'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

The KM Today Blog has only been made possible thanks to the very generous funding of the Southern Trust, to whom the Katherine Mansfield Society extends its grateful thanks.

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...
Read more about this Blog   Original poem by Julie Kennedy

We encourage interactive use – please post your comments at the end of each daily entry and follow our guidelines for posting comments.

 

28 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   I must end this letter. I have just finished a queer story called The Fly about a fly that fell into the ink pot and a Bank Manager. I think it will come out in The Nation. The trouble with writing is that one seethes with stories. One ought to write one a day at least - but it is so tiring. When I am well I shall live always far away in distant spots where one can work and look undisturbed. No more literary society for me ever. As for London - the idea is too awful. I shall sneak up to Pond Street every now and again - very rarely indeed & Ill beg you not to let a soul know. Its no joke my dear to get the letters I do from people who want to meet one. Its frightening!
   Don't leave me too long without letters. I have grown to look for you now and I cant do without you. Youre my friend. I miss you. See? Oh, one thing. When I do come will you ask the children to tea? I have had serious thoughts of adopting a little tiny Russian lately. In fact it is still in the back of my mind. It's a secret, though.
   Easter this year is April 16th. That is March and a bit away. Come April. Isn't it a divine word - and in all languages its so exquisite - Avril, Avrilo. What a name for a book - April!
   Forgive my writing. My hand is always stiff with work. Can you read it? Yours ever, dear little artist.
                          Tig.  [To Dorothy Brett, 26 February 1922.]

Dear Mrs Sarah Gertrude Millin
   Your letter makes me want to begin mine with "Do write again. Don't let this be your last letter. lf ever you feel inclined for a talk with a fellow-writer summon me." I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear from you, how interested I am to know about your work. Are you really going to send me a copy of Adam's Rest when it comes out? It would give me great pleasure to read it.
   Now I am walking through the third page of your letter. Yes I do think it is "desolate" not to know another writer. One has a longing to talk about writing sometimes, to talk things over, to exchange impressions, to find out how other people work - what they find difficult, what they really aim at expressing - countless things like that. But there's another side to it. Let me tell you my experience. I am a ‘Colonial'. I was born in New Zealand, I came to Europe to "complete my education" and when my parents thought that tremendous task was over I went back to New Zealand. I hated it. It seemed to me a small petty world, I longed for "my" kind of people and larger interests and so on. And after a struggle I did get out of the nest finally and came to London, at eighteen, never to return, said my disgusted heart. Since then Ive lived in England, France, Italy, Bavaria. Ive known literary society in plenty. [Early March, 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

27 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   The hotel servants are just a little bit impudent and that's nice, too. There is no servility. I meant to tell you the barber was in raptures with your still life. I think that's a great compliment, don't you? It grows before ones eyes said he, "il y a de la vie. Un movement dans les feuilles." Excellent criticism. He, good man, was small & fair & like all barbers smelt of a violet cachou and a hot iron. He begged, he implored me to go to a cinema near here. Downstairs it was a little mixed but upstairs on the balcon there were armchairs of such a size and beauty that one could sleep in them. . . Oh Brett, how I like simple people - not all simple people, some are simple pigs - but on the whole - how much more sympathetic than the Clive Bells of this world. Whatever else they have - they are alive. What I cannot bear is this half existence, this life in the head alone. Its deadly boring.
   I think my story for you will be about Canaries. The large cage opposite has fascinated me completely. I think & think about them - their feelings, their dreams, the life they led before they were caught, the difference between the two little pale fluffy ones who were born in captivity & their grandfather & grandmother who knew the South American forests and have seen the immense perfumed sea. . . Words cannot express the beauty of that high shrill little song rising out of the very stones. It seems one cannot escape Beauty - it is everywhere.  [To Dorothy Brett, 26 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

26 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   Yes, I love Koteliansky - no less.
   (Look here - darling - what can I give you? Tell me. What is the great difficulty? Show it to me. Or - can't you. . .Don't you trust me? You are safe. You are wrong if you do not trust me. And why wait until we meet? Even this moment will not return. I have given up the idea of Time. There is no such person. There is the Past. That's true. But the Present and the Future are all one -)
   Once I have settled down for a few months you must know De la Mare. He is a very wonderful man - beautiful. Now I have arrived at the word "primroses" & I see them. Delicate pinkish stems, and the earthy feeling as one picks them so close to the damp soil. I love their leaves too, and I like to kiss buds of primroses. One could kiss them away. They feel so marvellous. But what about bluebells. Oh dear! Bluebells are just as good. White ones, faint blue ones that grow in shady hollows, very dark blue ones, pale ones. I had one whole spring full of bluebells one year with Lawrence. I shall never forget it. And it was warm, not very sunny, the shadows raced over the silky grass & the cuckoos sang.
   Later. I then got up had a big blue bath & rather a horrid lunch. Then played chess - rested for a couple of hours, had tea & foie gras sandwiches and a long discussion with M. on "literature". Now the light is lighted, outside theres a marvellous deep lilac sky and I shall work again until dinner. Its strange how nice it is here. One could scarcely be more free.   [To Dorothy Brett, 26 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

25 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Later.
I have broken open this letter to say after two mornings spent at the Post Office we have managed to get second parcel & found it contained l belt, l pr stockings. If it wasn't comic it would be too much of a good thing. Its a sight to make the evings themselves look down. There was a letter from you, too. I don't believe in your shivering & shaking because of my barks. That is fantastic. If you don't yet know the dog I keep you never will - -
   Glad to know - very glad – about the birds. Why should it be extravagance. Buy another coconut if you like. I shall look at the bills & reply in the next letter. I am ‘off' bills for today. My boxes - mythical, tantalising boxes, I ‘note' are packed to perfection. But oh - why don't they come. You torment me - show them to me, & whip them away again. I freeze, I burn for my kimono, my Anne coat. Tell Wingley to wriggle & stamp until you take them to the post.
   Roger sounds very nice. All the more reason you should knit him something. I don't care for John. I feel he was ill on purpose too, to get his parents attention away from R. That is natural enough, however.
   I don't want your old money if you do keep a pension. The whole point is - it should pay for the house & E. and then pay you.
   Thats enough of letter writing. My hand shakes because I have been writing very fast. Its not paralysis or the family wasting.
   The Lord be with you.
                            K.M.
  [To Ida Baker, 24 February 1922.]

About painting. I agree. Good as Gertler is I shall never forget seeing a ballet dancer of his - it was the last thing I saw of his – at his studio. A ballet dancer. A big ugly nasty female dressed in a cauliflower! I don't mean to be horrid; but I do not and cannot understand how he can paint such pictures. They are so dull they make one groan. Hang it all Brett - a picture must have c h a r m - or why look at it? Its the quality I call tenderness in writing: its the tone one gets in a really first chop musician. Without it you can be as solid as a bull & I don't see whats the good. As to Ethel Sands - (isn't her name a master piece, wouldn't it be Ethel) her painting is a kind of ‘dainty' affair which it doesn't do to think about. You feel that ultimately where, of all places, she ought to be a woman she is only a very charming satin bow. Forgive my coarseness but there it is! Talking about feeling. I had a shock yesterday. I thought my new book would enrage people because it has too much feeling - & there comes a big review talking of the ‘merciless analysis of the man of science'. It's a mystery. If you do see my book read a story called The Voyage will you? Keep it if you like it. . .
   See Elliot has been to your Thursdays. Yes he is an attractive creature; he is pathetic. He suffers from his feelings of powerlessness, He knows it. He feels weak. Its all disguise. That slow manner, that hesitation, side long glances and so on are painful. And the pity is he is too serious about himself even a little bit absurd. But its natural; it's the fault of London, that. He wants kindly laughing at and setting free.  [To Dorothy Brett, 26 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

24 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Later.
I have broken open this letter to say after two mornings spent at the Post Office we have managed to get second parcel & found it contained l belt, l pr stockings. If it wasn't comic it would be too much of a good thing. Its a sight to make the evings themselves look down. There was a letter from you, too. I don't believe in your shivering & shaking because of my barks. That is fantastic. If you don't yet know the dog I keep you never will - -
   Glad to know - very glad – about the birds. Why should it be extravagance. Buy another coconut if you like. I shall look at the bills & reply in the next letter. I am ‘off' bills for today. My boxes - mythical, tantalising boxes, I ‘note' are packed to perfection. But oh - why don't they come. You torment me - show them to me, & whip them away again. I freeze, I burn for my kimono, my Anne coat. Tell Wingley to wriggle & stamp until you take them to the post.
   Roger sounds very nice. All the more reason you should knit him something. I don't care for John. I feel he was ill on purpose too, to get his parents attention away from R. That is natural enough, however.
   I don't want your old money if you do keep a pension. The whole point is - it should pay for the house & E. and then pay you.
   Thats enough of letter writing. My hand shakes because I have been writing very fast. Its not paralysis or the family wasting.
   The Lord be with you.
                            K.M.
  [To Ida Baker, 24 February 1922.]

Cherie,
   I must answer your letter at once because I like it frightfully. What is it doing in London today? Here it is spring. For days past it has been warm, blue & gold, sunny, faint, languishing, soft, lovely weather. Isn't it the same over there? The reckless lift boy says "dans un mois il serait plein été". That's the kind of large remark I love the French for. They have very nearly hung out their sun blinds, they have quite turned the puddings into little ices in frills. But why cant I send some of this weather over to you? Can't it be done? Look in the glass. If there is a very bright gay sunbeam flittering over your hair I sent it from Paris, expres. At any rate you are putting out new leaves, crepe de chine ones & baby ribbons ones. The craving for a new hat is fearful in the spring. A light, crisp, fresh new curled spring hat after these winter dowdies. I suffer from it now. If I had one I should wear it in bed! But the barber is cheaper. He came yesterday and gave a coup de fer to my wool. Now its all waves on top. (I have a great tendre for barbers.)
   I not only know where your new house is. But I have been there & looked over one of three little houses in Pond Street. Three lambs they were - years and years ago before Anrep was even born. I shall call you the little Queen when you are in yours, which is a kind of mixture of you & Queen Anne. Its much better to have a tiny wax bright hive. Everything will shine there. And then suppose you want to shut it up for a time you can just pop your thimble over the chimbley and all's hidden. No good leaving those great barracks to stare house breakers in the face and shout ‘Look at me' . . . (Do you realise I am working through your letter as I write)
 [To Dorothy Brett, 26 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

23 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
  Your Tuesday and Thursday letters have come. From them it seems you are waiting to hear from me still about the boxes. But your wire said you were sending them by G.V. unless you heard. I naturally kept quiet, which meant SEND. Do please get them off at once! Anyway - Grande - Petit - as long as they are here.
   We had better have all the bills, too, and settle them up. Yes we have decided to stay here and have entirely given up the idea of a flat. As a matter of fact I have begun to like being here in this hotel. It suits very well and the people are nice. I can work here, and am more independent than I have been for a long time. Even if the chalet were let I would not change.
   No, don't turn my nightgowns into pyjamas. They'd better stay as they are, thanks awfully.
Its the first I have heard of E's ‘character'. But I will send her one.
   You must think over the pension idea, won't you? I do not want you to do it if it is in the smallest degree distasteful to you. I feel I rather forced your hand and that was bad. My whole idea was to tide ‘us' (you and me) over until May. Once this treatment is over I shall be able to give you some more money. I mean enough for you to live on. Until then its a little difficult. It seemed to me, it still seems, the best way out of a difliculty all round. I have just heard from Hudson too, and little Doctor Watts; they must be paid as I am no longer there.  [To Ida Baker, 24 February 1922.]

Dear Mrs Jones,
   I am so very sorry to hear what a bad time your brave little Hugh is having. It must be an anxiety to you! Must he really have another operation for adenoids and tonsils on Saturday? I wonder if you have heard of the great success of a hospital in Chelsea where children are treated for both without operating. I read a good deal about the whole subject recently in the Daily News but unfortunately I did not keep the letters. They made a strong case for not operating. But you must know a great deal more about these things than I do. I do hope that, in any case, Hugh will soon be better. Its warm and sunny again here; I hope it is in London. I shall try and get out and send him a little Easter gift.
   With our very best wishes to you both
              Yours sincerely
             Katherine Mansfield Murry. [To Alice Jones, 22 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

22 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

D.I.
   Please do not on any account send me any more clothes by letter post. Another notification has come this morning for a second parcel & it means all the trouble of going off to the bureau again. But apart from that I never imagined you would send me anything by letter post. It is far and away too expensive, in fact its a most shocking waste of money. I thought you intended to send whatever you did send by parcel post. Now I understand at last why you were asked 15 francs . . .
             Yours
                  K.M.  [To Ida Baker, 21 February 1922.]

We have settled down, shaken into this life as if we had been here for months. That is one blessed thing about work. It prepares a place for one everywhere. And though it would be awful to live in a hotel indefinitely, while we are waiting for the ‘arrival', so zu sagen, its not too bad. I feel exactly as though I were going to have an infant in May. Everything dates from then. I am sure if the Faithful One were here she would begin making little caps. But she is not here, and the horrid fact is one is thankful. Of course I do, I must, feel undyingly grateful but oh the joy it is not to be watched! Men, in my experience, however much they may care for you, they do not watch you, they don't want to share your very shell in the way a woman does. One can issue forth and retire at will. But there is something about the persistent devotion of women (I expect its very noble) which is stifling! Or am I wrong.
   John tells me there is a chance - just a chance - that we may meet in the summer in Bavaria. Elizabeth, it would be happiness! Warmth, flowers, long evenings, the smell of grass, the shadow of leaves on a table and funny things that make one laugh happening. Will it come true.
   No, please let all the pride be mine that you are my cousin. If you knew how I feel it. I should like to write one story really good enough to offer you one day. Which reminds me that my unfortunate book is due to come on Thursday. When you open the parcel there will sound a squeak of terror! l
I hope it is fine; I hope you are warm and that your work is going quickly.
John is immersed in Plutarch's Lives.
   Accept my love
              Katherine. [To Eliabeth, Countess Russell, 21 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

21 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

I am v. glad little Wingley is calmer. Nothing short of that amount of snow would keep him at home. How is your cold? I wish I had some money for you. Do you want some? Tell me. We are quite settled down in this hotel and might have been here for months.
   There are 3 spelling mistakes in your letter, Miss. One I must tell you. To lose a thing French ‘perdre' has only one o; to loose a thing - to make it free has two o's. You never get this right. Its such a common mistake that you ought to avoid it. Chaddie always makes it.
   You and Woodifield seem to be having quite a courtship. Its a pity - but I Ive said that before - -
             K.M.  [To Ida Baker, 21 February 1922.]

Most dear Elizabeth
   It rains and rains here and then the sun shines and its silvery. Big drops hang along the balcony. John goes out and comes back with four anemones and a handful of leaves bright with rain. Its like spring. The woman in the room opposite has a wicker cage full of canaries. How can one possibly express in words the beauty of their quick little song rising, as it were, out of the very stones . . . I wonder what they dream about when she covers them at night, and what does that rapid flutter really mean. And there sits the woman in her cage peering into theirs, hops down to the restaurant for her seed, splashes into a little too short bath. It is very strange.
   We speak of you so often. John, after his beating at chess has had the satisfaction of teaching me. If he wallops me absolutely he remarks "A good game. You're getting on." If it is a draw he exclaims "My God, Im a complete idiot. Ive lost my head completely." This strikes me as very male. The gentle female would never dare to be so brutal. There is a look of Bertie about the knight - don't you think? And John Conrad can be a little pawn attending. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 21 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

20 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
   I had a letter from you today written on Monday. I hope you have heard from me by now. The keys were sent off at long last today, I had to send them all as I didn't know which was which. What horrible weather you are having. Here it is fine and not fine - dull, silvery, not bad. .
   About the chauffage. Isn't it best to use electricity during the morning & part afternoon & to heat the chalet as from about 4 oclock onwards through the night. I can't help feeling it would be cheaper and of course you must get in more coal, and keep not too big a fire. Warm you must be.
   Would you post Jacks M.S.S. in a registered envelope? What a man he is! The extraordinary thing is there will always be someone to find these things for him & to look after him. He is born like that. Many men are and many women are not.
   Mrs Maxwell has sent more bills to pay i.e. for rates, taxes, servage and so on. I have never in my life heard of tenants who take a furnished house paying these things. I think her bills are a try on. I shall copy out the card she sent and ask you to take it to your friend Mr Nantermot and ask him if it is the custom for these things to be paid by us or by her. Make him say it is her job, but please be sure to tell me as we must write to the old lady.
   The blue frock has been excavated. I have it on. Its a comfort to have it but I feel a bumpkin all the same.  [To Ida Baker, 21 February 1922.]

