Printer Friendly

Katherine Mansfield's world.

The idea for this essay came to me while reading Amit Chaudhuri's recent book on Calcutta. There he notes that while living in England as a student he was often reminded of Calcutta--the city of his childhood holidays--in 'the oddest of places', but especially when reading Katherine Mansfield's stories, which, as he writes, present life in New Zealand down 'to the last detail, including the "creak of the laundry basket'". (1) I found this sufficiently curious to wonder about whether Mansfield worked like this not just for Chaudhuri but for others too, and if so, why it was that her fictions in particular might appeal in this way to readerships from very different cultures.

A little further enquiry supported the notion that Mansfield is indeed a remarkably transportable writer. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Armenian, Czechoslovakian, Dutch, Esperento, Farsi, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Portugese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish as well as, no doubt, other languages. We know from Gerri Kimber that she has found particular recognition in France. (2) But her transportability is most evident in her Chinese reception. Shifen Gong's collection of essays on the topic proves that Mansfield has had a significant presence in Chinese literary history ever since her meeting with Xu Zhimo in Hampstead in 1922 and his publication of his translations of nine of her stories soon after. (3) This helped to set the course for the modern Chinese short story, which seems especially remarkable given that Chinese conditions of everyday life, like Chinese literary traditions, stand so far apart from Europe's.

My task here, however, is not to add to the scholarship on Mansfield's international reception. Nor indeed is it to engage the vibrant body of Mansfield criticism as it has emerged out of feminism, postcolonialism and queer theory: indeed this essay presents a quite different (and perhaps discomforting) view of Mansfield than that which appears there. (4) I want rather to explore what kind of 'world writer' she is, and to reflect a little on the concept of 'world' itself. I want to make the case that Mansfield's short fictions, at least in their most developed form, were intended precisely to produce experiences that constitute fictional 'worlds'. As such her writing stands apart from writing that regards its purposes to be, for instance and inter alia, primarily moral, aesthetic or entertaining. To anticipate my argument and to invoke philosophical concepts of her own time, we can say that she writes self-contained stories that communicate a coherent experience by virtue of their concreteness, and a concrete experience by virtue of their coherence, where this concrete and coherent experience constitutes a world. In other words, for me here, 'world literature' is writing that, to use the vocabulary of Mansfield's own time, creates and communicates experiences as worlds, and may be global in its reach for that very reason.

I want to propose further that Mansfield became a maker of verbal artifacts that constitute fictional worlds in these terms under particular conditions, so that world writing may be a more limited procedure than we might suppose. These conditions were largely philosophical, formed in what is now often called 'British idealism' across certain of its guises. That was where Mansfield found the now obsolete lexicon through which her fictions could be conceived as experiences which constitute worlds. But, as we shall see, the conditions that enabled her to create her fictional worlds were also social and political. They belonged to the conjuncture in which British imperialism, and the reconciliation of oligarchy to liberalism that it enabled, met an emergent social democratic state committed to capitalist reproduction. In sum: in Mansfield, philosophy, society and politics clash and mix in particular and determined ways and via an avant-garde conservatism to produce 'world' literature of a particular kind. As a result this essay offers a mix of literary criticism, recondite intellectual history and politico-historical generalizations. In presenting my case, I am conscious of joining an established body of scholarship on world literature thought geographically, so that before I focus in on Mansfield it is useful to spell out schematically how my approach relates to established work in the field.

There are, roughly speaking, currently four main academic schools of thought concerning world literature. The first, which we associate with Pascale Casanova, takes a sociological approach to the global literary field. It deploys an analytic machinery' derived from both Pierre Bourdieu and world-system theory to show how the consecration of a global canon has been organized from the old imperial centres, and in particular for Casanova, from Paris. (5) The second, which we can associate with David Damrosch, is more celebratory, traditionalist and catholic: it is concerned to expand our sense of the literary heritage by recognizing a suite of great works from a wide swathe of time and space as constituting world literature. In doing so, on the one side, Damrosch downplays literature's intimate connection to specific languages and traditions and, on the other, skirts over the power relations that have historically divided the world, most notably, of course, Western colonialism. (6) The third, which we associate with Franco Moretti, by-passes criticism and evaluation, calling upon 'distant reading', dependent on digitized data-bases, in order (among other things) to uncover the patterns in which genres and works have circulated into different cultural settings around the world and have (or have not) been transformed in the process. (7) The last, which we associate with Gayatri Spivak and Emily Apter, insists on literature's untranslatability as well as on the impossibility of securely locating textual origins, and, in a poststructuralist spirit, explores how literary untranslatability might nonetheless intensify literature's global connections. (8)

My approach is different from, if not necessarily quite incompatible with, all these. At least superficially it seems quite easy to align to Casanova's work, since the channels of global consecration that she remarks upon can be analysed apart from any of the qualities, including the qualities of worldedness, that any particular work or oeuvre possesses. It may be somewhat less compatible with Damrosch's approach to the degree that I break with his catholic view of world literature in suggesting that world literature may be world literature because it possesses specifiable qualities. Its relation to Moretti is more complicated, and in this context I want merely to suggest that when Moretti himself attends to literary writing in Mansfield's period he takes a view of it that depends on Raymond Williams's account of modernism as the product of a 'city of strangers' committed to increasing divisions of labour, which, as will become clearer, is not, for me, what most needs to be emphasized in relation to Mansfield, even if her exilic and colonial situation are indeed relevant. (9) But this essay aligns itself least easily to Spivak and Apter's poststructuralism, since the question of translation, and indeed of literary language itself, is downgraded when one accepts the concept of fictional worlds.

Recently, however, Eric Hayot in his important book On Literary Worlds has made a new move in this divided field by acknowledging that 'no-one has a very good theory of the world', and suggesting instead a method focused on 'the ontology of composed works' and thence to an 'understanding of worldedness as an aesthetic and cultural phenomenon--as a symptom and as a compass for the history, in other words, of totality as a function of the human imagination'. (10) Which is to say that, responding the ontological turn, Hayot wants to take the long-neglected concept of the fictional or aesthetic world seriously and then to relate it, not to the Heideggerean existential concepts of das Welt and Umwelt, but rather to the 'total social world as a ground for human life and human activity'. (11) This is somewhat like the argument I am making here, although I do not believe that the concept of the world is at all equivalent to the concepts either of social or metaphysical totality, nor that phenomenological-existential-idealist understandings of the 'world' can be quite subtracted from more secular concepts of 'world literature'. Nor will I follow Hayot's structuralist method or his Jamesonean approach to the topic, which puts the abstract category of 'modernism' at its centre.

