'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

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What was KM thinking and writing 90 years ago today? The ‘KM blog’ posts daily extracts of her letters and notebooks written almost 90 years ago...
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31 January 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Elizabeth, on our knees we beg - write a new play. Oh, how thrilling it would be to sit by John and watch your play. I reread The Cherry Orchard to take the taste of Clemence Dane away - and the real fascination of the real thing shines through it. It's an exquisite play.
I hope your work goes well. I think of you often - This weather is odious. Today was a disgrace to God. Would you lunch with us on Sunday? or any day that suits you - I hope you like dear De la Mare. There is one poem "Why is the rose flowered and faded And these eyes have not seen" - - - I'm not sure of the words. It seems to me almost the best. I hope you meet him one day.
With very much love,
and thank you for everything.
Katherine. To Elizabeth Russell, late January 1922.]

My precious dear,
Although I have not seen Manoukhine yet and am in fact waiting for my bregchick I must write you a little note to be posted in all haste. To tell you what you call news. Bogey - Montana is a wonderful place. Since I left I have not once had shortness of breath or a second's trouble with my heart. I am exactly like an ordinary common garden person in that respect. I had to walk at the Gare de Lyon quite a long way and except that my pegs were tired - I have been scoring on paper for so long now (oh it dies hard, my dearest. . . notre jeu) I felt as I used to 5 years ago.
Perfect journey. The hotel is extremely quiet. There is a huge salle de bains. I have a bedroom, hall with private door & this - well its a dressingroom bathroom for 20 francs a day. I wallowed in a bath on arrival put on clean clothes and am lying down. Its like a dream not to be out of breath & to be alone with ones own sponge again.
Of course numbers and numbers of marvellous things happened on the journey. I am keeping a journal instead of putting them in letters. Its less boring for anyone to read them unashamedly put forth like that. But I suppose my love of you is at the root of everything. Meine Wurzeln sind tauig begiessen with that und mit frischen Buhlen erfullt. Dear Eckermann and dear Goethe! I slept last night in the little hollow in the bed between the two of them. Wasn't that review of Lynd sickening. Didn't it make Lynd a sorry worm. There was nothing in the papers (D.N.) but a white satin tea cosy handpainted with fiags of the Empire for Princess Mary. [To J.M. Murry, 31 January 1922.]

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30 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Thank you, dear Elizabeth, for your beautiful letter. It was happiness to receive it. I feel that it has put a blessing on my journey. We are solitary creatures au fonds. It happens so rarely that one feels another understands. But when one does feel it, it’s not only a joy; it is help and comfort in dark moments.
For I have far less courage than you grant me, Elizabeth. I faint by the way (although I manage to do my fainting privately.) It is bitter to be ill. And the idea of being well — haunts me. Ever since I have realised this possibility I dream of it at night — dream I am alone — crossing streams or climbing hills or just walking. To be alone again. That is what health means to me; that is freedom. To be invisible, not to be offered chairs or given arms! I plan, I dream, yet I hardly dare to give way to these delights . . . (Tho’ of course one does) But, if I should become an odious bouncing female with a broad smile tell me at once, Elizabeth, and I’ll flee to some desert place and smile unseen.
Bill Shakespeare is really past a joke. It’s a terrible giveaway for poor Clemence Dane. I’d like to write a potted version with a real great thumping bunch of watercress come hurtling through the window when the Queen throws down her penny. But it’s so cheap, so vulgar and ‘stagey’. Dean with one foot on chair roaring out song, wanton sitting on table (it’s always a table) swinging her foot, voices in the distance, she dotes on voices in the distance, and Shakespeare with arms outstretched against the wintry sky!! As to the love passages, they are written by your french pear, your withered pear, your true virgin. It smells of the ‘performance’ I even hear ‘chocolates – chocolates’ at the fall of each curtain and after Act II almost feel myself passing one of those maddening tea-trays with fingers of ancient plumcake on it and a penny under the saucer. [To Elizabeth Russell, late January 1922.]

 

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29 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

In the meantime our cat has got his nose scratched beyond words & he's in such a condition that he looks as though he has been taking part in a boxing match up a chimney. He is to have lessons on the fiddle this spring. All the BEST cats can play at least Hey diddle diddle. He must learn. The strings of his fiddle will be of wool, of course and the bow will have a long tassel on it. I believe he can play the piano. He sits up & plays with his two front paws:

   Nellie Bly
   Caught a Fly
   Put it in her Tea!

This exquisite morceau was in my Pianoforte Tutor, words and all. Who can have composed it! However it suits Wingley. Its a subject he can feel sympathy about. He comes down with such a terrific whack on the FLY! He is the most unthinkable lamb, really, and I am sorry if I am silly about him.
   But I meant to write about the Flu. You are very nervous of it aren't you? I feel it in your letter; I understand your feeling. But Brett, you can ward it off with food. MILK, my dear. Thats not hard to take. Drink all the milk you can & eat oranges. Oranges are full of these vitamins & they are very rich in some value that milk hasn't, not to speak of their good effect on ones functions. And its half the battle to be rid of any internal poisoning that accumulates in the colon. Milk & oranges. If Mrs. Horne is late drink hot milk & dont get exhausted waiting for her. If you feel depressed lie down & sip hot milk and sugar. Im tired of telling you to eat. I now commend you to drink. Get the milk habit, dearest, & become a secret tippler. Take to drink I implore you. What the devil does it matter how fat one gets. We shall go to Persia where fatness alone is beauty. Besides you'll never be fat; you're too "active". [To Dorothy Brett, 26 January 1922.] 

