My literary interest began with French literature because I love pieces of work like this. Mystery or strangeness is associated with an idea of pathos or confusion in some cases. ‘L’enfant de la haute mer’ is also the same sort of short story. L’enfant de la haute mer is a collection of short stories written by a poet Supervielle.
It is appropriate to adapt an adjective “thought-provoking” to this story. As well as Mansfield, we had better ask how strong our feelings are, rather than ask why she lives alone in an island town, in order to understand the heart of this story. Our feelings occasionally bring about something absurd like what this story represents allegorically. A girl in it feels nothing. She has just a habit, which gives a pathetic impression. When, it is true that she sometimes feels in the same way as us, she is sad, it’s impossible for her to feel sad because she cannot understand what is sad.
But she thinks suddenly that she does want to write some sentences. However in fact, what she writes is discursive sentences like “Let’s share this, shall we?”, “Listen. Sit down. Don’t move, please!”, “We need three people to make a circle.” Probably she cannot write what she wants from her heart indeed. Before that, she doesn’t know what sort of sentences she wants to write. It is a part of problems about writing which Supervielle might hold.
Supervielle was born in Uruguay. His parents came from France, so he went back and forth between both countries, but he finished school in France and chose to write in French. His background that he was split into two continents has a strong influence on his writing as many have been pointed out. It is certain that his distinctive attitude towards French can be seen clearly in this story. When the girl touches the language, writing something or facing a workbook, she looks at it with her curious eyes which are particular to something unfamiliar to her. And of course, these “eyes” are ones which she has when she looks at a photograph in which a girl who is quite similar to her figure, and when she looks around the town where no one lives except her. Supervielle might sometimes feel as if French was unfamiliar language to him. He expresses a state of mind elaborately which we sometimes feel far from something which is really close to us.
In Japan, Mimei Ogawa or Kenji Miyazawa wrote some splendid stories for children. If you know them, you can enjoy a touch of Supervielle profoundly. As far as I’m concerned, it is at present that this sort of story should be read indeed.