The easiest entry into my investigation is through a description of Mansfield's career. She was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888, to a rich family. Her father, Harold Beauchamp, was one of New Zealand's most successful merchants and bankers. As was not unusual for members of her class, she was sent to London for her secondary' schooling, but on returning home, soon realized that colonial New Zealand was no place for her. After her parents discovered her lesbian relationship with a Maori friend, they allowed her--aged twenty--to return to London alone, ostensibly to study music. There she soon took up a bohemian and sexually promiscuous life, committing to a career as a writer. And she established a very specific persona, partly no doubt as an expression of, as well as a cover for, uncontainable personal drives--an intense, witty, funny, cynical, malicious, emotional, very intelligent, insincere, untruthful, risk-taking, role-playing, name-changing persona. She soon began to publish short stories in A. R. Orage's New Age, a journal whose political project at the time was to endorse a form of nonprogressivist anti-capitalist and anti-democratic socialism known as distributionism, as then best expressed in Hilaire Belloc's essays for the journal, later published as The Senile State (1912). (12) Some of Mansfield's New Age stories, based on a period in Bavaria and influenced by Anton Chekhov, were published in book form under the title In a Gentian Pension in 1911 when she was twenty-three.

That year too she formed a relationship with the young literary intellectual John Middleton Murry with whom she would stay, through ups and downs, for the rest of her life. At the time she met Murry, he was still an Oxford undergraduate, editing the avant-garde and avowedly 'modernist' magazine Rhythm. The meeting was decisive for them both, since for the rest of Mansfield's life, with some gaps, they perceived themselves as a unit positioned against the world. (13) Soon they were signing some of Rhythm's aggressively conservative manifesto statements together. More than once Murry wrote to Mansfield on terms like these: 'you and I have carried our thoughts in literature so much further than our contemporaries'. (14) Indeed Murry's most significant book, The Problem of Style (1922) can be read as a justification of Mansfield's work and its values, as he explicitly noted after her death. (15) In turn, Mansfield once wrote of her work's relation to Murry: 'I don't feel as though I have really written anything until you have passed your judgment [...]. Without that I am just in a state of "attente"', and her careful and passionate evaluation of Murry's The Evolution of an Intellectual (1920) shows the degree to which she felt herself implicated in his criticism. (16)

Soon after meeting Murry, Mansfield published several stories in Rhythm including 'The Woman at the Store', set among the rough life conditions of New Zealand's remote Ureweras. And quite quickly the couple joined the most advanced literary circles of the time, becoming friends with D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf and Bertrand Russell, among many others. Their acquaintances, struck by the couple's personae and presence, often wrote about them--for instance, Mansfield is widely regarded as being an 'original' of Gudrun in Lawrence's Women in Love, and Murry contributed to Gerald's characterization in that novel, while Murry also figures, negatively, in Aldous Huxley's Chrome Yellow (1921) as well as in Point Counter Point (1928). So they became at least fictional public figures, and when Murry published his autobiography (a memoir of his time with Mansfield) in 1935, this aspect of his career was highlighted on the dust jacket.

In 1915, after her younger brother's death at the front, Mansfield began to compose what she thought would be a novel set in the New Zealand of her childhood. It marked another formal and topical departure for her. It was published as a short book by the Woolfs' newly-established Hogarth Press in 1918 under the title Prelude, although it did not then attract the attention that she and the Woolfs expected. About the same time, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and from then on spent much of her time on the Continent, dying and writing. Before she died she published two collections of stories both of which were, this time, well received. After her death, Murry zealously promoted a spiritual interpretation of her work. It is, however, only recently that her oeuvre's importance has been fully recognized, so that, despite her choice of the short-story genre and despite her writing relatively little, she is beginning to acquire something like the status of peers such as Lawrence, Woolf and Joyce. Deservedly, she is being consecrated as an initiator of Western literary modernism.

From our perspective, there are two main questions through which to engage this career. The first is: what are the qualities by which it accedes to world literature in the terms I have briefly invoked? The second concerns those conditions that made her writing career possible, and their application for a critical understanding of world writing in general.

I want mainly to define Mansfield's writing negatively, that is, by pointing out what it was not. Nonetheless it is useful to notice that, while her stories are of all kinds and many of them were written for particular readerships and journals, her most achieved stories at least fall under three--admittedly overlapping--heads.

We can name the first of these Mansfield sub-genres 'switch' stories: examples include 'The Swing of the Pendulum', 'Miss Brill', and 'Bliss'. They present narratives involving and organized around sudden, disconcerting and destablizing inversions of mood or perception.

The second Mansfield sub-genre consists of what we can call 'brutal' stories, for instance, 'The Woman at the Store', 'Je ne parle pas Francais', and 'The Fly'. These tell of regressions from the polite, the civil or the moral into selfish or cruel will and desire. They belong less to naturalism in Zola's manner than to an ambivalent engagement with the difficult contemporary moral politics of pain and savagery, and which hint at a caustic understanding of 'development' (as we might call it), whether personal or social. On one level, they clearly join antinomian 'neo-barbarism' as it was articulated by Frederick Goodyear, for instance, in the lead article of the first issue of Murry's journal Rhythm. (17) In this piece, called 'The New Thelema' after Aleister Crowley's dark, esoteric sexual cult, Goodyear writes: 'In the future there are to be no pariahs in our streets and no pariahs in our souls; and it is neo-barbarians, men and women who to the timid and unimaginative seem merely perverse and atavistic, that must familiarize us with our outcast selves, in order that we may learn that ultimate charity without which Thelema can never be build and occupied'. (18) At another level, they involve a sensitivity to what Mansfield called contemporary 'corruption'. (19) Further: their thematic of 'barbarization' was also connected to the debate over imperialism in the wake of Herbert Spencer's 1902 claim that imperialism itself was leading to metropolitan barbarism. (20) In this context, Mansfield's brutal charity, an immersion in corruption, stands as a qualified endorsement of the imperial ethos. Last, questions of barbarism and savagery lay at the heart of the emergent literary entanglements between Russia and Western Europe, especially (as Rachel Polonsky has pointed out) in the periodical Cosmopolis. (21) This may seem beside the point to the degree that Mansfield's fictions stand adjacent to the moral political field. But it is not beside the point to the degree that Mansfield's fictional 'worlds' are charged by an affective energy carried exactly by cruelty and barbarism, and which is more intense than any energy available, for instance, to sympathy or empathy.

The last sub-genre of the major Mansfield story fictionalizes her childhood reminiscences. These stories are, importantly, not at all nostalgic, but they are, inevitably, proximate to death, sealed off from the present by the passage not just of time but of lives. The earliest is probably 'New Dresses', ostensibly set in Germany, published in Rhythm in 1912, but the most famous and developed stories in this manner are set in Wellington, and include 'The Garden Party', 'Prelude' and 'At the Bay'. They involve many more characters than either the switch or brutal stories, and their effects proceed from the interplay between, and sudden interruptions by, different points of view and moods, especially exchanges or switches between adults and children. This is Mansfield's key contribution to literary form.

