Bliss Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

The story ‘‘Bliss’’ was first published in The English Review in 1920. Later that year, it became the title story for Mansfield’s second collection, Bliss, and Other Stories. The story (and the volume) helped solidify Mansfield’s reputation as an important contemporary writer.

Many early reviewers lauded the collection and Mansfield’s unique narrative voice. Conrad Aiken, in a review for Freeman, called Mansfield ‘‘brilliant’’ and remarked upon her ‘‘infinitely inquisitive sensibility.’’ Several reviewers drew a parallel between Mansfield’s work and that of the Russian writer Anton Chekhov. Aiken noted this similarity but also countered any claims that Mansfield ‘‘borrowed’’ from Chekhov: ‘‘One has not read a page of Miss Mansfield’s book before one has said ‘Chekhov’; but one has not read two pages before Chekhov is forgotten.’’

Malcolm Cowley also commented on the resemblance to Chekhov. He deemed the collection to be a ‘‘voyage of adventure’’ filled with Mansfield’s ‘‘own experiments and successful experiments.’’

Many reviewers paid particular attention to ‘‘Bliss.’’ The anonymous reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement maintained, ‘‘it is all beauty till the end; beauty so deeply known and so discerningly expressed that that special condition of springtime exaltation seems here finally and fully held.’’ The review ended with this positive judgment: ‘‘Miss Mansfield, with the air of dispassionately reporting, is making all the while her own world. In other words, she is an artist in fiction.’’

A reviewer for The Athenaeum contended that despite the ‘‘shock and...

(The entire section is 722 words.)