Dear Michael Sadleir,
Just in case my book should be out within a fortnight might I have the copies sent to me at the
Victoria Palace Hotel
6-8, Rue Blaise Desgolfe
Rue de Rennes
Paris
I would be very glad to have half a dozen extra copies charged to my account. I go to Paris tomorrow. I hope Ive not done wrong in writing to you about this.
Yours very sincerely
Katherine Mansfield. [To Michael Sadleir, 29 January 1922.]

 

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28 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Brett
   I have taken seats in the puffi-train for Monday and should be in Paris on Tuesday. My address is Hotel Victoria Palace, 68 Rue Blaise Desgoffe, Rue de Rennes. Write to me there if you can! I hope to see Manouhkin on Tuesday afternoon. It is all rather like a dream. Until it has happened I cannot quite believe it. But I was thinking if Gertler stays in Paris on his way through I wish he would come & see me. Would you tell him? It would be a pleasure to talk to him again. Im deadly tired tonight. I wrote & finished a story yesterday for The Sketch. The day after that happens is always a day when one feels like a leaf on the ground - one can't even flutter. At the same time there is a feeling of joy that another story is finished. I put it in such a lovely place, too, the grounds of a Convent in spring with pigeons flying up in the blue and big bees climbing in and out of the freezias below. If I lived in the snow long I should become very opulent. Pineapples would grow on every page, and giant bouquets would be presented to each character on his appearance. Elizabeth was here yesterday and we lay in my room talking about flowers until we were really quite drunk - or I was. She - describing - "a certain very exquisite rose, single, pale yellow with coral tipped petals" and so on. I kept thinking of little curly blue hyacinths and white violets and the bird cherry. My trouble is I had so many flowers when I was little, I got to know them so well that they are simply the breath of life to me. Its no ordinary love; its a passion. Wait - one day I shall have a garden and you shall hold out your pinny. [To Dorothy Brett, 26 January 1922.] 

Dear Mr Pinker,
   Thank you so much for letting me know that the Nation has taken my Doll's House. I enclose the new story for the Sketch. This time I think the number of words is well within the limit of two thousand.
                     Yours sincerely
                   Katherine Mansfield [To J.B. Pinker, 27 January 1922.]

 

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27 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

My dear Vera,
   I had heard via Elizabeth, via Mack that you were in England and how long you were going to stay. I am so sorry to know you have had Flu. What bad luck on arrival! But I expect you will be beautifully nursed and cared for.
   I am afraid we shan't be in England for many a long day. I am going to Paris on Monday next. But I expect Paris seems just as far as Switzerland to you.
   Yes, its a great joy to us to have Elizabeth back in her chalet. She is a wonderful little being and I love her dearly.
   Dont let your Andrew turn into a writer, though, my dear. Take warning by Elizabeth and me! Nip him in the tenderest bud rather than have that happen. All Beauchamp blood ought to be poured into business. Make him a millionaire instead.
   My flight to Paris is on business, but its so delightful to look forward to. Paris is much nicer than London.
   I hope you have the happiest visit and une belle santé from now onwards.3
   With much love from
                        Yours affectionately
                              K. [To Vera Mackintosh Bell, 26 January 1922.] 

Dearest Anne
   For the Hotel and the dentists I am deeply grateful. The hotel sounds "just the thing" as they say. What an extraorindary quantity of water seems to gurgle through it. I shall develop fins and a tail if I am there long. Will you please tell Drey how deeply I am his debtor! I hope to have some very fine specimens of the Cruel Art by the spring. I am taking the puffi train from here on Monday, please tell David. He is le Roi des Puffi Trains, j'imagine. Bless you
                  Katherine [To Anne Drey, 26 January 1922.]

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26 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

I would not change this kind of life for any other. There are moods of course when we long for people. But they pass, leaving no regret, no disillusionment, no horrid remembrance. And one does have time to work. But I wish my new book was a better one. I am terrified of it. But it can't be helped now. M. is writing hard, and I am in the middle of what looks like a short novel.
   I am so glad you liked The Veil. There is one poem:
              Why has the rose faded and fallen
              And these eyes have not seen. . .
It haunts me. But it is a state of mind I know so terribly well. That regret for what one has not seen and felt - for what has passed by - unheeded. Life is only given once and then I waste it. Do you feel that?
   Are there snowdrops yet. It will soon be February - and then the worst is over. By March the first flowers emerge, cold, pale as if after the Flood. But how one loves them! And that soft stirring in the trees - in elms especially - and the evening, coming reluctant again. Dearest, I am so glad for your sake that it will soon be spring. I hate winter for you. I wish I could come into your room now and say "the lilac is out". Is it only in winter that your dreaded neuralgia is so painful? There's no excuse for winter - none!
   I have given M. your messages. He skis everwhere, and skates no more. He looks awfully well. Elizabeth is here, buried in her chalet at work. She is one creature who never has to think of health. She is always well - never even tired and is as active as if she were eighteen.
   My dull letter creeps after your winged one - But it is sent with so much love. Love from us both, dearest Ottoline - and may we meet again soon!
                       Ever yours devotedly
                                       Katherine.
 [To Ottoline Morrell, c.24 January 1922.] 