These childhood stories are told in a minimalist, not quite impersonal, ambiguously placed, narratorial voice, as we can see in this characteristic passage from 'At the Bay'. It describes Lottie--a very young child--braving the shallows, before being interrupted by an adult voice:
   She [Lottie] liked to be left to go in her own way, please.
   And that way was to sit down at the edge of the water,
   her legs straight, her knees pressed together, and to
   make vague motions with her arms as if she expected to
   be wafted out to sea. But when a bigger wave than usual,
   an old whiskery one, came lolloping along in her
   direction, she scrambled to her feet with a face of horror
   and flew up the beach again.

   'Here, mother, keep those for me, will you?'
   Two rings and a thin gold chain were dropped into Mrs
   Fairfield's lap. (22)

In the first sentence, Lottie is not under any other character's observation: the extra-diegetic narrator alone attends to her. Neither does it quite offer an indirectly free report on her attitude to swimming (her liking to swim alone) despite that 'please' at the end: it is, rather, an adult, if vernacular, translation of such a childhood attitude. The second sentence begins as objective and external reportage before moving closer to Lottie's focalization, hesitating between entering her consciousness (does she really expect to be wafted out to sea?) and describing a mimed performance (isn't she just pretending to swim?) The third moves closer still to Lottie's point of view, if again ambiguously, since its wonderful figure for a wave, 'an old whiskery one', is given both from a child's point of view and, with its patriarchal resonances, from an adult one. That sentence ends with a description of Lottie's 'face of horror', a description which once again belongs securely to the realist adult world, and which, in focusing on her externally observable face just hints that her fear might be less than deeply felt. The next sentence--in direct speech--momentarily disorientates the reader since, as written, it precedes identification of its speaker, whom we cannot, after all, yet see or hear, even if it may be heard by Lottie as she joins her mother up the beach. Indeed this utterance occurs in a new temporality--not the imperfect and elongated time of Lottie's dispositions and water habits, but that of the past historic tense.

As it turns out the sentence is spoken by Lottie's aunt Beryl. And it is sufficiently insouciant to complement the narrative boldness of the abrupt switch (almost a montage) from Lottie's perspective to Beryl's, a switch which worlds the scene by creating a continuous if interrupted space between the two characters. And it also marks a connection between us, the readers, and them, the characters. We are engaged with a narrative whose bold jumps and avant-garde fictional method foreground both its (and our) technical and its cultural sophistication, while they--the characters--are stuck in a faraway, provincial, past, everyday world. The last sentence returns to reportage, to recording the names of specific objects--'two rings and a thin gold chain'--which, in their detail, hover between having significance and having none, but which, in presenting a scene that contains hard and named objects, channel this fictional world's concreteness. Thus here a geographically and culturally distant scene, punctuated by gaps and jumps, is preserved as a world not just because it is long past, but because nonetheless it is shared across a distance.

It is also worth noting that these three Mansfieldian subgenres are not wholly dissimilar. Switches, brutalities and distance exist in them all. No less: they are also all regressive, which is to say that they all narrate a departure from the adult, ordered world, whether into childhood, brutality or, in the switch stories, into what we might call bi-polarity. I have argued elsewhere that this regressive move is key to much of the writing that we call 'modernist' because it was a way to move past humanist progressivism. (23) That is to say it was a preferred form of the modernist conservatism to which Mansfield was attached, since in resisting that view of history which understands time as continuum straining towards human improvement, it divides time into contained moments or worlds.

In all of these sub-genres Mansfield also presents characters who cannot fully communicate with one another. The signifying systems they use--whether gesture or style or, most importantly, speech--do not meaningfully connect their experiences to one other. And it is in part language's incapacity' to connect the characters to each other in that way that motivates the fiction itself--a written text of course--to find ways to transmit, and to pass itself as transmitting, a discrete experience or world, rather than just presenting itself as, say, a linguistic artifact or as articulating external moral or spiritual purposes.

Diegetically, this incommunicability goes deep. Take 'Bliss'. It is about Bertha Young, a married woman living in London who is preparing to host a party in her house that evening. She is in an unconditioned state of rapture which spills out into (and from) her love for her husband. But at the end of the party she happens to see her husband declare his love for one of her guests, the beautiful and enigmatic Miss Fulton. And the story concludes with Bertha asking herself 'what is going to happen now?' while staring at a pear tree which is, despite the shock that Bertha has just received, 'as lovely as ever'. (24) The pear tree then is a symbol which isn't one: it stands for the gap between consciousness and the world out there, however beautiful. Given the pear tree's indifference to Bertha's gaze, this moment is also an epiphany which isn't one. The tree has nothing to say or even to hint. It is, almost, itself brutal. Just in the (or a) world.

Indeed what the moment triggers is not so much an insight or inspiration as a confrontation with a threshold through which it becomes apparent that it is not so much the case that Bertha is deceived about her husband as that she is deceived about herself. Her rapture, her bliss, has been all the while hollow, strained, performed--perhaps even part of what caused her husband's infidelity. But there's no conspectus that sets the record straight, largely because Bertha doesn't know herself very well. She can't as it were communicate herself to herself: it is the indifferent pear tree that does the communicating even if what it communicates is nothing other than the sheer worldedness of the world and, past that, it is left for readers to figure things out as best they can. So in this case it is the gap between the two Berthas, blissful Bertha and disillusioned Bertha, as set apart from any larger purpose by the indifferent pear tree, that solicits us to receive the story as presenting a coherent as well as a concrete world. Of course that world is posited in the slightly gimmicky twist which has Bertha catch sight of her husband and his lover by chance. A twist that also marks the story as a commodity, written to sell an experience into a particular market. Ultimately, as it turned out, into a world market.

On this basis, then, let me list what Mansfield's stories, at least her most successful and acknowledged ones, do not do, while also briefly indicating how these various negations enable the stories to provide worlded experiences in the terms just suggested.

They do not make moral judgments, that failure being exactly what T. S. Eliot remarked upon in After Strange Gods (1934) when he accused 'Bliss' of what he called heresy or blasphemy. (25) Indeed Mansfield's stories are not, in the Arnoldian sense, 'criticisms of life', despite Mansfield's immersed sensitivity to 'corruption'. This is important to their worlding status since it means that they are not aimed at making judgments or giving instruction.

1. Especially after about 1915, they do not describe social types but individuals whose typicality, where it is able to be inferred at all, is secondary to their diegetical function. As a result they do not present allegories of social or moral conflict: they don't map politicizable social tensions. In this way too they do not point out into society, but remain contained within their own world.

2. As just noted, they are not progressivist either, by which I mean, for instance, that their endings are not happy in any sense that suggests wider reconciliation or improvement.

3. But, on the other hand, they are not tragic: no deep ethical realization is embedded into their (often indeterminate) closures.

