‘The secret self’: time, memory and childhood in two short stories by Katherine Mansfield

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    English: This article examines Katherine Mansfield’s notion of self by considering two of her short stories, ‘Prelude’ (1918) and ‘At the bay’ (1922), as well as her biographical writing. It links her desire to acknowledge “the secret self” with her inclination to examine and contest existing notions of the self and its expression in fiction. Mansfield was concerned with exploring the self at its least inhibited, and for this reason the article focuses on works that draw on childhood reminiscences. It also discusses Mansfield’s innovative use of time to suggest the properties of memory. It explores how Mansfield’s art differed from the conventions and traditions of Edwardian fiction, as well as how she was influenced by, and stood in relation to contemporaries with whom she corresponded, such as Virginia Woolf and D H Lawrence, thus also placing her in a modernist context. It also examines how Freud’s concept of the unconscious functions in Mansfield’s fiction, drawing on Kristeva’s writing for this analysis. It argues that Mansfield’s achievement of her distinctive voice as a writer is interwoven with her exploration of ideas of self.