The Critical Response to Katherine Mansfield

By Jan Pilditch | Go to book overview

Katherine Mansfield. A Secret Life, London: Viking Penguin, 1987, repr. 1988, pp. 238- 243.

1
D.H. Lawrence to J.M.M., 2 February 1923, The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Boulton, vol. IV, p. 375.
3
D.H. Lawrence to Adele Seltzer, 24 September 1923, The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Boulton, vol. IV, p. 503.
4
Testimony of K.S. Crichton in Edward Nehls, D.H. Lawrence: A Composite Biography ( University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1957). vol. II, p. 414.
5
Information from Mrs Valerie Eliot.
6
Information from Moira Lynd.
7
V.S. Pritchett in the New Statesman, 1946.
8
Journal, 14 October 1921, p. 266.
9
J. M.M., Katherine Mansfield and Other Literary Portraits ( Constable, London, 1959), p. 72.

Ken Arvidson, "Dancing on the Hand of God: Katherine Mansfield's Religious Sensibility"

The only religious event in Katherine Mansfield's life to attract much notice among such more interesting features of her life and personality as her early sexual promiscuity, her troubled relationship with John Middleton Murry, and her tragic death from tuberculosis, has been her brief interest in Roman Catholicism while at Ospidaletti and Menton in 1920. The entry in her journal for February 8 includes the declaration "I for the first time think I should like to join the Roman Catholic Church. I must have something." 1 This was in the middle of the period from September 1919 to April 1920 when, as Vincent O'Sullivan observes, ". . . she touched bottom in the despondency and antagonisms that were part of her disease." 2 The context is enlarged by Mansfield's friend Ida Baker, who describes in her memoir Mansfield's father's London cousin Connie Beauchamp staying not far distant from Ospidaletti in Menton with her friend the "mesmeric" Jinnie Fullarton, 3 two very devout and ardent converts to Catholicism years before, who earnestly tried to bring Mansfield to their persuasion. Mansfield's emotional instability at the time clearly assisted them for a while. As she wrote in a letter she placed for Baker to find and read when alone, "This afternoon when we were lying on the hills . . . I knew there was a God. There you are . . .

One day (before we go back to England, I hope), I mean to be received into the Church. I'm going to become a Catholic. Once I believe in a God, the rest is so easy. I can accept it all my own way--not 'literally' but symbolically: it's all quite easy and beautiful. But unless one believes in a God even though it is tempting to have that great inward gate opened--it is no good. 4

-211-

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