4. As also already noted, they do not induce positive epiphanies, although as we have seen they may present blank substitutes for transcendental access. This resistance to presenting figures and moments that spark non-secular, transcendental 'suggestions' in the symbolist mode was a key to the forms of writing that were developed after 1911 in different ways by Mansfield, Lawrence and Eliot. The grounds for this resistance to epiphany were spelt out by Mansfield and Murry in one of their jointly-signed articles for Rhythm, where they argued that 'inspiration'--their name for such transcendental gestures--had become democratized, and hence jeopardized the aristocratic 'careless self-assertion' proper to the artist. As they put it, '"inspiration" is the eternal protest of democracy against aristocracy' which is exactly why it was to be avoided. (26) In refusing both democracy and transcendental gestures, the fictions immanentize themselves. They confine themselves to this inhabited world. Otherwise put: their claim to 'aristocracy' and their worldedness are intimately connected.

5. Mansfield's fictions do not elicit our sympathy or empathy, since that would demand readers to be engaged with, rather than just to experience, their world.

6. Mansfield's fictions do not foreground their fictionality: they do not 'bare the device'. Furthermore, while carefully written with a particularly close attention to punctuation, rhythm and sound, they do not appeal to fixed norms of style, form or plotting. What replaces received modes is the kind of writing that my brief readings of passages from 'At the Bay and 'Bliss' have suggested. This is important because it prevents reified forms coming between the reader and the worlded experience that reading the stories transmit.

7. And, last, the characters that populate Mansfield's stories are not in the fullest sense characters at all. On the one side they are containers of intensities, appetites, perceptions, wills, rather than coherent, intelligible persons. This is, of course, a result of incommunicability reading all the way down, since to be a person in what we might call the normative sense is not only to be a unified whole but to be meaningfully connected to all parts of oneself. And, on the other side, Mansfield's characters are performers through and through, that is to say, when their senses, perceptions, desires and so on do take shape in and as something like coherent personalities, then those personalities are roles, enactments, (as we have already seen in the passage from 'At the Bay') with the result that one character can have several personalities--as does Beryl in 'Prelude', for instance. We might put this in more philosophical terms: Mansfield has no ethical conception of personal integrity or authenticity, and this too, perhaps surprisingly, enables her to articulate fictional worlds since, as we have seen, these rely on a coherence formed in the subsumption of gaps and emptiness, including within a character's interiority, by a contained fiction.

What, then, are the conditions that underpin this mode? I want to address just two: the first in the broadest sense sociological and political, and the second, which I will dwell on a little more carefully, philosophical.

Mansfield's metropolitan career coincided with a period in English and colonial history in which the ruling class to which she belonged--by which I mean the landed gentry and the educated bourgeoisie--were simultaneously destabilized and given new opportunities for influence and control. We might call the moment in which they found themselves one of 'command under instability'. My claim then is that Mansfield's fictions are formed in precisely this situation. Despite their refusal to instrumentalize themselves ethically, socially or politically, they express command under instability within and for literary writing. While this is not the place to offer anything like an adequate account of the social transformations that underpinned 'command under instability' as a structure and stance, it is helpful to make it more apprehensible by citing some of its characteristic moments.

To begin with, the period in which Mansfield wrote was a period that spilled out of what Gregory Elliott has called 'the most acute crisis of hegemony suffered by the modern [British] state' and which involved intense democratization, and resistance to democratization, across a number of social zones. (27) What trajectories did democratization then take? Many, of course, including the suffrage movement. But let Lloyd George's 1910 'People's Budget' stand as a key political instance: for the first time in English history, the British state took on redistributionist responsibilities by raising taxes on both land and income to pay for a suite of new welfare benefits aimed at the working classes. It was this policy that the New Age positioned itself against, as indeed did Murry and Mansfield in Rhythm when they embraced aesthetic aristocratism and autonomy. So Mansfield's rejection of more established modes of fictionality, which can be understood as related to her self-assignment to a cultural aristocracy, is itself an unstable appropriation of command in resistance to powerful democratizing forces.

This was also a period that restructured the economy to smooth the way for capitalism. Lloyd George's budget, for instance, was also aimed at raising taxes on land to the degree that large inherited estates would be sold into the market. Similar market- and business-friendly policies were implemented in New Zealand at about the same time by Bill Massey's Reform Party, and when, in 1914, Mansfield's father Harold Beauchamp jumped ship from James Ward's party to join Massey's in order to secure the Chairmanship of the Bank of New Zealand, his move was denounced by Liberals and the trade unions as opportunistic. The Reform Party was on the side of finance capitalists of the sort Harold Beauchamp had become, and as such was positioned against the large South Island run-holders and the labour unions. So that in joining it, Beauchamp was intending to second the state to unpredictable market forces, for his own advantage. As a public figure and businessman he was enacting the same kind of moves--a non-democratic, defiant experimentalism--that his daughter enacted in her writing. It comes as no surprise to read her outbursts against Labour in her private correspondence.

Murry's career is itself a concrete instance of how processes like these destabilized the cultural order in reconstituting it. Born into an uneducated lower-middle-class family, he successfully passed through various meritocratic barriers to become a successful man of letters writing for an expanded literary public in daily mass-produced newspapers as well as editing The Adelphi, a widely-circulated high-brow monthly. But he never found his intellectual and political grounding: over his lifetime, he embraced, in turn, esoteric modernism a la Aleister Crowley, literary modernism a la T. S. Eliot, Lawrentian vitalism, romantic humanism, agrarian communalism, Stalinist communism, and mystical Christian/agrarian pacifism. And his public reputation was damaged in large part because he floated from cause to cause. His career is exemplary in revealing how the combination of democracy and capitalism shaped a literary field which was, here from the point of view of intellectual position-taking, radically unstable. (28)

All the more so, because imperialism was also being displaced by the new understanding of geopolitics worked out by Halford Mackinder and others, who predicted that the coming century' would be dominated by continental rather than by imperial powers, namely by Russia and America. (29) Mansfield and Murry embraced Russian literature precisely in this context, which recognized Britain and its empire as already being provincialized. Furthermore, in turning towards Russia, Mansfield was turning to a literary' culture that possessed a programmatic sense of 'world literature' (most notably in Alexander Veselovsky's work), which was then less strong in Western Europe. (30) So it is in her turn toward Russia that Mansfield's drive to produce fictions as experiences of a world, on the one side, and 'world literature' as we understand it in today's academic criticism, on the other, came most closely into contact. Mansfield was writing quasi-Russian stories in English (often about New Zealand) where Russian literary culture had long presented a self-conscious claim to world literary status. Indeed, Murry begins his introduction to Koteliansky's 1916 translation of Leon Shestov's essays on Russian literature with this programmatic statement:
   Tolstoi, Dosteovsky, and Tchekhov make explicit in
   their works conceptions of the world which yield
   nothing in definiteness to the philosophic schemes of
   the great dogmatists of the old, and perhaps may be
   regarded as even superior to them in that by their nature
   they emphasize a relation of which the professional
   philosopher is too often careless--the intimate
   connection between philosophy and life. (31)

Potentially, these Russian writers, whose project as understood by Murry helped motivate Mansfield, could form the basis of a genuinely world literature, that is a literature created where life, philosophy and fiction intersect, and in terms that could not (easily) be interpreted through Western European progressivist frameworks. But the embrace of Russian writing by an English--or a New Zealand--writer is at the same time a sign of a breakdown in the older filiative literary lineages. And in that way opened out into instability.

