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Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Mansfield’

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, is out in paperback in the UK today.

In the U.S. we have to wait until Oct. 16 for the paperback version of the hardcover book that debuted last October. But that doesn’t mean we must wait to read about it.

Touring the blogs

The authors have arranged a blog tour to celebrate the paperback release as well as Women’s History Month. The tour started today, March 1, and runs through March 19, with a variety of bloggers publishing reviews of the book.

The first stop on the tour is A View from the Balcony. Last, but not least is Blogging Woolf. If you have read the book — or read about it — you’ll know BW will focus on the three chapters and 63 pages of “Part 4: Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.” But I’m also eager to read the forward by Margaret Atwood.

Thanks to Emily and Emma for the invitation to participate in the blog tour. The hardcover version of their book has been front and center on my bookshelf for months now, so I’m glad to have a deadline to spur my reading.

Thoughts from an author

“My PhD. was on Woolf, so the Mansfield and Woolf section was a particular joy to research,” wrote Emma in an email.

“As for Margaret Atwood — what an act of literary sisterhood. We approached her after a public lecture (something we share in the book’s epilogue), and could hardly believe it when she agreed to take a look.”

Catching the eye of a 12-year-old

It’s title even caught the interest of my 12-year-old grandson, Michael, who was home sick from school with a tummy bug this week. Camped out on my home office sofa while his mom was at work, his eyes lit on the cover of Secret Sisterhood. It must have sounded mysteriously intriguing because he asked what the book was about. I gave him a two-sentence synopsis.

That may have burst the mystery bubble for a bright boy whose main interests are math, science, history, PlayStation, fishing, and baseball (not necessarily in that order). But I just might send him the link to my March 19 review anyway. After all, one is never too young to start appreciating Woolf.

Get the full tour

The full tour schedule is listed below, and was announced on the authors’ blog, Something Rhymed.

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Virginia Woolf Talks by leading scholars on Virginia Woolf and her contemporaries are held at Lucy Cavendish College and are free and open to all.
Lent Term 2018

Tuesday 23 January 2018, 1.00 pm
David Trotter
‘Giving the Sign’: Katherine Mansfield’s stories

Tuesday 6 March 2018, 1.00 pm
Aoife Byrne
Elizabeth Bowen’s writings on the Second World War

Venue: Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge CB3 0BU
You can read about previous talks on the Literature Cambridge Blog page. 

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Summer courses in Cambridge 2018

Virginia Woolf and Politics
1-6 July 2018, Wolfson College, Cambridge

Immerse yourself for a week in the books and ideas of Virginia Woolf. In 2018, we will learn more about Woolf’s interest in the politics of her time: the First World War, the education of women, the rise of the Labour Party. We will also explore her interest in pacifism and human rights, and her thoughts on gender and on families.

To be studied: A Room of One’s Own, Three Guineas, Orlando, The Years and selected essays.

No prior knowledge is assumed; just an interest in Woolf and a love of reading. Whether you know the politics of Woolf’s period well, or are coming to it for the first time, this course will deepen your understanding of Woolf’s wonderful writing.

Women Writers: Emily Bronte to Elizabeth Bowen
8-13 July 2018, Homerton College, Cambridge

This is a rare opportunity to study five great women who were writing in Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:

  • Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • George Eliot, Mill on the Floss
  • Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • Katherine Mansfield, “The Garden Party” and other stories
  • Elizabeth Bowen, To the North

Both courses are taught by leading scholars, with lectures, seminars, supervisions, readings, walks and the chance to go punting. Live like a Cambridge student for a week of intensive, exciting study.

Teachers include: Gillian Beer, Clare Walker Gore, Trudi Tate, Claire Nicholson, Claire Davison, Frances Spalding, Peter Jones, Aiofe Byrne, Nadine Tschacksch, Jeremy Thurlow, and others.

Discount for early bookings by 22 December 2017.

After 22 December, a discount for students and members of recognized Woolf societies (and other relevant societies such as the George Eliot Fellowship and the Katherine Mansfield Society), are available, subject to enrollment.

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Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield

The Katherine Mansfield Society announces its annual essay prize competition for 2017, open to all, on the subject of: Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf. For more information, see the Essay Prize page.

The society has issued a call for comparative papers on Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf for vol. 10 of the Katherine Mansfield Society Yearbook.  The deadline for completed essays is Aug. 31. The essays submitted will be read by a selected panel, who together will select from them the Prize essay.

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Ali Smith gave a lecture—“Getting Virginia Woolf’s Goat”—at London’s National Portrait Gallery inpublic-library 2014. That also was the year her remarkable novel, How to Be Both, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and acclaimed by a reviewer: “One might reasonably argue that Ali Smith is among Virginia Woolf’s most gifted inheritors.”

Seeing Woolfian influences in the work of the contemporary post-modernist is no surprise, then; nor are Woolf references in Smith’s recent story collection, Public Library. In “The ex-wife,” the narrator is writing to her former partner after a break-up, accusing her of infidelity, or at least inattention, because of her involvement with Katherine Mansfield, the ex-wife in question.

That’s about all I can say about this marvelously convoluted story. While explicating her litany of objections, the narrator brings up Mansfield’s “friend and rival Virginia Woolf” who was, at the time, writing a book “about a plane that all the people in London look up and see…,” adding, “I have a sense that Virginia Woolf always thought your ex-wife a bit flighty.”