 

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

19 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
   I am sorry you have had a cold. But what a good thing to have it away from me so that you could indulge yourself a little and be looked after. I expect you will grow healthy up there again with good air and no surprises for your nerves. I hope so.
   Jack is posting the keys this afternoon. Send the boxes! I am longing for my clothes. It is too warm here for this heavy under-clothing. He has gone today to try and wrench away from the post the parcel you sent from Montana. Devilish difficulties! And I cant understand why. I had clothes sent from England & so on without a murmur. But here I must go in person to Heaven knows where between 9 & 11 only and so on. However, I refuse. We shall see what happens.
   Tell anyone who asks my book is to be ‘out' on Thursday the 23rd. I dont want to lose one single purchaser. Its no secret, you know.
   Ive no idea what the paper cost. I would ask 25 francs for it. But there again I have not seen how much remains - haven't been to the drawer for months.
   Its a glorious spring day here - quite warm. By the way your Mme de Maris is a fraud, I think. What utter rubbish about moving her daughter 10 yards if the daughter suffers so from the noise and discomfort of that other house! I am afraid she tried always to talk big to you. I wonder if that champagne was real at Christmas or lemonade with savon fouette. And - why don't you learn to ski? Jack wonders, too. What a chance!
   Is the cat a pretty cat again? And my birds - are they there?
            K.M. [To Ida Baker, 20 February 1922.]

Dearest Jeanne
   I am so awfully sorry to have put off you and Marie. Do come in May - Paris is perfect then and we shall be able to walk about and do a little (what Jack always calls) nose flattening. As far as he has flattened he says the shops are marvellous, especially the china shops. I have a special passion for china shops. Have you? He has bought already a very light grey teapot covered with tiny blue flowers for 1/ 6 which pours perfectly and would have cost at least 7/6 in Heals, my dear! So save your pennies for May.
   There is a whiff of some kind of exciting secret in your letter. Or do I dream it? I feel certain there was something in the air. Perhaps its only spring. And I do feel too that this year is going to be a lucky one. It has begun well which is half the battle. Yes, I am terrified to say my book is due on the 23rd. It is like waiting in the wings to come on to the stage. I wish I could learn my part all over again, but there is no time.
   I am so glad you like DelaMare. He is a wonderful person as well as poet. Do you know his book The Three Mullar Mulgars? It is the story of three monkeys - very nice monkeys - not like the ones in McNab's gardens. I am awfully fond of it.
   Forgive this groggy writing. My fountain pen has failed me. Why do fountain pens always die so early. As soon as one has become really attached to them they curl up their nibs and spit their last. It is very sad.
                      Your devoted
                            K.  [To Ida Baker, 16 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

18 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Id put them in the top double bedroom of course and ask 35 francs. Tell me what you think of this idea. It would be a terrific help if it could be done easily. No help at all, in fact a horror if you don't care about the idea or if it sounds difficult. It is indeed only a suggestion - an in case - to be answered as such - to be taken "lightly".
   As I write I am conscious I exaggerate a bit and that is not fair to you. If I have to drop that money on the chalet - well I must drop it, that's all. But I want to tell you its a little bit hard to do so. The first fortnight here I spent in all £50. And I cant earn to keep up with it. This ‘plan' would save your fares down and up again. There is that to consider. It would also give you your £8 a month clear and perhaps a little over. I want you to believe I am not just making use of you. I am treating you as my friend, asking you to share my present minuses in the hope I can ask you to share my future pluses
   Talk it over with me - will you?
                   Yours ever
                        Katherine
If my MS will not go into the box in Esher, will you take it out of Esher & pack it separately at the bottom of the box. It would go then, I think. I must just ‘risk' losing it. But don't let go of my shawl. [To Ida Baker, 18 February 1922.]

Dear Brett,
   The pink cyclamen has come and is in front of my vanity table. I am so very happy to have it. It will hang in my room wherever I am. Eventually I shall pay you back with a story. And even then I'll still be in your debt. I love cyclamen.
   Forgive this card. I am desperately tired but I had to let you know at once. I will write again in a few days. But for the next week or so I shall be a fearfully dull [?]
   But a loving one.
            Tig [To Dorothy Brett, 18 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

17 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida,
   Can you tell me (1) what my boxes would cost to send by rail and (2) how long they will take. I have been thinking it over. It seems from your card today there is a chance the chalet may not be let as soon as we had thought. In that case I can't do without my clothes. In fact I feel the need of them very much, so perhaps they had better come along as soon as you have the keys. Yes, that's best. They had better be sent at once.
   If the chalet is not let I have been thinking what had better be done. These last few days have made me feel I don't want any flat before May. I prefer to stay here. Its simpler and it would be cheaper in the end - of that I am certain. Here one can tell what all costs to a 1/2d A la-bas there is food, servant, concierge and all the unforeseen expenses. . .It is not very gay here but its clean and one is independent; one soon gets into a routine and is free to work. Its a good hotel and the people are decent. But if the chalet remains unlet it will mean a loss of about £50 and that is horrible. In fact I can't easily meet it. Also we shall have to keep it open and warmed and cared for. Here is a suggestion. What about you staying there until, May, keeping Ernestine, and taking in a married couple as pensionnaires? At not less than 32 francs a day the pair. Does the idea revolt you? As far as I can make out one would then pay for the heating, lighting, E's wages, your keep, and youd make a profit of £10 a month. [To Ida Baker, 18 February 1922.]

Dearest Marie,
   I am so sorry to have had to send that wire. To think you might be here now! But for the first week or two I did not have much reaction from these X rays. Now I do. Ten minutes after a séance I am so dead tired I feel as if I had swum across Wellington harbour in the wake of the Duco. And that feeling goes on until Saturday evening. It is a mysterious business and my doctor (whose name is Ivan Manoukhin) says it will go on getting worse for five weeks. After that one begins to get better and by May he promises one will feel quite well! I feel as though I were about to faire un enfant. All my plans begin in May. But if it does all come true it will be little short of a miracle after these nearly five years.
   When you come over in May you could not do better than come to this hotel. It is excellent. Very clean, very quiet, with boiling water day and night. And one can eat on the premises - which is a point - if one wants to. Jack and I seem to have been here for months. We always drop into a routine. That is the best of having regular work. One has to arrange ones life round it. Ida is back in Switzerland trying to sublet the chalet and looking after Wingley. I foresee that Wingley's travelling days are not over. Poor little chap! He will have to write his Memoirs later on.
 [To Charlotte Beauchanp Perkins, 19 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

16 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

The Mountain is at Montana, settling up the house & looking after the pussy. This is an excellent hotel. We have two rooms at the end of a passage, cut off from the rest of the hotel with a bathroom and masses of hot water. Rooms cost from 13 francs a day. There is a lift of course and one can eat on the premises. If I were you Id come here at Easter. All rooms have hot and cold water. After 7 months in that cleanliness I feel water and soap are the great necessities. M. and I have settled down according to programme, as we always do. We work, play chess, read, make our tea and drink it out of nice small bowls. I can do nothing but get up and lie down, of course, and Manouhkin says in three weeks I shall have a real reaction & then be able to do even less than that for the next three weeks. Its rather like waiting to have an infant - newborn health. My horrid time ought to be just over by Easter.
   I must begin work. Seven stories sit on the doorstep. One has its foot inside. It is called The Fly. I must finish it today. This is a hard moment for work - don't you feel? Its hard to get life into it. The bud is not up yet. Oh spring, hurry, hurry! Every year I long more for spring.
   Of course I will seize the first chance to speak of your ears. My plan is to ask Manouhkin to the flat. At the clinique he is so busy and never alone for a moment. But Ill have a shot there, all the same. Its difficult too because he speaks hardly any french. Goodbye dear precious little artist. Ever your loving
                  Tig [To Dorothy Brett, 14 February 1922.]