This moment of 'command under instability' was, however, temporary because after about 1926 the rentier class came under intense pressure from the labour movement, and for that reason was compelled to politicize itself with unprecedented thoroughness throughout the 1930s. After 1939, once the fully-fledged welfare/security state emerged, this intense politicization lapsed, but at that point elites too became subject to the state's apparatus of enablement, inspection and control so as to shrink the space in which bohemian aristocratic freedom and mastery might flourish, as well as securing a more tightly-structured literary field less tolerant of experiment. And from the 1970s on, neo-liberal hegemony has re-oligarchized society without re-aristocratizing it in Mansfield's and Nietzsche's sense. So the command under instability that allowed avant-garde intellectuals and writers to expand what in their jointly-signed Rhythm editorial Mansfield and Murry called 'careless self-assertion' was only available for a short period. And let's not forget: Mansfield's carelessness was directed against respectability and prudence while her self-assertion was expressed in her far-from-careless writing committed to inventing little worlds.

'Command under instability' was also, if much less directly, expressed in the philosophies embraced by the British intelligentsia of the time, and in particular in its dominant form, namely Bradleyan idealism, which was important to Mansfield's milieu.

What was Bradleyan idealism? It was positioned against empiricism, naturalism and psychologism (that is, against the lineage of English philosophy from Locke to J. S. Mill), basing itself instead on several main arguments, derived ultimately from the German tradition inaugurated by Leibniz and elaborated by Kant and Hegel.

These arguments go like this: experience happens in more or less limited or discrete moments that are only meaningful in relation to larger wholes or worlds. The whole of the wholes, the world of worlds, is the Absolute, whose extent is infinite: 'We can find no province of the world so low but the Absolute inhabits it'. (32) But the Absolute remains beyond our conceptual and experiential reach. Furthermore, because the Absolute is unknowable, reality exists only as experienced, with the corollary that all experiences are 'real', and nothing else is. For that reason too, reality is plural and contains degrees. At the same time, because there is no Absolute reality, all realities are hypothetical. It follows that experiences know no substantive distinction between subjective and objective, or between mind and body. Such distinctions are constituted or artificial, and, metaphysically speaking, contingent. By the same account, experiences cannot be divided into categories like sensation, thought, emotion, perception, memory, desire and so on, except artificially. Likewise, the autonomous domains of goodness, religion, beauty and truth are in fact each finite aspects of a necessarily perfect whole (the Absolute) in relation to which their differentiation from one another is arbitrary. In other words, these aspects constitute worlds of experience which are themselves, like all worlds and all reality, hypothetical or artificial. But precisely because their autonomy is artificial and not ordered by logic or nature (for instance), it is radical. No larger quasi-transcendental structures bind different zones of experience and value to one another.

The idealist case for equating experience and reality in these terms is, I think, flimsy, as became clear in its rapid corrosion by logical positivism in the 1920s and 1930s, and its failure to deal effectively with pragmatism. In fact, I would suggest that idealism won its cultural power less because of its philosophic cogency than because it expressed a will to command the world for a coherent ethos under threat. Its 'Absolute' can, for instance, be understood allegorically as a marker of a 'traditional' oligarchic, liberal theopolitical order being undermined by emergent democratic state capitalism. At the same time, in breaking the different spheres of experience into autonomous domains (albeit hypothetically), Bradley's idealism (once joined to Nietzscheanism) provided the terms for which disconnected realities could be conceived as determined by dominant wills, and made available to a radical individualism like Mansfield's. (33)

This is important because Mansfield's writing program (like that of T. S. Eliot in particular) was, as I say, organized through this particular form of British idealism: it was there that the relations between unity, coherence, concreteness and worlded experience that organized it were originally articulated. And I make this argument quite aware that it is more usual to think of Mansfield as a member of an English literary modernism whose intellectual background was primarily Continental--Nietzsche and Bergson in particular--or, if not, was formed by George Moore and emergent analytic philosophy. (34) So my analysis here has a revisionist aspect.

In the period that Mansfield was writing, Bradleyan idealism dominated British academic philosophy especially after the publication of Appearance and Reality in 1893. But it also spilled into the literary world. To take one example: Bradley was called on to adjudicate difficulties over censorship of sexually explicit writing when, in 1907, Elinor Glyn's best-seller Three Weeks caused a scandal for its sexual frankness. Glyn asked Bradley to address the issues on her behalf, and in his (posthumously published) paper, 'On the Treatment of Sexual Detail in Literature', he did so. Drawing on both his metaphysics of autonomy and his coherence theory of reality, he argues that success in art and literature is its own justification and that, furthermore, the exercise of the literary imagination is a practice of freedom able to produce a 'new-born world' which is 'impersonal' in that is independent of either writer or reader. (35) Here English idealism's connection to oligarchic liberalism stands exposed since both the writer's aristocratic freedom and its literary equivalent, the autonomy of the fictional world, are positioned against philistine morality. It is as if mastery and positive freedom have become identified with one another.

But idealism reached further into literature. Some examples: T. S. Eliot of course had written his Harvard PhD dissertation on Bradley. His concept of the 'objective correlative' derives fairly directly from Bradley's concept of the 'concrete universal' which named the way that the Absolute invisibly, transcendentally, but nonetheless practically, inhabited concrete experiences. And in 1916, at the time he was closest to Mansfield, Eliot contributed a couple of articles on Leibniz to the idealist, quasi-academic journal The Monist which had good connections to Bloomsbury and Mansfield's literary set. Mansfield's cousin and Murry's sometime housemate and friend of the Bloomsbury group, Sydney Waterlow, was The Monist's reviews editor, and he too contributed a poem and a piece on universal language to the journal. Next: Bertrand Russell (with whom Mansfield had a brief but intense friendship in 1916) had published a book on Leibniz in 1900, supporting Leibniz's logic but not his metaphysics and which made an argument that would become central to the analytic philosophy and linguistic turn to come (that is, that that Leibniz's ontology of the substance was dependent on thinking of propositions as descriptions or predicates of reality), and that debate is, as is well known, indirectly referred to in the opening paragraphs of E. M. Forster's The Longest Journey. (It would be possible to read Mansfield's fictional practice as Leibnizian precisely against Russell I think). And, last, Murry's criticism, like Eliot's, owed much to idealism. For example, in his book on Dostoevsky he argues that Dostoevsky's 'grim mysteries' might serve as a 'test case' for Bradley's philosophy on the grounds that for Dostoevsky, as for Bradley, there exist 'degrees of reality', reality being ontologically seconded to experience or consciousness.36

We can begin to approach the confluence between idealism and Mansfield more closely by first briefly describing Eliot's approach to Leibniz, then remarking on a couple of works which connect idealism to aesthetics, and finally by turning in more detail to Murry himself, who, as I say, helped work out Mansfield's literary project.

