Katherine Mansfield and Translation 9781474400381, 9781474400398, 9781474407748, 9781474407755

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Table of contents :
Katherine Mansfield Studies
List of Illustrations
Parodic Translation
Ginger Whiskers’ and ‘Glad-Eyes
Into Unknown Country
Unshed Tears
Making a Stay in X
Nous ne suivons pas la même route
Foreign Languages and Mother Tongues
Among Wolves or When in Rome?
Notes on Contributors
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Katherine Mansfield and Translation
 9781474400381, 9781474400398, 9781474407748, 9781474407755

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Katherine Mansfield and Translation

Edited by Claire Davison, Gerri Kimber and W. Todd Martin

Katherine Mansfield and Translation

KATHERINE MANSFIELD STUDIES Katherine Mansfield Studies is the peer-reviewed, annual publication of the Katherine Mansfield Society. It offers opportunities for collaborations between researchers with interests in postcolonial studies and in modernism in literature and the arts. Because Mansfield is a writer who has inspired successors from Elizabeth Bowen to Ali Smith, as well as numerous artists in other media, Katherine Mansfield Studies encourages interdisciplinary scholarship and allows for a proportion of creative submissions. General Editor Dr Delia da Sousa Correa, The Open University, UK Editor Dr Gerri Kimber, University of Northampton, UK Co-Editor Professor Todd Martin, Huntington University, USA Reviews Editors Dr Kathryn Simpson, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK Dr Melinda Harvey, Monash University, Australia Editorial Assistant Louise Edensor, University of Northampton, UK International Advisory Board

Elleke Boehmer, University of Oxford, UK Peter Brooker, University of Sussex, UK Stuart N. Clarke, Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, UK Robert Fraser, Open University, UK Kirsty Gunn, University of Dundee, UK Clare Hanson, University of Southampton, UK Andrew Harrison, University of Nottingham, UK Anna Jackson, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Kathleen Jones, Royal Literary Fund Fellow, UK Sydney Janet Kaplan, University of Washington, USA Anne Mounic, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3, France Vincent O’Sullivan, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Josiane Paccaud-Huguet, Université Lumière-Lyon 2, France Sarah Sandley, Honorary Chair, Katherine Mansfield Society, New Zealand Ali Smith, author Angela Smith, University of Stirling, UK C. K. Stead, University of Auckland, New Zealand Janet Wilson, University of Northampton, UK


Patron Dame Jacqueline Wilson Honorary President Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan, DCNZM Honorary Vice-Presidents Emeritus Professor Angela Smith Emeritus Professor C. K. Stead, ONZ, CBE, FRSL Honorary Advisory Chair Dr Sarah Sandley COMMITTEE Chair Dr Gerri Kimber Vice-Chair Professor Janet Wilson Membership Secretary Professor Todd Martin Treasurer Ralph Kimber New Zealand Treasurer Kevin Ireland Secretary Dr Sarah Ailwood Assistant Secretary Helen Rydstrand Chair of Katherine Mansfield Studies Advisory  Board Dr Delia da Sousa Correa Newsletter Editor Martin Griffiths Marketing Secretary Jessica Gildersleeve Conference Committee Chair Professor Gina Wisker Postgraduate Representative Faye Harland Eurozone co-ordinator Professor Josiane Paccaud-Huguet

Katherine Mansfield Studies Volume 7

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Editors Claire Davison, Gerri Kimber and Todd Martin

© editorial matter and organisation Claire Davison, Gerri Kimber and Todd Martin, 2015 © the chapters their several authors, 2015 Edinburgh University Press Ltd The Tun – Holyrood Road, 12(2f) Jackson’s Entry, Edinburgh EH8 8PJ www.euppublishing.com Typeset in 10.5/12.5 New Baskerville by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire, and printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 1 4744 0038 1 (hardback) ISBN 978 1 4744 0039 8 (webready PDF) ISBN 978 1 4744 0774 8 (paperback) ISBN 978 1 4744 0775 5 (epub)

The right of Claire Davison, Gerri Kimber and Todd Martin to be identified as the editors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, and the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 (SI No. 2498).


List of Illustrations viii Acknowledgements ix Introduction 1 Claire Davison CRITICISM Parodic Translation: Katherine Mansfield and the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ Pseudonym Chris Mourant


‘Ginger Whiskers’ and ‘Glad-Eyes’: Translations of Katherine Mansfield’s Stories into Slovak and Czech Janka Kascakova


‘Into Unknown Country’: Cinematicity and Intermedial Translation in Mansfield’s Fictional Journeys Faye Harland


Unshed Tears: Meaning, Trauma and Translation Davide Manenti


‘Making a Stay in X’: Suppressing Translation in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ 76 Rachael Stanley ‘Nous ne suivons pas la même route’: Flaubertian Objectivity and Mansfield’s Representations of Travel Philip Keel Geheber Foreign Languages and Mother Tongues: From Exoticism to Cannibalism in Katherine Mansfield’s Short Stories Elisabeth Lamy-Vialle



Katherine Mansfield and Translation ‘Among Wolves’ or ‘When in Rome’?: Translating Katherine Mansfield 119 Gerri Kimber CREATIVE WRITING Poetry Jan Kemp: Côte-à-côte in Katherine Mansfield’s Heart


Iain Britton: Three Sonnets from a Poetical Work entitled ‘K’


Riemke Ensing: Another Exile Paints a Spring Portrait of Katherine Mansfield, with a commentary by Kathleen Jones 144 Short Stories Mandy Hager: Welcome to Paradise


Parineeta Singh: An Invitation to Dinner


Aimee Gasston: Beau Champ


CRITICAL MISCELLANY ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’ by Tennessee Williams Gerri Kimber


Dorothy Brett’s Umbrellas (1917) Frances Spalding


REVIEWS J. Lawrence Mitchell: Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, eds, The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield Andrew Harrison: Anne Fernihough, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism Rishona Zimring: H. S. Ede, Savage Messiah: A Biography of the Sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska


183 189 191

Contents Sarah Sandley: Maurizio Ascari, Cinema and the Imagination in Katherine Mansfield’s Writing Jessica Gildersleeve: Tammy Clewell, ed., Modernism and Nostalgia: Bodies, Locations, Aesthetics Irina Kogel: Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock, eds, Russia in Britain, 1880–1940: From Melodrama to Modernism Priyasha Mukhopadhyay: Anna Snaith, Modernist Voyages: Colonial Women Writers in London, 1890–1945 Galya Diment: Claire Davison, Translation as Collaboration: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S. S. Koteliansky Notes on Contributors

193 195 196 199 202 205


List of Illustrations

Frontispiece. Photo of Katherine Mansfield with companion (Jinnie Fullerton), c. 1920. John Middleton Murry Collection, PA1-o-1791-23, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ, with kind permission.


Figure 1. Typescript page of Tennessee Williams’s ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’. Tennessee Williams Collection, Box 29, Folder 8. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, with kind permission.




The editors would like to thank Professor Maurizio Ascari, who devoted a considerable amount of time to assessing the submissions for this volume, alongside the editors. The editors would also like to thank Manchester City Galleries for permission to use Dorothy Brett’s painting ‘Umbrellas’ as the cover image for this volume, and the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, for permission to reproduce the frontispiece photograph of Katherine Mansfield in Menton. They would also like to thank the following organisations and individuals: The Open University; The University of Northampton; The Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, and in particular Rick Watson, Head of Reference Services, for permission to reprint Tennessee Williams’s ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’.


Also available in the series: Katherine Mansfield and Continental Europe Edited by Delia da Sousa Correa and Gerri Kimber Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 1 Katherine Mansfield and Modernism Edited by Delia da Sousa Correa, Gerri Kimber and Susan Reid Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 2 Katherine Mansfield and the Arts Edited by Delia da Sousa Correa, Gerri Kimber and Susan Reid Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 3 Katherine Mansfield and the Fantastic Edited by Delia da Sousa Correa, Gerri Kimber, Susan Reid and Gina Wisker Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 4 Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial Edited by Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber and Delia da Sousa Correa Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 5 Katherine Mansfield and World War One Edited by Gerri Kimber, Todd Martin, Delia da Sousa Correa, Isobel Maddison and Alice Kelly Katherine Mansfield Studies, Volume 6

Frontispiece. Photo of Katherine Mansfield with companion (Jinnie Fullerton), c. 1920. John Middleton Murry Collection, PA1-o-1791-23, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ, with kind permission.


Introduction Claire Davison

Writing to her father from the Gurdjieff Institute only weeks before she died, Katherine Mansfield announced delightedly, ‘One very pleasant thing here is that I have to speak Russian consistently and shall I hope get as fluent in it as I am in French and German. After that I should like to rub up my Italian. Languages fascinate me.’1 Even allowing for her putting on a perky voice to please her parents, or perhaps to convince herself that a medical cure could still be found, there is no mistaking the sparkling sincerity when expressing her passion for languages. Mansfield was doubtless one of the most multilingual artists of her London-based peers, delighting not only in foreign language acquisition, but also in the unexpected tensions and discrepancies of shifting language-codes which do not quite match, and in the pitch and rhythm of dialects, sociolects and idiolects. Her writing deftly captures all of these – whether in sparkling, polyphonic stories, in scribbled notes to herself in her notebooks, or in the comic patter and theatricalised dialogism of her letters. Such a fascination with the peculiar expressivity of languages as they cross borders or transgress their own rules from within is an ideal example of what Arno Renken calls ‘the pleasures of Babel’.2 In his rich, challenging work, Renken revisits the founding myth of ­translation – the story of the tower in Genesis, in which mankind is supposedly punished for over-ambition by having its common language confiscated and replaced by an array of mismatched tongues to impede all future understanding. Deconstructing consequent representations of translation as inevitably condemned to a derivative, impure or reduced status, Renken rereads Babel and the now-classic essay by Walter Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, alongside works by contemporary philosophers such as Derrida and Deleuze to insist that the proliferations of language are one of h ­ umanity’s great 1

Katherine Mansfield and Translation t­reasures, ­guaranteeing the after-lives of literary works when they are shared, reread and recreated through translation.3 There has been a wealth of scholarly studies over the past decade similarly reinstating translation theory and praxis within the cross-­ cultural, transpositional energies of the modernist era, to reveal vibrant interlinks between modernist formal experimentation, cross-national cultural networks and transnational political thinking. Taking translation metaphorically, critics have underlined the narrative strategies common to the specifically transitional dynamics of cosmopolitanism in its inclination to think across border zones and beyond the immediate remit of the known. They have shown figures of the stranger and the foreigner being cast within the experimental poetics of modernism, making the link between linguistic tropes of mastery and uncertainty, and the experience of exile. Similarly, stylisations of empathy in modernist aesthetics have been reassessed as extensions or new ‘translations’ of the self via shared subjectivities, decentred ventriloquism and displaced points of view, positionings which are not merely familiar to, but constitute the prerequisites of, the translator.4 Such processes are directly consonant not only with modernist translational, transpositional motifs and explicit translation theory, but also with modernist writers’ own interest in translation as practice. Modernist translation endeavours were frequently experimental and tentative, often involving partly unknown languages or partly collaborative, translational rewriting.5 The fascination exercised by translating was boosted by previously unknown textual sources being brought into the European capitals by new waves of émigrés and refugees, whether those desperately escaping pogroms and repression, and who might take to scraping a living as translators when they first arrived, or exiled revolutionaries who actively sought to disseminate political and literary texts to further their own causes. Little magazines and new presses then had a determinative role to play in the promotion and circulation of often experimental or unconventional literary or paraliterary texts, which more mainstream publishers were reluctant to back. To cite but the most familiar names for Mansfield scholars, the Hogarth Press, the Athenaeum and Rhythm offered unprecedented broad coverage of foreign texts and authors, either in translated versions or in the source language, on the presumption that readers could be relied upon to translate materials for themselves. It is well worth flicking through the early Hogarth catalogues or leafing through the pages of Rhythm to appreciate just how determinedly internationalist they were, and how keen to explore various forms of code-switching, whether between languages or between different 2

Introduction modes of artistic expression – music, graphic design, illustrations, mixed materiality, montage. Such a potted survey of modernism’s translational energies underlines not only how timely but also how positively urgent it is that Mansfield scholars take up the challenge of revisiting her life, poetics and after-lives in terms of translation. After all, the concepts that recur in contemporary translation theory – alteration, pseudonymity, defamiliarisation, refraction, dissidence, oscillation, outsidedness and otherness, to name but some – have long been identified as key features of Mansfield’s writing. If translation is conceived as both an acute experience and a vivid expression of liminality, and if modernism is henceforth conceived in translational terms, then Mansfield emerges not only as a typical modernist, but perhaps the quintessential modernist. First of all, she was herself a proficient translator and co-translator. As the much-awaited third volume of her Collected Works now makes clear, Mansfield did not just engage sporadically in a little translation; previously unpublished materials show an immense and largely unexplored œuvre translated from French, Russian (in collaboration with Koteliansky, a professional translator as well as a dear friend) and Polish (in collaboration with her erstwhile lover, Floryan Sobieniowski), and includes authors as influential in her own literary apprenticeship as Dostoevsky and Chekhov.6 Mansfield was also a passionate reader of foreign literatures in ­translation – the single example of a book of Chinese poetry cited in a letter indeed speaks volumes: ‘Oh, how lovely these Chinese poems are! I shall carry them about with me as a kind of wavy branch all day to hide behind – a fan.’7 Mansfield often undertook her foreign readings when reviewing the books professionally. Here, too, Volume 3 of Collected Works is a treasure trove, bringing together all her known reviews, which cover fifteen works read either in translation or directly in the foreign tongue. These reviews provide precious insights into her expectations and conceptualisations of translation, which again offer her readers explicit indications about her own convictions and ethics as a writer. Reviewing a new collection of translated Bohemian poetry, for example, she takes issue with the translator’s admission that translated poetry was condemned to be a pale imitation; she affirms, ‘there is no reason whatever why a translation should be a “paper rose without perfume or colour”’.8 Mansfield’s model is a sensually alert mode of translation, drawing not only on visual, tactile and olfactory metaphors, but also on notions of musical interpretation, cadence and tone. She thereby offers a strong case for reading translations via shifts and transformations of affect, and as alternative, new performances of older works, rather than derivative 3

