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Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf$
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Gerri Kimber, Todd Martin, and Christine Froula

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474439657

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474439657.001.0001

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Dangerous Reading in Mansfield’s Stories and Woolf’s ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’

Dangerous Reading in Mansfield’s Stories and Woolf’s ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’

(p.117) Dangerous Reading in Mansfield’s Stories and Woolf’s ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’
Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf

Brian Richardson

Edinburgh University Press

The fiction of both Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf contains numerous depictions of characters in the act of reading. In many of these instances, reading is a dubious or even dangerous activity, causing the protagonists to misinterpret the world around them, misapply literary allusions, or draw incorrect and potentially harmful conclusions from their reading. We see this in Mansfield’s stories ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel,’ ‘A Cup of Tea,’ ‘Bliss,’ ‘Marriage à la Mode,’ and ‘The Little Governess’ which depict readers who mistake, misapply, or misconstrue their reading in different ways. Woolf also depicts many dubious acts of reading, one of the most curious being the misogynist fairy tale that Mrs Ramsay reads aloud to her son, James. Noting the problematic aspects of reading in Mansfield can help us model an alternative interpretation of the fairy tale within the novel in line with Woolf’s ironic use of allusion elsewhere in the text.

Keywords:   Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, reader, reading, allusion, feminism, gender, interpretation

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