Dear Mr Pinker,
   Today I received, direct from The Mercury a cheque for twenty-five pounds. I enclose herewith a cheque for two pounds ten which I believe to be the correct percentage. Will you kindly inform me if this is so?
   I have written a new story for The Sketch and hope to get it typed tomorrow.
               Yours sincerely
             Katherine Mansfield [To J. B. Pinker, 26 January 1922.]

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25 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   I haven't seen Aldous book and I do not want to. The idea bores me so terribly that I wont waste time on it. The only reviewer who really realised its dullness was Rebecca West. She said just what was right - she shuddered at the silliness of it. But everybody else seems to puff him up. It gets very awkward if young men are forced to feed out of their friends inkpots in this way. In fact I confess it downright disgusts me -
   But oh, Ottoline I must ask you if you have read Congreve lately. I have just finished ‘The Way of The World'. Do read it! For the sake of the character Mrs Millamant. I think she is so exquisitely done when she first appears "full sail" and tells the others how she curls her hair. The maid is marvellous in that little scene too, and the other scene is where [she] decides finally to have Mirabel. That little conversation between the two seems to me really ravishing in its own way3 Its so delicate - so gay - But its much best read aloud. What a brilliant strange creature Congreve was - so anxious not to be considered a writer, but only a plain gentleman. And Voltaire's shrewd reply "If you had been only a gentleman I would not have come to see you. . . " I love reading good plays, and so does M. We have such fun talking them over afterwards. In fact the pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books. It is one of the many pleasures of our solitary life. Pleasures we have - ever increasing. [To Ottoline Morrell, c.24 January 1922.] 

 

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24 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

My dearest Ottoline,
   That is one thing about our solitary existence. When such a letter as your letter today comes it is done the very fullest justice to. It is reread and read. But oh, how I should love a long talk - anywhere, anywhere out of the silly world of London and the white one of Switzerland.
   Its intolerable that you should have had pleurisy! I tremble to think of the time we spend in bed unhappily. It is out of all proportion. I am fleeing to Paris on Monday next to see if that Russian can bake me or boil me or serve me up in some more satisfying way - I suppose the snow is very good for one. But its horrid stuff to take and there's far too much of it. Immense fringes of icicles hang at our windows. Awful looking things like teeth - And every Sunday the Swiss fly into the forest on little sledges shrieking Ho-jé! Ho-jé positively makes my blood curdle. So off I go on Monday with the Mountain very breathless carrying two large suitcases & begging the suitcases pardon when she bumps them into things. I shall only go to spy out the land and buy some flowers and wallow in a hot bath. But if the Russian says he can cure me M. and I shall go to Paris in the spring and live there for a time. One writes the word ‘cure' - but - - but I don't know. [To Ottoline Morrell, c.24 January 1922.] 

 

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23 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   Your still life sounds lovely & I like to think of your bottils, all in a row. They are lovely things, even those slender hock bottles. But I see them from the ‘literary' point of view. They say summer & lunch out of doors and strawberries on a glass plate with gold specks in it. . .
   I have just heard from DelaMare about my little family in The Mercury and from America where another story of the same people is coming out in The Dial. I feel like Lottie and Kezias mother after the letters I have got this month. It is surprising and very lovely to know how people love little children, the most unexpected people -
   Heres the doctor stumping up the stairs. No, he has stopped halfway to talk to the Mountain. Elizabeth is here again with a minute sledge on a string wherever she goes. She herself in tiny black breeks & gaiters looks like an infant bishop. Murry & she flew down thousands of feet yesterday - right down into the valley. She is a radiant little being whatever the weather. Born under a dancing star -
   He comes. I must end this. Goodbye for now - You know what I think of these gifts. But send me no more, my little artist. You are too lavish. Keep your pennies now.
   I embrace you - You must feel that there is in this letter warm tender love. For its there.
             Tig  [To Dorothy Brett, 21 January 1922.] 

 

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22 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

But this is a bad black month, darling. There is a new moon on the 27th. Look at it & wish. I will look at it & wish for you. I feel so in your mood - listless, tired, my energy flares up & won't last. Im a wood fire. However, I swear to finish my big story by the end of this month. Its queer when I am in this mood I always write as though I am laughing. I feel it running along the pages. If only the reader could see the snail in its shell with the black pen! Don't work too hard just now. Let things be. Let things grow in the quiet. Think of your mind as a winter garden - growing underneath, you know with all the lovely shapes & colours of thrice blessed longed for spring. I think it is good sometimes just to let things be. But what does one do on those occasions? I can think of all kinds of plans but they need you near. Tell me about your little house. A queer strange feeling that I cannot explain away tells me I shall see it & know it & stay there once. One is shy of saying these things for some reason. But I feel there is a possibility of a much deeper relationship between us than ever we dream of I feel a bit like a man about you. I mean by that Id like to make you feel loved. There is something I don't like in most of the men you know (I mean those that I know too ). They lack delicacy and perception and they do not give. Except of course Koteliansky & Tomlinson, both beautiful men. But I would like to try & make you happy, my dear - make you feel cherished. I wonder if you know what I mean. We grow in the bosoms of others, we rest there; it is good sometimes to feel carried.
[To Dorothy Brett, 21 January 1922.] 