Katherine Mansfield and Translation approximations. This inevitably invites the Mansfield scholar today to reconsider Mansfield’s translation as praxis, and her conceptions of translation in alliance with her outspoken definitions of her art as a writer, reciting her works aloud ‘just as one would play over a musical composition’ to ensure that the rise and fall of her syntax would sound right.9 Another direct link between her activities as a writer and her approach to translation, again confirming how avant-garde she was in her own times, is to be found when she tackles themes such as foreignness and unknown geographies in English fiction,10 or what the English language lacks if approached monolingually. Reviewing a novel by Galsworthy, for example, she wonders ‘what would have been the reception of these books had they appeared as translations from the Russian, the Norwegian, or the Dutch?’11 She goes on to claim that the experience of reading as a foreigner makes one far more alert and responsive, an attitude diametrically opposed to the traditional belief that translations should inspire a sense of comfortable, domesticated ease: ‘Perhaps, at last, this passion for foreign travel will have its influence upon our behaviour at home.’12 Such displaced metaphors of familiarity and belonging show her insisting on all that England and the English stood to gain and to learn by encountering foreignness with less complacency and more curiosity. She was certainly speaking from experience: Mansfield’s restless life was largely lived in translation, whether as a New Zealander abroad, as an Anglophone in continental Europe or as a traveller between languages, countries and homes deciphering the networks of signs around her: place names, contemporary idioms, literary symbols, marketing brands and political slogans. The way Mansfield constantly, almost compulsively, changes place can be conceived as a thirst for cultural translation that is also a translation of the mind; exuberantly experimental translational poetics are always partly aestheticising the drifting randomness and vulnerability of not belonging. Her cosmopolitan lifestyle, recurrently crossing borders and confronting foreign codes, then provides the raw materials (we might say the source text), which will be ‘translated’ into fictional modes. A large number of stories, diary entries and anecdotes in letters can be read as allegories of translation. They home in on the solitude of the individual lost in time or space, where dreams and lived experience intermingle, and where an anonymous narrating ‘I’ reflects on names, the process of naming, the arbitrariness of identities, the sound of foreign voices and echoes from the past. Many of her characters, like alternative selves, settle only in temporary resting places: cafés, hotels, trains, cars, rented bedrooms and borrowed apartments. Mansfield’s literary, fictional selves are often figures of self4

Introduction estrangement, where language, consciousness, geography and time are always more than one, but never quite two. Here, too, the sense of being adrift is ‘translated’ into formal and typographical modes. Any reader leafing through Mansfield’s letters, notebooks or fiction will be struck by what Anna Smith calls the ‘islands of italic type that float in the text’13 – traces of perfectly or imperfectly translated linguistic codes hovering on the verges of comprehensibility, comedy and estrangement. A writer can also have a whole panoply of varied, although not always enviable, after-lives in translation, and here, too, Mansfield is a case in point. If we take translation in the three-fold acceptation first established by Roman Jakobson, these include the intralingual translations her works inspire as new writers in English recast and revisit her works in novels and poetry of their own, often involving different space and time frames. They include classic, interlingual translations which shape her cultural reception and literary after-life in foreign languages and cultures. And finally, there are the intersemiotic or transmedial translations, such as adaptations for cinema, song or the visual arts.14 In each case, there is a cultural, historiographical or ideological story to eke out, explaining the context and circumstances in which the translation occurred. Certain examples of such transformative effects can be quite chilling. A quick overview of her European reception in the 1940s and 1950s, for instance, shows her being heralded as both a modest, saintly wife and literary miniaturist in Vichy France, and a perceptive socialist realist in Soviet Russia, to cite but two of the more extreme cases of reappropriation and rewriting lurking behind the supposedly neutral activity of translation.15 Many of these rich variations on translational motifs are explored in this volume of Katherine Mansfield Studies, be it in the eight critical essays, the critical miscellany, the creative section or even in the reviews section. As all the authors show, in a multitude of ways, Mansfield can truly be said to be both lost, and found, in translation. The first essay is the prize-winning contribution by Chris Mourant, which, as the judges’ panel unanimously agreed, is a remarkable piece of detective scholarship. Mourant explores the pseudonym ‘Boris Petrovsky’, which Mansfield used in Rhythm for a series of poems claiming to be translated from the Russian. Taking conventional etiquettes such as ‘pastiche’, ‘performance’ and ‘parody’ as incipient clues rather than loose labels, Mourant charts out a fascinating contextual history to suggest why Mansfield chose this particular name for these particular poems. His enquiry includes a very materialist take on the poems, reading them individually and as an œuvre alongside their fellow publications in Rhythm, and in terms of textual layout and the genre of various regular 5

Katherine Mansfield and Translation columns. He shows that while the Petrovsky poems may indeed be part of a game which enabled Mansfield to ‘experiment with writing in a different national register and to practise a certain kind of self-fashioning’ (p. 16), they are also explicitly political undertakings predicated on multiple non-identities. Mourant’s subtle, yet methodical approach thus attributes relevance to Mansfield’s parodic, refractory translations within various constellations of cultural nationalism being pursued by minority dissident movements in Central Europe. The second essay of the collection shows divided identities at work in what Mourant refers to as ‘oscillations’ between ‘likeness and strangeness’, which, in the first essay, resonated through performances of translated poetry from Central Europe. In the second case, we are invited to consider the transpositions which occur when the journey is in the other direction: when Mansfield’s work is taken to Central Europe. Drawing on contemporary translations of Mansfield’s stories into Czech and Slovak, including her own, Janka Kascakova provides an enlightening, practical illustration of the political, contextual, sociological and linguistic negotiations by which the translator is bound, and the astonishing blend of voices in performance that the new work inevitably perpetuates and refracts. One very astute achievement here is her ability to guide the reader through linguistic subtleties in Slovak – inflection, grammatical gender, morphology and syntax – no matter how unversed the reader may be in the languages she is discussing. The various obstacles Kascakova contended with as her translations advanced – punning and derision in ‘Je ne parle pas français’, class-consciousness in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, and intermedial suggestivity in titles such as ‘Prelude’ or ‘Pictures’, for instance – underline how much translation is, first and foremost, an exercise in close-reading and textual analysis. In this respect, the essay also foregrounds, in fine Mansfieldian fashion, all that English readers can gain by also experiencing the ­stories through the prism of foreignness. The third essay shifts to interrelated questions of transition and transposition within the framework of Mansfield’s cinematographic ­ awareness and new means of transport. Faye Harland very deftly shows the consonance between new modes of visuality in the early twentieth century, tropes such as displacement, defamiliarisation and liminality in modernist fiction, and the conversion, or translation, of sensory experience into concrete word forms. Close textual analysis provides vivid illustrations of such intermedial shifts, and invites new ways not only of reading Mansfield’s stories but also of relating them to essential dynamics in modernist poetics. Landscapes seen from a train window and apprehended as ‘choreographed shows’ in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, for 6

Introduction example, are presented as allegories of spectatorship, seen from both points of view – that of the traveller looking out, and that of bystanders outside, looking on. Harland likewise interprets the protagonist’s misreadings of time, place and cause in terms of transitionality and transition, pointing to the link between the impossibility of translating and the unspeakable realities of war. She thus makes a fine case for reading Mansfield’s works as ‘a form of translation, both in its intermedial transposing of images into words and, in a more figurative sense, in its explorations of the in-between or untranslatable status of women, expatriates and other marginalised groups’ (p. 61). The next essay in the collection, by Davide Manenti, builds on the same dialogue between fictional tropes and translational praxis that was found in Kascakova’s essay, while also establishing a link between the unspeakable and language performance. In this case, ‘The Life of Ma Parker’ is read as a form of witnessing, which Manenti explores in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis. He links up instances of disorderly language in the story – point of view, stumbling articulation, repetition and imagery – as symptoms which shows the disordered mind struggling to face up to traumatic events and stress. Manenti links the interpretation of verbal signs which transpose and record performances of what cannot be said to what he suggests is the greatest pitfall in translation: the temptation to understand too much: the desire, in other words, to appropriate and explain meaning – to rationalise, clarify, and ennoble meaning. By comparing his own translation strategies to those of other Italian translators of Mansfield, he highlights an essential ethical dimension of translation and textual reception. If ‘The Life of Ma Parker’ is shown to be a subtle performance of suppressed trauma, Rachael Stanley’s essay makes a subtle case for reading ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ as repressed emotion. Repression in this story can refer to both the repressed realities of war which the jaunty narrative voice feigns to ignore, and the secret delights of illicit passion. The essay offers a careful study of various levels of disguise, performance, fantasy and self-disidentification in and around the story. These range from the contextual macro-narrative (Mansfield’s own journey to Gray and her affair with Carco, recounted in letters and notebooks) to the linguistic micro-text (the use of French, partly translated idioms, and attributed speech that, in mimetic terms, cannot have been spoken). In Stanley’s piecing together of retrospective story-writing, self-­fantasising fictions and self-censoring confessions, France and the French language become partly unreal, fantasy spaces in which a narrator can both spin out and deny real and fictional outcomes, while allowing the ­biographical subject to satirise her former desires. 7

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Clearly, there is a mischievous link in Mansfield’s art between language games and eroticism. Philip Keel Geheber also traces a speculative, three-way mesh of overlaps between the notebooks, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ and French passions, but this time via intertextual resonances derived from the seminal French novel of adultery, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. The focus in this case, as in the essay by Harland, is on ‘representations of travel’ and means of transport transformed via intermedial translations into a ‘transpositional aesthetic’ (p. 101). As Geheber shows, records of travel and traversed space show Mansfield transposing materiality into recollection, experience into story, Flaubertian motifs into fictional patterns of her own, and sensory experience into textuality. The operative Flaubertian motif is the love scene in Madame Bovary, when Emma and Léon have an amorous encounter in a horse-drawn cab in the centre of Rouen, which the distant narrative voice renders with an exquisite blend of compassion and cynical irony. Working from a series of striking parallels between this ardent excursion, Mansfield’s escapade and her narrator’s under-cover journey from the station in Gray, the essay extends the potential intertextual echoes to show a whole constellation of Bovaryesque allusions running from Flaubert to Mansfield, and from his fictional ambitions to hers. The seventh essay also observes motifs of travelling, transition and border zones, but focuses less on the figure of the traveller than on the quirks of language as it changes place and unsettles habits. Elisabeth Lamy-Vialle addresses the question of foreign inserts, particularly those foreignised anew by linguistic distortion, and how these are experienced differently by Anglophone and Francophone readers. Contemporary French philosophers, notably Deleuze, Derrida, Lecercle and Wismann, are invoked to make sense of shifts between ‘the other’s other tongue’, such as the mispronounced interjections ‘Allez vite’ rendered ‘Allie, veet’ in ‘The Young Girl’, or ‘Allay’ in ‘Honeymoon’, or ‘Vous avez voo ça’ in ‘The Man Without a Temperament’. Like Kascakova in the second essay, Lamy-Vialle picks out the troubling ‘ginger-whiskers’ episode between Raoul and the waiter in ‘Je ne parle pas français’, reading it as an example of linguistic cannibalism working its way insidiously through the story via predatory images of eating and being eaten, made partly of fantasy, partly of the exile’s devastating fear of being swallowed up and devoured. From the predatory processes at work in ‘Je ne parle pas français’ in particular and literatures of non-belonging in general, we pass to the manipulatory processes of literary reception and assimilation in the final essay of the collection. Looking at Mansfield’s literary afterlife in translation in France, Gerri Kimber shows that, deliberately or 8

Introduction ­ nwittingly, translators had their part to play in the national reappropriu ation of Mansfield as a delicate heroine writing poised tales, by regularly writing out Mansfield’s wit, satire, irony and double entendre. Examples include many of the scenes pinpointed in earlier essays in this volume – the haughtily refined nurse in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, the mincing exchange between Raoul and the waiter in ‘Je ne parle pas français’, the self-centred unctuousness of Reginald Peacock. Time and again, we see essential features of Mansfield’s style – her idiosyncratic voice, musical cadence, vivid character traits and heightened emotional states – disappearing in favour of a flowing, elegant voice, where the narrator is always more intrusive, more sober and more in control. As Kimber observes, ‘The reintroduction of this humour into the translations would do much to introduce a saner, more down-to-earth, comical writer to the French reading public’ (p. 135) and one can only hope that this challenge to would-be translators will be taken up in the near future. Taken literally and metaphorically, the expressive and suggestive richness of translation is such that all the subsequent sections of the book merit reading as fine extensions of the translational motif. As Kathleen Jones notes in her commentary on Riemke Ensing’s poetry, ‘Mansfield is the ultimate “writers’ writer” – there is always some aspect of her life and work we can connect with’, and the examples of these connections here are indeed intersemiotic, transpositional variations on translation. Jan Kemp gives us a glimpse of Mansfield’s comic verve in a poetic diptych built on double-angled, code-switching appeals in dialogue, while the extracts from Iain Britton’s poems offer resonances of ‘Bliss’, echoes of Maori, and aspects of her biography recast in today’s world. A similar transposition in time provides the frame for Riemke Ensing’s painting in words made of snippets of Mansfield’s highly visual prose, as one exile addresses another. Mansfieldian poetics of displacement and unbelonging similarly provide the aesthetic framework for Mandy Hager’s story, which also revisits ‘Je ne parle pas français’, this time from the perspective of a contemporary woman. Parineeta Singh meanwhile recasts ‘Bliss’ in the form of a married man’s story, while Aimee Gasston offers us a prose-poem with a feel of jazz improvisations playing with the Beau Champ / Beauchamp echoes of a French name taken literally. Last but certainly not least, the editors of this book are particularly proud to be able to include the first publication of Tennessee Williams’s play fragment based on scenes from D. H. Lawrence, Frieda, Murry and Mansfield’s tumultuous attempt at communal living in Cornwall, accompanied by Gerri Kimber’s presentation and contextual 9

