':
I had to leave this letter--go into the kitchen & cut myself an entire round of bread & bloater paste--tin loaf--because the body refuses to consider itself dined on one piece of flounder & an orange--I didn't know that Life held anything so ineffably delicious as this bread. [...] Simple pleasures are the refuge of the complex, nicht? (11)
A few months later, she told Garnet Trowell she had been to report on a Suffrage meeting. It was hot; the suffragists were dowdy and serious and talked until they were hoarse. The meeting finished at 10.30, and she ran into the street:
[C]ool air and starlight--I had not eaten any dinner, so bought a 2d sandwitch at a fearful looking cafe, jumped into a handsom, & drove home here, eating my sandwitch all the way--it was a tremendous two pen'north--almost too big to hold with both hands--& decided I could not be a suffragette--the world was too full of laughter. (12)
As her health began to deteriorate, food became more of a preoccupation. To John Middleton Murry, from Hotel Beau Rivage, Bandol, in January 1918, barely a month after her doctor had found a 'spot' on her right lung:
The food here has got much better since the submarines have taken to lunching and dining here. It is now very good & they have begun giving me portions so big that I think they suspect me of at least twins sous mon coeur. I set sail across tureens of nourishing soup stagger over soft mountains of pommes purees and melt in marmalades. So you see how well I am looking after MYself. (13)
A few weeks later she gives Murry a recipe for brown bread; later again she reconstructs her recipe for strawberry jam, down to the 'saucer test' for doneness. (14) In May she describes a dinner she had at the Headland Hotel in Looe, Cornwall: 'soup, fish cutlets, mutton chops, greens, pancakes with cherry jam, cheese & biscuits, coffee, butter, 1/2 a pint of milk'. (15) Although almost as elaborate as the meal in 'Germans At Meat', the Looe meal does not appear distasteful to the writer: rather, it is offered as evidence of her zest for life, and of how well she is being looked after in these days of wartime rationing. In October of 1919 she is trying to bulk up at Casetta Deerholm, Ospedaletti: 'Food here is much better. I am dead nuts on pasta. We eat it once a day & for 2.50 to 3 lire we get quite good meat'. (16) She was increasingly aware of the strain her care was putting on their resources-- pasta here stands for cheap but nourishing fare. A few days later, she is once more correlating her health and her ability to enjoy her food:
I weighed myself today 7 st 1 lb. 3 ounces just exactly the same. But that is good 1 think. It takes I am sure a month to settle down to a place before one begins to put on weight. I certainly have a perpetual appetite & we feed very well. Dinner tonight is Filet de boeuf aux oignons. Pasta--sauce tomate. Salade. Haricots verts neufs sautes. Gebackte Apfeln. (17)
Notwithstanding this talking-up of her health, her own appetite was probably waning. As it did, it seems she became more alert to other people's eating habits--especially, and famously, those of Ida Baker:
L.M. I believe ranges the mountains all the mornings--She comes back & I meet her at lunch--rosy, with bright eyes and an Appetite which makes the hotel tremble, and after having devoured the tablecloth glasses & spoons says what I miss are the puddings. Dont you ever care for currant duff, my dearie or--& then follows about 100 puddings as fast as they can tear--She keeps them all flying in the air, like a conjuror & still like a conjuror--eats em [...]. (18)
And to Murry again:
L.M. and she [Regine Geoffroi, the mayor of Bandol's wife] have just snapped up a whole half pound of biscuits (2 francs) bought by L.M. for me (I said a 1/4!) 'Oh I am so sorry Katie!!!' In consequence 1 never touched one & watched them dip the Vi lb in their tea. [...] (19)
Just as famously, she vents what Antony Alpers calls her 'phthisical rage'20 on the hapless Ida, often reaching for instances and images to do with food or consumption:
L.M. is getting so fat that she will be commandeered when she gets back. She eats portions for 2 + 1/2 lb. dates at a time + slabs of chocolate + anything else between meals. I hate fat people. I shall always be able to play on my bones. (21)
