By the time of her death, Katherine Mansfield had established herself as an important and influential contemporary short story writer. Her appeal can be traced to her focus on psychological conflicts, her oblique narration, and her complex characters that seem to be on the brink of a major epiphany.
One of her finest short stories, ‘‘Bliss,’’ serves as prime examples of these defining qualities. The protagonist of the story, Bertha, experiences a sense of rapture as she reflects on her life, which later turns to disappointment and resignation as she discovers that her husband is having a love affair with her friend.
Mansfield’s Bliss, and Other Stories, published in 1920, secured the author’s literary reputation. While readers and critics at the time generally lauded the short fiction collection, a few reviewers objected to its controversial subject matter—infidelities, discussions of sexuality, cruel and superficial characters. Today ‘‘Bliss’’ is one of Mansfield’s most frequently anthologized stories and still resonates with modern readers.