Katherine Mansfield and Translation notes. The manuscript came to light unexpectedly while Kimber leafed her way through some old card catalogues at the Harry Ransom Center in the summer of 2014, a resounding proof, if ever proof were needed, that Mansfield’s after-lives can continue to surprise and delight readers, scholars and archivists today. Another eloquent example of this is the book’s cover – a little-known painting by Dorothy Brett, which includes Murry and Mansfield among guests in Ottoline Morrell’s garden. Frances Spalding has contributed a much-appreciated contextualisation of the picture, subtly reminding readers that, for all its idyllic hues, the Garsington setting was an essential escape from war, while Brett’s painting is set at a remove which is also that of a lone woman enclosed in her deafness. From first to last, the volume thus shows that translations and transpositions are dynamic creations, but they are also essential refractions of the upheavals and violence of the modernist world. Notes   1. Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 5 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984–2008), Vol. 5, p. 317. Hereafter referred to as Letters, followed by volume and page number.   2. Arno Renken, Babel heureuse: Pour lire la traduction (Paris: Van Dieren, 2012).   3. Renken, pp. 241–54.  4. See, for example, Julia Kristeva, Etrangers à nous-mêmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1991); Rebecca Walkowitz, Cosmopolitan Style – Modernism Beyond the Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006); Jessica Berman, Modernist Commitments. Ethics, Politics, and Transnational Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Sarah Wilson, Melting-Pot Modernism (Ithaca, NY, London: Cornell University Press, 2010).  5. See, for example, Stephen Yao’s Translation and the Languages of Modernism (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002). A broader historiographical approach to literary translation can be found in Daniel Weissbort and Astradur Eysteinsson’s Translation – Theory and Practice. A Historical Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).   6. Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, eds, Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield, Vol. 3: The Poetry and Critical Writings (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014). A review of this volume is to be found on pages 181–7.  7. Letters, 2, p. 220.   8. Kimber and Smith, p. 436.  9. Letters, 4, p. 165. 10. See, for example, ‘A Backward Glance’, pp. 492–5; ‘Butterflies’, pp. 587–8; or ‘The Magic Door’, pp. 687–91, in Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, eds, The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014). 11. Kimber and Smith, pp. 719–20. 12. Kimber and Smith, p. 720. 13. Anna Smith, ‘Cold Brains and Birthday Cake: The Art of “Je ne parle pas français”’, in Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays, ed. by Gerri Kimber and Janet Wilson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 158–71. Rachel Stanley expands on the same image in her essay; see page 89.


Introduction 14. See Roman Jakobson’s essay ‘On Linguistic Aspects of Translation’, in Language and Literature, ed. by Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), p. 429. 15. For detailed coverage of these two extreme forms of translation as appropriation, see Gerri Kimber, Katherine Mansfield: The View from France (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008) and Joanna Woods, Katerina: The Russian World of Katherine Mansfield (Auckland: Penguin, 2001).



Parodic Translation: Katherine Mansfield and the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ Pseudonym Chris Mourant

When Katherine Mansfield first began publishing in Rhythm in the spring of 1912, she contributed a short story set in the backblocks of New Zealand, ‘The Woman at the Store’, together with two poems ‘Translated from the Russian of Boris Petrovsky’.1 These were fake translations, written by Mansfield herself. ‘Boris Petrovsky’ was the first pseudonym Mansfield used in Rhythm, a nom de plume that she returned to on four other occasions in the magazine. And the mask continues to trick readers. As recently as 2009, in his chapter on Rhythm in the first volume of The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Peter Brooker inaccurately observed: ‘translations, probably by Mansfield, of poems by Boris Petrovsky served, once more, to confirm the magazine’s internationalism’.2 The confusion most likely arises out of the fact that Mansfield’s poetry, in comparison to her prose, has received very little critical attention; whereas the pseudonymous prose pieces she contributed to Rhythm have all been republished and examined extensively, the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ poems remain relatively obscure in Mansfield’s œuvre. Mansfield scholars tend to agree with Gerri Kimber that the ‘reason for the Russian-sounding pseudonym is unclear’.3 Comparatively, the other pseudonyms used by Mansfield in Rhythm can be easily identified, and we can readily account for the reasons for their use. The surname of ‘Lili Heron’ refers to the middle name of Mansfield’s brother and the idealised family home of the ‘Heron’ that she later imagined after his death, with the connotations of innocence attached to the lily flower reflecting the content of the two stories in which Mansfield used the pseudonym, ‘How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped’ and ‘The Little Girl’. Similarly, the nickname ‘The Tiger’, which Mansfield shared with the principal editor of Rhythm, John Middleton Murry, provided her with a ferocious persona that resonated with the magazine’s focus on les Fauves 15

Katherine Mansfield and Translation (the wild beasts) and evoked the eat-or-be-eaten world of the London literati depicted in ‘Sunday Lunch’.4 Why did Mansfield choose the ‘Russian-sounding’ pseudonym of ‘Boris Petrovsky’? What are the possible origins of this imagined name? And why did she decide to frame these poems as fraudulent ‘translations’? In this article, I argue that the Petrovsky poems can be categorised as ‘parodic translations’ which can be situated against very specific publishing and political-historical contexts. Employing the Petrovsky pseudonym, Mansfield associated her work with the ‘minor literatures’ of Eastern Europe, opening up a liminal space in her poetry contributions to Rhythm in which she was able to reflect upon the ambivalence of her own cultural nationalism. * * * In the first instance, the persona of ‘Boris Petrovsky’ enabled Mansfield to experiment with writing in a different national register and to practise a certain kind of self-fashioning. As Faith Binckes has argued, this serves as a reminder that the ‘internationalism’ that Brooker identifies as integral to Rhythm ‘was also about image and performance’.5 In May 1912, Mansfield exhibited her proclivity towards everyday performance when she travelled to Paris in order to meet the cosmopolitan writers and artists who made up the body of contributors to the magazine. The American artist Anne Estelle Rice later recalled that Mansfield presented herself as ‘a compelling and vivid personality’ by first cultivating the image of the ‘stranger, the girl from New Zealand’.6 On her second meeting with Mansfield, however, Rice was forced to adjust this initial impression of a settled national identity: We had a rendezvous at the ‘Closerie des Lilas’ and, at the appointed time, and after a brief search, I saw a woman in a black cloak, wearing a black turban with a white fez; only the yashmak was missing. A hasty adjustment to a new acquaintance had to be made, for this was Katherine Mansfield’s fez day. [. . .] Dressing-up was a very important part of Katherine Mansfield’s imaginative nature. She enjoyed being Katoushka in a peasant’s costume of brilliant colour – yards and yards of it – convincingly using a few Russian words to give local colour; or a femme fatale with a sequin scarf around her head, and a long black dress, sinuously reclining on a sofa. Many were the changes.7

This penchant for ‘dressing-up’ is materially imprinted on the pages of Rhythm in the many pseudonyms Mansfield used for her contributions. As the quotation above highlights, Mansfield readily identified with Russia, calling herself at various times ‘Katoushka’, ‘Katerina’, 16

Criticism ‘Yekaterina’ and ‘Katya’. The ‘Boris Petrovsky’ pseudonym was part of this multiplication. In the first instance, therefore, Mansfield’s use of the pseudonym was linked to the performance and projection of a shifting authorial identity that enabled her to experiment with a new mode of writing and to forge a position for herself within the international avant-garde promoted by Rhythm. Russia occupied a central place within this vision of the avant-garde. In the same issue of Rhythm in which the first Petrovsky poems were printed, as Caroline Maclean has observed, an article on Kandinsky by Michael Sadler (later Sadleir) ‘positioned the magazine at the heart of a new spiritually-inflected Russian aesthetics’.8 Likewise, in review articles and illustrative contributions, Rhythm consistently focused on the productions of the Ballets Russes, which offered a model of a crossdisciplinary and thoroughly international artistic community that the magazine sought to emulate. Also printed in Rhythm are lithographs by the Russian ‘neo-primitives’ Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, as well as a translation of prose by the Russian writer Leonid Andreev. And, once she became assistant editor from the fifth issue of the magazine, Mansfield used her personal contacts to secure a correspondent for Russia, Michael Lykiardopoulos, secretary to the directors of the Moscow Art Theatre.9 Against this context, Mansfield’s translations ‘from the Russian’ were entirely apposite. Among Mansfield’s other contributions to Rhythm is a story that is highly evocative of Chekhov, titled ‘Spring in a Dream’, and a set of three stories under the collective title ‘Tales of a Courtyard’ that reflect the contemporary vogue for Dostoevsky, with one of the characters even named ‘Feodor’ in a clear allusion to the novelist.10 Similarly, Frank Harris contributed a short story to the magazine titled ‘The Holy Man (After Tolstoi)’, a version of Tolstoy’s ‘The Three Hermits’. This highlights the fact that the magazine’s ‘internationalism’ was consistently based upon ‘image and performance’; with the exception of the translation from Andreev, ‘Russian’ prose contributions to Rhythm were all simulated versions of a perceived national style. Again, therefore, Mansfield’s fake translations ‘from the Russian’ were fitting entries into Rhythm, projecting a constructed image of the magazine’s internationalism. There was a more immediate publication context that informed the Petrovsky poems, however. In an introduction to an expanded edition of Mansfield’s poems that he published in 1930, Murry recalled: I remember her telling me when we first met that the beautiful pieces now gathered together as ‘Poems, 1911–13’ had been refused, because


Katherine Mansfield and Translation they were unrhymed, by the only editor who used to accept her work. He wanted her to write nothing but satirical prose. This treatment made her very reserved about her verses. Those she published in Rhythm appeared as translations from an imaginary Russian called Boris Petrovsky.11

The attempt at subtlety here fails completely; it would have been known to all that the ‘editor’ to whom Murry refers was A. R. Orage, editor of the New Age, the political weekly in which Mansfield printed the ‘Pension Sketches’ that comprised her first short story collection. The poems Mansfield published under the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ pseudonym were directly influenced by translations printed in the New Age from May 1911 by the multilingual Paul Selver, whose first contributions appeared in the same issue of the periodical as Mansfield’s story ‘A Birthday’. These four poems were grouped under the title ‘Poems from the Slavonic’ and were all translations from the Czech verse of Petr Bezruc. Mansfield scholars have long recognised Selver’s translations as a direct source of influence for her Petrovsky poems.12 What I want to suggest here is that Selver’s first contributions to the New Age also provided Mansfield with the pseudonym of ‘Boris Petrovsky’; she reverses the initials of Petr Bezruc, then uses the Christian name of ‘Petr’ for the surname ‘Petrovsky’, both of which derive from ‘Petros’, meaning ‘the rock’.13 Moreover, ‘Petrovsky’ is a locational name specific to Poland.14 As such, Mansfield’s ‘translations’ clearly referenced the many ‘Polish Fragments’ published in the New Age by Selver.15 These allusions to Selver’s translations suggest that Mansfield first intended the Petrovsky poems to be included in the regular ‘Pastiche’ section at the back of the New Age, to which she contributed on several other occasions.16 Whilst the Petrovsky poems were Mansfield’s own creations, therefore, they were also intended to be read as imitations, with all the exaggeration that their categorisation as ‘Pastiche’ facilitated. Once these poems are removed from this context, by being framed as Mansfield’s own ‘Poems, 1911–13’, for example, they become radically different texts. David Lloyd’s study of James Clarence Mangan and the emergence of Irish cultural nationalism provides a useful framework for interpreting Mansfield’s Petrovsky ‘translations’. Lloyd notes that the ‘vast majority of Mangan’s writings go under the name of translation’ and that a significant proportion of these can, in turn, be classified as ‘fraudulent translations’; these include poems purporting to be translated from German that Mangan ‘attributed to the pseudonymic poets “Selber” (self) and “Drechsler” (turner, or, more appropriately, elaborator)’.17 These fake translations foreground ‘the problem, familiar enough in the study of translations, of demarcating borderlines in the continuum 18

Criticism between original poems and “perversions,” and between “perversions” and “faithful translations”’.18 As such, they challenge the ‘ideal that the translated text should in some sense or other be the “equivalent” of the source text’: The notion of ‘equivalence’ is crucial to a theory of translation for which the central issue is the primacy of the original and the conservation of its authenticity in the secondary text which is its translation. [. . .] Such idealism, however, retains the trace of precisely what is at stake in translation generally speaking, that is, the fundamental opacity of one language to another, or their basic incommensurability. If two languages, let alone two cultures, are irreconcilably different, on what ground is one to measure the equivalence of translation to original? What common measure could begin to assess the value of the derived product in relation to the original to which it is supposed to be equivalent?19

