Katherine Mansfield's Modernist Innovations Essay

Katherine Mansfield's Modernist Innovations Essay

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The short story has invariably become regarded as a conservative form of literature given its often rigid, and basic plot dimensions focused on narrow plot and character development. However, with different writers come different experimentations within the short story. This is especially true with the modernism movement in mind. One modernist writer in particular, Katherine Mansfield, was indeed conscious of the possibilities that existed within the form of the short story as is evidenced in The Garden Party and Other Stories, Mansfield’s most prolific collection of short stories. Just as James Joyce sought to innovate the long-standing traditions of the novel, Katherine Mansfield placed her efforts in revolutionizing the short story. Such innovations are seen and can be made note of within Mansfield’s story “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.” Within this brief story, Mansfield sets new definitions for narrative form, as well as character development. In utilizing newfound techniques such as ‘stream of consciousness’ writing and free indirect discourse, Mansfield presents a short story unlike any that had come before it. In using such innovative techniques, within a conservative form, Mansfield successfully helps to pave the way for women modernists while bringing societal issues regarding class and gender to light. Thus, irrevocably proving that the short story is still a viable form of literature to make use of in a modern era.
The short story can often be described as being particularly involved with one isolated plot and the transformation of one or more characters. While Mansfield’s “Daughters of the Late Colonel” is a story centered around one central theme, the idea of transforming characters is one that is completely a...


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...y experiment within. Ultimately, her experimentations lead to a type of intimate and immediate short story that had not previously been written. Thus, bringing the short story into the modern era, and making the short story an important form of literature in the modernist era.



Works Cited

Drewery, Claire. Modernist Short Fiction by Women. Sheffield: Ashgate, 2011.

Hanson , Clare and Andrew Gurr. Katherine Mansfield. MacMillian, 1981.

Head, Dominic. The Modernist Short Story: A Study in Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Mansfield, Katherine. The Daughters of the Late Colonel. PDF Document. Prod. Katherine Mansfield. Khandallah, New Zealand: Katherine Mansfield Society.

Pereyra, Josefina. El Rincon del Vago. 1998. 18 March 2014.

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