"The most frequently anthologized of Katherine Mansfield's works, 'The Garden Party' has long enjoyed a reputation for near-perfection in the art of the short story." In her time, Mansfield was seen as one of the prime innovators of the short story form. After Mansfield's death in 1923, Virginia Woolf would remark in her diary, "I was jealous of her writing—the only writing I have ever been jealous of." Even though it has enjoyed a fine reputation, critics and readers alike have puzzled over what they see as an unsatisfactory ending—an ending that, as Warren Walker remarks, "leaves readers with a feeling of dissatisfaction, a vague sense that the story somehow does not realize its potential."
CONTENTS: AT THE BAYTHE GARDEN PARTYTHE DAUGHTERS OF THE LATE COLONELMR. AND MRS. DOVETHE YOUNG GIRLLIFE OF MA PARKERMARRIAGE A LA MODETHE VOYAGEMISS BRILLHER FIRST BALLTHE SINGING LESSONTHE STRANGERBANK HOLIDAYAN IDEAL FAMILYTHE LADY'S MAID *** AT THE BAYI VERY early morning. The sun was not yet risen, and the whole of Crescent Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist. The big bush-covered hills at the back were smothered. You could not see where they ended and the paddocks and bungalows began. The sandy road was gone and the paddocks and bungalows the other side of it; there were no white dunes covered with reddish grass beyond them; there was nothing to mark which was beach and where was the sea. A heavy dew had fallen. The grass was blue. Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It looked as though the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though one immense wave had come rippling, rippling–how far? Perhaps if you had waked up in the middle of the night you might have seen a big fish flicking in at the window and gone again. . . . Ah-Aah! sounded the sleepy sea. And from the bush there came the sound of little streams flowing, quickly, lightly, slipping between the smooth stones, gushing into ferny basins and out again; and there was the splashing of big drops on large leaves, and something else–what was it?–a faint stirring and shaking, the snapping of a twig and then such silence that it seemed some one was listening. Round the corner of Crescent Bay, between the piled-up masses of broken rock, a flock of sheep came pattering. They were huddled together, a small, tossing, woolly mass, and their thin, stick-like legs trotted along quickly as if the cold and the quiet had frightened them. Behind them an old sheep-dog, his soaking paws covered with sand, ran along with his nose to the ground, but carelessly, as if thinking of something else. And then in the rocky gateway the shepherd himself appeared. He was a lean, upright old man, in a frieze coat that was covered with a web of tiny drops, velvet trousers tied under the knee, and a wide-awake with a folded blue handkerchief round the brim. One hand was crammed into his belt, the other grasped a beautifully smooth yellow stick. And as he walked, taking his time, he kept up a very soft light whistling, an airy, far-away fluting that sounded mournful and tender. The old dog cut an ancient caper or two and then drew up sharp, ashamed of his levity, and walked a few dignified paces by his master's side. The sheep ran forward in little pattering rushes; they began to bleat, and ghostly flocks and herds answered them from under the sea. "Baa! Baaa!" For a time they seemed to be always on the same piece of ground. There ahead was stretched the sandy road with shallow puddles; the same soaking bushes showed on either side and the same shadowy palings. Then something immense came into view; an enormous shock-haired giant with his arms stretched out. It was the big gum-tree outside Mrs. Stubbs' shop, and as they passed by there was a strong whiff of eucalyptus. And now big spots of light gleamed in the mist. The shepherd stopped whistling; he rubbed his red nose and wet beard on his wet sleeve and, screwing up his eyes, glanced in the direction of the sea.
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