 

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21 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Warning. Pages ALL wrong.
Darling Brettushka,
   The jumper has jumped & the ribbons fluttered over today. And I can't thank you. It seems feeble just to thank a person for such loveliness. I rejoice in the garment & the exquisite colours beyond words but that is not all. Its your thought in sending them which makes them so precious. I dont see how I am going to keep up with your lovely ways. I shall lag behind & admire. Thank you from my heart. Isn't the jumper an exquisite creature. When I go to Paris I shall wear it to carry you with me in the interview with Manouhkin. It will be my mascot. As for the ribbons. My brother's greenstone looks exquisite hung from one or other of them. If I had been the child of a conjuror I should have eaten ribbons instead of producing them from my hat.
I cant get off to Paris just yet for I am still in bed. Six weeks today with one days interval. I cant shake off this congestion and ALL the machinery is out of order. Food is a horror. But I won't go into it. I feel most frightfully inclined to hold your hand, too, & just let this month & February & March stream by like a movie picture. Then let it be April and all this dark and cold over. Huge fringes of icicles hang from the windows. I know one thing. I must never stay up here for another winter. Evan had a heart of brass. That is why he could stand it. We talked it over together over chops and cabbage in a Pullman one night when he'd just got back. 
[To Dorothy Brett, 21 January 1922.] 

 

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20 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

  Jones [Ida] is waiting for this letter. I want it to catch the post. I have only begun to say what I want to say. About Paris. I cannot go just at present. I am still in bed and likely to remain there for a time. Congestion is a slow affair, especially at this height. The doctor, like all doctors, is a complete fool. I shall try and put off Paris until May. To meet there in May and to stay there (J and I will be there four months) would be nothing short of wonderful. I hardly dare think of it. Now I know Manoukhine is there I can bear to wait - I think I shall try. Hotels and journeys are a dread prospect in any weather - in this - even more -
  Forgive this haste and inadequacy - Read much more in my letters than is there - dear Sydney.
                        With my warm love to you both
                                                      Katherine
  [To Sydney Schiff, c.18 January 1922.]

Dear Mr Knopf
   Very many thanks for your letter. I am sending you by today's mail a set of corrected proofs of The Garden Party. I think they are in good order. I am only sorry that I did not know before that these proofs could be useful to you; I could have sent them six weeks ago. My reason for wanting proofs was that the London typist to whom I sent typed copies of MSS for her to duplicate only, took terrible pity on my spelling, and on the bad grammar used by my little children. I only discovered this when I received my English proofs, the original MSS had gone off to The Mercury.
   I fully appreciate all you say about the advisability of English and American editions of the same book appearing at the same time. But I am a little bit helpless personally. If Constable were to delay my book after February it would be swamped in the spring floods. Its only chance is to appear before March; and it has been announced so often that I don't feel I can even suggest a postponement this time. They are bringing out a limited edition of signed copies, too. But that wont affect American sales . . .
   I shall see that my next book is submitted to you at the earliest possible moment. But that does not help this one, does it? I am truly sorry. It seems to me the best idea would be to have the American edition published before the English one. I hope this can be arranged with my third book.
   With kind regards to you and Madame in which John Murry joins me.
                    Yours sincerely
                 Katherine Mansfield [To Arnold A. Knopf, 20 January 1922.]

 

 

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19 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   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. I remember once talking it over with Lawrence and he said: ‘We must swear a solemn pact of friendship. Friendship is as binding, as solemn as marriage. We take each other for life, through everything - for ever. But it's not enough to say we will do it. We must swear.' At the same time I was impatient with him. I thought it extravagant - fanatic. But when one considers what this world is like I understand perfectly why L (especially being L) made such claims. . . 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 remains a substance. Yes, it is terribly solemn - frightening, even. 

   Please do not think I am all for Joyce. I am not. In the past I was unfair to him and to atone for my stupidity I want to be fairer now than I really feel. . . I agree that it is not all art. I would go further. Little to me is art at all. It's a kind of stage on the way to being art. But the art of projection has not been made Joyce remains entangled in it, in a bad sense, except at rare moments! There is, to me, the great distinction between him and Proust. (Take Swann with Odette for instance) or take Richard in Elinor Colhouse......     [To Sydney Schiff, c.18 January 1922.]

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18 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

                              The same evening.
My dear Sydney,
   I answer your letter, as you suggest, immediately. Yes, I used the word friendship too lightly. I hang my head. It was badly done and you were right to strike me. I do understand. I wince, yes I confess its painful to me to read what you write at the bottom of the second page ‘I have not got any friends at all'. And the sentences that follow. At the same time I value the remark immensely. There is a deep separateness in me which responds to it, even though I am forever without a complete complement. But it's a strange truth that the fact of you and Violet is not only a joy: it's an extraordinary consolation to believe in you and her as one does. (Violet dearest, speak to me just one moment, will you? I feel sometimes diffident of speaking to you directly. I feel that there are so many others near you who claim your attention. I count on Sydney telling you whatever there is to tell. No, the truth is nearer. I write to you and to him. But you know that.) I agree absolutely - with what you say when you define the forces that go to make friendship and the part played by knowledge. The more one thinks of the image of knowledge as clothing the more valuable it becomes. It is one of the images that delight the mind so much that almost apart from one's self one's mind goes on receiving it, turning it to the light, trying it, experimenting with it. Or that is what my mind has been doing. . .proving the truth of it mathematically speaking.
[To Sydney Schiff, c.18 January 1922.]

