‘Prelude’, the long short story which opens Katherine Mansfield’s 1920 collection Bliss and Other Stories, is a modernist masterpiece. But like much modernist fiction, its meaning and its subtle use of symbolism and other narrative devices are unlikely to be fully apparent after a first, or even a second reading. You can read ‘Prelude’ here; on Tuesday we offered a detailed summary of the ‘plot’ of the story; now, we venture to put down some words of analysis about this story.
Because ‘Prelude’ is a modernist short story, the emphasis is on character rather than plot, as is also often the case with James Joyce’s short stories or Virginia Woolf’s short fiction. Mansfield is using the Burnells’ house-move,