Eliot treats Leibniz as 'opening the way for modern idealism'. (37) Leibniz invents the modern concept of perspective or point of view; he establishes the concept of the subconscious, and he places force at the centre of his ontology. But what is most important for Eliot is that he establishes the coherence theory7 of reality, by which the criterion for judging something real and true is its completion and cohesion or its 'perfection' as a moment in consciousness, that is to say, the degree to which it coheres to the world's unity or totality as it exists for what will later be called experience. (38) But Eliot is finally more interested in making the Bradleyan argument that in fact neither Leibniz nor Bradley (who follows Leibniz in this regard) can establish the absolute reality of this world as such (Leibniz cannot distinguish between a substance and an accident, to use his own scholastic vocabulary), so that idealist ontology in effect collapses into a set of 'finite centres' (Bradley) or 'monads' (Leibniz). The 'world' becomes rather 'the intending of a world by several souls or centres'. (39) This goes against the grain of the older idealism's founding claim which is (and here Eliot cites Bernard Bosanquet) that 'no phase in a particular consciousness is merely a phase in that consciousness, but is always and essentially a member of a further whole of experience, which passes through and unites the states of many consciousnesses'. (40) And it does so in order to place at idealism's centre precisely passages between the 'whole' or the Absolute and the finite aspects, centres or 'worlds' constituted in experience. In Eliot, then, at its heart, idealism is fundamentally concerned neither with transcendental coherence and unity, nor with the status and lived feel of particular worlds, but with the ways in which the latter concretize the former, despite the independence of real worlds and monads in relation to one another. And it turns out that this concretization is what literature can perform in creating worlds of its own.

Murry himself began his career, at least in part, bound to a different inflection of British idealism, one that flowed through Walter Pater's Platonism. Murry had been an undergraduate at Brasenose College, Oxford, where Pater had taught and which remained a centre of Paterism over the period. He had met his collaborators in 'Rhythm magazine through the college's Pater Society, which had been established by his and Mansfield's later friend, Frederick Goodyear. And Pater had reconciled Plato to the canons of British idealism by arguing that he synthesized early Greek thought into a philosophy which, as Wolfgang Iser put it, 'took worldly experience into the abstract, thus bringing this realm to life', and in which 'ideas and experiences began to interpenetrate; the ideal enriched experience, and experience gave concrete forms to the idea'. (41) That, we might say, was a mode of practical idealism in Bradley's mode too.

For Pater, Platonism, thought like this, is also aesthetic since experience can become perfect only in art. Art is the name of an activity in which experiences can be controlled or 'mastered' sufficiently for a perfect synthesis of abstract and concrete, a complete world, to be achieved. And for Pater there is a politically anti-liberal dimension to this. This activity can only take place in sovereign states which secure the 'harmony' of each with each, allowing collective unity and harmony to be articulated in works of art. These ideas subtend Murry's theories at the time he and Mansfield were writing for Rhythm, although there they are subjected to the concept of Nietzschean 'rebarbarization', partly because, for them, it is no longer the state, but the personality, that grounds the mastery or command required to perfect and realize experience, although this is a personality which is not to be considered a collection of character traits as much as a Bradleyean 'centre' or Leibnizian 'monad'. That is the background against which Pater's Platonic and aristocratic perfection joins bohemian and avant-gardist atavism for the young Murry. The 'mastery' (or command) that the artist requires to imagine/create a perfect experience, a little world, is given by virtue of a certain (Nietzschean, aristocratic, imperialist) carefree brutality which does not break the world's unity.

Perhaps the clearest expression of Murry's more mature idealism is to be found in his The Problem of Style--a series of lectures delivered at Oxford in 1922, and dedicated to Brasenose College--where he made his most significant contribution to the kind of literary criticism which would come to dominate anglophone English departments in the 1950s and 1960s. (42) The Problem of Style made the arguments, first, that 'a great work of literature was not so much a triumph of language, as a victory over language'; second, that for that reason, technique should not be apparent or, in the Jamesian mode, 'form a life of its own'; and third, that style in particular should be thought of just in relation to experience and feeling. (43) To use his own words: in a successful style, 'we should be able to catch an immediate reference back to a whole mode of feeling that is consistent with itself. (44) That is to say, the true literary work was a unified experiential world in idealist terms, whose style was nothing but its condition of articulation. More than that, 'the work of a great master of literature' was an expression of a 'mode of experience', not a philosophy or a form, which was ultimately dependent upon 'a sense of, and emphasis upon, a dominant quality pervading the human universe'. (45) Here the three levels of literary idealism are marked out: (1) the literary work as experience or world brokenly but necessarily related to the world as a whole; (2) the fictional experience or world as centred on autonomy, mastery or personality; (3) mastery or personality as sensitive receptiveness to the larger flows of experience in the world, where the world is thought of as everything that exists.

The full implications of Murry's way of thinking are drawn out in a passage in which the writer's choice of plot is discussed:
   The plot he [the writer] chooses will then be one in
   which--to use Baudelaire's words--'the deep
   significance of life reveals itself in its entirety'. Life, in
   this phrase, means the universe of the writer's
   experience; its 'deep significance' is the emotional quality
   which is the common element in the objects and
   incidents which have habitually made the most precise
   and profound impression on his mind; a quality that is in
   part the creation of the poet himself, but in part also a
   real attribute of the existing world, which needs the
   sensitiveness of the creative writer in order to be
   discerned. The plot of the writer of mature genius, who
   is a completely free agent, will be absolutely in harmony
   with this quality. (46)

What is important here is that the writer transmutes experience into significance as a Bradleyan 'completely free agent', that is, from the sociological perspective, by taking up an aristocratic relation of command over the world, and she can do so (because Murry implicitly has Mansfield in mind here) because that command allows the 'real attribute of the existing world' to be articulated. Actually, the line of transmission from the experience of the world to the creation of the fiction requires a further step, since, as Murry argues in a passage which helps inaugurate modern criticism as centred on 'close reading', the author also needs critics for their work--their worlds--to join the larger world:
   the critic needs to have an apprehension of the unique
   and essential quality of his author; he needs to have
   frequented him until he is saturated with his mode of
   experience. He is, in fact, in a position analogous to that
   of the great writer himself. [The writer], in search of a
   plot, looks for an incident that shall be completely
   congruous to his harmonized experience of life; the
   critic, in search of a quotation, looks for one that shall be
   completely congruous to his harmonized experience of
   the author's work. He has become--in all but name--a
   creative artist in miniature himself. He looks for some
   conjuncture, some incident in the work of a great writer,
   which was so precisely fitted to his complex mode of
   experience that it served in the office of a prism: through
   it the whole spectrum of his emotions is suddenly
   concentrated into a ray of intense, pure light--the
   perfect condensation of a whole universe of experience
   into a dozen lines, or a hundred words. (47)

The critic, we might say, commands the author's oeuvre when she selects the exact passage which best contains the oeuvre (or, better, the world or universe) that the oeuvre constitutes. It is, then, criticism's version of the 'objective correlatives' through which writers command the 'real' world by choosing and imagining experiences that concretize it. No less to the point: this passage justifies not only Mansfield's project of worlding her experience by fictionalizing it, but also helps show that her project was simultaneously creative and philosophical, and that flows between her imaginative writing and a criticism modeled out of British idealism enabled her to make literary worlds in the terms I have outlined.

