Mysterious Epistles: Letters Home in Katherine Mansfield's Short Stories

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The power and ambiguity of all things epistolary inform Katherine Mansfield’s creative work. This article considers a dialogue between Mansfield as correspondent and the embedded letter strategies that inform her short fiction. In an investigation of Mansfield’s use of letters as a modernist literary strategy, comparisons are drawn between the writer’s epistolary fantasies about ideals of home and security and the letters that disrupt domestic harmony in her stories. In Mansfield’s world, letter relations prove problematic – both for fiction and life: they depict alienation for men and women struggling to adjust to modern living and its consequences for gender relations and home life. This essay examines the strategic filtering of intrusive epistolary fragments within Mansfield’s short fiction and the impact of this for the representation of crises in modern relationships.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of New Zealand Literature
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jul 2020


  • Katherine Mansfield
  • letters
  • epistolary strategies
  • modernism

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