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Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial$
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Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber, and Delia da Sousa Correa

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748669097

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748669097.001.0001

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‘How Katherine Mansfield Was Kidnapped’

‘How Katherine Mansfield Was Kidnapped’

A (Post)colonial Family Romance

(p.63) ‘How Katherine Mansfield Was Kidnapped’
Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial

Lorenzo Mari

Edinburgh University Press

Katherine Mansfield’s story ‘How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped’ (1910) can be considered as a paradigmatic example of the author’s use of family relations as a prism for examining a number of issues. While the story’s focus on the family romance suggests a reconfiguration of the Künstlerroman motif in Mansfield’s oeuvre, ‘How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped’ can also be read as an elaboration of the trope of national allegory. In proposing that individual destiny can be read as an allegory of a whole society, I draw, for a working hypothesis, on Jameson’s foundational article, ‘Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism’ (1986). Although it has been legitimately criticised by postcolonial critics such as Aijaz Ahmad (1987), Jameson’s article on national allegory has recently been defended by other scholars, including Imre Szeman (2001) and Neil Lazarus (2011), thus enabling a cautious and contingent interpretation of the term. Finally, I reflect on how recent texts by Māori writers, such as Patricia Grace’s ‘Letters from Whetu’ (1980) and Witi Ihimaera’s The Matriarch (1986) engage with and reshape Mansfield’s cultural and literary heritage, offering postcolonial rewritings of her work.

Keywords:   family romance, Jameson, Pearl Button, Maoriland, national allegory

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