Lloyd suggests that Mangan’s ‘distortive’ and ‘appropriative’ translations demand a completely different theory of translation, and he suggests André Lefevere’s concept of ‘refraction’ as an alternative.20 In particular, Lloyd applies the theory of translation outlined in Goethe’s West-östlichen Divan (West-Eastern Divan) to his analysis of Mangan’s writings. Goethe identifies ‘three epochs or stages of translation’: the first represents an initial encounter with the foreign text and its appropriation into familiar terms; the third, and highest, aspires to the ideal of equivalence, in which the translation supersedes the original text; in the imperfect, intermediate second epoch, the translator attempts to assume the position of the foreigner, but merely ends up appropriating and reproducing the foreign in their own sense.21 Lloyd observes that this concept of the second epoch bears some relation to Lefevere’s notion of non-equivalent ‘refraction’. The concept also gains ‘peculiar validity’ in the analysis of Mangan’s fraudulent translations ‘when it is observed that Goethe wishes to term that epoch “parodic, in the purest sense of the word”’.22 This conjunction of parody and translation is ‘singularly apposite’, Lloyd suggests, as both modes of writing are dependent upon original source material to which they refer.23 Unlike translations that aspire towards equivalence, however: The parodic text is marked by its refusal ever to supplant entirely the text on which it depends, so that no complete supersession of the original text takes place such as would finally reconstitute the parody or translation as itself an original. [. . .] [E]ven where the ideal of translation is to achieve an equivalence with the original so perfect, indeed, as to efface it, the inevitable failure to attain that ideal and to overcome cultural differences holds open the oscillation between likeness and strangeness that defines


Katherine Mansfield and Translation the peculiar aura of the parallel text. It is, of course, precisely insofar as they maintain the play of differences by emphasizing the persistence of a dependent relationship to an anterior text that parodic texts succeed in foregrounding reflection on the refractory and appropriative nature of all texts.24

What Lloyd terms ‘parodic translation’ encourages the reader to reflect upon the appropriative and refractory nature of all writing by holding open its own dependence upon and alterations to an anterior text.25 This becomes political because the ‘parodic translation’ displaces notions of originality and autonomy. Lloyd argues that the defining characteristic of any ‘major literature’ is that it ‘should be in some manner directed toward the production of an autonomous ethical identity for the subject’.26 This is exemplified by the Bildungsroman, whereby the individual achieves ethical autonomy through aesthetic education (Bildung). In Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Schiller argues that aesthetic education gives a finished form to both the modern subject and the modern State. In the Bildungsroman, as such, ‘self-­realisation’ becomes a reciprocal allegory for the realisation of a unified and rational political State, as examined in detail by critics such as Franco Moretti and Jed Esty.27 ‘Alongside the narrative representation of the attainment of autonomy’, Lloyd observes, ‘emerges the requirement that the work itself be autonomous, both self-contained and original’.28 As such, ‘formal development is seen as the measure of political maturity’.29 It is this logic that underpins Matthew Arnold’s pronouncements that the failure of ‘the Celtic races’ to reach a ‘sound and satisfying’ aesthetic marks their readiness to be subordinated to a ‘more politically, formatively, directed’ culture.30 In this way, Lloyd argues, notions of aesthetic originality and autonomy not only shape literary canons but also bolster the political imperatives of imperialism. Positioned outside or against the canon and imperial hegemony, the writers of ‘minor literature’ adopt literary strategies, such as parody, translation and citation, which are designed to challenge notions of originality and autonomy. What is common to all these strategies, Lloyd suggests, is the ‘perpetuation of non-identity’: a ‘refusal to ground the possibility of identity on the recovery of origins, a strategy that evokes a critique of that narrative paradigm of major literature, the reproduction of an original or essential identity at a higher and selfconscious level’.31 In the case of parodic translation, for instance, the ‘multiplication of ungrounded appearances becomes the stimulus to an assiduous cultivation of suspicion with regard to the formative (bildend) power of originality and authenticity’.32 This is at the heart of 20

Criticism the Irish cultural nationalism fostered by Mangan’s writings, as Lloyd perceives it; detached from any notion of an original or stable identity, Mangan’s parodic translations challenge both the ideal of equivalence and assumptions of imperial hegemony. This concept of ‘parodic translation’ is particularly pertinent to the Petrovsky poems. The translations by Paul Selver, first published in the New Age, were later collected in An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry (1912), which Mansfield reviewed for Rhythm. The first of the Petrovsky poems, titled ‘Very Early Spring’, is a parody of the significant number of ‘Bohemian’ poems that focus on nature and the seasons, such as Karel Cervinka’s ‘Yearning in Early Spring’, Fr. Kvapil’s ‘Spring Song’, Julius Zeyer’s ‘In Spring’ and Jaroslav Vrchlický’s ‘Spring Song’. The accompanying poem, ‘The Awakening River’, depicts gulls ‘mad-in-love with the river’, ‘[w]heeling and flying’ with ‘shining wings’ and ‘[c]rying the rapture of the boundless ocean’. This ‘translation’ parodies poems such as Eliška Krásnohorská’s ‘Song’ (‘ye boisterous flock of birds’) and Otakar Brezina’s ‘Dithyramb of the Worlds’ (‘On the shores of a river ecstatic, / That flies in the outstretched embrace / Of thine ocean!’).33 And ‘The Earth-Child in the Grass’, in which a young girl becomes one with the grass in death, achieving a kind of union with her ‘lover’ who lies with ‘the green blades pressed against his body’, clearly resembles Petr Bezruc’s ‘Who Will Take My Place?’ (‘Above me the grass, when my body decays’).34 Subsequently, Mansfield used the Petrovsky pseudonym for ‘To God the Father’ (discussed below) and for ‘Jangling Memory’ and ‘There Was a Child Once’, two poems obviously based upon her previous relationship with William Orton. These conform to the idea of ‘parodic translation’ in that the ‘translator’ has appropriated the foreign in order to reproduce it in her own sense. Mansfield scholars have long recognised the odd disjunction in these poems between the female voice and the male signature of ‘Boris Petrovsky’.35 This was a deliberate strategy employed by Mansfield in order to draw attention to the instability of each text, whereby the appropriation and refraction of a foreign poetic tradition in a new context increasingly obscures an identifiable and stable ‘author’ figure. Furthermore, the conflation of the autobiographical with the pseudonymous in ‘Jangling Memory’ and ‘There Was a Child Once’ gestures towards the way in which Mansfield utilised ‘Boris Petrovsky’ as a strategy for cultivating a certain poetic voice and style that could be transferred into verses penned under her own name. In December 1912, for example, ‘The Opal Dream Cave’ and ‘Sea’ (both signed ‘Katherine Mansfield’) were linked to the ‘new spiritually-inflected Russian aesthetics’ promoted in Rhythm when they were published directly alongside two lithographs by Goncharova 21

Katherine Mansfield and Translation based upon the religious polyptych that she had produced the previous year, titled ‘Picking Grapes’. Like the Russian ‘neo-primitive’ artists, Mansfield displays a fascination in these poems for rural traditions and pre-modern superstitions, focusing on the natural environment of ‘plains and forests’ as well as a ‘fairy’ seen in the delicacy of ‘snowflakes’, ‘thistledown’ and ‘a mote in a sunbeam’.36 If we can see ‘Katherine Mansfield’ behind the mask of ‘Boris Petrovsky’, therefore, the tropes of a ‘Russian’ aesthetic also clearly shaped the poems published in Rhythm under Mansfield’s own name. Mansfield’s poetry contributions to Rhythm conform to the idea of ‘parodic translation’ by defying the notion of a stable authorial identity. In the introduction to his anthology, for example, Selver observes that the name ‘Petr Bezruc’ was itself a pseudonym, ‘adopted by a postal official of Brünn in Moravia’, and that the poet’s personality, as a result, is ‘shrouded in a certain amount of mystery’.37 Mansfield’s pseudonym of ‘Boris Petrovsky’ was a variation upon a pseudonym, therefore: a multiplication of non-identity, in which the notion of an original and stable ‘author’ is continually deferred and displaced. In her review of Selver’s anthology, moreover, Mansfield critiques the ideal of equivalence: ‘It is a noble, highly cultivated language, of whose kinship Russia may well be proud. Its facility for representing the finest shades of thought renders it peculiarly adaptable to lyric poetry.’ Thus Mr Selver, speaking of the Bohemian language in the introduction to his anthology; and it is just this facility that makes his task of translation so extremely difficult. A good translation is not unlike a good reproduction of a drawing. It is dependent for success upon many of the same qualities – simple and sure treatment, directness of purpose, very clear treatment of the subject, preferably on a broad scale.38

Mansfield here highlights the main problem of translation: that the ‘finest shades of thought’ revealed in one language or culture cannot be communicated in the same way in another. The translation can never take the place of the source text. Instead, a good translation is like a ‘reproduction’ and is ‘dependent’; it can never be self-contained, original or autonomous. In the introduction to his anthology, by contrast, Selver observes: ‘As regards the translations themselves, they have been made as literal as possible, and the metres of the originals have been reproduced as far as the varying rhythms of the two languages permitted’ [my emphasis].39 Regarding the poems of Vileslav Hálek, moreover, Selver laments that ‘the contents of his verse are almost too fragile to endure the ordeal of transformation into another language. What in the original is tender 22

Criticism and sentimental appears almost grotesque and ridiculous when translated.’40 This attempt to force a ‘literal’ equivalence between different languages produces what Mansfield identifies as Selver’s ‘uneven labours’.41 Yet Mansfield finds ‘Bohemian poetry’, on the whole, ‘so vivid, its life so intense and sincere’: ‘it is the spirit of them which, to me, goes to the heart like the music of the Bohemian people, with the same ultimate and melancholy appeal’.42 Again, Mansfield uses the analogy of another artistic discipline to reflect her sense of what a ‘good translation’ should aspire to: it should be like a reproduction of a drawing or the music of a people, the trans-medial similes underscoring her emphasis on ‘trans’-lation as a creative practice that moves ‘between’ or ‘across’ languages and cultures. Rather than superseding the original text, Mansfield suggests, a good translation is the product of a refractory process that transforms both the source and target cultures; transformation is not an ‘ordeal’ for Mansfield, but the necessary process by which translation conveys the ‘spirit’ and ‘life’ of the source culture to a new audience in a new form, making an ‘appeal’ that ‘goes to the heart’. In her review of Selver’s anthology, Mansfield also demonstrates her awareness of how translation practices constitute the literary canon, observing: ‘the works of the more obscure writers – of men who have escaped the blessed tradition of the folk song, to express more consciously, perhaps, the “finest shades” – he [Selver] has failed to interpret’.43 As outlined above, ideals of originality and equivalence in translation are narrative paradigms of canonical ‘major literature’ that serve to reproduce imperial hegemony at the political level. Employing the double cipher of a pseudonym within a ‘translated’ text, Mansfield’s Petrovsky poems served to unsettle and undercut these ideals. Whilst these ‘translations’ parody the tropes of ‘Bohemian’ poetry, for example, none of them faithfully reproduces a single ‘original’. Framed in this way, these poems revel in the multiplication of non-identity and the absence of originals, illuminating the refractive reproducibility of translation more widely. As such, Mansfield’s fraudulent ‘translations’ become a subversive space in which she aligns her writing against the narrative paradigms of ‘major literature’ and the political paradigms of imperial hegemony. In creating the Petrovsky poems, Mansfield followed her own advice for writing translations: each poem is given a ‘simple and sure’ and ‘very clear treatment of the subject’ that generates a tonal resemblance to the parallel text. The apparent naivety and the formal simplicity of these poems, with their almost exclusive focus on nature and childhood, however, belie the fact that they were quite consciously positioned against very specific political-historical contexts. Imitating Selver’s translations, 23

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Mansfield aligned her work with poems originally written in western Slavonic languages, such as Czech, Polish, Slovakian and Hungarian. As Selver observes, these writers aimed ‘to kindle the spark of patriotism in the hearts of the people, and the nature of their poetry was in accordance with this plan’.44 Invariably, therefore, these poets pursued an agenda of cultural nationalism, in direct opposition to the imperial hegemonies of Prussia to the West and Russia to the East. In particular, Mansfield would have identified with the ‘Young Poland’ movement, spearheaded at the turn of the twentieth century by the poet, playwright, painter and designer Stanisław Wyspian´ski (1869–1907). Mansfield had first been introduced to the works and ideas of Wyspian´ski when she met the Polish critic and translator Floryan Sobieniowski whilst in Bavaria in 1909; through Mansfield, Sobieniowski became Rhythm’s correspondent for Poland in 1912, helping to secure agents for the magazine in Warsaw and Kraków. Sobieniowski’s portrait was printed in Rhythm midway through Mansfield’s ‘Spring in a Dream’, as if to underline the ‘Slavic’ inspiration of the story. And when Sobieniowski himself contributed to the magazine, it was with a biography of Wyspian´ski. Sobieniowski describes Wyspian´ski as the ‘creator of new values for the Polish consciousness’: ‘his literary creation had two “Leitmotiven” – one, the necessity for close connection with national tradition; the second, the awakening of independence’.45 Wyspian´ski’s innovations, Sobieniowski tells us, followed a ‘period of hateful servility’ when the ‘younger generation were taught that they must not speak of love for their home’ and when ‘the oppression of the victorious enemy and the depressing consciousness of their own weakness carried Polish thought along mistaken paths’.46 Wyspian´ski died in 1907 after a period of great civil unrest; following the failed revolution of 1905–6, the Polish Socialist Party had been founded and ‘openly set forth a program of Polish independence, formed battle squads, and engaged in a massive armed struggle against the Russian administration, police, and their collaborators’.47 Mansfield was well aware of this history. In 1909, for instance, she composed the poem that has become her most famous, ‘To Stanisław Wyspian´ski’, in which she declared: ‘I sing your praises, Magnificent warrior; I proclaim your triumphant battle.’48 As a locational name of Poland, the ‘Petrovsky’ pseudonym aligned Mansfield’s fake translations with this Polish tradition of patriotic resistance to the imperial hegemonies of Prussia and Russia. This is further underlined by the fact that Mansfield used the Petrovsky pseudonym to sign a poem contributed to Rhythm titled ‘To God the Father’, which Kimber has identified as having been directly inspired by a stainedglass window in Kraków designed by Wyspian´ski, titled ‘God the Father 24