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17 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Darling Precious Anne
   The curse is I cant possibly start for Paris for 2 weeks from today, and thats only fixed if the weather permits! So this time we shant meet again. But Anne, in the spring we are coming to Paris to be there for at least 4 months. Surely we shall meet then. We must, dearest. I see you and Drey flying over and me with a spyglass on the hotel roof Oh, Anne, if you knew what I'd give to see you . . . I shall be too happy for words. All beams! Its in the spring I am going in for this Russian treatment - chasse des Microbes par les Rayons X. What I want to do is for us to get a small apartment as I have ma petite faute with me - in the shape of my cat and I cant expect him to put up with hotels. So Spring - let us meet in Spring! I shall hold thumbs from now to April. The idea of my coat is VERY thrilling. We have 6 feet of snow here - I hate snow; I love the fertile earth and I love Paris - and just love you -
                                  Katherine
[To Anne Drey, 15 January 1922.]

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16 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Anne,
   Can you tell me the name of a Hotel in Paris that has an ascenseur that really does go up & down and isn't too terribly unsympathetic? I simply don't know one, nowadays & shall have to sit on my luggage while someone looks. Last time I stayed at one that Cooks recommended with one of those glass-topped beds and strong tea coming out of the hot water tap. They plucked me to my last pin-feather for these luxuries - I don't mind where it is as long as the lift will go up as well as down - so important that. In Switzerland the lifts only go down. Never up. Its a mystery to me. Id like Fergussons views on it or Blums. K: "How does it happen that this lift never goes up?" Swiss (smiling) "It always goes down Madame". K: ???? Swiss: !!!!
                        Katherine [To Anne Drey, 15 January 1922.]

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15 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Koteliansky,
   What a supremely good piece of translation is this story by Bunin in The Dial. One simply cannot imagine it better done & I am, with everybody else, deeply grateful for the opportunity of reading it.
   Bunin has an immense talent.? That is certain. All the same . . .there's a limitation in this story, so it seems to me. There is something hard, inflexible, separate in him which he exults in. But he ought not to exult in it. It is a pity it is there. He just stops short of being a great writer because of it. Tenderness is a dangerous word to use, but I dare use it to you. He lacks tenderness - and in spite of everything, tenderness there must be . . .
   I have been in a horrible black mood lately, with feelings of something like hatred towards "everybody". I think one reason was I wrote a story - I projected my little people against the bright screen of Time - and not only nobody saw, nobody cared. But it was as if the story was refused. It is bitter to be refused. Heaven knows one does not desire praise. But silence is hard to bear. I know one ought not to care. One should go on quietly. But there it is.
   I am leaving for Paris in a fortnight. A chill and the weather and money have kept me back. But I shall go then. Shall I write to you from there?
   Koteliansky - I HATE snow and icicles and blizzards. It is all such mock mystery and a wrestling with the enemy. I love the fertile earth - spring. Wouldn't you like to be now, this instant, in a beech forest with the new leaves just out?
   I press your hands
                           Katherine.[To S. S. Koteliansky, 13 January 1922.]

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14 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   Elizabeth has returned to her chalet. In minute black breeches and gaiters she looks like an infant bishop. When she has talked about London and the literary ‘successes' I am thankful to be out of it. I dont want to hear what Hugh Walpole thinks of Clemence Dane. But Elizabeth "fascinates" me, and I admire her for working as she is working now, all alone in her big chalet. She is courageous, very. And for some reason the mechanism of life hardly seems to touch her. She refuses to be ruffled and she is not ruffled. This is incomprehensible to me. I find it devilish, devilish, devilish. Doors that bang, voices raised, smells of cooking, even steps on the stairs are nothing short of anguish to me at times. There is an inner calm necessary to writing, a sense of equilibrium which is impossible to reach if it hasn't its outward semblance. But I dont know. Perhaps I am asking for what cannot be.
   I must end this letter. The sun has been out today and yesterday, and although there is about seven feet of snow and great icicles hang from the window frames it is warm, still, delicious. I got up today and I feel I never want to go to bed again. This air, this radiance gives one a faint idea of what spring must be here - early spring. They say that by April the snows have melted and even before all is quite gone the flowers begin. . .
   With warm love to you both,
   I press your hands
                          Katherine.[To Sydney Schiff, 12 January 1922.]

