The Garden Party, Katherine Mansfield
"The Garden Party" Mansfield, Katherine
(Born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp; also wrote under the pseudonym Boris Petrovsky) New Zealand short story writer, critic, and poet.
The following entry presents criticism of Mansfield's short story "The Garden Party," first published in 1922 in The Garden Party, and Other Stories. See also, "The Fly" Criticism and Katherine Mansfield Criticism.
During her brief career Mansfield helped shape the modern short story form with her innovative literary style. In such influential stories as "The Garden Party," "Bliss," and "Prelude," Mansfield perfected her meticulous craft, examining the human condition in restrained and deceptively everyday prose. Her avowed intention was to intensify "the so-called small things so that everything is significant." In "The Garden Party," for example, the description of sunbeams playing on an inkwell is the kind of detailed observation that lends an almost hallucinatory visual acuity to this celebrated tale. In her attention to the "the so-called small things," Mansfield was in the forefront of those writers who treated ordinary life rather than momentous events, and, according to H. E. Bates, many followed her "in squeezing the significance out of the apparently commonplace, trivial behavior of their fellow men." Working on the fringes of British Modernism, Mansfield developed the use of stream-of-consciousness technique, earning the admiration—and rivalry—of a contemporary, Virginia Woolf. Like Woolf, Mansfield emphasized the importance of incident over conventional narrative, and thus, in "The Garden Party" Laura's impressions dictate the shape of a story drawn from Mansfield's own childhood memories.
Plot and Major Characters
Set in colonial New Zealand, "The Garden Party" falls into two clearly differentiated parts. Most of the story concerns the preparations and aftermath of a garden party, ostensibly organized by Laura, Meg, and Jose, the daughters of the privileged Sheridan family. As dawn breaks, Laura goes into the Sheridan's exquisite garden to inspect the proposed site for the marquee. Her encounter with three workers hired to raise the tent is awkward and confused, as she finds herself torn between snobbery and her developing sense of moral responsibility. Back at the house preparations continue: a florist delivers several trays of pink lilies; Mrs. Sheridan fusses over the sandwiches; and Meg rehearses a comically inappropriate song. A delivery man brings an order of delectable cream puffs—and news of the accidental death of a local carter, a nearby neighbor of the Sheridans. Laura immediately proposes the cancellation of the party, much to the amusement, and then irritation, of Jose and Mrs. Sheridan. Neither sees any need to consider the feelings of their impoverished neighbors. Ultimately Laura herself is distracted from compassion by her mother's spur-of-the-moment gift of a pretty black hat decorated with gold daisies. Startled by the sudden revelation of her own beauty, she slips effortlessly into the role of party hostess, promising to remember the tragic accident later. The garden party passes in a blur of pleasure, and a delightful afternoon slowly ends. As the Sheridans gather under the deserted marquee, Laura's father re-introduces the subject of the dead carter. To Laura's discomfort, Mrs. Sheridan brightly suggests that her daughter bring some party leftovers to the grieving widow. Laden with cream puffs and still dressed in her party clothes, Laura self-consciously crosses the broad road which divides the Sheridan's property from the mean, cramped dwellings of the poor. Down a narrow, dark lane she finds the carter's home and is led by the widow's sister to view the body. Alone with the dead man, Laura is unexpectedly overwhelmed by the peaceful beauty of the corpse and absurdly sobs, "Forgive my hat." Outside the house she meets her brother Laurie, with whom she shares a special empathy. She struggles to convey the feelings that she just experienced, but is at a loss for words.