Criticism – Let it Be’.49 Whilst Mansfield probably saw this design in reproduction, as Kimber also notes, it is entirely possible that she travelled with Sobieniowski to Poland in late 1909; in November, for example, she writes to her younger sister Jeanne to thank her for birthday money with which she had bought ‘a fat Polish dictionary with a green leather binding [which] goes about with me every day’.50 Mansfield’s attempts to learn Polish are corroborated by Sobieniowski in an introduction to a translation of ‘To Stanisław Wyspian´ski’ that he published in a Warsaw weekly in December 1910. Sobieniowski writes that Mansfield ‘decided to learn the Polish language’ after gaining ‘a superficial knowledge of our history’ and ‘literature from a few French, English and German translations’.51 He ends this introduction to Mansfield’s poem by observing that it reveals ‘there is only one common language for all human beings, understood in every geographical longitude and latitude – the language of action’.52 Mansfield looked to situate the Petrovsky poems within this revolutionary tradition of ‘action’ stretching beyond national borders and linguistic barriers, which explains why her ‘Polish’ poems are positioned as translations ‘from the Russian’. Many of the nationalist poets of Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries identified themselves first and foremost as Slavs, sharing a common culture with Russia that was integral to their own patriotism. As Selver observes of the Czech poet Eliška Krásnohorská, for instance: ‘Patriotism is the key-note of her poetry. She has shown her sympathy with the Slavonic cause in a practical manner by learning Russian and Polish.’53 Identification with the language and culture of Russia did not necessarily equate to support for its political regime, therefore. This was particularly the case following the quashed revolution of 1905, when many avant-garde artists, such as Sergei Diaghilev and Goncharova, left Russia to develop their art in more liberating environs, such as Paris. Through the Petrovsky poems, then, Mansfield identified her writing with a dissident tradition common to both Poland and Russia. It is quite possible, for example, that she intended the name ‘Petrovsky’ to echo the revolutionary ‘Petrashevsky Circle’, of which Dostoevsky had been a member and for which he had suffered exile in Siberia. Furthermore, when Mansfield contributed a parody of Gogol to the New Age in July 1912, she centred the narrative on an enigmatic female stranger, on the run from the Russian authorities, named Olga Petrovska.54 By using this name, giving a contrived feminine ending to the masculine name Petrovsky, Mansfield clearly identified her own writing with the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ poems published in Rhythm only a matter of weeks before. When contextualised against the ‘Boris Petrovsky’ pseudonym used in 25

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Rhythm, the Olga Petrovska character in ‘Green Goggles’ is revealed as a distorted self-portrait of Mansfield: the enigmatic and radical female stranger confronting an uncertain exile, the green goggles she wears symbolising her unique perspective on and perception of the world. Of the many masks used by Mansfield throughout her writing career, this is one that has gone entirely unnoticed by previous critics. What does this identification with the dissident political movements of Eastern Europe and Russia tell us about Mansfield’s own cultural nationalism? In his introduction to Mansfield’s ‘To Stanisław Wyspian´ski’, Sobieniowski writes: ‘The young English poetess who writes under the pseudonym of K. Mansfield, of Irish origin and French name – ­considered New Zealand her fatherland.’55 This includes a telling biographical inaccuracy: though Mansfield’s real name (Beauchamp) was indeed French, her ‘origin’ was not Irish. Whether this was a lie Mansfield fed to Sobieniowski or was his own creation, this description of Mansfield as Irish established her for a Polish readership as a writer motivated by the same cultural project as Wyspian´ski, one of resistance to imperial hegemony (Ireland / Britain, Poland / Russia). In ‘To Stanisław Wyspian´ski’, Mansfield writes: From the other side of the world, From a little island cradled in the giant sea bosom, From a little land with no history, (Making its own history, slowly and clumsily Piecing together this and that, finding the pattern, solving the problem, Like a child with a box of bricks), I, a woman, with the taint of the pioneer in my blood, Full of a youthful strength that wars with itself and is lawless, I sing your praises, Magnificent warrior; I proclaim your triumphant  battle.56

The repetition of ‘From’ in the poem emphasises a relational concept of space in which the ‘little island’ on ‘the other side of the world’ is clearly the denigrated half of the binary opposition. Moreover, the conventional simile infantilising the colony associates it with underdevelopment; New Zealand is devoid of a grand narrative, Mansfield suggests, its history being a ‘problem’ to be solved and pieced together. These associations demonstrate how ready Mansfield was to appropriate imperialist tropes denigrating the colony. By describing herself as having ‘the taint of the pioneer in [her] blood’, however, she both suggests personal culpability and subverts the received notion of imperial power as integrated. In singing the praises of the heroic Polish patriot, therefore, Mansfield highlights how her own cultural nationalism has 26

Criticism been compromised by the ‘taint’ of settlement, a history that creates a divided identity that ‘wars with itself and is lawless’. Playing with different identities and ‘dressing-up’ in Mansfield’s writing was not simply a matter of parody and imitation, therefore; it was also about conveying this sense of an identity divided against itself, an identity caught in the liminal space between the centre of imperialism and the colonial periphery. Like ‘parodic translation’, then, ‘To Stanisław Wyspian´ski’ oscillates between likeness and strangeness, maintaining ‘the play of differences’, and this ambivalence characterises almost all of Mansfield’s other poetry contributions to Rhythm. In the poem ‘Sea Song’, for example, ‘Memory’ is personified as an old woman searching ‘for something’ with her ‘withered claw’ along the shoreline: ‘Memory dwells in my far away home, / She is nothing to do with me.’57 Similarly, the sea becomes an anti-maternal figure and symbol of cruel exile in the poems ‘The Sea Child’ and ‘Sea’: ‘Into the world you sent her, mother, / [. . .] And drove her away from home’; ‘If I leave you, you will not be silent / But cry my name in the cities.’58 The sea in these poems becomes emblematic for a liminal space between the metropolitan centre of imperialism and the colonial periphery: an in-between space in which the oscillation between likeness and strangeness, home and exile, the familiar and foreign is perpetual and irreconcilable. Like Wyspian´ski, Mansfield registers the ‘hateful servility’ of a younger generation taught by imperial discourse ‘that they must not speak of love for their home’. Similarly, her Rhythm poems echo the same ‘melancholy appeal’ heard in Selver’s translations. This identification with the ‘minor literatures’ and dissident political movements of cultural nationalism in Eastern Europe and Russia articulated Mansfield’s political commitment as a New Zealander living in London; emphasising the liminal and ambivalent, her Rhythm poems served to disrupt the received idea of imperial power as integrated and hegemonic. The pseudonym of ‘Boris Petrovsky’ enabled Mansfield to experiment with writing in a different national register and to forge a position for herself within the international avant-garde promoted by Rhythm. The poems written under this pseudonym are of debatable artistic merit, yet they must be understood within the original publication context in which they were produced, as imitative ‘translations’ positioned within a network of exchange between Rhythm and the New Age.59 Parodying Selver’s translations, Mansfield aligned her writing in Rhythm with the ‘minor literatures’ and dissident political movements of cultural nationalism in Eastern Europe and Russia. Understood as examples of ‘parodic translation’, the Petrovsky poems foreground the appropriative and refractory nature of all writing; moreover, the pseudonym becomes 27

Katherine Mansfield and Translation a strategy for the perpetuation of non-identity, displacing notions of originality and autonomy, and thereby challenging narrative paradigms of ‘major literature’ and political paradigms of imperial hegemony. Through these poems and her review of Selver’s anthology, Mansfield emphasised a conception of translation as a refractory process that transforms both source and target cultures, whereby the aura of the translated text resides in non-equivalence and the oscillation between likeness and strangeness. In this way, we can see how a theory of translation shaped Mansfield’s other poetry contributions to Rhythm, poems that were motivated by her sense of a radical disjunction between home and exile, or the familiar and foreign. Notes   1. ‘Boris Petrovsky’ [Katherine Mansfield], ‘Very Early Spring’ and ‘The Awakening River’, Rhythm, 4 (Spring 1912), p. 30.  2. Peter Brooker, ‘Harmony, Discord, and Difference: Rhythm (1911–13), The Blue Review (1913), and The Signature (1915)’, in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Volume I: Britain and Ireland, 1880–1955, ed. by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 316.   3. Gerri Kimber, ‘Mansfield, Rhythm and the Émigré Connection’, in Katherine Mansfield and Literary Modernism, ed. by Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber and Susan Reid (London, New York: Continuum, 2011), p. 17.   4. As Antony Alpers notes: ‘By the summer of 1912 Jack and Katherine were known as the Two Tigers. The novelist Gilbert Cannan, delighted by a woodcut in Rhythm’s first number of a tiger stalking a monkey, had bestowed the name, and they had taken it up themselves, Katherine later being “Tig” to Jack, and eventually “Wig”.’ Alpers, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (London: Jonathan Cape, 1980), p. 146.  5. Faith Binckes, Modernism, Magazines, and the British Avant-Garde: Reading Rhythm, 1910–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 81.   6. Anne Estelle Rice, ‘Memories of Katherine Mansfield’, Adam International Review, 300 (1965), p. 76.   7. Rice, p. 77.   8. Caroline Maclean, ‘Russian Aesthetics in Britain: Kandinsky, Sadleir, and Rhythm’, in Russia in Britain, 1880–1940: From Melodrama to Modernism, ed. by Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 147.   9. As Kimber notes, Mansfield probably met Lykiardopoulos through Aleister Crowley. Kimber, p. 20. 10. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Spring in a Dream’, Rhythm, 8 (September 1912), pp. 161–5; ‘Tales of a Courtyard’, Rhythm, 7 (August 1912), pp. 99–105. 11. John Middleton Murry, ‘Introduction’, in Poems by Katherine Mansfield, ed. by John Middleton Murry (London: Constable, 1930), pp. xii–xiii. 12. See, for example, Joanna Woods, Katerina: The Russian World of Katherine Mansfield (Auckland: Penguin, 2001), p. 95. 13. (last accessed 29 August 2014). 14. (last accessed 29 August 2014). 15. See, for example, Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, ‘Czardas. A Fragment’, trans. by P. Selver, New Age, 9: 7 (15 June 1911), p. 161.


Criticism 16. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Pastiche: At the Club’, New Age, 10: 19 (7 March 1912), pp. 449–50; ‘Pastiche: Puzzle: Find the Book’, New Age, 11: 7 (13 June 1912), p. 165; ‘Pastiche: Green Goggles’, New Age, 11: 10 (4 July 1912), p. 237. 17. David Lloyd, Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism (London: University of California Press, 1987), p. 103. 18. Lloyd, p. 103. 19. Lloyd, p. 104. 20. Lloyd, p. 109. 21. Lloyd, p. 113. 22. Lloyd, p. 113. 23. Lloyd, p. 113. 24. Lloyd, pp. 114–15. 25. Lloyd, p. 115. 26. Lloyd, p. 19. 27. Franco Moretti, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture (London: Verso, 1987); Jed Esty, Unseasonable Youth: Modernism, Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 28. Lloyd, p. 19. 29. Lloyd, p. 9. 30. Lloyd, p. 9. 31. Lloyd, p. 22. 32. Lloyd, p. 128. 33. Eliška Krásnohorská, ‘Song’, in An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry, ed. by Paul Selver (London: Henry J. Drane, 1912), p. 91; Otakar Brezina, ‘Dithyramb of the Worlds’, in An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry, p. 50. 34. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Earth-Child in the Grass’, Rhythm, 8 (September 1912), p. 125; Petr Bezruc, ‘Who Will Take My Place?’, in An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry, p. 33. 35. See, for example, Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield, Volume 3: The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), p. 84. 36. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Opal Dream Cave’, in Rhythm, 11 (December 1912), p. 306; ‘Sea’, in Rhythm, 11 (December 1912), p. 307. 37. Paul Selver, ‘Modern Bohemian Poetry’, in An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry, p. 16. 38. ‘K.M.’ [Katherine Mansfield], ‘An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry By P. Selver’, Rhythm, 9 (October 1912), p. 235. 39. Selver, p. 4. 40. Selver, p. 11. 41. Mansfield, ‘An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry By P. Selver’, p. 235. 42. Mansfield, ‘An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry By P. Selver’, p. 235. 43. Mansfield, ‘An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry By P. Selver’, p. 235. 44. Selver, p. 10. 45. Floryan Sobieniowski, ‘Stanislaw Wyspianski – 1868–1907’, Rhythm, 11 (December 1912), pp. 311, 316. 46. Sobieniowski, pp. 315–16. 47. Michael J. Mikos´h, Polish Literature from 1864 to 1918: Realism and Young Poland. An Anthology (Bloomington: Slavica, 2006), p. 237. 48. Katherine Mansfield, ‘To Stanislaw Wyspianski’, in Kimber and Smith, p. 74.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation 49. Kimber, p. 24. 50. Kimber, p. 24. 51. Quoted in Jeffrey Meyers, ‘Katherine Mansfield’s “To Stanislaw Wyspianski”’, Modern Fiction Studies, 24: 3 (Autumn 1978), p. 340. 52. Meyers, p. 340. 53. Selver, p. 20. 54. Mansfield, ‘Pastiche: Green Goggles’, p. 237. 55. Quoted in Meyers, p. 340. 56. Mansfield, ‘To Stanislaw Wyspianski’, p. 74. 57. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Sea Song’, Rhythm, 14 (March 1913), p. 453. 58. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Sea Child’, Rhythm, 5 (June 1912), p. 1; ‘Sea’, Rhythm, 11 (December 1912), p. 307. 59. For the response of Orage and his assistant editor Beatrice Hastings to the Petrovsky poems, see: [Orage], ‘Present-Day Criticism’, New Age, 10: 22 (28 March 1912), p. 519; [Hastings], ‘THE MODEL BOYS-WILL-BE-BOYS PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL MAGAZINE’, New Age, 10: 23 (4 April 1912), p. 548; [Orage], ‘Present-Day Criticism’, New Age, 10: 25 (18 April 1912), p. 589.


