Books by Katherine Mansfield

Quotes by Katherine Mansfield
By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love — the earth and the wonders thereof — the sea — the sun, all that we mean when we speak of the external world. I want to enter into it, to be part of it, to live in it, to learn from it, to lose all that is superficial and acquired in me and to become a conscious, direct human being. I want, by understanding myself, to understand others.
When we can begin to take our failures nonseriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.
I'm a writer first & a woman after.
If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools. With mushrooms it is so simple — you salt them well, put them aside and have patience. But with love, you have no sooner lighted on anything that bears even the remotest resemblance to it than you are perfectly certain it is not only a genuine specimen, but perhaps ''the'' only genuine mushroom ungathered.
Would you not like to try all sorts of lives — one is so very small — but that is the satisfaction of writing — one can impersonate so many people.
Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order. This is what life has taught me.
I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
To work — to work! It is such infinite delight to know that we still have the best things to do.
The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.
This all sounds very strenuous and serious. But now that I have wrestled with it, it's no longer so. I feel happy — deep down. May you be happy too. I'm going to Fontainebleau on Monday and I'll be back here Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. ''All is well.''
I am treating you as my friend, asking you to share my present minuses in the hope I can ask you to share my future pluses.
Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.
Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.
I want so to live that I work with my hands and my feeling and my brain. I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing (Though I may write about cabmen. That's no matter.) But warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire, to feel, to think, to act. This is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for.
It's a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don't lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath — as terrible as you like — but a mask.
I have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to become a writer can afford to indulge in it. You can't get it into shape; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in.
Were we positive, eager, real — alive? No, we were not. We were a nothingness shot with gleams of what might be.
The world to me is a dream and the people in it are sleepers. I have known a few instances of intensity but that is all. I want to find a world in which these instances are united. Shall I succeed? I scarcely care. What is important is to try & learn to live, and in relation to everything – not isolated. This isolation is death to me.
Warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire to know, to feel, to think, to act. That is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for. ... This all sounds very strenuous and serious. But now that I have wrestled with it, it’s no longer so. I feel happy — deep down. All is well.
Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to ''be'' different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change of attitude.
To acknowledge the presence of fear is to give birth to failure.
It's an infernal nuisance to love Life as I do. I seem to love it more as time goes on rather than less. It never becomes a habit to me. It's always a marvel. I do hope I'll be able to keep in it long enough to do some really good work. I'm sick of people dying who promise well.
When I say "I fear" — don't let it disturb you, dearest heart. We all fear when we are in waiting-rooms. Yet we must pass beyond them, and if the other can keep calm, it is all the help we can give each other.
Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.
Katherine Mansfield's Biography
New Zealand's most famous writer‚ who was closely associated with D.H. Lawrence and something of a rival of Virginia Woolf. Mansfield's creative years were burdened with loneliness‚ illness‚ jealousy‚ alienation – all this reflected in her work with the bitter depiction of marital and family relationships of her middle-class characters. Her short stories are also notable for their use of stream of consciousness. Like the Russian writer Anton Chekhov‚ Mansfield depicted trivial events and subtle changes in human behavior.

Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington‚ New Zealand‚ into a middle-class colonial family. Her father‚ Harold Beauchamp‚ was a banker and her mother‚ Annie Burnell Dyer‚ was of genteel origins. She lived for six years in the rural village of Karori. Later on Mansfield said "I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was‚ too. But better far write twaddle or anything‚ anything‚ than nothing at all." At the age of nine she had her first story published. Entitled 'Enna Blake' it appeared in The High School Reporter in Wellington‚ with the editor's comment‚ that it "shows promise of great merit".

As a first step to her rebellion against her background‚ she withdrew to London in 1903 and studied at Queen's College‚ where she joined the staff of the College Magazine. Back in New Zealand in 1906‚ she then took up music‚ and had affairs with both men and women. Her father denied her the opportunity to become a professional cello player – she was an accomplished violoncellist. In 1908 she studied typing and bookkeeping at Wellington Technical College. Her lifelong friend Ida Baker (L.M.‚ Leslie Moore in her diary and correspondence) persuaded Mansfield's father to allow Katherine to move back to England‚ with an allowance of £100 a year. There she devoted herself to writing. Mansfield never visited New Zealand again.