The central theme of "The Garden Party" is commonly perceived to be the contrast between life and death. The Sheridan's garden is a place of thoughtless pleasure and burgeoning energy, where young people resemble brilliant butterflies and arum lilies bloom with an almost frightening vitality. In contrast, the home of the dead carter is dark and oppressive, guarded by an aged crone and surrounded by a shadowy crowd. Mansfield deliberately exaggerates the difference between these two locations in order to emphasize her theme. That life and death are part of the same continuum is suggested by the temporal structure of the story, which begins at dawn and ends in a gathering dusk. As many critics have noted, Laura's journey to visit the bereaved family has strong mythic overtones and resembles the tale of Proserpina, a goddess who was abducted by Hades into the underworld. Laura's moment of epiphany testifies to a kind of knowledge unavailable in the sunny world of the garden party. In this way, her journey also has the quality of an initiation rite, in which a naive young girl achieves emotional and moral maturity.
Much of the critical discussion about "The Garden Party" has centered on the story's structure. Sparking considerable debate, Warren S. Walker contended that the conclusion of "The Garden Party" is flawed by Laura's ambiguous response to the carter's corpse. Robert Murray Davis, Donald S. Taylor, and Adam J. Sorkin have all responded to Walker's misgivings, arguing that the story's central oppositions (life and death, dream and reality, youth and maturity, beauty and ugliness) result in artistic unity and satisfying thematic tension. Another commentator, Ben Satterfield, found the ambiguity of "The Garden Party" consistent with the irony that he detected throughout the story. In recent years attention has centered on such issues as the characterization of Laura and the author's representation of social classes. From the perspective of psychoanalysis, feminist critics, such as Kate Fullbrook and Mary Burgan, have interpreted "The Garden Party" as the story of a young girl's attempt to establish her own identity.
SOURCE: "The Unresolved Conflict in The Garden Party,"' in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol III, No. 4, Winter, 1957-58, pp. 354-58.
[In the following essay, Walker finds the conclusion of "The Garden Party" ambiguous.]
The most frequently anthologized of Katherine Mansfield's works, "The Garden Party," has long enjoyed a reputation for near-perfection in the art of the short story. Its characters are deftly drawn with quick Chekhovian strokes; its action moves along at a vigorous pace; its central situation, richly textured, suggests both antecedence and aftermath; its dialogue, especially the internal debate, is psychologically apt and convincing. And yet, for all its undeniable strength and beauty, "The Garden Party" often leaves readers with a feeling of dissatisfaction, a vague sense that the story somehow does not realize its potential. The difficulty, I think, is a structural one: the conflict has a dual nature, only part of which is resolved effectively
"The Garden Party" is a story concerning the most common form of character development, if not the easiest to portray: the process of growing up. Viewing the changing reaction of the protagonist to an incident that threatens to upset an upperclass social occasion, one is aware that throughout the whole story there is a groping toward maturity, and that at the end Laura is indeed more mature than she is at the opening. The incident is...
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SOURCE: "Crashing the Garden Party: A Dream—A Wakening," in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. IV, No. 4, Winter, 1958-59, pp. 361-62.
[In the following essay, Taylor examines the pattern of dream and reality in "The Garden Party. "]
Laura states the conflict in "The Garden Party" and reveals her instinctive loyalties when she says to her unsympathetic sister Jose, "But we can't possibly have a garden-party with a man dead just outside the front gate." The garden party epitomizes the dream world of the Sheridan women, a world whose underlying principle is the editing and rearranging of reality for the comfort and pleasure of its inhabitants. Its war is with the real world, whose central and final truth is death. In the course of the story Laura wakes to reality from the dream to which her sex, her class, and particularly her mother, custodian of the dream, would confine her.
The story's first paragraph introduces the dream. The Sheridans order nature—lawns are mowed and swept and flowers bloom on schedule in delineated beds. In this garden, Mrs. Sheridan plans to give her daughters the illusion of maturity, thus keeping them within the dream. "I'm determined to leave everything to you children this year." And yet her disposing hand is everywhere—ordering lilies, planning the food, deciding what people shall wear. At the end of the story she tries still to keep up the illusion....
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SOURCE: "Crashing the Garden Party: The Garden Party of Proserpina," in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. IV, No. 4, Winter, 1958-59, pp. 363-64.