By drawing together British idealism's Leibnizian and Platonic strands we can say that Mansfield's fictions are monads in a particular sense. They are made worlds, which belong to, and gain their perfection by, their internal and concrete 'completion'--their 'cohesion'--both internal and in relation to larger flows of force and experience. Various formal features of her stories--their discontinuities, ambiguities, apparent formlessness; their plotlessness; their lack of interest in moral character--constitute them as monads, or worlds. As such they can signify or (in a Leibnizian sense) 'reflect' a larger world and they do so through an effort of mastery which is an expression of a personality itself in effect thought of as a monad, as independent and free and thus able to dominate a world, in a social situation where command is unstable.

In his Oxford lectures, which mark his consecration as an English man of letters, Murry does not mention Mansfield, let alone cite a passage from her work. But years later he did quote such a passage 'of crucial importance for a true understanding of her work'--that is to say, the work's objective correlative as uncovered by her husband and literary executor. (48) Chosen not from a fiction but from a letter from her to him written in 1918, it describes Mansfield's return visit to a villa in Bandol that she and Murry had rented two years earlier, and her meeting with the villa's owners. And it too presents an experience that is a world:
   But oh, as we sat there, talking & I felt myself smile and
   answer & stroke my muff & discuss the meat shortage &
   the horrid bread and the high prices & cette guerre I felt
   that somewhere, upstairs, you & I lay like the little
   Babies in the Tower, smothered under pillows & she and
   I were keeping watch like any two old crones! I could
   hardly look at the room. When I saw my photograph
   that you had left, on the wall I nearly broke down--and
   finally I came away & leaned a long time on the wall at
   the bottom of our little road looking at the violet sea that
   beat up, high and loud against those strange dark clots of
   seaweed--As I came down your beautiful narrow
   steps--it began to rain. Big soft, reluctant drops fell on
   my hand & face--The light was flashing through the
   dusk from the lighthouse and a swarm of black soldiers
   was kicking something about on the sand among the
   palm trees--a dead dog perhaps or a little tied up kitten--. (49)

A little reflection allows one to understand better why Murry chose a passage from a letter rather than a story to encapsulate Mansfield: after all, his criticism, like Mansfield's practice, seconded fictionality to experience and insisted on the close connection between the author's personality' and the world that the fiction communicated. Nor is it surprising that he chose such a cruel passage--one that imagines Mansfield and himself as innocent children lying dead and smothered in an upstairs bedroom. Indeed the passage as a whole does as well as any to exemplify the general argument that I have been making. Its pronouns--'you' and 'I'--are used so as to unite rather than to separate personalities. Its grammar breaks down into parataxis, as it exposes itself to an unorganized, unstably experienced world. Or rather: its aggregated and dispersed details--the image of murdered children; the distance between the palm trees and the bedroom; the menacing arbitrariness of those dark clots of seaweed; the punctuated lighting from the lighthouse; the everyday practicality' of bread prices; Mansfield's failure to look at the room she has come to see, which culminate in the wild cruel imagining of the soldiers kicking a dead dog or live kitten instead of a football--are concrete fragments joined together by force of a mood. It's not so much a coherent picture, or an expression of a coherent person, as an articulation of a coherent world, gathered together, ultimately under a certain paranoid and malevolent fear of the aggressive world out there, quite as if adulthood were a penal sentence.

But the passage also belongs to the wider social world just insofar as it is suffused with social command and brutality--the hint of racism in the phrase 'swarm of black soldiers' who are nonetheless in the sendee of an imperial nation (here France). Last, the passage fully opens up to the universe, to the world, in those big, soft reluctant drops of rain that stand for tears. This is the world crying, not just Mansfield herself. The boldness of that figure, disguised in realist mimesis, seals the text's idealist capacity to make coherence the condition of its concreteness, and vice-versa, and does so via a claim to command not just a social terrain but a world (here the weather that cries for her) in the face of death and cruelty, ultimately in face of the fragility of Mansfield's hold on life, the proximity of death, not now, as for her fictions, in the past, but in the near future.

This essay has tried to show that Mansfield's fictions were imagined and created as worlds under quite particular social and intellectual conditions. What relevance does this have for thinking about world literature more generally? I began by wondering whether Mansfield's literary' aesthetic enables scenes of recognition like that in which Chaudhuri observed his own Bengali everyday life in her fictional New Zealand. From this point of view, it is as if Mansfield's stories, in their various qualities, can constitute our 'real' worlds too. No doubt all the more so where our worlds too are experienced as being intensified by petty' cruelties, powerful artificial autonomies, gaps between individual consciousnesses, associations between childhood and death and the like. But this way of thinking does appear to pose a problem for our current understandings of world literature. It implies that world literature is not simply a canon, an inheritance as Damrosch and Casanova in their different ways believe, or an assemblage of untranslatable particulars as Spivak and Apter contend. Rather, from this perspective, world literature constitutes a shared world, a world of worlds, which is available as real through experiences themselves constituted not just linguistically but both conceptually and socially, by drives which persist, moment after moment, instability after instability, across various histories and do so sufficiently powerfully for us to recognize past worlds as species of the present. World literature may be, by this account, a literature of the real world.


(1) Amit Chaudhuri, Calcutta: Two Years in the City (New York: Knopf, 2013), p. 74.

(2) See Gerri Kimber, Katherine Mansfield: The View from Trance (London: Peter Lang, 2008).

(3) See Shiften Gong, Tine Pen: The Chinese View of Katherine Mansfield (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2001).

(4) For a sample of the most recent scholarship see Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial, ed. by Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber, and Delia da Sousa Correa (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), Katherine Mansfield and literary Modernism, ed. by Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber and Susan Reid (New York: Continuum, 2011), and Jenny McDonnell, Katherine Mansfield and the Modernist Marketplace: At the Mercy of the Public (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2010). For the New Zealand connection see Mark Williams, 'Mansfield in Maoriland: Biculturalism, Agency and Misreading' in Modernism and Empire, ed. by Howard Booth and Nigel Rigby (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 249-74, Lydia Wevers, '"The Sod Under My Feet": Katherine Mansfield', in Opening the Book: New Essays on New Zealand Writing, ed. by Mark Williams and Michele Leggott (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1995), pp. 31-48, and Bridget Orr, 'Reading with the Taint of the Pioneer: Katherine Mansfield and Settler Criticism' in Critical Essays on Katherine Mansfield, ed. by Rhoda Nathan (New York: G.K. Hall, 1993), pp. 48-60. The best critical monographs on Mansfield probably remain Kate Fullbrook's Katherine Mansfield (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1986) and Sydney J. Kaplan's Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 1991).