‘Ginger Whiskers’ and ‘Glad-Eyes’: Translations of Katherine Mansfield’s Stories into Slovak and Czech Janka Kascakova

The two expressions in the title of this paper illustrate the extremities of the range of problems translators struggle with on their journey to a final text. ‘Ginger whiskers’ represent for me all the unpleasant yet unavoidable losses of meaning, the moments when one has to give up and admit defeat; ‘Glad-eyes’, on the other hand, is one of those elements that yield easily and let themselves be translated in a creative way while keeping the meaning and beauty of the original text. In between, there are instances of further or closer approximations between two languages which not only differ on a grammatical level, but also carry in them many varied cultural, social and historical contexts. In this essay I shall discuss the various translational difficulties I encountered as the first translator of Katherine Mansfield’s stories into Slovak. Due to the specificities of Slovak history and its long and still flourishing connections with Czech culture in general and translation in particular,1 I will use Aloys Skoumal’s long-standing translations of Mansfield into Czech as a means of showing the similarities and differences between the two languages. In addition, some other Mansfield translations that have appeared in journal form will also be touched on in my discussion. As Slovak and Czech are not languages spoken and understood by many people, I will explain and illustrate shorter passages rather than give longer examples of the translated text, starting with a brief introduction outlining the most important differences that lie between these two very similar languages and English. Both Slovak and Czech are synthetic, highly inflected languages, and as a result, their words are longer than most of those in English; therefore, some aspects of Mansfield’s style (such as keeping gendered identity imprecise)2 are impossible to reproduce. Both languages have only three tenses (past, present and future) and so the translator has 31

Katherine Mansfield and Translation to express the many different English tenses using adverbs of time or the inflections of verbal aspect; this was the category Virginia Woolf found particularly complex when translating from Russian with S. S. Koteliansky.3 In addition, keeping the specific rhythms of Mansfield’s prose is not an easy task, since, as a result of the length of words in translation, the rhythm inevitably changes. The best example would be the simple three syllables of ‘they had tea’, which in Slovak turn into a complicated eightsyllabic ‘naolovrantovali sa’. Once inflected, even those words in Slovak which are monosyllabic turn into plurisyllabic ones. What is more, the stress in Slovak is always on the first syllable. Yet these relative disadvantages of both Slovak and Czech with respect to English can be balanced by a much higher lexical flexibility than in many other languages. As the Czech theoretician of translation Jirí Levý pointed out: ‘the unappreciated treasures of Czech, which are not used sufficiently by professional translators, are diminutives and more generally emotionally coloured words’.4 The same notion applies to Slovak, where there is a variety of ways to modify a word slightly, taking subtle distinctions to a new level. That is the case of the already mentioned diminutives, which are much more infrequent in English in which, apart from a few instances like kitchen / kitchenette, an additional word, as in ‘little girl’ or ‘small boy’, is usually used. In Slovak or Czech, practically any noun or adjective can be modified over and over again, either as a diminutive or an augmentative, whether it is a proper noun (Jana, Janka, Janicka, Janinka, Janulienka, Janisko), any common noun (dog: pes, psícek, psícatko, psisko) or an adjective (good: dobrý, dobrucký). Another important difference, also connected to the highly inflectional character of the languages, is syntactic. Since words in Slovak and Czech have inflections that indicate not only their number (in the case of nouns and adjectives) and tense (in the case of verbs), but also other additional things like gender (adjectives and nouns, but also verbs), case (nouns and adjectives) and person (verbs), syntactic structures are much more variable than in English and words can fit into many different places in a sentence. As an example, the subject and object can swap places and yet the meaning remains the same. Although this allows for greater flexibility, it is also a double-edged sword for every translator from English. It enables one to reproduce the English word order without any confusion of meaning. However, even if such a sentence is not grammatically incorrect, it does not follow that it would be natural in Czech or Slovak, which prefer some structures over others. Lastly, gender in Slovak and Czech is more grammatical than 32

Criticism ­ iological, which means inanimate things can be not only neuter (like b ‘pen’ – ‘pero’) but also feminine (‘chair’ – ‘stolicka’/’židle’) and masculine (‘table’ or ‘desk’ – ‘stôl’/stu˚l)5 on a much larger scale than in English. What is more, even people of a specific gender can grammatically belong to a rather non-biological one (‘girl’ – ‘dievca’/ ‘devce’ is neuter). Of course, the list of differences is much longer, but these basic examples are sufficient for an insight into the challenges a translator into Slovak or Czech faces. Some other (often culturally determined) differences not mentioned here will appear later in the essay, illustrated by particular examples from Mansfield’s texts and followed, where ­possible, by differing translation solutions. Finally, in this introductory section, it remains to say that although the Czech and Slovak languages are very close, even to the point of their being formerly presented (for reasons of political expediency) as variations of one language,6 they are not the same; there are grammatical as well as cultural differences, and the ability of one nation to understand the other is much more the result of their linked destinies and frequent exposure to the other language than was previously acknowledged. Some of these distinctions will be addressed at the same time as the ­differences caused by varying translation approaches. As to the number and dating of translations in the Czech Republic, Aloys Skoumal published four collections of Mansfield’s stories in 1938, 1952, 1958 and 1975,7 making a total of forty-three stories (some were translated by his wife Hana, and at least one by his son). I also tracked down three other stories (‘The Evening’, ‘The Doll’s House’ and ‘Reginald Peacock’s Day’), published by different translators in periodicals.8 As to Slovakia (either while it was still part of Czechoslovakia or after), eight Mansfield stories by different translators were published over seven decades (‘Woman at the Store’, ‘Ole Underwood’, ‘Miss Brill’, ‘The Voyage’, ‘The Fly’, ‘The Little Girl’, ‘Carnation’, ‘Daughters of the Late Colonel’),9 followed by my 2013 collection10 which includes seventeen of her most famous stories. I will disregard the first ever translation of a Mansfield story into Slovak: ‘Vyzradený zlocin’ (‘The Woman at the Store’) in 1938, since it is a deliberately manipulative and inaccurate version which leaves out important parts of the text on the one hand, and adds a whole new ending paragraph supporting someone else’s ideological agenda on the other. This being the case, it would be inappropriate to discuss it seriously here; what is more, the story has never been translated into Czech, and so there is nothing to which I can compare my own translation.11 33

Katherine Mansfield and Translation

Humour Although humour is an inextricable part of Mansfield’s stories, it is still under-represented in her critical reception. This humour is shown by the expression ‘ginger whiskers’, evoked in my title, which provides the basis for the highly comical exchange between Raoul Duquette and the waiter in his favourite café, the meaning of which proved difficult to transpose in translation. The whole comedy of the situation is based on the fact that, wishing to write about an Englishman, Raoul Duquette decides he will be stylish and enter into the role of one by asking the waiter to bring him whisky, even though he hates its taste. He then contemplates wearing the stereotypical English outfit and ‘ginger whiskers’ to be able to slip fully into the role. Jokingly, he asks the waiter whether he could bring him some ginger whiskers, prompting the waiter to reply that they do not serve American drinks. As is so frequently the case with Mansfield, a whole spectrum of meanings is crammed into this small exchange. Duquette, who is here mocking and manipulating national stereotypes, incites the ‘typical’ French waiter to comment unwittingly on his own nation’s stereotypes towards Americans. Although Mansfield states that he responds ‘sadly’, the sadness does not seem to have anything to do with regret at not being able to serve some kind of drink; it rather evokes a sense of frustration that somebody could ask for a drink like that in a French café. His reaction suggests what he thinks about ‘absurd’ American tastes: in this case, the combination of whisky and ginger. The whole joke is based on the waiter’s confusion of the words ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskers’ and on the word ‘ginger’, which, for the stereotypically minded Duquette, evokes a typical Englishman’s hair colouring, while for the waiter, the Americans drink whisky and ginger. Both these key elements make it impossible to translate the conversation without loss of meaning. The word pun ‘whisky’/ ‘whiskers’ is impossible in Slovak; while ‘whisky’ is the same word, ‘whiskers’ is entirely different (‘bokombrady’). However, even if this part was lost, the joke could still have been saved had ‘ginger’ (‘zázvor’) worked in Slovak, but it does not. The problem lies in the unclear origin of the English usage of ‘ginger’ as an equivalent of ‘reddish’ since there is no connection in Slovakia between red hair and ginger. The word Slovaks would most likely use in this context is ‘ryšavý’, which stems from an old Slavic variation of the word ‘red’. This word’s meaning is very narrow, however; it is applied uniquely for the colour of hair or animal fur and does not leave any room for ambiguity. Thus, while translating ‘ginger whiskers’ as ‘ryšavé bokombrady’ would be the most natural option 34

Criticism in Slovak, in the context of the story it would be entirely puzzling for the reader. The other, similarly unsatisfactory option is ‘zázvorové bokombrady’, which retains at least one part of the original expression (ginger) because it does remotely justify the conversation about drinks; yet the joke is lost anyway since the connection between ginger and the colour can occur only to a person who speaks English. While at the beginning I inclined towards the word ‘reddish’ (‘ryšavý’), which does carry the idea of stereotypical Englishness for Slovaks, the absurdity of a connection between red facial hair and drinks made me eventually opt for the rather outlandish but at least a little more logical ‘ginger’. Skoumal too decided to keep the adjective ‘ginger’, even though in other cases he prefers choosing whatever is closest to Czech rather than privileging the original.12 However, there are cases where it is not only possible to translate the humorous elements fully, but where the target language even enables a joke to be intensified and thus compensates for losses sustained in other parts of the text, helping to avoid or at least lessen the entropic tendency of translation. This is the case during the discussion about meringues in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’. Whilst the original is comical in tone, the Slovak equivalent of ‘meringue’ adds a touch more humour. In Slovak ‘meringue’ is ‘pusinka’, which literally means ‘little kiss’. Taking into account Mansfield’s association of food and the body, a whole new dimension is added to the discussion in which Con and Jug’s absent middle-aged brother is accused of still being fond of a dessert with such a frivolous name (and also implicitly of ‘little kisses’); moreover, the scene takes place in front of their bully of a father, whom one could never imagine wanting to kiss anyone. Similarly, Skoumal’s name for ‘meringues’ is ‘bezé’, the Czech version of the French word ‘baiser’ – ‘kiss’.

