Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: Katherine Mansfield

Returning to Mansfield

Selected Stories, Katherine Mansfield

It would be somewhat remiss of me not to read Katherine Mansfield after delving into her married life in Uncommon Arrangements. Bizarrely I had tried to read some of her short stories about six years ago and didn’t get anywhere. I say bizarrely because I think with one book she has become one of my favourite writers ever. I think my favourite story in this collection is At the Bay – it reminds me of childhood family holidays, growing up and playing. She writes fantastic characters, I really don’t know how she manages to describe so much, to be so evocative in a short sketch of writing. I can’t recommend highly enough.

Katherine Mansfield Quotes

A cloud, small, serene, floated across the moon. In that moment of darkness the sea sounded deep, troubled. Then the cloud sailed away, and the sound of the sea was a vague murmur, as though it waked out of a dark dream. All was still.
Selected Stories, ‘At the Bay’

He could not have done with the little poem. It was not the words so much as the whole air of it that charmed him! He might have written it lying in bed, very early in the morning, and watching the sun dance on the ceiling. ‘It is still, like that,’ thought Henry. ‘I am sure he wrote it when he was half-awake some time, for it’s got a smile of a dream on it.’
Selected Stories, ’Something Childish but very Natural’

An old woman sat opposite, her skirt turned back over her knees, a bonnet of black lace on her head. In her fat hands, adorned with a wedding and two mourning rings, she held a letter. Slowly, slowly she sipped a sentence, and then looked up and out of the window, her lips trembling a little, and then another sentence, and again the old face turned to the light, tasting it….
Selected Stories, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’

The Bloomsbury Set

Uncommon Arrangements, Katie Roiphe

I loved this book right from the very start. It follows seven marriages from 1910 to 1939 in literary london. The marriages are mostly between members of the bloomsbury set and are as follows:

  • H. G. & Jane Wells
  • Vanessa & Clive Bell
  • Ottoline & Philip Morrell
  • Radclyffe Hall& Una Troubridge
  • Vera Brittain & George Gordon Catlin
  • Elizabeth von Arnim & John Francis Russell
  • Katherine Mansfield & John Middleton Murray

These marriages all had an element of modernism or the atypical to them – often involving strange love triangles, friendships, affairs and illegitimate children. Katie Roiphe writes in a really easy to read, conversational kind of style and she has done her research (especially considering the selected bibliography at the back).

The period is so interesting with the shift from Victorians to Edwardians and the writers’ marriages reflect these changing attitudes. This book has a real personal feel, almost like you are sitting in the same room as all these fascinating people watching their lives unfold.