Then there’s “The definite article,” a story about Regents Park that begins: “I stepped out of the city and into the park. It was as simple as that.” The narrator’s visions invoke flora and fauna, Shakespeare and Dickens, the Brownings and the Shelleys, Elizabeth Bowen and Sylvia Plath, to name just a handful, “and Virginia Woolf herself, “howling or furious or sad, doesn’t matter which, walking and walking by the flower-beds till it cheers her up, leaves her happily making up phrases.”

Ali Smith makes up some pretty good phrases herself.

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Marta Rodríguez Iborra submitted this guest post to Blogging Woolf. It describes her impressions of Virginia Woolf’s Diary entry written one week after Katherine Mansfield’s death.

Among all the entries of the second volume of Virginia Woolf’s Diary I would like to comment briefly on the 16 January 1923 record, as I consider it to be quite unique. Katherine Mansfield died on 9 January 1923, and so a week later VW tries to describe the impact that this loss has had on her in her private diary.

Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield

VW has some difficulty in expressing what she feels. “It is strange to trace the progress of one’s feelings. […] A shock of relief? –a rival less?” However, despite the confusion and the apparent two-fold dimension of this tragic event, VW confesses to have fallen into depression. If KM is not there anymore, what is the point of writing? VW remembers that KM once wrote a letter to her with the request: “Do let us meet in the nearest future darling Virginia, and don’t quite forget”. Now in this 16 January1923 diary entry, VW wants to analyze how far she is obeying Katherine. First of all, though, before answering that question, she needs to find out what kind of relationship they had.

Any reader of VW’s diary knows that she writes in it as a professional writer. She is obviously under time pressure and she does not correct her texts as they are private, but as far as the style, the choice of themes and the depth of her observations are concerned, one notices that VW can hardly take off her mask of experienced writer, of an intellectual woman. In fact the mask is her skin. As an exquisite writer Woolf describes emotions in a literary way, at the exact distance avoiding a pathetic undertone. So even after KM’s death VW does not surrender to sentimentalism. The colour and music of her sentences are perfectly and naturally controlled by her pen. However, in this specific diary entry she exceptionally lets go. And those leaks are pure and too important to get to know our Bloomsbury diarist in a new dimension. Through the half open door of this entry the reader does not only see Virginia’s Woolf writer’s mask/face, but she/he reaches her soul, too.

In order to understand her emotion and “analyse” the situation VW writes down some of her visual impressions of KM in a kind of a flash back subjective description. “She had a look of a Japanese doll, with the fringe combed quite straight across her forehead”. Isn’t it a delicate way of describing Katherine Mansfield? And she adds “Sometimes we looked very steadfastly at each other, as though we had reached some durable relationship, independent of the changes of the body, through the eyes.” After this deep and poetic statement VW controls herself again as she doesn’t want so sound too melancholic and she continues the portrait of KM in the way she usually illustrates acquaintances or friends, namely sharply and with a particular tincture of humour or sarcasm: She had “beautiful eyes- rather doglike, brown, wide apart”, “her nose was sharp, a little vulgar” and then she moved “like some suffering animal.”

VW asks herself if KM ever cared for her and she immediately acknowledges she did. For example, the way KM looked at her, the fact that KM wanted her to read her diary. So yes, VW admits that despite the fact that KM never answered one of her letters (VW seems not be able to forget it) their friendship was true and long-lasting. “She would promise never never to forget.”

The end of the 16 January 1923 diary entry contains some traces of guilt (VW feels she did not give KM credit for her illness) and quite an important confession: VW openly admits that KM’s is “the only writing I have ever been jealous of”. Isn’t it amazing for a writer such as VW to confess she was jealous of KM’s literature? And then any good reader can feel VW’s deep pain in sentences such as “For two days I felt I had grown middle aged, & lost some spur to write.” But then again Woolf needs to gain some distance to what she has revealed, so she immediately writes that the feeling is going and that she no longer pities KM that much. However, unable to escape a sort of emotional spiral she once again admits with conviction “I have the feeling that I shall think of her at intervals all through life”. And the reason why is because “we had something in common which I shall never find in anyone else.”

In the following diary entry dated 28 January, VW confesses that she continues to write but that she does it “into emptiness” because there is no competitor anymore. That might be true, but one also feels a painful ellipsis there. VW misses KM as a human being, as a woman, as a writer, as a friend, almost as a sister, or even as an alter ego, as another I.

How could Virginia Woolf possibly ever forget Katherine Mansfield?

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VW Miscellany now onlineSpring 2013 VWM table of contents

The  Spring 2013 Virginia Woolf Miscellany is now online. Edited by Emily Kopley and Sara Sullam, the special topic is Virginia Woolf and Literary Genre. Print copies will be mailed to current members of the International Virginia Woolf Society in the next two weeks.

Calls for papers

Upcoming calls for papers for the Virginia Woolf Miscellany include:
  • Spring 2014 issue, with the special topic Woolf and Materiality. The submission deadline is Aug. 1. Editor is Derek Ryan at D.Ryan@exeter.ac.uk.
  • Fall 2014 issue, with the special topic Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. The submission deadline is March 1, 2014. Editor is Kathryn Simpson at kathryn.simpson88@gmail.com and  Melinda Harvey at melinda.harvey@monash.edu.

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