The Postmodernist Katherine Mansfield: beyond the self of Modernism in "The Garden-Party"
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PostmodernismKatherine MansfieldModernismShort story
Rodríguez-Salas, G. The Postmodernist Katherine Mansfield: beyond the self of Modernism in "The Garden-Party". Agora, 3(2): 1-11 (2005). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/24884]
Katherine Mansfield is a New Zealand writer traditionally located within the English modernist literary canon. In her fictional approach to the human subject, however, she seems to go beyond the modernist perception of the “allotropic self” of such authors as T. S. Eliot or D. H. Lawrence (a traceable transcendental essence that hides behind social artifice), and to approach the endlessly split subject of postmodernism with its evanescent selfhood. Since postmodernism is a “buzzword” (Woods 1999) or “an anything goes approach” (Kilian 1998), this study selects the theoretical rationale of a number of prestigious postmodernist critics that will validate a perception of Mansfield’s treatment of the human subject as postmodernist, particularly in her story “The Garden-Party” (1921), which is analyzed in detail. Such critics as Dennis Brown (1989) or Eric Mark Krame (1997) set a clear-cut distinction between modernism, as a platonic or monolithic movement that traces an essential identity beyond social chaos, and postmodernism, as a “heraclitan” and radically plural trend that ends up in an eternally split subject never to be systematized. Hence, this article departs from several postmodernist concepts (Harper’s “sublime”, 1994; Wilde’s “indetermanence”, 1981; Barthes’s “hermeneutic code”, 1987; Anderson’s “multiphrenia”, 1996) to prove that Mansfield’s narrative differs from traditional modernism in its closeness to these theoretical presuppositions that she preceded by several decades before the “official” outburst of postmodernism.