Idiolects As many critics have pointed out, Mansfield’s prose is very theatrical in nature. Her ability to take on many roles, her delight in mimicking people, is one of the reasons why her stories are so successful. Yet, although the idiolects she uses can delight the reader, they can turn into a nightmare once a translator attempts to transpose them into a different language. The idiolect of Nurse Andrews in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’ is a case in point, challenging other translators as well. Skoumal certainly makes a distinction between her speech and the neutral narrative voice, but his Nurse Andrews speaks colloquial Czech; 35

Katherine Mansfield and Translation as a result, her struggle to imitate the speech of the higher classes goes unnoticed. The 2002 Slovak translator of ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, Jarmila Samcová, also attempts to distinguish her speech from that of the others and her choice is to make Nurse Andrews mispronounce her ‘r’s, which she pronounces as [w]. This is either a misunderstanding or a deliberate preference for any sort of idiolect rather than none at all, because this kind of pronunciation in Slovak does not evoke refined style; on the contrary, it makes sister Andrews sound as if she has a speech defect. My solution, in this instance, was to forgo any attempt at translating her idiolect, for a variety of motives. I believe it to be impossible to evoke the speech of the upper classes in Slovak for historical reasons. For most of its history, the territory that now belongs to Slovakia was a part of a much larger country (historical Hungary and then the AustroHungarian Empire) and its language was only spoken by the lower classes. The nobility would speak Hungarian, German or French (but most frequently Hungarian). Education in Slovak (which was strongly opposed by the Hungarian ruling class)13 was available only at a basic level and the few who wanted to pursue their studies would do so either in Hungarian or in German.14 There are many characters in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Slovak literature that closely resemble Nurse Andrews in their effort to aspire to the speech of the upper classes, and this would be rendered linguistically by their use of Hungarian words in their Slovak speech. What is more, as a rule, they would use the words incorrectly or out of context and thus would be ridiculed by the author for their pretentions; a learned reader (fluent in Hungarian) would obviously get the joke. After the Austro-Hungarian empire dissolved, it was still considered part of a good education to be knowledgeable about languages, and although at that time there might have been some high-class Slovak for a while, all the traces of it were lost after 1947, when the last remnants of the nobility were chased away from the country or humiliated in any way possible; their houses were looted by crowds of marauders, and for the most part left to fall into disrepair. For forty years, the country was ruled by ‘working-class’ communist cadres who were very often poorly educated, and their speech was at best common Slovak or Czech, at worst (in the case of Slovak politicians in Prague) an inarticulate mixture of Czech and Slovak, which more often than not revealed, rather than covered up, the fact that they had nothing to say and had to spend vast amounts of time saying it. The only way of somehow conveying the idea that Nurse Andrews is trying to imitate high-society English would be to add a narratorial comment; for example, instead of ‘said Nurse 36

Criticism Andrews’, one might say ‘said Nurse Andrews in high-society style’, yet this would go against the grain of Mansfield’s writing, which hints at the truth rather than stating it in such a blunt manner. As for one of the typical features of Mansfield’s writing, her rendering of the speech of children, which masterfully conveys each character’s age and mind-set, the challenges were less great and, for the most part, easily overcome. The most frequent way for Mansfield to distinguish her child characters is through a common mistake made by children – the inability to understand that the indefinite article before vowel sounds is ‘an’, instead believing the ‘n’ to be part of the following word, as in ‘ninseck’. Neither Slovak nor Czech has articles (which, alas, makes this part of learning English very difficult), but in Slovak it can be quite easily replaced by the mistake that Slovak children make very often: their inability to distinguish whether a word ends with a voiced or voiceless consonant. Slovak is, in general, very easy to write because it closely resembles its spoken form. Yet there are also exceptions; Slovak differs from English in that all final voiced consonants are pronounced as voiceless (in a process called assimilation), which is the reason why Slovaks often pronounce English ‘bet’ and ‘bed’ as homophones [bet]; this is what they would do in Slovak with two different words ending in a voiced and a voiceless consonant, respectively. For example ‘plod’ (fruit) and ‘plot’ (fence) are both pronounced in the same way [plot], and in spoken form are only distinguished by the context in which they appear. So Kezia’s ‘ninseck’ can be translated as ‘hmys’ (which is the way the word is pronounced, although its correct spelling is ‘hmyz’). Similarly, the ‘nemeral’ Pip finds and shows to the amazed girls can be translated as ‘smarakt’ while the correct word would be ‘smaragd’ – in this case, replacing two voiced consonants for voiceless ones at the end of the word. Obviously, one cannot translate all the childlike features at exactly the same moment in the phrase, but they can be inserted elsewhere, where Slovak children would say something ungrammatical. Such is the case of ‘grandmother’s bed’ in ‘At the Bay’. ‘Grandmother’ in Slovak is composed of two words – ‘stará mama’, and while it is quite common in English to put the possessive case before the noun, even when it includes several words, Slovak commonly does that only with simple nouns. If the possessive is composed of a cluster of words (as in ‘stará mama’), it has to fall after the main noun. This way, ‘grandmother’s bed’ would grammatically be the ‘bed of grandmother’ (‘postel’ starej mamy’). Yet children often disregard this rule and say ‘starej mamina postel’’ – which is what I used, even though not in direct speech, in order to somehow render Mansfield’s ‘floating narrator’. 37

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Rather surprisingly, Skoumal inserts a number of colloquialisms spoken by adult characters but hardly ever modifies the speech of the children, apart from making extra use of diminutives, which also frequently appear in the narrated passages and the speech of adults talking to children. What is more, Skoumal seems to contradict Levý’s belief that Czech translators do not use enough emotionally coloured words, since his whole translation is full of them, even when children are not present. A good example would be his translation of the title of ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’ in which ‘daughters’ is translated as ‘dcerušky’, the second-degree diminutive (the neutral word is ‘dcery’ and the first diminutive would be ‘dcerky’). This word indeed stands as proof of how the lexical flexibility of Czech and Slovak can make up for losses of meaning in other cases. ‘Dcerušky’ suits Mansfield’s floating narrator perfectly; on the one hand it echoes the condescending way in which gossiping acquaintances would talk about them, while on the other it subtly hints at their emotional immaturity prompted by their father’s oppressive influence.

Titles of Stories Some difficulties arise with the titles of Mansfield’s stories. Although they are seemingly very simple, they often carry multiple meanings which are not always translatable into a foreign language. One can hardly aspire to carry so many meanings with one word as Mansfield managed with the culturally and historically laden ‘Bliss’.15 There is no equivalent for the English ‘ignorance is bliss’ in Slovak (in similar circumstances, some use the ambiguous Biblical ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’),16 and the translation of the word itself is also complex. ‘Bliss’ evokes both the physical and the spiritual feeling of a sense of elation. There are four Slovak words that can serve as equivalents. The almost perfect synonym is ‘blaho’, the word that Skoumal decided to use in his Czech translation. Although it is also optically and phonetically close to the English original, it is far from the ideal choice. Firstly, it has the same root as words like ‘blažený’ (beatific) and ‘blahoslavený’ (blessed) and thus has, especially in Slovak, a rather religious connotation; it would fail to convey the idea of sexual bliss. What is more, in contrast with English (and with Czech too), it is an unusual and infrequently used word. Two other possibilities are ‘slast’’ or ‘rozkoš’ – both on the other side of the spectrum, underlining the physical meaning of bliss and more or less excluding any spiritual meaning. In the end I chose to use ‘št’astie’ (happiness) which, although less charged than ‘bliss’ in English, is nevertheless more common than ‘blaho’ and, due to the 38

Criticism appearance of both the sounds [∫] and [t j] from ‘slast’’ and ‘rozkoš’, is more suggestive of the physical meaning of bliss than the rather neutral and dull ‘blaho’. ‘Prelude’ offers another example of a seemingly easy, yet in reality rather complicated choice of word. The two meanings of ‘introduction’ and ‘a piece of music’ that the English word carries are translated by two different words in Slovak. If I used the word for introduction (‘úvod’), it would almost certainly elicit very similar questions to that of D. H. Lawrence, who asked what Mansfield’s title was the prelude to.17 The Slovak and Czech word ‘prelúdium’ has an entirely musical ­connotation, but ultimately this was my own choice, as well as Skoumal’s. Another example of a title that required more than just a literal translation was ‘Pictures’. The Slovak and Czech equivalent ‘obrázky’ would be confusing, as it is too broad and evokes drawings, paintings and photographs rather than films. To narrow it down, Skoumal opts for ‘U Filmu’ (‘At the Film’), directly stating what kind of pictures the story is about. I chose to add an attribute that enabled me to keep the word ‘pictures’ and its vagueness, calling the story ‘Pohyblivé obrázky’ (‘Moving Pictures’), which is the archaic and rather poetic expression for films in our language. The last example is the titular story of my collection, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’. The word ‘indiscreet’ proves particularly challenging. There is a near-identical Slovak word, ‘indiskrétny’, which means ‘tactless and incautious’, but it is completely devoid of other – and in the case of this story – more fitting meanings of carelessness, thoughtlessness, foolhardiness and so on. For this reason, I ultimately decided to use the word ‘nerozvážny’ (‘heedless or injudicious’), which not only helped me to capture the essence of the story better but also enabled me to create a bridge to Mansfield’s own ‘indiscreet’ journey through her modernist technique, which I discussed in my introductory essay to the story collection. Skoumal uses the same expression, and although I hoped for a better solution, this word, though far from perfect, comes closest to all the connotations of ‘indiscreet’ that Mansfield might have had in mind.

Names In both Slovak and Czech, there is no avoiding the distinction between female and male surnames, even when they are foreign. Although some might argue that a name is like a trademark and so should not be in any way modified by translation, the tradition of adding the ending –ová to female names is strong, and the rules of both languages require it. 39

Katherine Mansfield and Translation This suffix originally developed from the possessive case and literally denotes somebody’s wife or daughter. Not using it in a Slovak or Czech translation would be deemed unnatural,18 even though it does stand in the way of some of Mansfield’s creative usages of names – like, for example, Pearl Button, which has to be rendered as ‘Pearl Buttonová’; this immediately strengthens the fact that it is a name and weakens its symbolical value. Another problem with names is whether to domesticate them, as in the case of those given names that have equivalents in Slovak and Czech, or even translate them at all, as in the case of those surnames that bear some meaning. There is no agreement on this point in translation theory and opinions range from simple disagreement to absolute insistence on domestication and translation. A cursory look through the large number of Czech or Slovak translations of English classics of the last fifty years immediately shows that Czech translations prefer names to be domesticated or translated, while those into Slovak, at the most, adjust or ‘slovakize’ the first names which exist in both languages (like changing Bertha to Berta), though even this is far from systematic. The only exceptions are certain humorous books in which the ­understanding of names is crucial for comic effects. Skoumal’s translations are a good illustration of how complex this particular issue is. His tendency is to domesticate the names.19 As well as changing the first names (Lottie – Lotka, Henry – Jindrich, Johnny – Honzík), he also translates certain last names (Reginald Peacock – Zvonimír Páv) and entirely modifies others (Pearl Button in his version is ‘Perletinka’, which can be translated as ‘tiny little pearl’, entirely omitting the surname ‘Button’). Yet, his approach seems rather arbitrary, as many other first names that do have Czech versions (Dick – Ríša, Stanley – Standa, Ian – Jan) and surnames that can easily be translated (Fairfield, French, Moss) are left unaltered. It might be just the force of tradition (having read and admired books with intriguing foreign names since childhood), but I prefer to keep names intact as far as possible. Translation does not necessarily mean naturalisation or domestication. A surname that sounds normal in English can be very unusual when translated into Slovak, or a combination of a clearly Slavic first name with an English surname can make the final text sound very unnatural or downright ridiculous (as would be the case if Fairfield, Trout or Button were translated into Slovak). Paraphrasing J. R. R. Tolkien’s very apt description of such translations, they would not be Slovak, but ‘homeless’.20 Thus, I kept the names in their English form, just adding the ending -ová in the case of their female versions. 40

Criticism The only case when it was absolutely necessary to translate or rather find a fitting equivalent for a name was in the case of Mrs Harry Kember’s servant Gladys, who, to the dismay of all the ladies at the Bay, is called Glad-eyes. Skoumal’s solution is brilliant: he used the Czech name ‘Eliška’ (equivalent of Alice) and Mrs Kember’s frivolous variation is ‘Pampeliška’ (dandelion). I chose Monika – the variation being Harmonika (harmonica). Both these words are playful and, when used to address a girl, evoke gaiety, foolishness and light-heartedness. Since Mouse from ‘Je ne parle pas français’ is not technically a name but a nickname, it has to be translated too, if only for ‘carrying out the mouse idea’21 in the story. At first sight, it does not pose any problem as far as transposing several meanings is concerned; it can be quite easily translated as ‘Myš’. Yet, while the English word has a sort of languid and melodic quality to it, the Slovak (or Czech) ‘myš’ is short, abrupt, hard and unkind; certainly, no lover would use this word to address his beloved. For that reason (and Skoumal must have had a very similar motive for doing the same), I used the softer diminutive form – ‘Myška’ – which is coincidentally also a homophone of ‘Miška’, the diminutive of the first name Michaela.

Formal/Informal One of the greatest differences between Czech/Slovak and English is their different ways of addressing people. As in French, Czech and Slovak have different pronouns for the second person singular and plural, and use them not only to distinguish simple grammatical number, but also to indicate formal and informal address. One would use the singular ‘you’ (‘ty’ – the same in both languages) for family members, close friends and children, and the plural ‘you’ (‘vy’ – again the same) for unknown people, teachers, people in authority and so on. The rules are rather straightforward yet, importantly, differ today from what used to be the usage in Mansfield’s time and persisted until very recently. What is more, in Slovak there is an archaic form of an even more formal address – ‘onikanie’, that could be translated as ‘theming’ – which uses the third person plural ‘them’ to refer to a person you hold in high esteem. The degree of formality used to be much more significant in the past; thus, not so long ago, a child would still address a grandmother in the second person plural, but when talking about her, s/he would use the third person plural. Every translator of English literature into Slovak and Czech has to decide which degree of formality to use and when to use it. While Mansfield’s stories were written a hundred years ago, they have a 41

Katherine Mansfield and Translation t­imeless and universal quality that I wanted to convey, and that could only be done by making them sound as natural to a contemporary reader as possible. For that reason, the formal/informal forms are used as they would be used in Slovak now. While in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries children would certainly speak formally to their parents and grandparents and would use the third person plural to talk about them, nowadays they would use the informal singular ‘you’. Consequently, in my translations of the New Zealand stories, children use the informal address with everybody in their family and a formal form of address with strangers and acquaintances. Grandmother Fairfield uses the informal address with her daughters as well as with Stanley, yet Stanley uses formal terms with her, since this would most likely be the case nowadays – being a widow and an elderly woman, she would naturally address her son-in-law informally, yet he would show respect by addressing her formally. Of course, in many modern families, the parents-in-law would suggest to their sons- and daughters-in-law that they use the informal form of address, yet I considered it necessary to keep a certain level of formality to highlight further the contrast between the theoretically formal and linguistically respectful treatment of the character, and Stanley’s regular requests for her to bring him his slippers or go and fetch something, which border on the uncivil. In other stories, I keep the formal/informal address according to contemporary rules (informal for husbands and wives, friends and children, formal for strangers and authorities), but there are obstacles to overcome in this respect. The first notable one is the way in which two lovers address one another in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’. Naturally, in Slovak it would be informal; intimate relationships of this kind are well beyond the boundary of formal address. Yet, this rather simple situation is complicated by the fact that the furtive remark written on the back of the ‘official’ letter of invitation from tante Julie by the little corporal says: ‘Venez vite, vite!’ (1/442), which is, obviously, second person plural, i.e. formal. In spite of this, I decided to keep the informal in the Slovak text, as it is much more natural for a Slovak reader, and the French formal address might indicate the little corporal’s ceremoniousness, as well as underline the elevated style of the French language. A second problem arises with the ‘literary friends’ in ‘Bliss’. The first choice would be to use an informal form of address, but then I realised that the formal alternative would be better suited to this purpose. One reason was to distinguish this well-off and intellectual group from other, less refined and certainly less pretentious, characters in other Mansfield stories. They believe themselves to be special and this would be one way of showing it. Formal address also helps underline the mysteriousness 42