After an unhappy marriage in 1909 to George Brown‚ whom she left a few days after the wedding‚ Mansfield toured for a while as an extra in opera. Before the marriage she had an affair with Garnett Trowell‚ a musician‚ and became pregnant. In Bavaria‚ where Mansfield spent some time‚ she suffered a miscarriage. During her stay in Germany she wrote satirical sketches of German characters‚ which were published in 1911 under the title In a German Pension. Earlier her stories had appeared in The New Age. On her return to London‚ Mansfield became ill with an untreated sexually transmitted disease she contracted from Floryan Sobieniowski; a condition which contributed to her weak health for the rest of her life. Sobieniowski was a Polish émigré translator‚ whom she met in Germany. Her first story published in England was 'The Child-Who-Was-Tired'‚ about a overworked nursemaid who kills a baby – it has been claimed that it was a copy of Chekhov's story 'Spat Khochetsia' (1888‚ Sleepyhead).

Mansfield attended literary parties without much enthusiasm: "Pretty rooms and pretty people‚ pretty coffee‚ and cigarettes out of a silver tankard... I was wretched." Always outspoken‚ she was once turned out of an omnibus after calling another woman a whore; the woman had declared that all suffragettes ought to be trampled to death by horses. In 1911 she met John Middleton Murry‚ a Socialist and former literary critic‚ who was first a tenant in her flat‚ then her lover. Mansfield co-edited and contributed to a series of journals. Until 1914 she published stories in Rhythm and The Blue Review. During the war she travelled restlessly between England and France. When her brother "Chummie"died in World War I‚ Mansfield focused her writing on New Zealand and her family. 'Prelude' (1916)‚ one of her most famous stories‚ was written during this period. After divorcing her first husband in 1918‚ Mansfield married Murry. In the same year she was found to have tuberculosis.

Mansfied and Murry were closely associated with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. Upon learning that Murry had an affair with the Princess Bibesco (née Asquith)‚ Mansfield objected not to the affair but to her letters to Murry: "I am afraid you must stop writing these love letters to my husband while he and I live together. It is one of the things which is not done in our world." (from a letter to Princess Bibesco‚ 1921)

Mansfied did her best work in the early 1920s‚ the peak of her achievement being the Garden Party (1922)‚ which she wrote during the final stages of her illness. Her last years Mansfield spent in southern France and in Switzerland‚ seeking relief from tuberculosis. As a part of her treatment in 1922 at an institute‚ Mansfield had to lie a few hours every day on a platform suspended over a cow manger. She breathed odors emanating from below but the treatment did no good. Without the company of her literary friends‚ family‚ or her husband‚ she wrote much about her own roots and her childhood. Mansfield died of a pulmonary hemorrhage on January 9‚ 1923‚ in Gurdjieff Institute‚ near Fontainebleau‚ France. Her last words were: "I love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face."

Mansfield's family memoirs were collected in Bliss (1920). Only three volumes of Mansfield's stories were published during her lifetime. 'Miss Brill' was about a woman who enjoys the beginning of the Season. She goes to her "special" seat with her fur. She had taken it out of its box in the afternoon‚ shaken off the moth-powder‚ and given it a brush. She feels that she has a part in the play in the park‚ and somebody will notice if she isn't there. A couple sits near her. The girl laughs at her fur and the man says: "Why does she come here at all – who wants her? Why doesn't she keep her silly old mug at home?" Miss Brill hurries back home‚ unclasps the neckpiece quickly‚ and puts it in the box. "But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying."

In 'The Garden Party' (1921) an extravagant garden-party is arranged on a beautiful day. Laura‚ the daughter of the party's hostess‚ hears of the accidental death of a young local working-class man‚ Mr. Scott. The man lived in the neighborhood. Laura wants to cancel the party‚ but her mother refuses to understand. She fills a basket with sandwiches‚ cakes‚ pastries and other food‚ goes to the widow's house‚ and sees the dead man in the bedroom where he is lying. "He was wonderful‚ beautiful. While they were laughing and while the band was playing‚ this marvel had come to the lane." Crying she tells her brother who is looking for her: "'It was simply marvellous. But‚ Laurie – ' She stopped‚ she looked at her brother. 'Isn't life‚' she stammered‚ 'isn't life – ' But what life was she couldn't explain. No matter. He quite understood."

Mansfield was greatly influenced by Anton Chekhov‚ sharing his warm humanity and attention to small details of human behavior. Her influence on the development of the modern short story was also notable. Among her literary friends were Aldous Huxley‚ Virginia Woolf‚ who considered her overpraised‚ and D.H. Lawrence‚ who later turned against Murry and her. Mansfield's journal‚ letters‚ and scrapbook were edited by her husband‚ who ignored her wish that he should "tear up and burn as much as possible" of the papers she left behind her.
Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008

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