Here we hear the tones that might have lead Mrs Henry Smith, the headmistress of the Terrace School in Wellington, to describe Kathleen Beauchamp as 'a thundercloud' among the other girls of the family. Where her sister Vera was 'pretty and affectionate' and Jeanne looked like Alice-in-Wonderland, 'quaint and dainty', Kathleen seemed unpolished and plain--'a surly sort of girl'. (22) Mansfield's biographer Claire Tomalin tells us that Kathleen was 'the difficult one', an oudaw, given to outbursts of rage even as a child. She suggests that Kathleen may have been disliked or even feared by her sisters--and that hatred was her favourite emotion. (23) This dark, chubby, cuckoo-child with a penetrating gaze dramatised herself in terms that help sustain Sargeson's hint: she called herself 'the ugly duckling' of the family, and cast herself in the role of the fairytale princess: 'She had vague notions that it was always, would always be the third who was the favourite of the gods. The fairy-tales that she devoured voraciously during her childhood helped to stimulate the thought'. (24)
Of the many stories in which it might be plausible to look for 'fairy tale influence', especially in relation to food, 'A Suburban Fairy Tale' and 'Prelude' reward special consideration. On one level, representations of food and eating in Mansfield's stories simply signpost a time of day, or 'semaphore' character or gender, or family or interpersonal relationships; on another, food works as a lens or window through which to focus Mansfield's moments of 'fleeting disruption, when an established way of life is jolted by something other, strange and disturbing'. (25) Those moments, when something ruffles the surface of the everyday world--that dark, fey quality--is where Mansfield's debt to the world of the fairy story is clearest.
'A Date Pudding's a Good Thing'
Posthumously published in Something Childish and Other Stories (1924), 'A Suburban Fairy Tale' is set in London after the worst of the wartime rationing is over. (26) Chubby Mr B is tucking into a hearty breakfast while plump Mrs B keeps an eye on 'Little B' as he toys with his breakfast egg. Little B is not at all like his parents. Undersized for his age, he has 'legs like macaroni, tiny claws, soft, soft hair and big wide-open eyes' (650). Everything knocks him over. His mother loves him as only weak children are loved. The breakfast conversation mostly takes place over Litde B's head as Mr B reads out the 'specials' from the morning newspaper:
'Scotch hares,' said Mr. B. 'Fine Scotch hares for 5s. 3d. How about getting one, old girl?' 'It would be a nice change, wouldn't it?' said Mrs. B. 'Jugged.' And they looked across at each other and there floated between them the Scotch hare in its rich gravy with stuffing balls and a white pot of red-currant jelly accompanying it. (650)
But the butcher has promised Mrs B a nice little sirloin. What to do? They eventually decide to postpone the sirloin in favour of hare, and then move on to pudding. Mr B. picks another plum from his paper:
'Have you bought any of those controlled dates yet?' 'I managed to get two pounds yesterday,' said Mrs B. 'Well, a date pudding's a good thing,' said Mr. B. And they looked across at each other and there floated between them a dark round pudding covered with creamy sauce. 'It would be a nice change, wouldn't it?' said Mrs. B. (651)
Meanwhile, Little B is looking at the sparrows fluttering on the frosty lawn outside. They're cheeping hungrily. He wants to give them some crumbs, but his father won't let him open the window. Little B slips behind the curtain so he can see better. As he watches, the sparrows turn into little boys in brown coats, with white shining faces. They're dancing and jigging, squeaking 'Want something to eat, want something to eat!' The little boy cries out to his father: 'They're not sparrows! They're little boys! Listen, Father!' (652). But of course Mr and Mrs B can't hear. Then Little B disappears. His parents go over to the window and look out. There he is on the lawn, with the other little boys, his thin arms flapping like wings. 'Want something to eat, want something to eat', he cries (653). The Bs open the window and call the sparrows in, but of course it's too late. All the little boys change into sparrows, and fly out of sight.
