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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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Workmanship and Wildness

Workmanship and Wildness

Katherine Mansfield on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence

(p.87) Workmanship and Wildness
Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial

Emily Ridge

Edinburgh University Press

This article focuses on Katherine Mansfield’s succinct 1920 review of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. While admiring Wharton’s ‘skill and delicate workmanship’, she begs to be allowed to ‘entreat a little wildness’.i I argue that, as a writer, Mansfield identifies herself directly here with the ‘dangerous, fascinating, foreign character of Ellen Olenska in Wharton’s novel while the character of Newland Archer is aligned with Wharton herself, as a ‘young man who belongs deeply to the family tradition, and yet at the same time finds himself wishing to rebel’(307). Mansfield’s review marks her affiliation to a dangerous, fascinating and foreign modernism, conceived as a revolt against a form of writing to which Wharton is shown to be tied but from which she covertly wishes to escape. The larger question to be addressed, however, is how far such an implied opposition between Wharton’s workmanship and Mansfield’s wildness is sustainable.

Keywords:   Mansfield, Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, literary reviews, style, adultery

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