Taking an innovative approach to criticism, Reading Mansfield and Metaphors of Form demonstrates how Mansfield's stylistic practice both embodies and conveys her analysis of social and psychological trauma through a "metaphoric" use of literary form. New argues that the stories are neither simple vehicles for conveying emotional states nor neutral representations of moments in time but carefully crafted models, or correlatives, of social and psychological conditions of understanding. He elucidates a number of formal strategies, such as sequence, reversal, negation, repetition, deferral, and reconstruction, and then applies them to a wide range of Mansfield's stories, including such favorites as "Prelude," "The Voyage," "The Little Governess," and "Je ne parle pas français." Drawing on a range of writings in contemporary postcolonial, narratological, and gender theory, Reading Mansfield and Metaphors of Form leads to a new appreciation of the implications of Mansfield's formal craft. The book, written in a lively and readily accessible style, is at once an exemplary demonstration of the intricate process of critical reading and an intelligent and innovative reassessment of Mansfield's literary significance.
"The best critical book on Mansfield. Reading Mansfield and the Metaphors of Form places her texts in the new intellectual context of the 1990s and provides close readings of many stories which are wholly original and immensely valuable. New's interpretations of such key texts as "Prelude" and "Je ne parle pas français" are perceptive, wise, and illuminating. The book is extremely well written -- energetic, lucid, persuasive, direct and its style and tone create the sense that the reader is closely engaged with a vigorous and authoritative mind." Roger Robinson, editor of the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature (forthcoming)