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Katherine Mansfield and Literary Influence$
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Sarah Ailwood and Melinda Harvey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694419

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694419.001.0001

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‘[O]ur precious art’: Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Gift Economy

‘[O]ur precious art’: Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Gift Economy

(p.51) Chapter 4 ‘[O]ur precious art’: Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Gift Economy
Katherine Mansfield and Literary Influence

Kathryn Simpson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter offers a new approach to understanding the relationship between Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf by exploring their exchanges through the concept of gift-giving. Drawing on the work of their contemporary, Marcel Mauss, Simpson argues that the gift is fundamentally ambivalent: it is both generous and selfish, and it creates a personal bond but at the same time offers a challenge, demanding response and reciprocation. Acts of gifting and generosity – including praise, letters, conversation and, as Simpson argues, Mansfield’s idea for a story that later became Woolf’s ‘Kew Gardens’ – illuminate the power dynamic that existed between them, which constantly shifted from affinity to rivalry and envy.

Keywords:   Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, literary influence, gift, modernism, Marcel Mauss, 'Kew Gardens', women’s writing, exchange

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