ワザリング・ハイツ -annex-

どんなに忙しい毎日でも、紅茶を飲んで、ほっとひと息。

Katherine Mansfield “Something Childish But Very Natural”


This very attractive title comes from a poem written by a poet in Romantic period S.T. Coleridge . “If I had but two little wings / And were a little feathery bird, / To you I'd fly, my dear!” — though the idea is childish…. His poem is so clear and understandable, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to recognise why she chose this title for the story and what is childish.

It’s easy to find childish phrases which gives us an immature impression. 18-year-old Henry and 16-year-old Edna who encountered in the train pretend to be acting in a mature way. When she asks him what he has been doing, he responses, “it’s been agony” ( for he’s been thinking of Edna! ), or put his hand on his heart and says “I believe it must be the Spring. I believe I've swallowed a butterfly — and it's fanning its wings just here.” We might blush for the phrases like these. Young two have been getting into each other, but, Mansfield prepares her distinctive conclusion at the end.

Thinking of their fortunate lives, Henry were waiting for Edna, and then, he received a telegram. After he read it, shadows spread over the sky to cover everything. How should we interpret this situation? It is possible to consider that this is a figurative expression which represents his mental picture by means of shadows. It can also be said that this is an avant-garde ending that shadows really swallow him.

In a collection Something Childish But Very Natural and Other Stories published in 1924, ‘Poison’, another important story, is contained. Through the story, a mature couple is waiting for a telegram from someone but the reason is not revealed. Besides, the same poem of Coleridge is also cited here, which associates ‘Poison’ with ‘Something Childish’. The fact that a letter brings us something decisive is familiar matter to us. “What is written in a telegram?” is a first question with which we come up, but actually it’s meaningless as we cannot see it. This is Mansfield’s prominent attempt. Since everybody focuses on a telegram, she calls their attention to elsewhere by means of its blankness. We notice that the story has certainly lots of other things we have to consider.

This is how Modernists write intentionally. It’s impossible to identify all the meanings of Finnegans Wake James Joyce wrote in broken English none of the British can read, so we turn to another issue that why he wrote it. That is why Joyce did it as well as Mansfield.

This is just a process of changing our perspective. We might observe that shadows which attempt to threaten their bliss are lying behind in consideration of Edna’s anxiety sometimes shown. Only Edna notices such bleak shadows behind them. And in fact, these shadows swallow Henry.