8 October 2012

Newly Discovered Katherine Mansfield Story

This week's TLS (3 October 2012) has an article by PhD student Chris Mourant titled 'A Little Episode: An Unknown Story among the Forgotten Typescripts of Katherine Mansfield'. Mourant is researching ADAM International Review,1 a literary magazine edited by Miron Grindea from 1929 to 1995.

The ADAM archive in King's College London has been little used, but in it Mouret found five boxes labelled 'Mansfield', and among them he discovered two very interesting typescripts: the short story 'A Little Episode' (1909), and fifty aphorisms written in 1911. Wary of the trap of confusing fiction with autobiography, Mouret nevertheless sees a number of parallels between the fictional world of 'A Little Episode' and that of Katherine Mansfield's life.
He finds the protagonist Yvonne 'clearly a self-portrait' of Mansfield herself, the pianist Jacques St Pierre similar to Mansfield's pianist lover Garnet Carrington Trowell2 (by whom she became pregnant but later miscarried in Germany), and Geoffrey Mandeville is similar to Mansfield's first husband George Bowden. There are a number of other similarities.
According to Mouret Oscar Wilde's influence abounds in 'A Little Episode', and Mansfield followed Wilde by compiling the later aphorisms, which she significantly called 'Bites from the Apple'. Mansfield contracted gonnorrhea from Floryan Sobieniowky, whom she met in Bad Wörishofen, where her mother had taken her to avoid the social stigma of the pregnancy. Some of the aphorisms speak of love as a disease. The danger of love is common to Mansfield's stories, and I'm incidentally reminded once again of Reynolds Price's work.3
Unfortunately I don't think the article gives any indication of how long the story is.
1 The acronym stands for 'Arts, Drama, Architecture and Music'.
2 Claire Tomalin's Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (London: Viking, 1987) has a rather unflattering double-page photo of Trowell playing the piano with a cigarette end determinedly clamped in his mouth, and an even more unflattering inset photo of him with spotted bow-tie at a slant and a goofy-toothed smile.

3 Price's 'Mayfield Trilogy' A Great Circle, which comprises The Surface of Earth (1965), The Source of Light (1981), and The Promise of Rest (1995) is a vast achievement covering ninety fictional years and frequently returns to the dangers of love – from death in childbirth at the beginning to death by AIDS at the end.

No comments: