The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield: 1922-1923

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Clarendon Press, Aug 15, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 376 pages
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The fifth and final volume of the Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield covers the almost thirteen months during which her attention at first was firmly set on a last chance medical cure, then finally on something very different--if death came to seem inevitable, how should one behave in the time that remained, so one could truly say one lived?
Mansfield's biographers, like her friends, have wondered at the seemingly extraordinary decision to ditch conventional medicine, for the bizarre choice of Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Fontainebleau. These letters show the clarity of mind and will that led to that decision, the courage and distress in making it, and the gaiety even once it was made. She went against what her education, her husband, and most of her friends would regard as reasonable, as she opted to spend her last months with Russian emigres and a strange assortment of Gurdjieff disciples (which she was not). But Fontainebleau give her the space and the incentive to shake free from the intellectualism that she thought the malaise of her time, as she worked at kitchen chores, took in the details of farm life, tried to learn Russian, and attempted to reach total honesty with herself. "If I were allowed one simple cry to God," she wrote in one of her last letters, "that cry would be I want to be REAL."

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About the author (2008)

Vincent O'Sullivan is Professor of English Emeritus at Victoria University of Wellington as well as a novelist, poet, and biographer. He is the editor of "The Oxford Book of New Zealand Poetry", "The Oxford Book of New Zealand Stories", "The Selected Letters of Katherine Mansfield", and, with Margaret Scott, the five-volume edition of "The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield".

Margaret Scott is head of the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and a consultant on historical dress for the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other museums. She is also the author of "Late Gothic Europe, 1400-1500" and "A Visual History of Costume,