Mansfield was an avid reader of Oscar Wilde, especially in her youth. (27) This story takes many of its thematic ingredients from the 'The Happy Prince', as well as some of its garnishes (doughty little birds), and its sentimental flavour. And, like Wilde, Mansfield is using the fairytale form to make a social point: in this case, her subject is the starvation caused by the Allied blockade of Germany that went on for months after the Armistice. But Mansfield stops short of Wilde's sugary conclusion: 'The Happy Prince' ends with God asking an angel to bring him the two most precious things in the city, and the angel returns with the prince's leaden heart and the dead swallow.
Mansfield's reluctance to moralise opens out other fairy-tale possibilities. Despite its food focus, nobody eats very much in 'A Suburban Fairy Tale'. As Diane McGee points out, food in Mansfield's stories is more often described or imagined than consumed, and stories in which food is mentioned but not eaten, such as 'Poison' and 'Marriage a la Mode', tend to explore the man's alienation within the couple. In both these stories, McGee suggests, 'the men seem to be looking for the traditional marriage that their partners reject'. (28) 'A Suburban Fairy Tale' illustrates the inverse point. Mr B is anything but alienated within this relationship: he joins in the fantasy of food production that is elsewhere in Mansfield's fiction the preserve of women, compounded by the emasculating fact that he has not been able to 'chuck in his job and join the Army' (649). Despite being able to exercise the choice that comes with economic security, Mr and Mrs B are unable to sink their teeth into anything. Like selfish giants, they are deaf to the sparrow-cries of Little B, the voice of social conscience, the third and distant point of the triangle.
Floating food also features in Mansfield's famous 'Oscar Wilde' dream of October 1920. In it, she meets Wilde in a cafe, and invites him home. They sit down, and Wilde tells her a story:
'You know Katherine when I was in that dreadful place I was haunted by the memory of a cake. It used to float in the air before me--a little delicate thing stuffed with cream and with the cream there was something scarlet. It was made of pastry and 1 used to call it my little Arabian Nights cake. But I couldn't remember the name. Oh. Katherine it was torture. It used to hang in the air and smile at me, and every time I resolved that next time they let some one come and see me I would ask them to tell me what it was but every time, Katherine, I was ashamed. Even now ...' I said 'mille feuilles a la creme?' At that he turned round in the armchair and began to sob, and Ottoline who carried a parasol opened it and put it over him ... (29)
This is the dream of a hungry person: the floating cake is in every way inaccessible or out of reach, and even its name isn't immediately available to the dreamer. Like the dreams of food recounted by Holocaust survivors, it disappears before it can be consumed. It's Alice-in-Wonderland food--a smiling Cheshire cat of a cake--and as good an example of 'fairy tale food' as Sargeson might wish for. Whatever else it might stand for--and that scarlet-tinged cream is particularly suggestive--it patently doesn't nourish.
Without attempting to psychoanalyse Mansfield on the basis of this evidence, is there a way of using this Wildean intrusion to unsettle 'A Suburban Fairy Tale'? The B's home is recognisably 'homely' with its familiar smells and commensal priorities. But it is also an unhomely place in the classic Gothic sense, which is also the terrain of the fairytale: an enclosed, suffocating world of parents who are deaf to cries for help, and starving sparrow-children. Perhaps we don't need to think too hard about what the family initial 'B' might stand for here, or the identity of Little B(eauchamp), the third one, pleading to be heard. Another angle: consider Mrs B's 'two pounds of dates', greedily contemplated by a chubby feminised couple in front of an inappetant, wasting child. Then think back to how Ida Baker grew fat on dates, and how LM and Madame Geoffroi scoffed KM's biscuits, and how KM looked on with her hollow little belly. Or another angle, this time Ida Baker and Murry, both surrogate parents in their way, both equally oblivious to Mansfield's real needs. Mansfield wasn't much given to self-pity, but it seems she may have reached for the Wildean fairytale as way of re-imagining her late position as the 'third' child who was the favourite of the gods. It would take someone as peevish as Sargeson to point out that the Wilde and the Mansfield stories perhaps align most neatly as wistful fantasies of post-mortem vindication.