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13 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   About Joyce, and my endeavours to be doubly fair to him because I have been perhaps unfair and captious - oh, I cant get over a great great deal. I cant get over the feeling of wet linoleum and unemptied pails and far worse horrors in the house of his mind. Hes so terribly unfein; thats what it amounts to. There is a tremendously strong impulse in me to beg him not to shock me! Well, its not very rare. Ive had it before with men and women many times in my life. One can stand much but that kind of shock which is the result of vulgarity & commonness, one is frightened of receiving. Its as though ones mind goes on quivering afterwards...Its just exactly the reverse of the exquisite rapture one feels in for instance that passage which ends a chapter where Proust describes the flowering apple trees in the spring rain.
   But at the memory of that I suddenly long to take your hand and say: "How marvellous life can be. How marvellous!" Ah, Sydney, how can I be thankful enough that Violet and you are on the earth at this time. That we have met & shall meet again. Do you remember one afternoon as we were in the car together you said you would like to go to Sweden? Why on earth should that have been so tremendously important - so infinitely delightful. It often comes back to me and always with the same ‘atmosphere' of happiness and understanding between us. But one could go on with such memories - - -  [To Sydney Schiff, 12 January 1922.]

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12 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

                       Thursday.
My dear Sydney
   I am deeply grateful to you for everything in your last letter. Your criticism of my work is most precious to me; there is no other word near enough to describe the feeling. Your understanding, so true and so sympathetic is an encouragement in itself. It would be grief to me to displease you. I hope one day I shall write a book which I may wholeheartedly give to you and Violet - on the title page. But it will be the book after my next - a novel.
   I look forward most eagerly to your story. I suddenly put my long story aside and wrote a short one this week which I am tempted to send you. But perhaps it is not worth sending.
   I think I do know what you mean by ‘friendship'. It is strange I always silently acknowledge the fact that you have one friend. Its as though you carry him with you, within your breast. I think I never see you without being reminded immediately of that other, even though no word has been spoken. This seems to me inevitable.
   It is more and more difficult to me to write letters. Once I begin there is so much to say that no letter could contain it. I want to answer, too, not only your letter to me but yours to Jack as well. I am very glad he sent you the proofs of his article, I wanted you to see it. I felt you would be in agreement with much he has said.  [To Sydney Schiff, 12 January 1922.]

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11 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

What with them and my poor dear pussy - he who got out today & began to scratch, scratched away, kept at it, sat up, took a deep breath, scratched his ear, wiped his whiskers, scratched on, SCRATCHED - until finally only the tip of a quivering tail was to be seen & he was rescued by the gentle Ernestine. He wrung his little paws in despair. Poor lamb! To think he will not be able to scratch through until April. I suppose snow is beautiful. I hate it. It always seems to me a kind of humbug - a justification of mystery and I hate mystery. And then there is no movement. All is still - white - cold - deathly eternal. Every time I look out I feel inclined to say I refuse it. But perhaps if one goes about and skims over all is different.
   How are your Swarees? Is everybody just the same? I am working at such a long story that I still can only just see the end in my imagination - the longest by far Ive ever written. Its called The Doves Nest. Tell me what you are working at? Or are you resting? I hope I shall see Marie Loo in her garden of Eden one day - one's mind's eye isn't good enough. But winter is a bad black time for work I think. Ones brain gets congealed. It is v. hard. Goodnight my dear dear Brett. With tender love
                Tig [To Dorothy Brett, 9 January 1922.]

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10 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

What with them and my poor dear pussy - he who got out today & began to scratch, scratched away, kept at it, sat up, took a deep breath, scratched his ear, wiped his whiskers, scratched on, SCRATCHED - until finally only the tip of a quivering tail was to be seen & he was rescued by the gentle Ernestine. He wrung his little paws in despair. Poor lamb! To think he will not be able to scratch through until April. I suppose snow is beautiful. I hate it. It always seems to me a kind of humbug - a justification of mystery and I hate mystery. And then there is no movement. All is still - white - cold - deathly eternal. Every time I look out I feel inclined to say I refuse it. But perhaps if one goes about and skims over all is different.
   How are your Swarees? Is everybody just the same? I am working at such a long story that I still can only just see the end in my imagination - the longest by far Ive ever written. Its called The Doves Nest. Tell me what you are working at? Or are you resting? I hope I shall see Marie Loo in her garden of Eden one day - one's mind's eye isn't good enough. But winter is a bad black time for work I think. Ones brain gets congealed. It is v. hard. Goodnight my dear dear Brett. With tender love
                Tig [To Dorothy Brett, 9 January 1922.]

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9 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   But this is all a bit beside the mark. . . You are right. I think of Manouhkin more than anyone can imagine. I have as much faith in him as Koteliansky has. I hardly dare think of him fully. No, I dare not. It is too much. But about money I have £100 saved for this Last Chance and as soon as I know he can help me I shall make more. Work is ease, joy, light to me if I am happy. I shall not borrow from anyone if I can possibly help it. My family would not give me a penny. But I shall manage. I am not frightened of money for some blessed reason. I know I can make it. Once I am well I can make all I want - I don't want much. In fact my plans go on and on, and when I go to sleep I dream the treatment is over and I am running, or walking swiftly and carelessly by and no one knows I have been ill - no one hands me a chair in a shop. Ah, it is too much!
   This awful writing is frozen writing, Brett. I am writing with two icicles for fingers. We have 6 foot of snow here - all is frozen over and over even the birds tails. Is not that hideous cruelty. I have a large table for these precious atoms daily - and the first coconut in Switzerland is the BigJoint. They cant yet believe in the coconut. It overwhelms them. A special issue of the Bird Times is being issued, the bird who discovered it is to be photographed, interviewd, & received at Pluckingham Palace and personally conducted tours are being arranged.  [To Dorothy Brett, 9 January 1922.]

