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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Our missing Contemporary'', 12 Sep 2008
J. S. Lewison (Bolton, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Journal (Paperback)
'I haven't written a word since October and I don't mean to until the spring. I want much more material: I am tired of my little stories like birds bred in cages.
Goodbye, my dearest cousin. I shall never know anyone like you; I shall remember every little thing about you for ever.'

Mansfield's poignant dismissal of her stories sits awkwardly with her promise of a spring renewal of her writing. The irony of time when anyone is terminally ill needs no elaboration and reading this passage once more I am impressed by the dignity of her underlying acceptance of her impending death. Mansfield's doubt in the artistic merit of her tales is inescapably mixed up with her detachment as a 'dying body.' She is already moving elsewhere watching all that she cared for and valued, diminish away.

And of course, if Mansfield had a recurring subject in her 'little stories' then that subject would have to be death, and death in all its many forms: physical, geographical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, linguistic.

One of the most resonant moments in her journal for me occurs in May 1922:

'A queer bit of psychology: I had to disappear behind the bushes today in a hollow. That act made me feel nearer to normal health than I have for years. Nobody there; nobody wondered if I was alright, i.e. there was nothing to distinguish me, at that moment, from an ordinary human being.'

Mansfield's honest pleasure at being 'normal' reveals the intense loneliness of illness. An adult life spent travelling in search of health from one rented room to another, accentuated her feelings of exile and isolation from her own kind. She talks to her journal, she writes letters, she creates fictions about people on the outside; visitors to happiness and love. So that the repetition of 'nobody' in this passage actually has a fragile power of its own. Mansfield rarely had 'anybody' there, and her elation at her temporary normality seems both humbling and practical.
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Journal by Katherine Mansfield (Paperback - 9 Nov 2006)
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