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Prose of the WorldModernism and the Banality of Empire$
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Saikat Majumdar

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156950

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156950.001.0001

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Katherine Mansfield and the Fragility of Pākehā Boredom

Katherine Mansfield and the Fragility of Pākehā Boredom

(p.71) Chapter 2 Katherine Mansfield and the Fragility of Pākehā Boredom
Prose of the World

Saikat Majumdar

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes boredom as a colonial condition in Katherine Mansfield's stories. Her understated relationship with New Zealand's landscape is as important to the analysis as is her insistent disavowal of her colonial roots and subsequent identification with English culture. It argues for a reading of Mansfield's works based on the complex and often-contradictory realities of white settler colonial society and the more distant but looming landscape of Māori culture and history. It is an intriguing relationship between two very different forms of colonialism existing in an explosive contact zone. In Mansfiel's stories, this contact is often dictated by the pivotal performance of gender. Gender enacts the distinction of private and public spaces, and accordingly marks a rift over the expansionist ambitions of settler colonialism. While Mansfield's location within the domestic world of settler society has been obvious, her relationship with the world of indigenous culture has only just begun to be addressed.

Keywords:   boredom, colonialism, New Zealand, colonial history, banality, gender, indigenous culture, āori culture

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