[In the following essay, Weiss views Mansfield's "The Garden Party" as a tale of mythic initiation.]
Can "The Garden Party" get along without resolving Laura's social attitude? It can, if one accepts the premise that the class differences in the story are a subordinate component of the primary theme—Laura's discovery of death, and its coextensiveness with life.
I have no wish to still the lively music of Katherine Mansfield's style into some measured archetypal cadence, but much in the story, dealing as it does with a primordial theme, lends it the quality of a myth, the initiation of a novice into mysteries.
There is, to begin with, the element of election. Laura's older sister is outside the mysteries. She knows the facts of life and death, but, in Shelley's words, she cannot "imagine" what she "knows." Laura qualifies in her novitiate because she is the "artistic one." Her sensibilities are at work in anticipation of her ordeal, prefiguring her vision, when she realizes that the workingmen are "extraordinarily nice," and that class distinctions are "absurd."
Laura's thoughts on class distinctions would write her off (along with her creator) as an unconscious snob rather than a sensitive neophyte, if it were...
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SOURCE: "The Garden Party': A Portrait of the Artist," in Criticism, Vol. V, No. 4, Fall, 1963, pp. 360-71.
[In the following essay, Kleine discusses Laura's imaginative shaping of experience in "The Garden Party. " ]
"The Garden Party" is generally, and with justice, regarded as one of the most nearly flawless short stories in the language. Young Laura Sheridan's discovery of death in life is itself discovered with poetic truth and technical purity, and Miss Mansfield's work deserves the small, enduring place it has won in the history of modern fiction. Writes the author less than year before her own death:
And yes, that is what I tried to convey in "The Garden Party." The diversity of life and how we try to fit in everything, Death included. That is bewildering for a person of Laura's age. She feels things ought to happen differently. First one and then another. But life isn't like that. We haven't the ordering of it. Laura says, "But all these things must not happen at once." And Life answers, "Why not? How are they divided from each other?" And they do all happen, it is inevitable. And it seems to me there is beauty in that inevitability.
If there is beauty in that inevitability, there is lasting pertinence in Katherine Mansfield's sensitive portrayal of Laura's young bewilderment before the mystery, and her final...
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SOURCE: "The Unity of The Garden Party,'" in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. II, No. 1, Fall, 1964, pp. 61-5.
[In the following essay, Davis reveals symbolic and narrative consistency in "The Garden Party. "]
In view of Katherine Mansfield's statement that the meaning of "The Garden Party" is "the diversity of life, and how we fit in everything, Death included," one would expect the structure and symbols of the story to be at the same time complex and finally resolvable into a unity. However, Warren S. Walker's "The Unresolved Conflict in The Garden Party'" began a trend in which either the complexity or the unity is exaggerated. One way of avoiding this distortion is to examine carefully the symbols and images of the story and their place in the basic pattern. By this means, one can perceive both the diversity and unity that Mansfield mentioned, can place the conflict within Laura alone and thus see its unity, and can restore Laura to her proper place as a character with whom the reader sympathizes because she doubts her mother's values at the same time that he recognizes her inability, until the very end of the story, to distinguish between sensitivity and sentimentality.
The incidents of "The Garden Party" repeat in varying degrees of complexity one basic situation as a framework for the symbols, parallels, and contrasts. At the core of most scenes is Laura's attempt first to deal...
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SOURCE: "Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield," in Katherine Mansfield: An Appraisal, Collins, 1967, pp. 106-16.
[In the following excerpt, Hormasji studies the influence of the Russian writer Anton Chekhov on Mansfield and compares "The Garden Party" to Chekhov's story "After the Theater."]
Whatever Mr [John Middleton] Murry might have said to the contrary, Katherine Mansfield, the chief exponent and craftsman of the short story, was the first English woman to be influenced by the works of Anton Chekhov. The modern English short story would not have developed out of the Wellsian fantasy. It would have remained in the hot-house of Kipling and the wooden boxes of Hardy. In other words, it would never have become earthbound.
