Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Katherine Mansfield and Aldous Huxley: a blighted friendship

Kimber, G. (2017) Katherine Mansfield and Aldous Huxley: a blighted friendship. In: Martin, W. T. (ed.) Katherine Mansfield and the Bloomsbury Group. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 53-72.

Item Type: Book Section
Abstract: ‘I haven’t seen Aldous book and I do not want to. The idea bores me so terribly and I won’t 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’ [all sic]. Thus wrote Katherine Mansfield to Ottoline Morrell in January 1922, discussing Aldous Huxley’s novel Crome Yellow (1921). Ottoline herself had been wounded by its descriptions of ‘our life at Garsington, all distorted, caricatured and mocked at [...]. I was filled with dismay’. And yet everyone in the Garsington and Bloomsbury sets, and those writers like Mansfield and D.H. Lawrence, for example, who found themselves on the fringes of both, continually fed ‘out of their friends inkpots’ for fictional copy. For example, the character of Eddie Warren from one of Mansfield’s most celebrated stories, ‘Bliss’ (1918), is a caricature of Huxley, and Pearl Fulton in the same story is almost certainly based on Virginia Woolf. The relationship between Mansfield’s husband John Middleton Murry and Huxley is well documented. David Goldie notes that ‘Murry began the post-war period with the critical world at his feet but ended it as something of a doormat’, exemplified by Huxley’s lampooning of Murry as the hypocritical character of Burlap in Point Counter Point (1928). However, the connection between Mansfield and Huxley has always remained rather a footnote to the relationship between the two men. This chapter seeks to redress such an imbalance. Huxley’s initial acquaintance with Mansfield led to dinners and private visits recorded by both parties, and to the fictionalising of each other in their creative writing. What emerges is a difficult relationship, blighted almost from the start by the friendships – and enmities – of those around them.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR6000 1900-1960
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR8309 English literature: Provincial, local, etc. > PR9639.3 New Zealand literature
Creators: Kimber, Gerri
Editors: Martin, W Todd
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Date: 1 June 2017
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 53-72
Title of Book: Katherine Mansfield and the Bloomsbury Group
Place of Publication: London
Number of Pages: 272
Language: English
ISBN: 9781474298988
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes

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