'Where Can I Get Something to Eat, Mother?'
Sargeson's hint about Maeterlinck, and Mansfield's related interest in Symbolism, also rewards consideration. (30) The Blue Bird is classic fairy story in the tradition of folk tales in which an enchanted object offers a chance or an opportunity, or in which 'things' come to life. In similar stories, enchanted food might bring about a physical change, or a change in the way a character sees the world. In others, a stranger or 'outsider' might make or break a spell, or offer a gift of poisoned food. Such tales exemplify the Symbolist belief that 'an abstract state of mind or feeling should be conveyed not through descriptive analysis but through concrete images or symbols', and that thematic content must be 'evoked, not described, if it is to be successfully conveyed in art'. (31) The Blue Bird literalises this move to the concrete in a classically Symbolist way. A fairy sends two children on a quest to find the Blue Bird. She gives them a magical gift to help them: a hat with a diamond on the brim. When the diamond is turned, the wearer can see the inner life of things: water, bread, the cat, the dog, all take human form. This is the mirror image of Mansfield's feeling that she could project 'herself into things. Her account of 'becoming' a white duck with a round eye outlines a two-phase imaginative process: 'becoming one' with a thing, in order for that thing to take on a life of its own, as more than itself--that is, as a symbol. Mansfield's fiction is replete with such dense symbols, from the aloe, to the fly, to the little lamp. But what about instances where food is charged with significance beyond itself, with transformative powers or magical properties?
In 'Prelude', Linda Burnell eats very litde. Stanley, Beryl and Isabel make much of fried chops on their first night in the new house--but for Linda 'the very thought of it is enough' (19), and she refuses the two cherries Stanley saves from the pound he has eaten in the cart on the way home: they'd spoil her appetite for dinner (37). In fact, the only food the narrative allows her to consume is that most seductive of fairy-tale foods: gingerbread. Linda has woken that day to an oppressive dream about motherhood, and a feeling of being watched. Still absorbed in her dream state, and her uncanny feeling that 'everything had come alive' (28), she wanders down to the garden and knocks on the kitchen window, startling her mother and sister. Linda enters the kitchen in waif-like disarray, wrapped in an old cashmere shawl. 'I'm so hungry. [...] [W]here can I get something to eat, mother?' (30). Linda can only bring herself to nibble the narcotic lure--she offers half to her sister Beryl--but even half is enough to bring about a shift in her view of her new home, and of the maternal role. After she has eaten it, she sees her mother, who is in charge of the kitchen and associated maternal duties, as beautiful, comforting, necessary: '[Linda] needed the sweet smell of her flesh, and the soft feel of her cheeks and her arms and shoulders still softer' (31). Eating the gingerbread is profoundly calming, shrinking Linda back to childhood, absolving her of the need to assume the maternal role herself. Beryl, the chop-eater, is less susceptible to the transformative power of gingerbread, retaining her self-indulgent vision of herself as an enchanted princess, walled up in a remote castle: 'One may as well rot here as anywhere else', she mutters savagely (31).
'Ma! Ma! Kezia's Poisoned Us'
Several of Mansfield's stories actively thematise that other fairytale food trope: poisoning. In 'A Married Man's Story' and 'Poison', something bitter is slipped in; things go subdy sour. In 'The Aloe', Kezia plays a very overt poisoning trick on the frightful Samuel Josephs children. The SJs have been tormenting Lottie and Kezia, and then Kezia has one of her ideas--an idea that 'frightened her so that her knees trembled but it made her so happy she nearly screamed aloud with joy':32
'Know a new game,' said she. 'All of you stand in a row and each person holds a narum lily head. I count one-two--three and when "three" comes all of you have to bite out the yellow bit and scrunch it up--and who swallows first--wins.' [...]
She flung up her hands with joy as the Samuel Josephs bit, chewed, made dreadful faces, spat, screamed, and rushed to the Burnell's garden tap. But it was no good-only a trickle came out. Away they sped, yelling.