From a combination of Chekhov's example and her own genius, Katherine Mansfield anticipated the emancipation of the short story. She took it out of the hands of the nineteenth century writers.
In which particular year of her life Miss Mansfield began to read Chekhov, it is difficult to say. "As for Chekhov, translations of his tales began to appear in the 1890s, and as early as 1909, Arnold Bennett was writing about him enthusiastically in the New Age." It is likely that Miss Mansfield had read his tales before the Garnett translations. In 1910 "The Child Who Was Tired" was published in the New Age and its intimate relationship to Chekhov...
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SOURCE: "A Reading of Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party,'" in Orbis Litterarum, Vol. 23, 1968, pp. 5-34.
[In the following essay, Iversen offers a comprehensive account of mythological, structural, and autobiographical aspects of "The Garden Party. "]
There is a short story "Two Worlds" ("To Verdener") by the Danish writer I. P. Jacobsen (1847-85). Its imagery offers points of similarity with Katherine Mansfield's story "The Garden Party", and though I do not postulate any influence from I. P. Jacobsen on Katherine Mansfield, yet a glance at Jacobsen's story will help to bring out the main theme of "The Garden Party".
The scene of "Two Worlds" is laid in a poor village on the river Salzach. The story opens with a telling meiosis: "The Salzach is not a cheerful river, and there is a little village on its eastern bank which is very dreary, very poor, and strangely quiet." A sick and lonely woman from the village tries to transfer, by means of magic, her illness to a healthy young woman passing by in a boat with a group of friends. The magic does not work, and a year later the poor suffering woman drowns herself just as the other woman happens to be passing by a second time; she is now on her honeymoon. The two women belong to different worlds, and not even magic suffices to bridge the gulf between them.
What is of importance here is the way in which I. P. Jacobsen...
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SOURCE: "The Legacy of Fiction," in The Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, Southern Illinois University Press, 1971, pp. 74-119.
[In the following excerpt, Magalaner views "The Garden Party" as an attempt to reconcile dream and reality .]
One of the stories on which Katherine Mansfield's reputation as an artist chiefly rests is "The Garden Party," which she completed on October 14, 1921. Aside from its merits as fiction, it provides an opportunity for its author to be at once her satirical earlier self, the gentle recorder of her New Zealand childhood, and the new, transfigured personality whose view of life is complex, warm, and utterly philosophical. Without self-consciousness, she writes to William Gerhardi in 1922 that she has tried to express in the story
the diversity of life and how we try to fit in everything, Death included. That is bewildering for a person of Laura's age. She feels things ought to happen differently. First one and then another. But life isn't like that. We haven't the ordering of it. Laura says, "But all these things must not happen at once." And Life answers, "Why not? How are they divided from each other?" And they do all happen, it is inevitable. And it seems to me there is beauty in that inevitability.
Perhaps it is unfortunate that critics of "The Garden Party" have dwelt so extensively on this...
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SOURCE: "Katherine Mansfield's 'The Garden Party': Style and Social Occasion," in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol.. XXIV, No. 3, Autumn, 1978, pp. 439-55.
[In the following essay, Sorkin sees a creative tension between realism and symbolism in "The Garden Party. "]
Attending the Sheridan's garden party with Katherine Mansfield and her protagonist Laura, we are at once escorted into a richly textured and vividly suggestive world. This is the universe of the author's sensibility, her strong sensitivity and playful delight in imagery which are shared with her receptive, fanciful young heroine. The opening paragraph of the story is as much an exposition of mood and method as of time and place. Its initial words—"And after all . . ."—thrust us not in medias res but in the middle of a feeling, a relieved, satisfied expectation that the first requirement for an exceptional day has been fulfilled. The shining garden and the perfect morning weather, the sympathetic roses and the helpful archangels suggest an impressionistic concentration, an emotional intensity, and a psychological particularity that take us to the heart of the author's method in "The Garden Party," one of Mansfield's most highly respected and widely anthologized works.
