What makes a modernist short story a story? The case of katherine mansfield’s ‘at “Lehmann’s”’

Kelly S. Walsh, Terence Patrick Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allan Pasco has noted the relative paucity of critical attempts to define the short story as a genre. Most critics, he suggests, ‘insist upon the story, for the causally and chronologically constructed narrative is generally viewed as central.’ One means of moving beyond causation and chronology, we argue, is by recourse to the concept of the plot genotype, first elaborated by Vladimir Propp in his analysis of the Russian fairy tale. In this essay, we show how a refined Proppian morphology can be used to interpret Katherine Mansfield’s story ‘At “Lehmann’s”’ (1910). In doing so, we offer a model that is capable of accounting for short literary fictions, specifically modernist ones, that critics have tended to regard as ‘plotless.’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Language, Literature and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sept 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 2018.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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