Thieving Facts and Reconstructing Katherine Mansfield’s Life in Janice Kulyk Keefer’s Thieves

Monica Latham

Abstract


The aim of this article is to examine how the biographical material that Janice Kulyk Keefer “steals” from Mansfield’s life is used to re-create a “quasi-real” life in a novel which absorbs reality, digests it, and offers an oxymoronic, semi-fictitious product: a biofiction. Keefer selected biographèmes or kernels of truth on which her fictitious details and characters could be grafted: following Mansfield’s physical, emotional and intellectual trail was an imperative part of Keefer’s research plan, as essential as close reading of the modernist author’s letters and journals. Besides seamlessly fusing reality and fiction, historical and imaginative truths, these hybrid products bring together the characteristics of literary and genre fiction. The article also focuses on the generic aspect of Thieves, which “sells” a scholarly literary background by using a commercial format that borrows features from popular genres such as love stories, thrillers, mystery and detective novels. The result is a multi-layered story endowed with great narrative virtuosity and variety, with leaps in time and space and with parallel stories that finally intersect. The article ultimately concludes with more general considerations on how such biofictions recreating the myth of iconic figures have proved to be a flourishing literary genre on the current book market.

 

This article was submitted to the EJLW on 28 November 2013 and published on 14 October 2014.


Keywords


Katherine Mansfield; biofiction; life writing; generic hybridism

Full Text:

PDF HTML

References


Alpers, Antony. Katherine Mansfield. New York: Knopf, 1954.

Barthes, Roland. Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. Paris: Seuil, 1975.

Beaudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulations. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.

Brooker, Peter, ed and intro. Modernism/Postmodernism. London; New York: Longman, 1992.

Buisine, Alain. “Biofictions.” Revue des sciences humaines: Le Biographique 4.224 (1991): 7-13.

Burgass, Catherine. A.S. Byatt’s Possession. London; New York: Continuum, 2002.

Byatt, A.S. Possession. New York: Vintage, 1991.

Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. Thorndike, Me: G.K. Hall, 1999.

Dee, Jonathan. “The Reanimators: On the Art of Literary Graverobbing.” Harper’s June 1999: 76-84.

Dolezel, Lubomir. Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

----. “Truth and authenticity in narrative.” Poetics Today 1.3 (Spring 1980): 7-25.

Eco, Umberto, “Lector in Fabula: pragmatic strategy in a metanarrative text.” The Role of The Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1979.

Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Gefen, Alexandre. “‘Soi-même comme un autre’: presupposes et significations du recours à la fiction biographique dans la literature français contemporaine.” Fictions biographiques, xixe-xxie siècles. Eds. Anne-Marie Monluçon and Agathe Salha. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2007. 55-75.

Genette, Gérard. Fiction et diction (1979). Paris: Seuil, 2004.

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991.

Kulyk Keefer, Janice. Thieves. Sydney: Harper Collins, 2004.

Latham, Monica. ‘“Serv[ing] under two masters’: Virginia Woolf's Afterlives in Contemporary Biofictions.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 27.2 (Winter 2012): 354-373.

Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. London: Fourth Estate, 2009.

----. Bring Up the Bodies. London: Fourth Estate, 2012.

Mansfield, Katherine. Novels and Novelists. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959.

Mayers, Jeffrey. Katherine Mansfield: A Biography. London: H. Hamilton, 1978.

McHale, Brian, Postmodernist Fiction. New York: Methuen, 1987.

Monluçon, Anne-Marie et Agathe Salha, eds. Fictions biographiques, xixe-xxie siècles. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2007.

Murry, John Middleton, ed. The Letters of Katherine Mansfield. London: Constable, 1928.

----. The Journal of Katherine Mansfield. London: Constable, 1962.

O’Sullivan, Vincent and Margaret Scott, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield. Vols 1-5. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984-2008.

Pavel, Thomas. “The borders of fiction.” Poetics Today 4.1 (1983): 83-88.

Scott, Margaret, The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Shields, David. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. New York: Knopf, 2010.

Sukenick, Ronald. Form: Digressions on the Art of Fiction. Carbondale and Edwardswille: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985.

Todd, Richard. “A. S. Byatt’s Possession: An International Literary Success.” Consuming Fictions: The Booker Prize and Fiction in Britain Today. London: Bloomsbury, 1996. 25-54.

Tóibín, Colm. The Master. London: Picador, 2004.

Tomalin, Claire. Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life. London: Viking, 1987.

Viart, Dominique. “Naissance moderne et renaissance contemporaine des fictions biographiques.” Fictions biographiques, xixe -xxie siècles. Eds. Anne-Marie Monluçon and Agathe Salha. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2007. 35-54.

Woolf, Virginia. “The New Biography.” Essays 4. Ed. Andrew McNeillie. New York: Harcourt, 1994. 473-480.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.3.83

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2015 Monica Latham

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.