Mansfield as (post)colonial-modernist: rewriting the contract with death

Janet M Wilson, Janet Mary Wilson (Editor), Gerri Kimber (Editor), Delia Da Sousa Correa (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


Mansfield’s rewriting of ‘the contract with death’ explores the implications for her late work of her vow to commemorate in prose the life of her brother, Leslie Heron Beauchamp, and so restore him metaphorically to life. Drawing on recent studies of late Victorian and early twentieth-century cultural practices of the occult, telepathy and mediumship through seances, especially after World War One, the article suggests that Mansfield turned to alternative cultural and communicative transmission channels: self-induced vision, hallucinations, telepathic communication, automatism and occult concepts such as ghosts and visions enabled her to access her earliest memories, return to the family and develop her vision of possibility even as her illness was diminishing her grasp on life. In the interweaving of death with life in her later New Zealand stories, she re-accents the (post)colonial modernism of her earlier stories, through focusing anew on place and space as haunted, susceptible to irruption from strange uncanny forces, while exposing the precarious boundary between civilised and demonic, occulted domains and locating sensations of conflict and ‘difference within’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKatherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISBN (Print)9780748669097
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013

Publication series

NameKatherine Mansfield studies


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