Throughout the story, Mansfield renders mimetic detail through a highly emotional, sensuous style, subtly manipulating both point of view narration and...
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SOURCE; "The Stories 1921-22: Sierre and Paris," in Katherine Mansfield, St. Martin's Press, 1981, pp. 95-139.
[In the following excerpt, Hanson and Gurr place "The Garden Party" in the context of Mansfield's stories about the Sheridan family.]
The Bumells of 'At the Bay' and 'The Doll's House' are an extended family group who appear mostly in domestic situations. Kezia is small and just beginning to open her eyes on the possibilities of the world which the adults, Linda and Beryl especially, foreshadow in their own problems. All the Burnell stories are about discovery and the growth of that kind of awareness which belongs with the intense, singular perspective of the small child. For the later stage of growth, the stage of adolescent self-consciousness and its social adjustments, Katherine Mansfield invented another family, the Sheridans.
Like the Burnells, the Sheridans are a Wellington family who live in Tinakori Road, the place from which in "Prelude" we see the Burnells moving to live in Karori. There is no grandmother and no small child in the Sheridan family, only the two parents with three adolescent girls and a younger boy. Katherine Mansfield had spent the years from five to ten in Karori, and moved back to Tinakori Road where she was born, in 1898, to a new house, much larger than her birthplace, the house displayed with some precision in 'The Garden-Party'.
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SOURCE: "Irony in 'The Garden Party,'" in Ball State University Forum, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, Winter, 1982, pp. 68-70.
[In the following essay, Satterfield contends that "irony is the keynote" for understanding "The Garden Party."]
All of the writing on Katherine Mansfield's most anthologized story recognizes or implies that "The Garden-Party" is a fable of initiation. The general interpretation argues that Laura goes from her Edenic world to one in which death exists, and that archetypically she loses her innocence, thereby acquiring knowledge and reaching a point of initiation. Laura has a great discovery, true; but because of her inability to make any kind of statement about it that would serve to clarify its meaning, critics disagree on whether she will go on to learn more about life and death or whether she will retreat into the sanctuary of the garden world. Much of the disagreement can be resolved, I believe, by a close examination of the irony—which has been largely ignored—and the function and effect of that irony upon the events of the story. Also, "The Garden-Party" contains two types of initiation, a fact mostly overlooked, and the initiations are not compatible, as the details of the story make evident.
Irony is the keynote. The central character of "The Garden-Party," Laura Sheridan, is protected from the exigencies of life and is unable to view reality (even death)...
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SOURCE: "Haunted by Death," in Katherine Mansfield and Her Confessional Stories, St. Martin's Press, 1983, pp. 235-47.
[In the following excerpt, Hankin examines the subject of social class in "The Garden Party. "]
In the months following her brother's death, Katherine Mansfield had dedicated the remainder of her life to recreating and immortalising both him and the world they had shared. 'The next book will be yours and mine', she had promised in February 1916. No longer 'concerned with the same appearance of things', her writing would be 'changed utterly' in form. It would be changed because writing had become an almost religious mission, and changed because she at last had someone to write to and for: 'It is the idea . . . that I do not write alone. That in every word I write and every place I visit I carry you with me.'
In fact, it was not until her own death was imminent that the sister finally made good her promise. For, with the exception of 'The Aloe', revised as 'Prelude', Katherine Mansfield wrote almost nothing between 1916 and 1921 which centred either on her brother or their life at home in New Zealand. In the period generally reckoned as the most fruitful of her life, however, between July 1921 and February 1922, she wrote the group of stories based on her memories of New Zealand which at once fulfilled her vow and established her literary reputation. In over half of them...
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SOURCE: "Time and Space in Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party,'" in Orbis Litterarum, Vol. 40, No. 1, 1985, pp. 44-54.
