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Jean RhysTwenty-First-Century Approaches$
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Erica Johnson and Patricia Moran

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402194

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402194.001.0001

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Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield Writing the ‘sixth act’

Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield Writing the ‘sixth act’

(p.21) Chapter 1 Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield Writing the ‘sixth act’
Jean Rhys

Sue Thomas

Edinburgh University Press

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) and Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) were born within two years of each other in what were then British colonies under the New Imperialism. Rhys’s relative longevity and the fact that her first publication, the story ‘Vienne’ appeared in 1924 have obscured their contemporaneousness. Both wrote about failed love and affairs in England, Rhys in diaries she wrote in the 1910s, which would be reworked as ‘Triple Sec’, an unpublished 1924 novel, and revised as Voyage in the Dark (1934), and Mansfield in the manuscript stories ‘Juliet’ (begun in 1906) and ‘A Little Episode’ (1909), recently unearthed in the King’s College Library. The epigragh to ‘A Little Episode’ is from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Rhys alludes to the same two sentences in the opening sentence of Voyage in the Dark. This chapter draws out the resonances of their allusions to Wilde, and locates the texts as engagements with literary decadence.

Keywords:   Jean Rhys, Katherine Mansfield, modernism, decadence, Oscar Wilde

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