Thomas J. Sojka, Boston University.
While Katherine Mansfield is perhaps best remembered for her short story collections, Bliss (1920) and The Garden Party (1922), Chris Mourant (University of Birmingham) brilliantly recaptures the author’s periodical legacy. Born in New Zealand in 1888, Mansfield moved to London in 1903, where she quickly made a name for herself writing for the foremost modernist magazines of the time – The New ̛̛̛Age, Rhythm, The Athenaeum, and The Adelphi. Mourant positions his monograph within the wider field of ‘modern periodical studies,’ made possible in part by digitisation projects, such as the Modernist Journals Project and Blue Mountain Project, recent work by Faye Hammill and Mark Hussey, and the publication of The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines (2009). Work attuned to print culture scholarship not only shapes our understanding of modernism, but also changes how we its read canonical writers. While previous work on Mansfield has considered her periodical writing, it has done so in a biographical context, which is to say examining, for instance, Mansfield’s relationship with her publisher, John Middleton Murry or rivalry with Beatrice Hastings, co-editor of The New Age. Responding to an increased scholarly interest in the print culture of twentieth-century Britain, Mourant demonstrates that our understandings of Mansfield as a writer are dependent upon setting her work within its original magazine and periodical print context. Furthermore, in showcasing Mansfield’s multiple identities – based in her gender and colonial status – Mourant calls attention to the author’s precarious position within the metropolitan periodicals market. But, rather than being placed at the margins of cultural authority, Mansfield was able integrate into the London literary scene by constructing different authorial identities, negotiating editorial expectations, and obscuring or erasing her national identity. Mourant’s work is important in that it brings Mansfield’s periodical writing to the fore, without which we could not understand her life and work more broadly.
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