[In the following essay, Zapf analyzes the structure of "The Garden Party." ]
It has generally been noted in Mansfield criticism that "The Garden Party" must be regarded not only as her most popular but also as one of her most skilfully constructed stories. Her literary technique has often been compared to that of Chekov, implying a reduced importance of the plot and a shifting of the centre of interest from the dramatic presentation of extraordinary events and unique occurrences to the illumination of inconspicuous, seemingly insignificant episodes, i.e. from the direct, action-centred surface of the text to a more indirectly organised subsurface of meaningful connections and connotations. This detail-orientated, highly suggestive style has been associated with an "impressionist" dimension in her writing, which again indicates nothing else than that the data of sensory experience are assembled in such a way that their coherence is only gradually and indirectly to be discovered in the apparently random sequence of perceptions and observations.
In spite of the general tribute to the artistic achievement of "The Garden Party," however, the problem of its structural unity has been one of the recurring themes of criticism ever since Warren S. Walker questioned this...
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SOURCE: "Late Fiction," in Katherine Mansfield, The Harvester Press, 1986, pp. 86-128.
[In the following excerpt, Fullbrook offers a feminist account of Laura's struggle to establish identity.]
As in 'Bliss', Katherine Mansfield sets up a situation [in 'The Garden Party'] in which a woman is suddenly displaced from a frenetic social whirl that supposedly defines the totality of her being. The Sheridans in the story are a variant of the Burnells [in 'The Doll's House']; the setting is New Zealand and the characters prototypical colonials.
The Sheridan children, all young adults, are giving a party. The excited, happy narrative sees what they see in the terms that they see it—their fine house on a hill, bustling in preparation for the party, full of good things to eat, lovely things to wear, wonderful, expensive flowers to enjoy. The background is crammed with people to order about; the servants 'loved obeying'; friendly workmen swarm in the garden putting up a marquee; deliveries are made from shops; a band has been hired to put the finishing touches on the pleasures of the afternoon. The confident description is soaked in the values of middle-class authority as the genteel bourgeoisie prepares to play and enjoys every minute of the preparation. The pleasures at hand are both material and aesthetic, and even the perfect weather seems to endorse everything the Sheridans stand for. But...
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SOURCE: "Non-Identical Twins: Nature in The Garden Party' and The Grave,'" in The Comparatist, Vol. XII, May, 1988, pp. 58-66.
[In the following essay, Bell finds significant differences between the views of nature in "The Garden Party" and Katherine Anne Porter's story "The Grave."]
From certain points of view "The Garden Party" and "The Grave" are so alike as to be all too easily confused. Even their authors can be mistaken for each other. Katherine Mansfield and Katherine Anne Porter, besides having similar names, led circumstantially similar lives. Their careers overlapped in time, although Mansfield died young; they shared relatively privileged backgrounds; they came from outlands to the centers of culture after breaking with their families; they had unstable relationships with men; they traveled widely; they gave steady outputs of fiction but received unsteady inputs of acclaim. Mansfield was British, Porter, American; yet they can frequently be found mentioned together, as if they were literary sisters or cousins. Porter undoubtedly furthered that opinion by her admiration for Mansfield's talent. Still, I am not aware that a detailed comparison has been made between any two stories by these writers, and have found none between two stories that are among their works most often discussed as individuals: "The Garden Party" and "The Grave." Indeed, no work by either author has been accorded much...
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SOURCE: "The New Zealand Cycle: A Bildungsroman," in Katherine Mansfield, Continuum, 1988, pp. 13-50.
[In the following excerpt, Nathan views "The Garden Party" as a tale of moral and artistic maturation.]
[In "The Garden Party"], as in "The Doll's House," the community is mixed, and the grand houses are uncomfortably adjacent to the hovels of washerwomen, carters, tenant farmers, and the other assorted rural poor who are a fixture of the countryside. In "The Garden Party" the family is somewhat more insulated from the harsh facts of poverty because the poor live a good distance below the large house on the hill. If their children attend the same public school as the children of the affluent families, the Sheridans would not know, because unlike the Burnells [of "The Doll's House"], who were obliged to attend the same school as the dreadfully common little Kelveys, they were beyond grade-school age. The girls are nearly grown up, and the single son is already apprenticed into his father's business.