Dear Ida
   If the boxes are going to take such a long time (i.e. three weeks) to arrive I see no point whatever in sending them. They had far better come with you as your personal luggage even if you don't return for a month. I can manage more or less with what I have here. And Id rather do that than pay vast sums to have my clothes sent by post. I shall send you the keys today. But don't send the boxes. Let them wait until you are ready to leave Montana. I don't think I care what Dr H. thinks of the climate of Paris . . .
Please try and sell the notepaper.
          Yours
               K.M.
Everything is quite all right here. But why repeat such stupid remarks about the climate of Paris. Its hard enough to have to bear it without being told so and so doesn't at all approve of it. What tactlessness! Dont you feel it! Please repeat to me NOT ONE word about what he says of the Manoukhin treatment. Id rather not hear.
My dear Ida
I open my letter to acknowledge yours.
(1) Of course we must have references! It is absolutely essential for many reasons.
(2) Ill post my keys tomorrow. Send as little as possible at that price (15 francs).
(3) Will you try the Palace for selling skis. If you can get nothing they had better be stored as you suggest.
(4) Blow the old crepe de chine jumper. I shall never wear it again.
(5) No, why should Mrs M's letter come there?
(6) Why didn't you send the D.N? [Daily News]
(7) Why not give the address to the P.O. at once?
(8) Please call me K.M. - not K. I never feel like K.
(9) Jack must have the parcel from Collins at once. It is proofs! UNpack parcel & send as printed matter & chuck out Jacks original copy. He only wants the PRINTED PROOFS - not what is cut out of papers. Love to Wingley. [To Ida Baker, 16 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

15 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

About Easter. Its a perfect plan. Its just the right time for Paris - April. Everything is still new-green and the sun is really warm and the first shadows of the new leaves (unlike all other shadows, so soft, so tender) are fluttering over the tables and on the grass. I think it is an excellent idea, too, to be here for May and June. For selfish reasons I like it too. We really shall have time to talk, and in Paris or anywhere outside England as far as I am concerned there is never that queer feeling that one is tied to the clock hand. One can go easily, in a leisurely way bask, take the air. . . Oh, Brett, let us look forward to this.
   Where is your little house! It is somewhere - but where. Sometimes I think it must be in the branches of a tree. Do let me know. I think you are very wise not to take a large one. Little houses are always best. A house is like an ark - one rides the flood in it. Little ones bob over the waves and can rest on the extreme tops of mountains much better than great big ones. Can I be official godmother to the garden? I should like to STARTLE you with the most superb things and to send for seeds from far corners of the earth and have a boronia plant below the studio window. Do you know the scent of boronia? My grandma and I were very fond of going to a place called McNabs Tea gardens and there we used to follow our noses and track down the boronia bushes. Oh how I must have tired the darling out! It doesn't bear thinking about.
  [To Dorothy Brett, 14 February 1922.]

What has E. done with the newspapers? She has not sent on one & Jack asked her to. I suppose she has just thrown them away. Make her look after you properly. Please write and tell me how you found things and so on and what was the feeling of the place. I am longing to hear about everything. You mustn't be so silly as to imagine because I am such a horrible creature I don't love you. I am a kind of person under a curse, and as I don't and can't let others know of my curse you get it all. But if you knew how tenderly I feel about you after one of my outbreaks. You do know. I cant say ‘nice' things to you or touch you. In fact I behave like a fiend. But ignore all that. Remember that through it all I love you and understand.
That is always true.
Take care of yourself, ma chere
Katherine, [To Ida Baker, 14 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

14 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Oxford, from the papers sounds very sinister. And why when people receive anonymous boxes of chocolate do they always wait to hand them round until friends come to tea. What ghouls they are, to be sure! Professor X who saved the lives of Doctor and Mrs E sounds profoundly moved. I should feel very tempted were I in Oxford to - hm - hm - better not. No doubt the secret police has steamed this letter over a cup of warm tea . . .
   Goodbye. We will leave Lady Ottoline then. Perhaps if it is a very good strawberry season you might one day much later care to go over - she is not at all fierce. I must tell you, Mr Gerhardi, that you write the most delightful letters.
            Yours very sincerely
                Katherine Mansfield.
My new book I am terrified to say comes out on the 23rd. I had wanted to send you a copy; I shall not be able to. When I am rich I shall send you a copy at once.  [To  William Gerhardi, 8 February 1922.]

Dear Ida,
   I am writing to you so that you shall have a letter and because I want one from you. We have heard nothing from Mrs Maxwell about subletting. I think you'd better not even make enquiries until we do hear with Doctor H. on the spot to report to her. It is annoying. We shall look v. silly if she says ‘no' . . .A devil of a day here, a London fog outside the windows. Not a gleam of light. Perhaps to compensate immense meals have been served by the hotel. Whole eels with rings of potato round em, chickens in beds of rice. It doesn't bear thinking about. My laundry came home. Deciding that if I were sick I could afford to pay for it they charged me 5 francs for my pantalons & 5 for my camisoles. I should think they would charge for my pyjamas by the leg. What grasping devils these frenchies are. And I have just spilt lashings of ink on one of their old sheets and theres no Ida to run off cheerfully to get me citric acid as if it grew in her garden.
   Jack is a tremendous shopper. There is a new teapot, bowls, terrine de foie gras, little brown loaf that looks as though it ought to have little brown legs to run away on. It is remarkable - more - how such a dreamy nature can care for another as he looks after me. He even brushed my hair last night. It was rather queer brushing but there it was.
   By the way: will you send the Mercury with my story in it to Romer W? And will you buy another coconut for the birds? I cant bear to think they look in vain. [To Ida Baker, 14 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

14 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Oxford, from the papers sounds very sinister. And why when people receive anonymous boxes of chocolate do they always wait to hand them round until friends come to tea. What ghouls they are, to be sure! Professor X who saved the lives of Doctor and Mrs E sounds profoundly moved. I should feel very tempted were I in Oxford to - hm - hm - better not. No doubt the secret police has steamed this letter over a cup of warm tea . . .
   Goodbye. We will leave Lady Ottoline then. Perhaps if it is a very good strawberry season you might one day much later care to go over - she is not at all fierce. I must tell you, Mr Gerhardi, that you write the most delightful letters.
            Yours very sincerely
                Katherine Mansfield.
My new book I am terrified to say comes out on the 23rd. I had wanted to send you a copy; I shall not be able to. When I am rich I shall send you a copy at once.  [To  William Gerhardi, 8 February 1922.]

                          St. Valentine's Day
My dear Lamb,
   As soon as I am in full possession of my legs again I shall have to walk abroad with a purse of gold and buy you presents. Even then I shan't be able to catch up. But Ill do my best. Ribbons - the last two are perfectly celestial - I really am beginning to feel flow out of your hat with white rabbits, canaries, and tight little rose buds. But here is this little book. It charms me beyond words! Im going to make it a Little- Great-Men-Book, an ever permanent note book. And coming on St. Valentine's very day. I always remember St V's Day. Its in one's diary, too. But it has a fascinating sound. Who was St. V? A ravishing person, no doubt, young, very young, with a glorious voice. . . But this is true. How ever much you may think these lovely gifts mean to me they mean ever. . . so. . . much. . . more. Now I want to answer your letter. I do hope your tooth is better. Why have we got teeth. Or why haven't we brass ones. I cling to mine but I feel they will all go one day, and the dentist is such a terrifying animal. I hate to think of you in the clutches of that chair. I always think of dear Tchekhov in Nice, with toothache, where he says "I was in such pain I crawled up the wall". That just describes it. It is maddening and exhausting to have toothache, I do hope yours is over. [To Dorothy Brett, 14 February 1922.]

