Illness, gender, and writing: the case of Katherine Mansfield

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Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 217 pages
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Katherine Mansfield is remembered for writing brilliant short stories that helped to initiate the modernist period in British fiction, and for the fact that her life--lived at a feverish pace on the fringes of Bloomsbury during the First World War--ended after a prolonged battle with pulmonary disease when she was only thirty-four years old. While her life was marred by emotional and physical afflictions of the most extreme kind, argues Mary Burgan in Illness, Gender, and Writing, her stories have seemed to exist in isolation from those afflictions--as stylish expressions of the "new," as romantic triumphs of art over tragic circumstances, or as wavering expressions of Mansfield's early feminism. In the first book to look at the continuum of a writer's life and work in terms of that writer's various illnesses, Burgan explores Katherine Mansfield's recurrent emotional and physical afflictions as the ground of her writing. Mansfield is remarkably suited to this approach, Burgan contends, because her "illnesses" ranged from such early psychological afflictions as separation anxiety, body image disturbances, and fear of homosexuality to bodily afflictions that included miscarriage and abortion, venereal disease, and tuberculosis. Offering a thorough and provocative reading of Mansfield's major texts, Illness, Gender, and Writing shows how Mansfield negotiated her illnesses in a way that sheds new light on the study of women'screativity. Mansfield's drive toward self-integration, Burgan concludes, was her strategy for writing--and for staying alive. "An outstanding psychobiographical study of Mansfield's life and creative struggle. It provides solid commentary on the major stories and will be cited and debated by all subsequent Mansfield scholars. It is the most sustained analysis of Mansfield's psychological conflicts--and the way those conflicts produce literary texts--and a strong addition to the new tradition of `body criticism.'"--Steven Gould Axelrod, University of California, Riverside

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Contents

Ah Ah Ah called the grandmother
1
They discuss only the food
21
Your lovely pear tree
40
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

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About the author (1994)

Mary Burgan is professor and former chair in the Department of English at Indiana University.