Kirkus Star


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A first full biography of Katherine Mansfield is both a distinguished and discerning reassessment of her contrary charms and variable temperament and inimitable, indefinable talent. Here once again is the febrile fascination of that short, sad life, of the sudden intensities of radiance and despair which gave their impetus to the stories, of the years of illness which exaggerated a natural inclination to anguish, and of the uneven- often unreal-emotionalism which lent a distraught and difficult tenor to all her relationships. From the lonely childhood in which she sulked and lied and showed ""no particular promise"" in New Zealand,- to London, and the meeting with Ida Baker who was to dedicate the next twenty years to the thankless task of caring for her,- to the final break with her homeland and her father to settle in London- this goes on to the indecisive years of self-discovery and the sharpening of her talent; the registry marriage to George Bowden and the abortive pregnancy by another man (this is new material); the first publication of her stories and the meeting with Middleton Murry ""two wandering, uprooted souls... from backgrounds they had repudiated"". The quixotic and quarrelsome nature of their relationship but her bondage to the concept of love which sustained her through the years ahead; the constant of illness in which she rejected the treatment which might have saved her, and accepted- with an often ingrate hatred-the ministrations of the faithful Ida; the anguished search for healing,both spiritual and physical, all this defines the stories to which she brought a driven perfectionism and which take their often fragile timbre from her own experience.... A definite and permanent contribution, as a personal and literary biography.

Publisher: Knopf