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Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf$
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Gerri Kimber, Todd Martin, and Christine Froula

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474439657

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474439657.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 23 July 2021

Seated between ‘Geniuses’: Conrad Aiken’s Imaginative and Critical Responses to Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf

Seated between ‘Geniuses’: Conrad Aiken’s Imaginative and Critical Responses to Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf

Chapter:
(p.42) Seated between ‘Geniuses’: Conrad Aiken’s Imaginative and Critical Responses to Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf
Source:
Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf
Author(s):

Sydney Janet Kaplan

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474439657.003.0004

The writing of the American poet, fiction writer and critic, Conrad Aiken (1889-1973) significantly affected the critical receptions of Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. His personal encounters with them during his time of involvement in the production of the Athenaeum is reflected not only in his incisive reviews of their fiction, but in his own creative writing as well. His short stories and experimental memoir, Ushant, (1963) reveal the two women's differing forms of influence upon him. In his memoir, he portrays the relations between Woolf and Mansfield as representative of the ‘merciless warfare’ that prevailed in the London literary world in 1920. If his creative legacy from Woolf was stylistic and psychological, from Mansfield it was inspirational. He was in love with the spontaneity and life-enhancing vitality of her prose, her ‘genius’ for making her characters ‘real.’ The sense of an intuitive connection between himself and Mansfield underpins his imaginative efforts to recreate his encounters with her, as is exemplified most powerfully in his short story: ‘Your Obituary, Well Written,’ (1928) in which he creates a thinly veiled portrait of characters uncannily similar to Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry.

Keywords:   Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Conrad Aiken, John Middleton Murry, Athenaeum, Ushant, Modernist short story

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