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Miss Brill [short story] by Katherine…

Miss Brill [short story]

by Katherine Mansfield

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Showing 5 of 5
It was pure coincidence that I picked No. 72 of Penguin's Little Black Classics out of the box right after finishing No. 48, but it turned out to be a happy pairing. No. 48 is Edith Wharton's “The Reckoning,” and Katherine Mansfield's lonely, dysfunctional characters in the three short stories here – “Marriage a la Mode,” “Miss Brill,” and “The Stranger” -- resonate intriguingly against Wharton's portrayals of women who, while terribly isolated, nevertheless refuse to subside in complete silence. Born about twenty years apart, the women are writing about individuals or couples inhabiting similar milieus, and Mansfield's Miss Brill and Wharton's Mrs. Manstey are particularly alike in the fragile bubbles of little pleasures they have created for themselves. Mansfield's two other stories here offer a starker view of couples hopelessly damaged by selfishness and loss of perspective. Mansfield's Isabel, in “Marriage a la Mode,” is much like Wharton's Julia in “The Reckoning,” but, seen at a different place along her trajectory, appears far less sympathetic (additionally, the dispositions of the women's husbands shows Julia in a softer light). The final story in the Mansfield collection, “The Stranger,” doesn't have a parallel in Wharton's book. It's an interesting story, sad, but also unsettling. ( )
  meandmybooks | Nov 27, 2017 |
3 short, well written stories that share a bleak and lonely image of age and marriage. ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
Miss Brill is the perfect introduction to Katherine Mansfield if like me; you’re late to reading her great stories. This Penguin Little Black Classic contains three short stories from The Garden Party and Other Stories, first published in 1922. All three stories (Marriage a la Mode, Miss Brill and The Stranger) have a common theme of loneliness, mis-communication and cross purposes about them. Marriage a la Mode is about a wife who has decided to have a little fun with a set of friends whilst her husband trudges on (I’m thinking the Bloomsbury Set here). Miss Brill dusts off her fur and attends a concert each week, but it’s primarily people watching for her…but what do the other attendees think of her? The Stranger is Mrs Hammond, returning from a long time overseas…Mr Hammond thinks that things will be exactly the same as before she left, won’t they?

The stories reflect personal growth in some characters while other characters languish in the past and memories. The stories are beautifully told, I’m always amazed at how a talented short story writer can fit so much plot, characterisation and detail into so few words. I think Katherine Mansfield is one of the best of them. I’m not normally one for short stories, but these are as well characterised and thought provoking as any novel. Despite being written nearly 100 years ago, the prose feels fresh and the ideas expressed modern.

This was definitely worth the $2 and provides more food for thought than any chocolate bar (chocolate being the same price these days). I’ll happily read more Penguin Little Black Classics as they’re a great read over lunch, while waiting for something or as a break from a longer read.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | May 16, 2015 |
I have to give this short story 4 stars because Mansfield's descriptive prowess floored me. This vignette so aptly paints Miss Brill (love the chill in that name) as deluded woman whose flimsy veil of self-delusion is lifted by the harsh words of two young lovers in the park. Mansfiled's short work packs points for analysis so tightly that even our dear Arlene the Sardine would be pleased. The fox fur, the orchestra, Miss Brill herself all seem symbolic. When I look at Miss Brill, I see my worst fears about aging - that I will will become inept and infantile - realized.

I see connections to Marquesta in The Poet Slave of Cuba (the dichotomy of the inner view of self with what other people actually see).

I would use this with late middle and high school ( )
1 vote Desirichter | Jul 28, 2014 |
Pride comes before a fall, or so the saying goes and as Miss Brill, the pompous and condescending old lady finds out when she is seen as one of those weirdo eccentrics who sit in the park and talk to herself and she suddenly realises her place in the world.

Good story, well told, very sad. I hope it doesn't happen to me. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Mansfieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grawe, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is Sunday and Miss Brill is sitting on her special bench in the public gardens. She likes to watch the crowd and listen to their conversations, especially now that the Season has started and the band in its rotunda is making a greater effort. Week after week she sees the same faces. There is something funny about almost all of them, she thinks...HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.… (more)

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