'Ma! Ma! Kezia's poisoned us.'
'Ma! Ma! Me tongue's burning off.'
'Ma! Ooh, Ma!'
'Whatever is the matter,' asked Lottie, mildly, still twisting the frayed, oozing stem. 'Kin I bit my lily off like this, Kezia?'
'No, silly.' Kezia caught her hand. 'It bums your tongue like anything.'
'Is that why they all ran away,' said Lottie. She did not wait for an answer. She drifted to the front of the house and began to dust the chair legs on the lawn with a corner of her pinafore.'
Kezia felt very pleased. (The Aloe, 33)
This trick is offered as a classic retribution for an earlier food trick--Stanley Samuel Josephs had offered Kezia strawberries and cream or bread and dripping for her tea, and she had fallen for it--but it's Kezia's reaction to her idea, and her pleasure in its the outcome, that is suggestive here. It's a combination of malice and triumph--the complete assumption of the role of poisoner: one who lulls an enemy into a false sense of security', or who invites the ingestion of an unknown substance, and absolutely betrays that trust.
It's interesting to note that Mansfield cut this episode out in the process of revision, and composed a very different food scene for Kezia in its place--the scene in which Kezia bites a big piece out of her bread and dripping, and stands it up on her plate to make a dear little sort of a gate. Hatred may well have been Mansfield's favourite emotion--but here she chose to edit out this gleeful goblin-child, replacing her with an anodyne double: the passive, good little girl. There is hatred in other stories, and other fairytale acts of poisoning, but the unhomely Kezia, the exulting hater, the setder of scores, is not part of the picture the remaining stories permit.
If Sargeson was correct, and Mansfield did come to identify the place she had come from as fairyland, it is an unsettling fairyland, lit by Symbolist colourings and animated by the transformative effects of the littlest actions. It's a land where Prince Charming's slow, sleepy smile quickly turns bright, blind and terrifying, and where, with a jolt like a dream of falling, the glitter of a first ball falls away to expose Death dancing with the Maiden, and where malevolent children and poisoned gifts shadow a daylight world of egg and olive sandwiches and cream puffs--and where, with these same party leftovers in her basket, Litde Red Riding Hood descends to the underworld, only to find that she cannot propitiate death, any more than Mansfield's performance of a good appetite could return her to health. In the end, the stories do show Mansfield channelling the disruptive qualities of her bad-fairy alter-ego: an angry ten-stone child looms over the seven-stone waif, the monster from her past who simultaneously threatens to devour her, and yet is the source of her most powerful energy.
(1) Terry Eagleton, 'Edible ecriture', Consuming Passions: Food in the Age of Anxiety, ed. by Sian Griffiths and Jennifer Wallace (Manchester, New York: Manchester University Press, 1998), p. 204.
(2) Frank Sargeson to John Lehmann, 23 March 1939. Letters of Frank Sargeson, ed. by Sarah Shieff (Auckand: Vintage, 2012), p. 21.
(3) To John Lehmann, 23 March 1939. letters of Frank Sargeson, p. 21.
(4) Frank Sargeson, 'Katherine Mansfield' [Text of a radio talk first broadcast on 28 July 1948] Conversation in a Train and Other Critical Writing, ed. by Kevin Cunningham (Auckland: Auckland University Press/Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 28-33 (p. 29).
(5) 27 May 1954. Letters of Frank Sargeson, p. 173.
(6) 4 June 1954. letters of Frank Sargeson, p. 176. Phthisis: pulmonary tuberculosis.
(7) See Aimee Gasston, 'Consuming Art: Katherine Mansfield's Literary Snack' JNZL 32:2 (2013), 163-82, and Diane McGee, "'Hungry Roaming": Dinners and non-dinners in the stories of Katherine Mansfield', Writing the Meal: Dinner in the Fiction of Early Twentieth-Century Women Writers (Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 81-107 (p. 88).
