She was beautiful. One got the impression that she was following phantoms; she was consumed by shivering sensations of eternally pursuing something unattainable. Something about her was tear-streaming; she existed in the midst of unconsciousness. And she could only be seen not by those who ceased looking but rather by those who absolutely exhausted it.
But in her bosom there was still that bright glowing place-that shower of little sparks coming from it. It was almost unbearable. She hardly dared to breathe for fear of fanning it higher, and yet she breathed deeply, deeply. She hardly dared to look into the cold mirror-but she did look, and it gave her back a woman, radiant, with smiling, trembling lips, with big, dark eyes and an air of listening, waiting for something … divine to happen … that she knew must happen … infallibly.
I have faded into the habit of secretly existing under your skin. It is unbelievably dark under there; I am happy.
I’d love to tearfully absorb you in every way and I’d love to play with your hair, read your eyes, feel disarmed in your presence. I’d love to experience a seizure of full-silenced tenderness with you and at the same time dwell on your Dionysian idiosyncrasy of red, slightly heated wine, constant passion and chaos; How can I even imprison this desire into mere letters structured together in order to form a coherent meaning? There is no meaning. Darling! Darling! You can flash “meaning” down the toilet if you wish. Still, I’d love to share a life full of richness with you: Richness not in terms of events, incidents, facts or experiences; but richness in terms of a colourful, adventurous, enthusiastically unraveling life. I’d love to lose all privileges of existence as long as I might have a small chance of walking on water with you.
I am just unbearably interested; Did it mean anything to you? I mean we said goodbye, the modern method of obviously covering all emotional crises, and you shut the door behind you violently. Your exit speaks for itself; a moment of inconceivable rudeness and tremendous cowardice. But did it mean anything - dramatically walking away, indirectly (or perhaps absolutely directly) refusing me the right to even utter a single sentence? At any rate, your dark enigmatic ways are evidently swept away for such “partings” do not make the slightest impression on me. Worst of all, I thought you very much more of a brain than I had thought you before. Very much of a clever little brain. Nevertheless, not much of a person.
What I feel is: She is never for one fraction of a second unconscious. If I sigh, I know that her head lifts. I know that those grave large eyes solemnly fix on me: Why did she sigh? If I turn she suggests a cushion or another rug. If I turn again, then it is my back. Might she try to rub it for me? There is no escape. All night: a faint rustle, the smallest cough, and her soft voice asks: “Did you speak? Can I do anything?” If I do absolutely nothing then she discovers my fatigue under my eyes. There is something profound and terrible in this eternal desire to establish contact.
Katherine Mansfield wearing an Arabian shawl, Rottingdean, Sussex, England, 1910
Reference Number: 1/4-010047-F
Portrait of Katherine Mansfield. Taken by Ida Baker in Rottingdean, East Sussex, England, 1910.
I should like to have friends, I confess. I do not suppose I ever shall. But there have been moments when I have realized what friendship might be. Rare moments - but never forgotten. Friendship is a binding, as solemn as marriage. We take each other for life, through everything - forever. But it’s not enough to say we will do it. I think, myself, it is pride which makes friendship most difficult. To submit, to bow down to the other is not easy, but it must be done if one is to really understand the being of the other. Friendship isn’t merging. One doesn’t thereupon become a shadow and one remain a substance. Yet, it is terribly solemn - frightening, even.
I kissed her. Her flesh felt cold, pale, soft. I thought of nuns who have prayed all night in cold churches…All her warmth and colour and passion, she had offered up in prayer, in cold, ancient churches. She was chill, severe, pale; the light flickered in her raised eyes like the light of candles; her skirt was worn shiny over her peaked knees; she smelled faintly of incense. (But still, I haven’t said what I wanted to say.)
In this dramatic, fictional retelling of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield’s final years, and of the events which led up to her meeting with P.D. Ouspensky and G. I Gurdjieff, novelist Linda Lappin transports the reader like a time traveler into Mansfield’s intimate world. Scrupulously researched and richly evocative, the novel has been praised by Mansfield scholars as “creative scholarship.” With vivid detail and beautiful language and style, Lappin has built on journals, letters, and diaries to fashion a true-to-life mosaic, using themes, motifs, and methods of Mansfield’s own writing. Katherine’s Wish celebrates Mansfield’s deep love of life and its final message is a life–affirming one of joy and of wholeness achieved.
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Katherine Mansfield, 1917
I had a last glimpse of you just before it all disappeared and I waved; I hope you saw.
Thank you for letting me see Asheham. It is very wonderful and I feel that it will flash upon one corner of my inward eye for ever.
It was good to have time to talk to you; we have got the same job, Virginia, and it is really very curious and thrilling that we should both, quite apart from each other, be after so very nearly the same thing. We are, you know; there’s no denying it.
The sky changes, softens, the lake is all grey mist, the land in heavy shadow, silence broods among the trees. The girl does not move. But very faint & sweet and beautiful, a star wakes in the sky. She is the very incarnation of evening, and lo - the first star shines in her eyes.