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8 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Brett,
   This is to catch the post as you say. As far as I know I shall leave for Paris on Monday fortnight; that is to say Monday week when it reaches you. We shant stay for more than a few days & we shall be so busy & the weather so bad that I wouldn't advise you to come. Then in spring we return & if Manouhkin will treat me we'll try for a flat in Paris & spend some months there. Happily our lease of this house is up at the end of May. That will be the time to come to Paris. but its so cold now, we shant stay a moment longer than necessary. And think of that vile Channel in this month! Or rather don't think of it!
   I lapped up your letter. The party sounded one of the old kind. Fancy the Puma still biting. It seems impossible. She has bitten & wept for years. And why is there always someone on the floor like that doctor? Oh, I do hate such parties. But I like to read about them. They make my eyes roll.
   Garsington, too. Isn't Julian a problem? What will she do? I think the trouble with her and Ottoline is that there is absolutely no love between them. There is nearly hate - isn't there? Or is that too strong. Julian will go her way though, in her own time. There is something urgent in her which won't be resisted. She interests me. She did when I saw her in France. I felt - there goes youth - with all that it means. I think her real fight will be with Philippo. There I can smell a battle. [To Dorothy Brett, 9 January 1922.]

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7 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

My dearest Violet
   I am so happy to know you like my story. It was the most delightful surprise to receive your letter at the end of rather a black day. I had thought At the Bay would pass quite unnoticed and your sympathetic note warms my heart. Thank you sincerely e very sincerely, dearest Violet. I shall not forget your letter. As a matter of fact all that I have written up till now seems to me to have been only. . . opening the windows, pulling back the shutters . . . Its only now I feel chez moi and in the work I am engaged in now. I have passed through a state of awful depression about work, lately. It had to be. But I see my way now, I think. What saved me finally was reading a book called Cosmic Anatomy, and reflecting on it. . . That sounds rather funny, doesn't it?
   Ah, I do hope we shall meet in the spring. I feel we shall & all will be better than before.
   Congestion is quite simple. The lung becomes full of blood, & that means the heart beats too fast & that means one has fever and pain and puts oneself to bed. But I am determined to make an end of all this very soon. I detest the idea of going to Paris at the end of this month but I shant stay - just see my man & arrange to return in the spring.
   Snow falls & falls. It is like living in the moon. I hate snow. I love the fertile, fertile earth!
   Goodnight, chere amie
   With my warm love to you both.
   I embrace you
                   Katherine. [To Violet Schiff, c. 8 January 1922.]

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6 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Brett,
   Do you mind shopping for me? If you do please tell me bang out. If you dont would you be a lamb and get me a pair of shoulder straps. Ill explain. Lying propped up so much I have got a bit round shouldered & I want to correct it by wearing straps off and on. Gamage is the place I think. And I heard, once, they had an American pattern very simple which was good. I dont want buckles and canvas and bones, please. But something light, flexible, with elastic, if possible and unobtrusive. The less of the contraption the better.
   Is this a fearful bore to you, my dear? But Id be so deeply grateful. I really pine for a pair and Switzerland of course is hopeless. Besides here is nothing but snow. We are living in the moon. Its all white, ghostly, silent, eternal, and snow still falls. I hate snow. I could kiss the fertile earth - all this whiteness has a kind of mock mystery about it that I dislike very much. This isn't a complaint. Its just the facts.
   By the way do you eat porridge? Do. It is good for you - fearfully. But it must be made with a good piece of butter added to it. Then it really does stick to your ribs and make a man of you. Butter I do really believe flies to the brain, also and creates a glow - so I wish you a very buttery New Year. I shall never forget how Ottoline, while talking abstractedly would pinch my little butter dish draw it towards her with her knife & devour it, whole.
   It is strange. I have no faith in you about food. I feel sure you give other people all the best bits & eat the heads and tails yourself. Dont do it; it is very bad. Always choose the fish with the fattest eye.
         Much love from
                  Tig   [To Dorothy Brett, 4 January 1922.]

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5 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

  Your weather sounds too good to be true. We have 3 feet of snow here but at present it is pouring with rain. Just the moment for snow pies. It is horrible! But Christmas was fine. We had a tree, an exquisite little thing. There is enough German blood in the Swiss to make them have the most lovely small objects for hanging on trees - birds with glass tails and toad stools with candles in them and spiders webs of silver with liqueur chocolate spiders inside. These last are too realistic for me. Its horrifying to bite into the spider and taste what must be spiders BLOOD.
   My poor new book has been so boomed in the press before its born that when it does hatch out I know everyone will be disappointed to find its only a baby small; & will quarrel with its nose. It is terrifying to give birth to books. I wish one could do it in private.
Im still in bed. But I don't care. I defy Life. I shall win the battle after all and then you will be able to say all the cross things you want to without feeling that perhaps when your letter arrives I shall have taken a Bad Turn.
   Will you bite me as you used to, little dear? I shant bite back. I feel full of love.
   We are expecting our Elizabeth any day now. It will be a joy to have her. Write again. May I say without offence your hand-writing is exactly like a white kitten's.
                     Yours ever
                                   K.
[To Jeanne Beauchamp Renshaw, 2 January 1922.]