"The Garden Party" could be called "The Doll's House," part 2. It is very much an enchanted kingdom, and, until the climax of the story, its inhabitants are entirely engaged in play, or in this case, playacting. Their artifice is so natural to their station, their expectations, and customs, that the reader is gulled into empathy by the very charm of their lives. It is not until ugliness...
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SOURCE: "Stories of Young Girls," in Katherine Mansfield: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne Publishers, 1990, pp. 76-86.
[In the following excerpt, Kobler emphasizes the limitations of Laura's moment of insight in "The Garden Party."]
As forced thoughts of her own inevitable death momentarily intrude on Leila's happiness in "Her First Ball," so, too, does a real death slightly upset the Sheridan family's garden party and result in the exposure of Laura Sheridan to death in such a highly dramatic and personal way that most readers leave "The Garden Party" believing that young Laura has been permanently affected and will not so easily be able to return to the dance of life. Her closing assertion or question, "Isn't life—" (which her brother, Laurie, understands), can be seen to resemble Hopkins's equally tantalizing words about how the young girl of his poem can come, in some mysterious way, to know that humans are born for death: "Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed / What heart heard of, ghost guessed".
Laura's mind cannot create the words for her to say aloud what truths about life this experience has brought to her, but Mansfield suggests that some spiritual connection between brother and sister does exist. As a matter of fact, some spiritual connection exists between Mansfield and many of her readers: We call it "The Garden Party," a story whose message about human life and...
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SOURCE: "They discuss only the food': Body Images," in Illness, Gender, and Writing: The Case of Katherine Mansfield, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994, pp. 21-39.
[In the following excerpt, Burgan provides autobiographical and psychoanalytic interpretations of the body imagery of "The Garden Party.]
The reality of Mansfield's own alienation from her family . .. was, for one thing, founded upon the humiliation dealt by maternal disfavor that centered on her physique. A witness recalled Annie Beauchamp's chilly emphasis on Mansfield's weight as she distributed her greetings to the family after one of her travels: "Finally it was to Kathleen she spoke first, for everyone to hear. 'Well, Kathleen,' she said, 'I see that you are as fat as ever.' And in my first glimpse of Kathleen I saw her eyes flash, and her face flush with anger as she turned away with a toss of her ringlets" [unpublished memoir by Marion C. Ruddick].
That body weight should have been a major issue between Katherine Mansfield and her mother refocused in latency and adolescence the oral issues of Mansfield's infancy. The demand of Annie Beauchamp that Mansfield control her weight was at variance with the daughter's positive self-identity gained through interaction with her grandmother—that intimate confirmation of bodily existence attained through being held and fed. In "Mary," a memoir of childhood published in...
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Alpers, Antony. The Life of Katherine Mansfield. New York: The Viking Press, 1980, 466 p.
Views Mansfield's life and works in the context of early British Modernism.
Crone, Nora. A Portrait of Katherine Mansfield. Ilfracombe, England: Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd., 1985, 348 p.
Presents a standard account of Mansfield's life from her New Zealand childhood to her death at Fontainebleu.
Gordon, Ian A. Katherine Mansfield. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1954, 36 p.
Concise discussion of Mansfield's life and works.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Katherine Mansfield: A Biography. New York: New Directions, 1978, 306 p.
A literary account of Mansfield's life, with special attention to her relationships with D. H. Lawrence and John Middleton Murry.
Daly, Saralyn R. 'Trains of Thought." In her Katherine Mansfield, pp. 91-3. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994.
Comments on "The Garden Party" in the context of other Mansfield stories about children.
Kaplan, Sydney Janet. Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991, 233 p.
Examines Mansfield's role in the development of British Modernism, with brief reference to "The...
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