Modernist texts generally
include literature written between 1899 and 1945, and often involve some sort
of experimentation with traditional narrative forms. "Kew Gardens"
does not adhere to any traditional genre category like "mystery" or "coming-of-age."
As we've noted before, there isn't really a clear plot line. Think about how
you would describe the story to a friend. It'd probably go something like this:
Well, it's about different people who wander through a public garden in London
in the summer—oh and also about a snail and some flowers.
Clearly, this isn't a traditional story. "Kew Gardens"
is experimental in nature and is best classified with the category of modernist
That said, we might note that it contains certain elements
of other genres. For instance, the descriptions of the snail journeying through
the flowerbed recall a classic adventure story. After all, the snail is clearly
preoccupied with the risks and dangers involved in climbing beneath the
tremendous brown leaf—quite an adventure for a snail.
The episodes with the married couple and with the senile man
and William (possibly his son) also suggest the presence of family dramas,
though these dramas are only hinted at and are not the main focus of the story.
Finally, the story also contains elements of the realist genre: "Kew
Gardens" is, fundamentally, a careful description of a scene from everyday
life in twentieth-century London.