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4 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   Do you really expect old V. this month. How I should like a peep at you all. Fancy- it is eight years since I have seen her - I expect it will be eighteen before I do. Do tell me about your meeting! How long is V staying? We shall be in Paris in April but I expect she will be gone before then - Paris always seems to me a good centre to meet people - with such lots of places to sit down and talk. .
   Well dear, I envy you your primrose. My room is full of carnations & mimosa & violets at present, titbits left over from the New Year • but Id prefer the primrose.
   With much love, darling Marie
                Ever your fond
                                K.
Wingley kisses his paw to Kuri. [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, 2 January 1922.]

Dearest J,
   I am so glad the boudoir cap goes with the robes de nuit. . . I hope your party was a success. My game always is Musical Chairs, but it is so terribly thrilling that perhaps its better left unplayed. I want to begin screaming Russia when the chairs are being arranged even. Very vivid recollections of being rather good at this game and last in with George Nathan! I should think you and Marie would give a lovely party. I wish you would ask me one year. Jack is extremely good at lying on the floor and letting people jump up and down on him, also at making faces. [To Jeanne Beauchamp Renshaw, 2 January 1922.]

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3 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Darling Marie,
   I am relieved you liked my humble little bag. I was afraid it looked like an offertory bag at the last moment. The handles were so intensely black they almost looked fit for sacred purposes. My mocassins still hang on the willow tree but I shall take them down and dance to the tabors and cymbals ere long. I don't know why I feel so old Testament today. A man came to see us yesterday who had been to church. The flavour must still cling.
   Fancy Annie & Jacks departing. I like all changes really when they come - I mean of that kind - don't you? I am all for clean sweeps occasionally! especially in the case of servants. One gets tired of the peculiarities of even treasures. No, they are scarce here and poor dumb cattle when you do get them. Mine is honest, good, faithful - sober - in fact she has all the virtues and her ankles are like this [drawing of fat ankles] Poor soul! It is dreadful to have virtuous ankles as well. But thats the worst of very good people. They don't know where to stop.
   You never told me who got the ring in the pudding after all. We had a pudding, too, in fact a whole Christmas dinner sent complete from England. And did you get nice presents. I was rich in presents this year - My most surprising however was a cable from Pa. Wasn't it awfully sweet of him. Its the first cable of the kind he has ever sent me. I felt indeed touched. . [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, 2 January 1922.]

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2 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

When you say you passed Christmas quietly - I see you positively gliding by. We had a real suet pudding, blaging [sic] in brandy and even a tree. Jack said he hated trees. But when it came he liked it fearfully. They are curiously beautiful things and this little one, with its burning candles, birds with glass tails, coloured stars, spiderwebs with liqueur chocolate spiders in ‘em and presents was a little gem. We are keeping all the decorations for another time, when I hope you will see them, too. After the tree we had snapdragon & then played Beat your Neighbour Out of Doors & Old Maid. It's a good thing this only happens once a year. . .
   I think I know that Flower Piece by Van Gogh. Yellow flowers, aren't they, full of life. I noted the Degas show was coming. I hope it's a good one. Tell us more about the pastels WHEN you are in the mood.
  I am in the middle of a long story & cant see the end. It will be a very little, small novel if it doesn't stop soon. It is called The Doves Nest. I have been in a black mood about my work lately but some furious reading has pulled me out of the hole, I think. Furious reading consisted of (1) Shakespeare (2) Cosmic Anatomy (3) The Bible.
   Its late, dear Richard. I must spare my candle, draw the curtains against the wolves, & go to sleep. Please give my love to Mother. May we meet again before this year is over!
               With warm love from
                      Katherine.  [To Richard Murry, 1 January 1922.]

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1 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Richard,
   I suppose I am one of those optimists. If I sit down & think, even, it doesn't remove my conviction (yes, its as strong as that) that the New Year is a most promising infant. I don't know why. It seemed to smile on us. And although we have (please prepare to roll your eyes) seven feet of snow outside our front door, there is a feeling of warmth within - a New Year feeling.
   Yes, the snow is terrific. It is like living in the moon. Trees are crashing to earth today & lamp posts are falling & theres no electric light, no little mountain railway. Your brother went forth this afternoon on his immense skis & sped over the tops of fences and walls. I wish you could see him. He wears a blue helmet, you know the kind-airman's helmet, a leather jacket, huge fingerless gloves (the gloves he used to eat a sponge cake in his Go-cart) but of a larger size, breeks, three pairs of stockings, & ski boots. He would earn enormous sums on the pictures in this get up & all covered with snow. I can hear a deep ‘A-Ah' go round the dark theatre as he leapt on to the screen. Poor little Wingley is quite confused by this snow. Cant understand it, poor little chap. He went out the other day & began to scratch, scratched, scratched away, SCRATCHED, sat up, scratched his ear, took a deep breath, scratched on & was just rescued by the tip of his quivering tail in time. I suppose he won't come to earth again until next April.  [To Richard Murry, 1 January 1922.]

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