(8) See Claire Tomalin, Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (London and Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987), pp. 12-13.
(9) To Annie Burnell Beauchamp, 18 January 1918. The Collected letters of Katherine Mansfield, ed. by Vincent O'Sullivan with Margaret Scott, Volume II: 1918-1919 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 17. Subsequent references are to this five-volume edition. 10 stone 3 = 64.8 kg; 8 stone 6 = 53.5 kg.
(10) See, for example, Mary Burgan, "'They discuss only the food": Body Images', Illness, Gender and Writing: The Case of Katherine Mansjield (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp. 21-39.
(11) To Vera Beauchamp, 19 June 1908, Vol. I, p. 50.
(12) 17 September 1908, Vol. I, p. 60.
(13) 22 January 1918, Vol. II, p. 30.
(14) 14 February 1918, Vol. II, 2 pp. 72-73 and 14 June 1918, Vol. II, p. 238.
(15) To J. M. Murry, 17 May 1918, Vol. 9, p. 171.
(16) To J. M. Murry, 15 October 1919, Vol. Ill, p. 26.
(17) 18 Oct 1919, Vol. Ill, p. 33. 7 st 1 lb. 3 ounces = 44.9 kg.
(18) To J. M. Murry, 22 February 1918, Vol. 11, p. 85.
(19) 7 March 1918, Vol. II, p. 112.
(20) Antony Alpers, The Ufe of Katherine Mansfield (New York: Viking, 1980), p. 302.
(21) To J. M. Murry, 16 and 17 February 1918, Vol. II, p. 77.
(22) Ruth Elvish Mantz and John Middleton Murry, The Ufe of Katherine Mansfield (London: Constable, 1933), p. 152.
(23) Tomalin, pp. 12-14 and p. 6.
(24) From Mansfield's MS notes in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Quoted in Tomalin, p. 14.
(25) Angela Smith, 'Introduction', Katherine Mansfield: Selected Stories, ed. and introd. by Angela Smith (Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 2002), p. x.
(26) Katherine Mansfield: The Collected Stories, introd. by Ali Smith (London, New York and Toronto: Penguin, 2007), pp. 649-53. Subsequent references to this edition appear in parentheses in the text. The story is dated 1917 in this edition, as on first publication, but the MS is dated 15 March 1919, and internal evidence alludes to the famine suffered in Germany after the first world war and to the imminent end to war-time rationing, in force 1917-1920. See ATL MS-Papers-4011-6 and Antony Alpers, The Stories of Katherine Mansfield (Auckland, Melbourne and Oxford: Oxford University' Press, 1984), p. 562.
(27) See, for example, Sy'dney Janet Kaplan, Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991) and Vincent O'Sullivan, 'The Magnetic Chain: Notes and Approaches to KM', Fandfall 114 (June 1975), 95-131. Kaplan suggests that Mansfield warily 'buried' Wilde as one of the early sources of her creativity, but he may have returned to haunt--and nourish--her at the end of her life (p. 20).
(28) McGee, p. 88.
(29) 'Dream II', The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, Vol. II, ed. by Margaret Scott (Lincoln: Lincoln University Press and Daphne Brasell Associates, 1997) p. 243. Ellipsis in the original.
(30) While there is no specific evidence that Mansfield read or saw The Blue Bird ('A Fairy Play in Six Acts'), the Haymarket Theatre mounted a production of The Blue Bird (1908) at Christmas in 1910, and Mansfield was in London at the time. The connection is therefore suggestive rather than conclusive. For Mansfield's interest in Symbolism, see, for example, O'Sullivan, p. 100, Kaplan, p. 19 and Clare Hanson and Andrew Gurr, Katherine Mansfield (London: Macmillan, 1981), pp. 21-2.
(31) See Hanson and Gurr, p. 22.
(32) See Katherine Mansfield, The Aloe with Prelude ed. by Vincent O'Sullivan (Wellington: Port Nicholson Press, 1982), pp. 31-2.
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|Publication:||JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2014|
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