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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Technique of Katherine Mansfield Greenwood, Lillian Bethel

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to isolate and examine the major technical devices of the short stories of Katherine Mansfield. Since the emphasis will be on Mansfield's technical skill, not on the development of that skill, my discussion will be limited to the stories of Mansfield's major writing period, to the completed stories of Bliss. The Garden Party, and The Dove's Nest. The introductory first chapter gives a summary of the critical attention Mansfield's work has received, attention largely commendatory but generally lacking in specific examination of the stories themselves, and of the few statements Mansfield herself made on her artistic principles. From this starting point the stories themselves are examined as evidence of Mansfield's technique. For the purpose of this paper, I limit my discussion to what I believe are the major aspects of Mansfield's art of story writing: her use of time, of point of view, of names, and of symbolism. In Chapters II - V these techniques are examined separately in relation to the stories. Chapter VI summarizes the conclusions reached in previous chapters: that Mansfield's skill is a unique blend of several largely traditional techniques. A brief discussion is given of the problem of Mansfield's unwritten work, work she hoped to do but was prevented from attempting by her early death. The report of a conversation with Mansfield a few weeks before her death is cited as evidence that Mansfield had come to recognize the emotional flaw in much of her earlier work. The conclusion reached is that, if indeed Mansfield had succeeded in widening her view of life, she would have been able to produce work of a very high literary standard since she had certainly attained a very high degree of technical skill.

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