The Story of a Marriage: The Letters of Bronislaw Malinowski and Elsie Masson - Vol. 1

The Story of a Marriage: The Letters of Bronislaw Malinowski and Elsie Masson - Vol. 1

The Story of a Marriage: The Letters of Bronislaw Malinowski and Elsie Masson - Vol. 1

The Story of a Marriage: The Letters of Bronislaw Malinowski and Elsie Masson - Vol. 1

Synopsis

This book reveals for the first time his marriage and domestic life, and clarifies his relationships with colleagues, with his students and with a side spectrum of friends.

Excerpt

These two volumes of letters between my parents, the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, nicknamed Bronio, pronounced 'Bronnyo', and his wife Elsie Masson, begin at the time of their first meeting in Australia in 1916 and continue until a few weeks before her early death in 1935. The couple were often separated during those nineteen years and thus one can follow their early acquaintance and falling in love, and much of the period of sixteen years from their marriage in 1919 to her death, through the correspondence.

The first volume, which includes his second period of fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands, ends with their departure from Melbourne a year after their wedding, and the second volume takes up their story as they reach Europe and his professional life and for a time their personal lives take wing. Then, as he achieved brilliant success and international fame, her illness, her tragedy, overtook her and she had gradually to retreat from action and involvement.

It was perhaps inevitable that Bronio's letters should diminish in length and number in the busy-ness of his life; nevertheless he was a faithful correspondent with one outstanding exception when, late in his first visit to the USA in 1926, he was caught up by American hospitality in California and developed total agraphia.

A few groups of his letters have unfortunately been lost, the later ones certainly because the invalid Elsie was no longer in control of her posses-sions. Her long and loving letters continued beyond the days when she could use her eyes and hands, and when she could hardly sign the letters she dictated.

The letters were well-travelled. They were written in Australia and New Guinea, in the Canary Islands, the USA, Mexico, southern and eastern Africa, in England, Scotland, Italy, France, Poland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. It is a wonder that so many have survived the displacements as well as the years.

For several years the letters found a home in London. At some time after Elsie's death Bronio put them together, where necessary dating them and . . .

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