Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Aloe (Mansfield) 174

A slim green volume caught my eye in Oxfam the other day; it was The aloe by Katherine Mansfield. I was quite pleased, as it is a book which various Katherine Mansfield fans have been looking forward to me encountering (and it was also a slim volume with normal sized type which can be somewhat of a bonus discovery on this venture). I had enjoyed dipping in and out of the two Persephone Katherine Mansfield's earlier this year, they publish her journals and her stories (although I was frustrated by the fact that many of the stories were unfinished).

This volume is a bit of a Mansfield oddity, until Virago republished it, it had only been published once by John Murray in the 1930s. This was partly because Mansfield had reworked it into her longer story, Prelude, which was published by Virginia Woolf, and which I haven't read, although I am now intrigued to go on and see how it compares.

Based on Mansfield's reflections on and attempts to write down and describe her memories of her childhood, The aloe is set in New Zealand and describes a family who have just moved into a new house, and sketches the family members. It's a book to read for the wonderful prose rather than the plot or characters, although they are beautifully drawn.

It's just been published once by Virago with an original green cover, but I found out whilst researching into the book that Capachin Classics are republishing it in October this year.

And if you're in New Zealand, you can visit the house where she lived!


  1. I love "Prelude", as I love all of Mansfield's stories that feature the Burnell family, and excited to read the original.

  2. Good to read that Capuchin are republishing this...

  3. Stunning cover. The Doll's House is my favourite Mansfield story. By the way, I found a pristine Eudora Welty Virago in Oxfam the other day for £1.99!

  4. Claire - I need to go back and look at Prelude.

    Hannah - yes, I had spotted that too!

    Vintage - yes, another fantastic cover. Which Eudora Welty?

  5. Verity, The Optimist's Daughter - cover has a black and white photo of a young girl on it. Welty is a great writer - first time I've read her.