Dear Ida,
   I am writing to you so that you shall have a letter and because I want one from you. We have heard nothing from Mrs Maxwell about subletting. I think you'd better not even make enquiries until we do hear with Doctor H. on the spot to report to her. It is annoying. We shall look v. silly if she says ‘no' . . .A devil of a day here, a London fog outside the windows. Not a gleam of light. Perhaps to compensate immense meals have been served by the hotel. Whole eels with rings of potato round em, chickens in beds of rice. It doesn't bear thinking about. My laundry came home. Deciding that if I were sick I could afford to pay for it they charged me 5 francs for my pantalons & 5 for my camisoles. I should think they would charge for my pyjamas by the leg. What grasping devils these frenchies are. And I have just spilt lashings of ink on one of their old sheets and theres no Ida to run off cheerfully to get me citric acid as if it grew in her garden.
   Jack is a tremendous shopper. There is a new teapot, bowls, terrine de foie gras, little brown loaf that looks as though it ought to have little brown legs to run away on. It is remarkable - more - how such a dreamy nature can care for another as he looks after me. He even brushed my hair last night. It was rather queer brushing but there it was.
   By the way: will you send the Mercury with my story in it to Romer W? And will you buy another coconut for the birds? I cant bear to think they look in vain. [To Ida Baker, 14 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

13 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

By the way, for proof of your being a writer you had only to mention a bath chair & it crept into your handwriting. It was a queer coincidence. I had just been writing a bath chair myself and poor old Aunt Aggie who had lived in one & died in one, glided off; so that one saw her in her purple velvet steering carefully among the stars and whimpering faintly as was her terrestial wont when the wheel jolted over a particularly large one. But these conveyances are not to be taken lightly or wantonly. They are terrible things. No less.
   I hope if you do come to Paris at Easter you will come and see me. By then I expect I shall have a little flat. I am on the track of a minute appartement with a wax-bright salon where I shall sit like a bee writing short stories in a honeycomb. But these retreats are hard to find.
   I am here undergoing treatment by a Russian doctor Ivan Manoukhin, who claims to have discovered a cure for tuberculosis by the application of X rays. It is a mystery. But it sounds marvellous. And at present I am full of wandering blue rays like a deep sea fish. The only real trouble is its terribly expensive. So much so that when I read the price I felt like Tchekhov wanted Anna Ivanovna to feel when she read his story in a hot bath - as though someone had slung her in the water & she wanted to run sobbing out of the bathroom. But if it all comes true it means one will be invisible once more - no more being offered chairs and given arms at sight. A close season for ever for hot water bottles and glasses of milk. Well people dont realise the joy of being invisible - its almost the greatest joy of all. But Ill have to write at least a story a week until next May, which is a little bit frightening.  [To  William Gerhardi, 8 February 1922.]

My darling Marie,
  You do write the most satisfactory letters! One seems to get so much out of them; they've such a flavour, if you know what I mean. All the difference between very dull cold mutton and very excellent lean beef with chutney & a crisp salad! I start with an appetite and end with one.
  It must be fun to be shopping. Its rather hard to realise that ‘V' doesn't care a great deal about clothes. I should care if I were on a desert island & had to try on my hats & see the effect in the lagoon. Perhaps, though, Mack doesn't take them very seriously. That makes a difference. Jack is like a brother in that respect: I mean he talks them over and criticises them just as a brother does. Poor Ida has been flattening her nose against the windows in the Rue de la Paix and is completely demoralised for the moment. She can only talk about garments that appear to be moulded on, with heavy embroidery, russian backs & the fascinating new boleros. Fancy boleros coming back! Its such an absurd word too, isn't it. I expect by the time we are old dolmans will be all the rage again and I shall meet you - where? - flashing with jet bugles.
  Yes, I do miss the chalet. Hotels are odious places, and I hate restaurants. But with this hope of getting better I can put up with anything. I don't dare look ahead, Marie. I feel just like a prisoner must feel who's been told there is a chance of his release. Its too much happiness to think of walking along by myself with nobody handing me a chair or offering me an arm or coming to meet me with a hot water bottie in one hand and a glass of milk in the other! If you have a small private God, say a prayer for me! [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, 10 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

12 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Mr Gerhardi,
   I can't tell you how honoured I am by your asking me to be Godmother. I have the warmest feelings towards your little nouveau ne and shall watch its first steps with all the eagerness a parent could desire. I cast about in my mind as to what to send it. Not a silver mug. No, not a mug. They only tilt them over their noses and breathe into them. Besides, the handle of mine, being silver was always red hot, so that I had to lap up what was inside, like a kitten. . . The matter I see demands time for consideration. But very seriously, I am most happy Cobden-Sanderson liked your book. I am sure it will be a success. And I look forward to reading it again and making other people read it. All success to you and many thanks.
   Please do not praise me too much. It is awfully nice to be praised but at the same time it makes me hang my head. I have done so little. I should have done so much more. There are these rows of stories, all waiting. All the same, I cant deny that praise is like a most lovely present, a bright bouquet coming to one (but gently! I hope) out of the air. Dont imagine for one moment though, that I think myself ‘wonderful'. That is far from the truth. I take writing too seriously to be able to flatter myself. Ive only begun. The only story that satisfies me to any extent is the one you understand so well ‘The Daughters of the Late Col.' & parts of Je ne parle pas. But Heavens! what a journey there is before one!  [To  William Gerhardi, 8 February 1922.]

Dear Mr Pinker,
Many thanks for your letter. I will try and write another story for The Sketch as soon as possible. I am undergoing treatment here which will make work rather difficult for the next few weeks.
I sincerely hope that many of your writers do not give you so much trouble with correspondence. I am ashamed that you should have to write to me so often.
Yours sincerely
Katherine Mansfield

Dear Mr Pinker
I beg to acknowledge with my grateful thanks the cheque for £12.2. received by me today.
Yours sincerely
Katherine Mansfield [To J.B. Pinker, 8 & 9 February 1922.]

 

 

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

11 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Ida is leaving here on Saturday. She will be with you on Sunday. Tell her what you want her to do, if you intend leaving Switzerland. And write to me about everything. But my very soul rebels against when its fine you prefer your work & your work is more urgent than this affair in Paris has been. When it snows you might as well be playing cribbage with me! And also that remark "Moreover the rent is paid here!"
   No, darling, please. Let me be alone here. This queer strain in you does not, for some extraordinary reason in the very least atom lessen my love for you. Id rather not discuss it. Let it be! And I must work now until May. These ‘affairs' are 1000 times more disturbing than 1000 train journeys. Pax, darling. You will see Ida on Sunday. But for the last time I ask you not to join me. I cannot see you until May.
               Your loving
                          Wig.
Please just accept this. Its awfully hard having ‘it' to fight as well as my other not dear Bogies!
Later
Dearest Bogey
   I have just opened my letter to say your Sunday & Monday ones have come - about the snow, about Elizabeth, about your staying there. If the weather is fine by now I dare say your doubts will have taken wings, too. But for my part - I would rather stay here alone. I have seen the worst of it by myself i.e. going alone to Manouhkin, having no one to talk it over and so on. I want now intensely to be alone until May. Then IF I am better we can talk things over and if I am not I shall make some other arrangement. There's no need to look ahead. But that is my very calm collected feeling. So if you do want to leave the chalet before May - let us still be independent of each other until then - shall we?
 [To John Middleton Murry, 8 February 1922.]

As to the flowers - I haven't had a flower yet. Tulips are 1.50 each. The F.O. [Faithful One = Ida Baker] can't find anything sweet and reasonable. And it had been my plan to send you a basket the very first thing. Nothing but my horrid poverty stops that basket arriving. Manoukhin says that by the second week in May Ill feel perfectly well. Its exactly like being in prison and hearing somehow that there is a chance you may be let out. Now I know what a prisoner's dreams must be. I feel inclined to write a long story about a gaol bird. But I shouldn't know how to end it.
   I wonder how your novel is going? I am hard at Shakespeare again, tapping away at him like the birds tapped at my half coconut on the window sill.
   The F.O. has been looking for small flats. Yesterday she found one - "very nice", where five girls with bobbed hair lived with their uncle. It was, she confessed rather full of beds at the moment. But when the girls, who were from the country had gone the beds would be whisked away. And the concierge was most agreeable. The house very quiet. It seemed to me rather a strange menage but I went to see over it today. Really the F.O. is like Una in the Fairy Queen. She is too innocent for words to express. That flat! Those bobbed haired girls! ‘Uncle' had departed but two cigars remained to prove as F.O. murmured to me "that a man lived there". And the BEDS. Merciful Powers! There was something horribly pathetic about it in the pale afternoon light, in its attempts at gaiety, at real flowering. But the whole place will haunt me for ever. I said to the F.O. as we left "But its a bawdy-house." And after a long pause she said "Dear me! I had never imagined such a thing. But I quite see what you mean!" [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 8 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

10 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

In reply to your telegram.
My darling Bogey,
   I do not "understand" why you have sent this telegram, so my reply is rather in the dark. Still, I must send it. Please do not come here to me. That is what I wish to say, and I say it deliberately. It is not easy to write so to you. I will try and explain my reasons. I want you to have your freedom as an artist. You asked for it at Menton. I thought it was a mistake - that you did not mean it and only wrote under influence. But then after I left Montana you asked for it again. You were willing to join me if I wanted you - you were prepared, like a shot to be of help to me. (But that is exactly like saying to a person if you want to borrow money, borrow from me, or Fathers telling me I could count on him up to £50 if the necessity arose. It is not the gesture of people who deeply understand each other.) On the other hand your own personal feeling was not that at this most critical of all moments in her life I could not leave Wig. Golly - no! It was my work - May would be too late - my novel - and so on. Reverse the positions, darling. Hear me saying that to you!
   It is no good. I now know that I must grow a shell away from you. I want, ‘I ask for' my independence. At any moment in the future you may suddenly leave me in the lurch if it pleases you. It is a part of your nature. I thought that it was almost the condition of your working that we were together. Not a bit of it! Well, darling Boge, for various reasons I cant accept this. And now that I am making a bid for health - my final bid - I want to grow strong in another way, too. Ida is leaving here on Saturday. [To John Middleton Murry, 8 February 1922.]

My dear Elizabeth,
   Thank you so much for your letter. But what horrid snow. There must be too much of it. I hope it now settles down and the sun shines warm. It seems impossible that I missed you at Randogne. You were in my thoughts as we waited at the station & I tried to catch a glimpse of your chalet. I hate to think I did not see you.
   It served me right about John. After my agonies as to what would become of him - relief breathed in the poor boy's letter. He was like a fish off a line, swimming in his own element again, and never dreaming really of coming here. He made me feel like a very stuffy old Prospero who had been harbouring a piping wild Ariel. I hope he does stay where he is. It would be much the best plan. PoorJohn! Its horrible to think how I have curtailed his freedom. In my silly innocence I felt certain he couldn't bear not to know what this Russian man said and so on. But not a bit of it. He is hand in hand with his new novel - I see them rather like the couple in Donne's Ecstasy. But I do hope he wont change his ideas now. Bad weather and no posts are a trial which he hasn't experienced yet in solitude. He would repent of coming to Paris Im sure while he is seething with work which will out. Id much rather be alone until May too, now that I know his sentiments.
 [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 8 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

9 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Advise me - will you? I am looking for a tiny flat - very small - a mouse's hole just big enough to nibble a pen in. If I find anything suitable I shall take it until the end of May and Ida will look after it to save money on servants and so on. But (this is where I want your advice) to whom can I apply for a reference? They are sure to ask me for at least two - can you think of anybody? I wish you would answer this as soon as possible, Bogey. A card will suffice, as they say. Its rather urgent. Flats are so scarce here and I want to be settled as soon as possible once something is found. Of course it may all be a wild goose's chase. Ida has gone off to an agent this afternoon. But there it is!
   I have started a new Shakespeare notebook. I hope you will let me see yours one day. I expect they will be legion by that time. And reading with the point of view of taking notes I begin to see those marvellous short stories asleep in an image as it were. For instance
             . . . 'Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream
             Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide
              To rot itself with motion.'
That is terrible, and it contains such a terribly deep psychological truth. That ‘rots itself ' . . .And the idea of ‘it' returning and returning, never swept out to sea finally. You may think you have done with it for ever but comes a change of tide and there is that dark streak reappeared, more sickeningly rotten still. I understand that better than I care to. I mean - alas! - I have proof of it in my own being.  [To John Middleton Murry, 7 February 1922.]

No, I dare not look out of prison at these delights. They are too much. And yet I do nothing else in bed at night when the light is out. I range the world over. It is just what prisoners must do when their time is getting short. I must write a story one day about a man in prison. Murry has answered my letter.He does not want to come to Paris. He feels it would do his work harm. So he is staying in Switzerland. But he says he will come and "fetch" me in May. By that "fetch" I know he hasn't the slightest faith in Manouhkin. Indeed, after saying "what terrific news" he never mentions it. I might have picked up a shilling. Men are odd creatures. But he is very happy and well looked after. In fact he sounds perfectly blissful. So there it is.
   This isn't a letter dearest, just a word to answer yours. I dreamed last night Ottoline had taken to painting & gave an exhibition out of doors - at Garsington. One immense canvas was a portrait of Philip called "Little Pipsie head-in-air". I can see it now. What fools our dreams make of us! But Ottoline was delighted with her work. She kept wandering about saying "such lovely reds, dont you think so? S0 warm!" I must get up. I have a whole story to finish. Ive got a job on the Nation to write a story a month for them & Cassells want some more and The Sketch. What places to let ones poor little children go wandering in. It cant be helped. They are like waifs singing for pennies outside rich houses which I snatch away & hand to Manouhkin.
 [To Dorothy Brett, 6 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

8 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

But all this human interest (ah! how it draws one!) apart there is Goethe talking, and he did say marvellous things. He was great enough to be simple enough to say what we all feel and dont say. And his attitude to Art was noble. It does me good to go to church in the breasts of great men. Shakespeare is my Cathedral but Im glad to have discovered this other. In fact, isn't it a joy - there is hardly a greater one - to find a new book, a living book, and to know that it will remain with you while life lasts!
   How is your novel? Does it go easily? I write slowly here because it takes time to abstract oneself. I feel I have a terrible amount to do, though. I hardly dare look out of this story because of all the others. They are in rows in the waiting room. But one would not have it otherwise.
   Ive read Anthony & Cleopatra again last week and upon my word it is appaling to find how much one misses each time in Shakespeare - how much is still new. Wonderful play! But Bogey you remember " ‘Tis one of those odd tricks which sorrow shoots out of the mind ". That is familiar enough but it still leaves me gasping. There is something over and above the words - the meaning - all that I can see. It is that other language we have spoken of before. I feel that as I am - I am not great enough to bear it. The image that for some reason comes into my mind is of an old woman in a cathedral who bows down, folds herself up in her shawl, mournfully closes herself against the sudden stirring of the organ. You know when the organ begins & it seems to ruminate, to wander about the arches & dark altars as though seeking some place where it may abide . . .
   I must get up. I hope you have my letters, and that, Wingley is a good little pussy-wee.
                Your loving
                       Wig.  [To John Middleton Murry, 6 February 1922.]

Dearest Brett,
   Your letter about the little still life has come. I cannot express to you what I feel at the beauty of your letter. IT is indeed such a still life that I shall keep it in my breast forever and never never forget that it was you who gave it to me. My dearest Brett you are very very rich that you have such gifts to give away, such treasure to unclose. Do not let us ever be less to each other than we are now. Let us always be more. I shall repay you one day with all that is in my power. In the meantime put this letter down & just feel for one moment that I love you. No more - no less.
   Now I want to fly off at a tangent at once and say that we must spend the summer (part of it) together. Is it agreed? If - if - if I get better let us go off alone to Perpignan and lie on the beach & walk in the vineyards. I am serious. You can paint, I shall write. We shall both wear very large hats and eat at a table under a tree with leaves dancing on the cloth. [To Dorothy Brett, 6 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

7 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Darling Bogey,
   I have just received your Friday-Saturday letter - full of snow. The whole of Switzerland according to the papers is snowing. It must be horrid! I hope it is over. No, its not been really bad weather here and April-mild until yesterday when it froze. But today the sun is in-and-out again.
   Will you send me the Lit. Sup? And the Dial? Id be very glad of both if its not too much bother.
   Ida is arranging to return on Friday, leaves here Friday night, that is. Don't feel any doubt about not coming here. Id far rather you didn't come. Theres no point in it and it would unsettle us both. Hotels are odious places for two. If one is alone one can work and forget but thats not so easy á deux. No, let the red peg and the white peg meet in May - not before. . .
Have you read that Goethe - Eckermann? I shall give it to Ida to return to you. But I mean to order a whole one for myself. That taste has given me such an appetite. Its a mystery to me that so fascinating a book should be so little talked of In fact its one of those books that once discovered abides for ever. Its such a whole (even in part as I have it). These two men live, and one is carried with them. The slight absurdity and the sentimental bias of Eckermann I wouldn't have not there! Delightfully human - one smiles but one cant help smiling always tenderly. And then outside sounds come in - the bells of Weimar ringing in the evening, the whisper of the wheat as the friends walk together, the neighbours little children calling like birds.  [To John Middleton Murry, 6 February 1922.]

You know darling I really do expect you in the SPRING. I feel the winter is over already and I read in the Daily Mail yesterday that the Dog's Mercury is out. But what is the Dogs Mercury? And does the Dog know? I hope hes very pleased but I expect he just looks at it and bolts it and goes on with a kind of "so that's that" air. Sad for the Dog's Mercury - don't you think?
   Well dearest, I feel a bit weak in the pen this morning & inclined to laugh at rien - you know the feeling? Do send me a little note here when you are not too busy. Its a fool of a day here - sunny & windy. Fat old men lose their hats & cry houp-la as they stagger after them.
   Heaven bless you.
         Your devoted
                   Katherine
[PS.] A kiss for David on the pussy's little derriere. [To Anne Drey, 4 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

6 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

It seems to me there is no more to say about it all. You see when Ida comes back she can settle everything and then when you come down in May she can go up again (its like a see-saw, isn't it?) and finish up the Chalet des Sapins. By the way coconut II is under the house. Ida saw it fall. Near the bathroom. . .I am so glad E. [Ernestine] is improved. I thought she would be all right on her own. Shes an honest creature and Wingley makes it proper there being 2 gentlemen in the house instead of one. What wretched posts are arriving. I am glad about Pinker and Massingham. I must get Alice Jones to find me an English typist. She sent me the Lancet today with Manoukhine's article in it. Shall I send it to you?
   The only thing I don't quite understand in your letter is your "breaking the back of your years work" and so on. Its all right - isn't it? Youre not working in secret at something I know nothing about? It sounds so very appalling.
   Well, I shall end this letter here for I want Ida to send it at once. Its Saturday night. Im afraid it may not reach you until Tuesday. Please reply at once about the Brett idea. And thanks most awfully for sending the letters - Will you go on sending them? I long to see the Tchekhov books, too when you have finished with them.
           Your loving Wig.  [To John Middleton Murry, 4 February 1922.]Darling Anne,

Darling Anne, Just a mot to say how grateful I am for the address of this hotel. Its just what I wanted and it simply flows with hot baths. I have a heaven-kissing room au 6ième with a piece of sky outside and a view into the windows opposite - which I love. Its so nice to watch la belle dame opposite bring her canary in when it rains and put her hyacinth out. I have decided to stay in Paris and not go back to that Switzerland. There is a man here - did I tell you about him? (It sounds rather an ambiguous beginning, by the way) But enfin there is a man here who treats my maladie with the X rays and I am going to him for this treatment. I had the first yesterday & I feel at this moment full of des rayons bleus - rather like a deep sea fish. But he promises to cure me by the summer. Its hard to believe it. But if it is true I shall take a puffi to your very door and come and have tea with David out of a very little small teapot. . .The only fly in the ointment is the terrific expense. Its 300 francs a time. However, I have been fortunate with my work lately and Ill just have to do a double dose of it until this is paid off. Money is a bore but I never take it dead seriously, and I don't care if I havent a sou as long as I can leap and fly alone. [To Anne Drey, 4 February 1922.]

Dear Mrs Jones,
   Thank you very much. The Lancet turned up in record time. And now I am going to ask you if you would kindly forward any letters that arrive at the office for me to the above address. I am staying in Paris for the course of treatment and shall not return to Switzerland. Will this be troubling you too much? It would be simpler if you entered the postage expenses etc. To J M M s account and I will settle (or try to get out of settling) with him.
He is staying up in the mountains with his beloved little black and white cat to bear him company.
          Yours very sincerely 
         Katherine Mansfield Murry. [To Alice Jones, 5 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

5 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

I want to ask you something. Do you really believe all this? There is something that pulls me back the whole time and which wont let me believe. I hear, I see. I feel a great confidence in Manoukhine - very great - and yet - - I am absolutely divided. You know how, to do anything well, even to make a little jump, one must gather oneself together. Well, I am not gathered together. A dark secret unbelief holds me back. I see myself after 15 goes apologising to them for being not cured, so to speak. This is very bad. You realise I am in the mood now when I confess to you because I want to tell you my bad self But it may be its not me. For what is bad in me (i.e. to doubt) is not bad in you. Its your nature - If you do feel it - please tell me - please try and change. Try and believe. I know Manoukhine believes. I was sitting in the waiting room reading Eckermann when he came in, quickly, simply and took my hand and said "vous avez decide de commencer. C'est tres bien. Bonne sante!" But this was said beautifully, gently (Oh, Bogey I do love gentleness.) Now I have told you this I will get over it. It has been a marvellous day here, very soft, sunny and windy, with women selling les violettes de Parme in the street. But I could not live in a city ever again. That's done - that's finished with. I read Shakespeare (I am with you as I read) and I am half way through a new story. I long for your letter which follows mine. Oh, those precious birds at the coconut. How I see and hear them! And E's fig pudding.  [To John Middleton Murry, 3 February 1922.]

My darling Bogey
   Your letter came as a surprise to me but I absolutely agree with every word of it! It is far and away the best plan. I understand perfectly your feeling about your work and here is an opportunity. I, too, shall put in a great deal of work. I feel this year must float our ships if we are going to bring any cargo home. Goethe has filled me with renewed longing to be a better writer. No, I have no other idea to offer at all. Except - wouldn't it be far less unsettling if instead of you coming down for that week I got Brett over while Ida went up there. Shed come like a shot. In fact she begged me to let her come for a weekend. You know what energy a journey takes. We have nothing to talk over, darling that can't be done by letters. And then when you come in May all will be so different. I think wed better leave the Oiseau Bleu in the air - in flight - until we are certain we shall want to go there - But I hope you will agree with the Brett suggestion. Nothing is gained by you coming here for a week and you would lose a great deal by the geographical change. I don't think anyone can realise how different a city is until they come right into it. It makes a most extraordinary impression. I have a definite aim and hope in being here so I can ignore the effect - but for you at present in the middle of your novel it would be bad. [To J.M. Murry, 4 February 1922.]

Darling Marie,
   Do send me a line and say how you are. As you see I have left my mountains. I came here to see a specialist and I shall stay here until the second week in May taking a course of X ray treatment. A Russian doctor here has discovered a method of treatment of consumption by X raying the spleen (which lives next door to your heart my dear & in the same street with your liver.) It sounds very wonderful. It is terribly expensive. Each treatment costs 300 francs. But I was doing no good in Montana really and I have been ill nearly 5 years now. Anything rather than go on with a sofa life. Besides which it is my only chance, which makes a great difference towards what one can try to afford. By the way (a strictly family question, my dear) do you know a good depilatory. I wish you would tell me. I foresee the day is not far distant when I shall have to start using one.
   But above all do let me hear from you. Its like spring in Paris - so mild. Always your devoted sister
                 K. [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, 5 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

4 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

I want to ask you something. Do you really believe all this? There is something that pulls me back the whole time and which wont let me believe. I hear, I see. I feel a great confidence in Manoukhine - very great - and yet - - I am absolutely divided. You know how, to do anything well, even to make a little jump, one must gather oneself together. Well, I am not gathered together. A dark secret unbelief holds me back. I see myself after 15 goes apologising to them for being not cured, so to speak. This is very bad. You realise I am in the mood now when I confess to you because I want to tell you my bad self But it may be its not me. For what is bad in me (i.e. to doubt) is not bad in you. Its your nature - If you do feel it - please tell me - please try and change. Try and believe. I know Manoukhine believes. I was sitting in the waiting room reading Eckermann when he came in, quickly, simply and took my hand and said "vous avez decide de commencer. C'est tres bien. Bonne sante!" But this was said beautifully, gently (Oh, Bogey I do love gentleness.) Now I have told you this I will get over it. It has been a marvellous day here, very soft, sunny and windy, with women selling les violettes de Parme in the street. But I could not live in a city ever again. That's done - that's finished with. I read Shakespeare (I am with you as I read) and I am half way through a new story. I long for your letter which follows mine. Oh, those precious birds at the coconut. How I see and hear them! And E's fig pudding.  [To John Middleton Murry, 3 February 1922.]

Koteliansky
   There is no answer to this letter. But I wanted to tell you something very good that happened today. Yesterday I decided that I must take this treatment and I telephoned M. I was sitting alone in the waiting room of the clinique reading Goethes conversations with Eckermann when M. came in. He came quickly over to me, took my hand and said simply "Vous avez decide de commencer avec la traitment. C'est tres bien. Bonne sante", and then he went as quickly out of the room saying "tout de suite" (pronounced ‘toot sweet' for he speaks very little French). But this coming in so quickly and gently was a beautiful act, never to be forgotten, the act of someone very good.
  Oh, how I love gentleness, Koteliansky, dear friend. All these people everywhere are like creatures at a railway station - shouting, calling, rushing, with ugly looks and ways. And the women's eyes - like false stones - hard, stupid - there is only one word corrupt. I look at them and I think of the words of Christ "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". But what do they care? How shall they listen? It is terribly sad. Of course, darling Koteliansky, I don't want them to be all solemn or Sundayfied. God forbid. But it seems there is so little of the spirit of love and gaiety and warmth in the world just now. Why all this pretence? But it is true - it is not easy to be simple, it is not just (as A.T.' s [Anton Tchekhov's] friend used to say) a sheep sneezing.
   It is raining. There is a little hyacinth 0n my table - a very naive one.
   Heaven bless you. May we meet soon.
                              Katherine. [To S.S. Koteliansky, 3 February 1922.]

Dear Mr Gerhardi,
   Wont you let me know what has happened about your novel. I have so often wondered. I hope you will write and tell me when it is going to be published.
   Another thing. Do you know Lady Ottoline Morrell who lives at Garsington? Would you care to? She is a personality and her house is exquisite and one meets there people who might ‘interest' you. Im thinking of the literary point of view as well as the other.
   I have come down from my mountains and am living in Paris until May. Oh, the flower shops after nothing but snow and pine trees! It is devilish not to be rich enough to go inside them. I stand and stare like a little boy in front of a pastry cooks.
           Yours very sincerely,
              Katherine Mansfield. [To William Gerhardi, 4 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

3 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My precious Bogey
   Your telegram came yesterday as a complete surprise - a very very marvellous one - a kind of miracle. I shall never forget it.l I read it, scrunched it up, then carefully unscrunched it and put it away "for keeps". It was a very wonderful thing to receive. I agree absolutely it is best that I start now & I telephoned the same moment to M. whose sole reply was "deux heures". (But before I speak of my time there I want to say your two letters my dear one are simply such perfect letters that one feeds on them. I don't know. You have become such a wonderful person - well, you always were - but the beams are so awfully plain now - on se chauffe at every word you write. And there is a kind of calmness which I feel, too. Indeed I feel we are both so changed since the days before Montana - different people. I do feel that I belong to you, that we live in our own world. This world simply passes by - it says nothing. I do not like it but thats no matter. It is not for long. Do you realise that IF the miracle happens we May Go to England This Summer Together? Thats just an idear of what the future holds. May it make you a hundredth part as happy as it makes me!)
   I went to the clinique today and there the French doctor with Manoukhine went over the battlefield. Really it was the first time I have ever been ‘examined'. They agreed absolutely after a very prolonged examination that I had no cavities. Absolument pas de cavernes. They tested & tested my lungs & always said the same. This means I am absolutely curable. My heart, rheumatism, everything was gone into and noted & finally I passed into another room & had a séance.
 [To John Middleton Murry, 3 February 1922.]

Dearest
   Your letter has come. Now I have worried you after all. Stop! All is over. I wired you yesterday that I had decided to stay. I should not have written then - I should have waited. For, as so often happens, after waiting I saw daylight. And I knew that whatever might happen I must take this chance. Now I have written to my agent about money. I shall manage it. Dont ever send me money, Brett! I mean that. Please don't. I am that kind of man!! I haven't yet heard from Murry but I wrote to him fully. You mustn't say that about thrashing him for it makes me sorry I told you. I understand Murry awfully well, its only I cant bear to make him unhappy or to make him feel he is having to make sacrifices.
   As soon as I decided about the treatment I phoned Manoukhin and had my first treatment today. And its only now this minute, in bed, with a warm spring like wind at the window that Im beginning to feel perhaps it may come true.
   But now all goes smoothly, dearest. Ill stay at this hotel which suits me in every way. The Mountain will go back to Montana and settle everything there. I expect Murry will join me here a bit later. All goes well - awfully well. Dont come for a few weeks. Wait until about the 5th week when I shall be able to walk a bit and laugh without coughing. Then come for a weekend. We'll be merry - really merry - two small crickets chirruping away - and there will be buds on the trees.
   So
   From now
   Don't lets talk any more about Tig for the present. She is done with - settled in Paris and so full of blue rays at this moment that she feels like a deep sea fishchik. [To Dorothy Brett, 3 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

2 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

The whole thing is new. That I realised keenly. It is the latest thing in science. That was what one felt. At the same time, there was a very good responsible atmosphere at this place. One felt in the presence of real scientists - not doctors. And Donat never says a fantastic word. He is dead straight. One does feel that. Its what I always imagined a Pasteur institute to be. Donat agreed I could be cured. He has healed an englishman in the 3rd degree who after I2 applications has no more bacillus at all in his sputum. . . He asked me about Montana. He & Manoukhine said that if I had been anywhere really healthy & led a quiet life free from worries I would have had the same amount of benefit. But in their united opinion Montana was too high for my heart in its present state. If I stayed absolutely still in bed there - bien - but to make a continual effort of that kind is not and cannot be good. One is living on l'energie nerveuse. He ended by saying "It is easy to see you are not a little ill. You have been ill for a long time. One has not an endless supply of force. You ought to get well. L'air de Paris et les rayons de Doctor Manoukhine will make you well. Of that I am confident." I then came away.
   I am glad l saw this man as well as the other. But isn't it strange. Now all this is held out to me - now all is at last hope real hope there is not one single throb of gladness in my heart. I can think of nothing but how it will affect 'us'. [To John Middleton Murry, 1 February 1922.]

Begin treatment tomorrow. Tig. [To Dorothy Brett, 2 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

1 February 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My precious
   I rested all today, but after sending your letter I wrote one to Manoukhine, saying that before I decided anything I would like to know all there was to know about this treatment, whether one ran any risks, what its effects were on the heart, and so on. I told him that I was very much in the dark, that I could not afford an experiment, and in a word that I would be obliged if he would let me see his french partner & talk it all over. His reply was to ask me to meet them both at 5 oclock at their cabinet medicale. So we took a taxi and I went. The general impression was good, all in the highest degree simple, scientific, professional, unlike anything I have seen before. Manoukhine came & took me in to Donat. He (D) is an elderly man, rather like Anatole France in style, wearing a white coat and skull cap. Quite unaffected, and very clever, I should imagine. I told them my difficulties. It was a little bit awkward, especially as Donat has evidently a great regard and admiration for M. But there you were. This matter is serious & past pretending. And they were awfully kind. Donat delivered an absolute lecture; they drew diagrams, described the process, told me of its effects and so on. There is no risk. It is, as you know the application of X rays to the spleen. It produces a change of blood. It is a kind of immensely concentrated sun action. What the sun does vaguely and in a dissipated way this gently forces. He discovered it while working at typhus & cholera and applied it to tuberculosis. Donat spoke of it always as my colleagues discovery. "Dr M. has taught us". "Dr M. then experimented on so many animals and so on and found such and such results".  [To John Middleton Murry, 1 February 1922.]

Koteliansky
   I have seen Manoukhine. Yes, one has every confidence in such a man. He wishes me to begin the treatment at once. I am taking steps to try to do so, but it is not quite easy to arrange. It will cost me much money. I have £100 saved but I must make not only another £100 but enough to live on here and for special food and so on. Also I have Ida Baker to keep as well until I am strong enough to walk about and so on. It is all difficult, and for some reason I find it hard to accept all its difficulties, as one must. Perhaps for one thing it is not nice in a city. I had forgotten how women parade about, idle and unworthy, and how ignoble are the faces of men. It shocks me to see these faces. I want more than anything simply to cry! Does that sound absurd? But the lack of life in all these faces is terribly sad.
   Forgive me, my dear friend. Let me speak of something else for a moment. While I was waiting at the clinique tonight the doors were all open & in the doctor's cabinet people were talking russian. They talked all together. Doctor M's voice was above the other voices, but there was a continual chorus - all speaking. I cannot tell you how I love Russian. When I hear it spoken it makes me think of course always of Tchekhov. I love this speech. I thought also of you, and I wished you were with me.
   Send me a note here. Not a letter. I don't expect you to write. If I get well you will let me help you with the people you help, won't you? Now a bell is striking as though it turned over in its sleep to strike. Its very late. [To S.S. Koteliansky, 1 February 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

1 2 3