Stories by Katherine Mansfield

I was curious about Prelude, the story hand printed and stitched by VW on the Hogarth Press in 1918. It nestles up nicely to At the Bay (1922), where the story is continued, and which is one of my favorite KM stories. Prelude deals with the family moving from town to the countryside, mother Linda languid and not caring too much about the whereabouts or activities of her daughters. In fact, at the beginning, she jokes of jettisoning them, leaving them behind, because there’s not room in the cart for the two youngest. “A strange little laugh flew from her lips, she leaned back against the buttoned leather cushions and shut her eyes, her lips trembling with laughter.” This fits nicely with her attitude toward her infant son in At the Bay where she tells him coldly, “I don’t like babies.”

In Prelude Linda reveals her delicacy, that she may die at any moment, “I have had three great lumps of children already…” And she wavers between love and hatred of her husband: “For all her love and respect and admiration she hated him… It had never been so plain to her as it was at this moment. There were all her feelings for him, sharp and defined, one as true as the other. And there was this other, this hatred, just as real as the rest. She could have done her feelings up in packets and given them to Stanley. She longed to hand him that last one, for a surprise. She could see his eyes as he opened that… She hugged her folded arms and began to laugh silently. How absurd life was– it was laughable, simply laughable. And why this mania of hers to keep alive at all? For it really was a mania, she though, mocking and laughing.”