Women’s Short Fiction from Virginia Woolf to Ali Smith
Edited By Laura Lojo Rodriguez
Chapter 2. “Flying off on Tangents”: Katherine Mansfi eld’s Short Stories 29 - MARÍA CASADO VILLANUEVA
MARÍA CASADO VILLANUEVA Chapter 2. “Flying Off on Tangents”: Katherine Mansﬁ eld’s Short Stories This article discusses Mansﬁ eld’s position in relation to Modernism tak- ing up Slavoj Žižek reﬂ ections on modernist practice. A reading of three widely anthologized stories, “The Daughters of the dead Colonel”, “Bliss” and “The Garden Party” illustrates Mansﬁ eld’s afﬁ liation to modernism, since modernist aesthetics, according to Žižek, puts an emphasis on the incompleteness of the symbolically structured reality and hints to alterna- tive spheres of enjoyment neatly separated from the prevailing patriarchal ideology. Through the dissection of female experience, a particular use of language and textual indeterminacies, Mansﬁ eld’s short stories disclose the imperfections of the symbolic order and present reality and identity as arbitrarily constructed notions. The meaning of the stories is multiplied by the appearance of subsidiary details and marginal narratives which evidence the impossibility of a univocal interpretation. Josephine and Constantia, protagonists of “The Daughters of the dead Colonel”, face the void which lays at the core of their existence and the social prac- tices which only superﬁ cially ﬁ ll their insigniﬁ cant lives but also undergo experiences which escape the control of paternal authority. Bertha Young, in “Bliss”, misinterprets and disguises her true desires but these are none- theless articulated through an underlying narrative which unveils the inconsistency of her notions of reality. Laura Sheridan’s ‘coming of age’ adventure in “The Garden Party”, stages a process of gentriﬁ cation of the traumatic and of its...
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