(5) See Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of letters, trans. by M.B. DeBevoise (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).

(6) See David Damrosch, What is World Literature? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

(7) See Franco Moretti, Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013).

(8) See Emily Apter, Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (London: Verso, 2013).

(9) See Moretti, Distant Reading, pp. 12-15.

(10) Eric Hayot, On Literary Worlds (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 40-1.

(11) Hayot, On Literary Worlds, p. 88. I am not here able to cover the various ways that philosophers have treated the concept of the 'world' right up to Alain Badiou today. But one such way is worth mentioning, and that is Kant's critique of the idea of the 'world' as 'pseudo-empirical' (that is, as falling between a Platonic ideal and an empiricist collection of elements) in Critique of Pure Reason, and his rescuing the concept as a transcendental regulative idea articulated by pure reason (Vernunft). It is this Kantian idea of world that lies behind many strands of British idealism. See Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. by Norman Kemp-Smith (New York: St. Martins, 1965), p. 558.

(12) On this, see Carey Snyder, 'Katherine Mansfield and the New Age School of Satire', journal of Modern Periodical Studies, 1.2 (2010), 125-58.

(13) Mansfield criticism, particularly since the 1970s, has generally been critical of Murry's influence over Mansfield and her reputation, and no doubt for good reasons. But this essay's particular argument allows us to see this relation more affirmatively.

(14) The letters of John Middleton Murry to Katherine Mansfield, ed. by C. A. Hankin (New York: Franklin Watts, 1963), p. 336.

(15) Murry connected The Problem of Style to Mansfield in a note in The Adelphi published after her death. See John Middleton Murry, 'Katherine Mansfield, Stendhal and Style', The Adelphi 1.4 (1923), 342-3.

(16) For the cited passage see Katherine Mansfield, The Collected letters of Katherine Mansfield, ed. by Vincent O'Sullivan and Margaret Scott (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1984-1996), Vol. 2, p. 121; for the discussion of The Evolution of an Intellectual, see The Collected letters of Katherine Mansfield, Vol. 3, pp. 139-41.

(17) For other views of Mansfield's connection to Rhythm, see Gerri Kimber, 'Mansfield, Rhythm and the Emigre Connection' in Katherine Mansfield and Literary Modernism, pp. 13-29, and Angela Smith, "'As Fastidious as though I Wrote with Acid": Katherine Mansfield, J. D. Fergusson and the Rhythm Group in Paris', Katherine Mansfield Studies, 3 (2011), 4-20.

(18) Frederick Goodyear, 'The New Thelema', Rhythm, 1 (1911), 3.

(19) Mansfield, Collected Letters, Vol. 2, p. 86.

(20) Herbert Spencer, 'Re-barbarization', in Facts and Comments (London: Williams and Norgate, 1902), pp. 122-133.

(21) Rachel Polonsky, English Literature and the Russian Aesthetic Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 29-33.

(22) Katherine Mansfield, The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, 1916-1922, ed. by Gerri Kimber and Vincent O'Sullivan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), p. 351.

(23) Simon During, 'Modernism in the Era of Human Rights', Affirmations: of the Modern, 1.1 (2013), 139-59.

(24) Mansfield, The Collected Fiction, p. 152.

(25) T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy. The Page-Barbour lectures at the University of Virginia, 1933 (London: Faber and Faber, 1934), pp. 35-37.

(26) John Middleton Murry and Katherine Mansfield, 'The Meaning of Rhythm', Rhythm, 5 (1912), 18.

(27) Gregory Elliott, Tabourism and the English Genius: The Strange Death of Labour England? (London: Verso, 1993), p. 28.

(28) Of course such periods of instability are not uncommon: one can think of Dryden's career switching from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in not dissimilar terms for instance.

(29) Halford John Mackinder, 'The Geographical Pivot of History', The Geographical journal, 23.4 (1904), 421-37.

(30) Alexander Veselovsky, 'Envisioning World Literature in 1863: From the Reports on a Mission Abroad', trans. by Jennifer Flaherty, PMLA, 128. 2 (2013), 439-51.

(31) John Middleton Murry, 'Introduction' to Leon Shestov, Tchekhov and Other Essays (Dublin: Maunsel and Sons, 1916), p. vii.

(32) F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality: a Metaphysical Essay (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1908), p. 487.

(33) Thus Bradleyan idealism pointed in a different political direction than T. H. Green's Hegelian Christian Socialism for instance. Admittedly in his early book Ethical Studies (1876) Bradley tries hard to reconcile his metaphysics of hypothetical autonomy across different zones or modes (as Michael Oakeshott will call them) to a Hegelian statist communitarianism of Green's kind.

(34) The bibliography of Bergson and Nietzsche's impact on British literary modernism is too large for selections to be useful. For the new analytic philosophy see Ann Banfield's The Phantom Table: Woolf, Fry, Russell and the Epistemology of Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). For a specific attempt to connect Mansfield's work to Bergson, see Eiko Nakano, 'Katherine Mansfield and French Philosophy: A Bergsonian Reading of Maata', Katherine Mansfield Studies, 1 (2009), 68-82.

(35) F. H. Bradley, 'On the Treatment of Sexual Detail in Literature', Collected Essays, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), Vol. 2, pp. 624-6.

(36) John Middleton Murry, Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Critical Study (London: Martin Seeker, 1916), p. 228.

(37) T. S. Eliot, 'Tire Development of Leibniz's Monadism', The Monist, 26. 4 (1916), 534-56 (p. 556).

(38) T. S. Eliot, 'Leibniz's Monads and Bradley's Finite Centers', The Monist, 26.4 (Oct 1916), 566-76. See p. 571.

(39) Eliot, 'Leibniz's Monads', 571.

(40) Eliot, 'Leibniz's Monads', 572.

(41) Wolfgang Iser, Walter Pater: The Aesthetic Moment, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 90.

(42) Murry was developing his criticism in dialogue with T. S. Eliot. David Goldie offers a richly informative account of the intellectual connections between the two critics, although, unfortunately, he does not deal with their shared idealism. See David Goldie, A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism, 1919-1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

(43) John Middleton Murry, The Problem of Style (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1922), p. 11 and p. 21.

(44) The Problem of Style, p. 16.

(45) The Problem of Style, p. 27 and p. 26.

(46) The Problem of Style, pp. 30-31.

(47) The Problem of Style, p. 34.

(48) John Middleton Murry, Katherine Mansfield and other Literary Portraits, (London: Peter Nevill, 1949), p. 12.

(49) Mansfield, Collected I Jitters, Vol. 2, pp. 10-11.
COPYRIGHT 2015 University of Waikato
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:During, Simon
Publication:JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Accounting for Pakeha: value and cross-cultural exchange in Old New Zealand.
Next Article:Other countries and the terrain of representation in The Adaptable Man.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters