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Katherine Mansfield and Russia$
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Galya Diment, Gerri Kimber, and W. Todd Martin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474426138

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474426138.001.0001

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Near Misses: From Gerhardi to Mansfield (and back), via Anton Chekhov

Near Misses: From Gerhardi to Mansfield (and back), via Anton Chekhov

(p.66) Near Misses: From Gerhardi to Mansfield (and back), via Anton Chekhov
Katherine Mansfield and Russia

Claire Davison

Edinburgh University Press

This essay explores the rich epistolary exchange between Katherine Mansfield and William Gerhardi, when she was at the height of her career and he was a student and aspiring novelist. It traces the essential intermediary presence of Chekhov in their letters, in terms of his biography, writerly ethics and characteristic voice. A mutual love of Chekhov provides the key to the writers’ fast-developing intimacy, as they model their own lives, literary aspirations and style around his. As the essay suggests, their persistent failure to meet, the thwarted projects they cherish, and the hapless personas they perform – in themselves Chekhovian trademarks – are later reconfigured in Gerhardi’s own fictional worlds and literary criticism, to the extent that his first two novels, ostensibly about the Russian Revolution and the immediately post-revolutionary era in Russia, as well as his essay on Chekhov, can themselves be read as a loving tribute to the first mentors, and the wistful pleasures of never quite meeting them.

Keywords:   Chekhov, Literary influence, Reception, Intertextuality, Liminality

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