Criticism of Pearl Fulton (Bertha does not really know much about her) and the artistic background of Eddie Warren and the Norman Knights. Naturally, the Norman Knights and the Youngs use informal speech between each other. Throughout the story, Harry Young addresses Pearl Fulton formally, yet at the end, when his lips say ‘I adore you’ (2/151) – I turned it into the informal to emphasise the difference between what they pretend outwardly and what they are to each other in reality. Using the informal here also strengthens the implication that they are lovers. Another difficulty arises in ‘The Woman at the Store’. The three travelling friends are on informal terms, as are the woman and her daughter. However, the situation becomes more difficult when these two groups meet. The little girl is six years old, and as such should already know the rules of formal and informal address, yet the character, as delineated by Mansfield – ‘a mean, undersized brat’ (1/272), used to picking her ears in public and spending most of her time in the wilderness with just her mother for company – cannot be expected to conform to this rule. To underline her strange characteristics further, I decided to have her speak informally to everyone, even to strangers. The woman, as a shopkeeper, should be used to addressing all her customers formally and that is what she does, even with Joe, whom she knows; the implication is that, even if they had been on intimate terms in the past, it was a shortlived intimacy of a physical, rather than emotional, kind. Although the use of informal address in the case of adults would probably carry the idea of wilderness and ‘brutality’, I preferred to contrast the wilderness with the apparent, and rather ridiculous, displays of civilization, such as the pictures of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee on the walls of the shabby shop. To take another example, the tragicomic portrayal of a drunken woman telling a drunken man he is a gentleman calls for incongruity between the situation and the characters’ ceremonious formal speech. Skoumal has a very similar approach to formal/informal address, adopting the standards of his time rather than Mansfield’s; he uses formal address for the characters in ‘Bliss’, but unlike myself, decides to let Stanley Burnell speak informally to his mother-in-law, while the little corporal speaks formally to his lover.

Conclusion These are just some insights into the problems of translation from English to Slovak and Czech, and their possible solutions. As every translator is well aware, translation is a never-ending process and progression towards a constantly elusive perfection. Rather than attempting to find some definitive solution to the problems of translation, 43

Katherine Mansfield and Translation this essay ­outlines my journey to bring Mansfield closer to Slovak (and Czech) readers, an attempt which, by extension, might help English readers better understand how foreigners perceive and approach their literature. Notes  1. For a detailed discussion of Katherine Mansfield’s reception in both countries and the historical circumstances surrounding it, see my two essays on the topic: ‘Katherine Mansfieldová: The Reception of Katherine Mansfield in the Countries of Former Czechoslovakia’, Katherine Mansfield Studies, 1 (2009), pp. 53–67; and ‘“My dear, incomparable, priceless, Katerina Mansfieldová”: The Reception and Translation of Katherine Mansfield in (the former) Czechoslovakia’, in Katherine Mansfield and Continental Europe: Connections and Influences, ed. by Janka Kascakova and Gerri Kimber (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 40–55.   2. Unlike English, which marks gender mostly by personal pronouns, and only in the third person singular, in Slovak and Czech the past tense inflectional suffixes are different for feminine and masculine, so even with a first-person narrator, the gender is immediately apparent. For this reason, the beautiful ambiguity of ‘The Young Girl’ and the unfinished ‘Leves Amores’, which results, among other things, from the lack of information about the narrator’s gender, is impossible to reproduce in any translation into these particular languages. While Skoumal opts for a female narrator when he translates ‘The Young Girl’ (‘Dívenka’), I chose not to include the story in my collection.   3. Galya Diment, A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The Life and Times of Samuel Koteliansky (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), p. 137.   4. Jirí Levý, Umeˇní prˇekladu (Prague: Panorama, 1983), p. 70 (my translation).   5. I could not resist the temptation of using this example, which, apart from grammatical gender, also shows the propensity of language to reflect the power structures in society. The gender bias here is obvious: the chair (feminine) is smaller and subordinate to the table (masculine).   6. In the early years of the new Czechoslovak Republic, Czech politicians, especially president T. G. Masaryk, presented the two nations and languages as one. Apparently, they were motivated by the fear that this rather unusual union might be challenged by some of the neighbouring countries, especially those who believed they had a long-standing historical claim on the territory. While, for a time, these efforts in the field of foreign policy were successful, their approach contributed to rising tensions at home. Slovaks became more and more discontent, and their belief that the initial promises to them were not fulfilled (especially those from the Pittsburgh Treaty, which guaranteed autonomy to Slovakia in the common state) led to the rise of a radical nationalist movement, resulting in the wartime Slovak state, founded at the cost of collaboration with Hitler.   7. Katherine Mansfieldová, Duje vítr (The Wind Blows), trans. by Aloys Skoumal (Prague: Melantrich, 1938); Katherine Mansfieldová, Zahradní slavnost (The Garden Party), trans. by Aloys Skoumal and Hana Skoumalová (Prague: Vyšehrad, 1952); Katherine Mansfieldová, Blaho a jiné povídky (Bliss and Other Stories), trans. by Aloys Skoumal (Prague: Státní nakladatelství krásné literatury, hudby a umení, 1958); Katherine Mansfieldová, Aloe (The Aloe), trans. by Aloys Skoumal and Hana Skoumalová (Prague: Lidové nakladatelství, 1975).


Criticism   8. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Vecer’ (‘The Evening’), trans. by Jan Dokulil, Revue Archa, 2: 22 (1934), pp. 146–7; Katherine Mansfield, ‘Loutkový du˚m’ (‘The Doll’s House’), Našinec, 75 (9 July 1939), p. 9; Katherine Mansfieldová, ‘Jeden den pana Peacocka’ (‘Mr Reginald Peacock’s Day’), trans. by K. K., Naše rodina, 3 (1992), pp. 6–7.   9. Katarina Mansfieldová, ‘Vyzradený zlocin’ (‘The Woman at the Store’), no trans., Slovenský východ, 13-8 (11 January 1931), pp. 1–4; Katherine Mansfieldová, ‘Pomsta’ (‘Ole Underwood’), trans. by Eugenia and St. Felber, Živena, 27: 11 (1937), pp. 274–7; Catherine Mansfieldová, ‘Miss Brillová’ (‘Miss Brill’), trans. by M. and M. Ch., Živena, 32: 5 (May 1942), pp. 178–81; Catherine Mansfieldová, ‘Plavba po mori’ (‘The Voyage’), trans. by M. and M. Ch., Živena, 33: 4 (April 1943), pp. 123–7; Katherine Mansfieldová, ‘Mucha’ (‘The Fly’), trans. by Tamara Chovanová, Život, 31: 3 (1981), pp. 42–3; Katherina Mansfieldová, ‘Dievcatko’ (‘Little Girl’), ‘Klincek’ (‘Carnation’), trans. by Jana Navrátilová, Život, 37: 42 (1987), pp. 42–3; Katherine Mansfield, ‘Dcéry nebohého plukovníka’ (‘Daughters of the Late Colonel’), trans. by Jarmila Samcová, Aspekt, 1 (2002), pp. 119–26. 10. Katherine Mansfieldová, Nerozvážna cesta a iné poviedky (An Indiscreet Journey and Other Stories), trans. by Janka Kašcáková (Ružomberok: Verbum, 2013). 11. For a more detailed discussion of this translation, see ‘“My dear, incomparable, priceless, Katerina Mansfieldová”’. 12. What makes this particular translational predicament a little bit less disconcerting is that, paradoxically, although this conversation takes places in France and both  Duquette and the waiter are French, the comedy of the situation is possible only  in English, and not in the very language the two characters are supposedly speaking. 13. In the nineteenth century, when the wave of national revival movements swept across Europe, the Slovak representatives of this movement called for more education and opportunities in Slovak for Slovak-speaking people. For a while they succeeded, managing to establish the first three Slovak secondary grammar schools; opposition from Hungarian politicians continued to grow, however, resulting in a number of laws intended to accelerate the process called ‘Hungarisation’ (mad’arizácia). This had consequences not only for education (the three schools were closed and even elementary school teachers were forced to teach in Hungarian) but also for cultural and political life in general. 14. The same was true of two iconic figures in Slovak literature of the nineteenth century: the poet and writer Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav and the writer, philosopher and politician L’udovít Štúr. Hviezdoslav (who is often likened to Shakespeare for his influential status and creative approach to the Slovak language) studied in Hungary, where he started writing poetry in Hungarian. Legend has it that it was only after he recited his poems to his simple mother and she started crying because she could not understand Hungarian, that he decided he would continue by writing in Slovak. He expressed his decision in his famous poem ‘Mn  a kedys zvádzal svet’ (‘I used to be tempted by the world’), in which he describes how he had been persuaded that his mother tongue was uncouth. L’udovít Štúr and many of the Slovak national revival representatives pursued their university studies in Germany. Štúr became a Member of Parliament and fought hard against Hungarisation but did not live to see any change. An outspoken advocate of the belief that women and romantic attachment kept men from service to their country, he died relatively young after a hunting accident, not long after the untimely death of the love of his life, to whom he never proposed.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation 15. For the discussion of possible meanings of ‘bliss’, see: Gardner McFall, ‘Poetry and Performance in Katherine Mansfield’s “Bliss”’, in Critical Essays on Katherine Mansfield, ed. by Rhoda B. Nathan (New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1993), pp. 140–50. 16. Matthew, 5: 3. 17. Claire Tomalin, Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (London: Penguin Books, 1988), p. 161. 18. Not only would omission of the ending seem unnatural but also it is against the rules of codified Slovak language. Unlike English, Slovak has an official standard form, which is ‘enforced’ by an official body called Jazykovedný ústav L’udovíta Štúra (Philological Institute of L’udovít Štúr), whose representatives are alone entitled to say what is correct usage and what is not. Thus the dictionaries of Slovak language are, for the most part, prescriptive rather than descriptive. 19. Although Skoumal domesticates much more than I do, he is still modest in his attempts, compared to some famous translators from English to Czech. Levý mentions the case of the Czech translator of Shakespeare, Erik A. Saudek, and his version of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, in which topographical names are changed into those around Saudek’s birthplace and people’s names are thoroughly Czech. Levý, Umeˇní prˇekladu, p. 60. 20. Letter to Rayner Unwin [3 July 1956], The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien (London: HarperCollins, 2006), p. 250. 21. Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’ Sullivan, eds, The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), Vol. 2, p. 126. All further references to Mansfield’s stories are to this edition, with volume and page numbers cited in the text, directly after the quotation.


‘Into Unknown Country’: Cinematicity and Intermedial Translation in Mansfield’s Fictional Journeys Faye Harland

Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a transition occurred in modern fiction as writers became increasingly reliant on the visual. In his study Fiction and the Camera Eye, Alan Spiegel argues that this new visual consciousness in the novel was symptomatic of the shift from a theological to a scientific understanding of the world, meaning that, in modern fiction, ‘truth’ can only be revealed through sensory experience rather than authorial intervention.1 In an uncertain modern world, Spiegel suggests, an author is no longer an authority; the common practice of pausing action in the novel to allow for exposition was replaced by a new subjectivity, with character development being achieved by immersing the reader in the character’s visual process – in other words, a shift to showing rather than telling. While this phrase is anachronistic, it echoes nineteenth-century reflections on changing literary form; in 1840, Balzac wrote that the ‘literature of ideas’ of the eighteenth century was being replaced by a new ‘literature of images’,2 while in his famous preface, Joseph Conrad asserted that the task of the author of modern fiction was ‘to make you hear, to make you feel – it is before all to make you see’.3 In addition to this loss of religious faith, however, cultural historians affirm that the visual consciousness of modernist fiction was also inspired by new technologies and the ways by which they altered human perception. In 1830, transport technologies were revolutionised with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway – the first train line to transport passengers, leading to the rapid development of similar rail services across Europe. As well as being the fastest and easiest method of transportation in history, the railways also provided a sensory experience unlike anything in the realms of previous human experience. In his article ‘Contemporary Achievements in Painting’, Fernand 47

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Léger notes the influence of rail travel on perception, writing that ‘[t]he condensation of the modern picture, its variety, its breaking up of forms, are the result of all this. It is certain that the evolution of means of locomotion, and their speed, have something to do with the new way of seeing.’4 Similarly, this ‘new way of seeing’ can also be related to the influence of a second new visual experience: namely, the development of motion picture technology. Just as the visuality of train travel set the world in motion, the science and entertainment industries too saw a fascination, throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, with creating moving images, from Muybridge and Marey’s breakdown of the stages of movement in their animal locomotion photography, to the eye-tricking effects of optical toys, to ingenious biunial and triunial lantern slides which allowed moving images to be incorporated into the magic lantern show. Finally, in 1895, the most enduring of the motion picture technologies was born with the debut of the Lumière brothers’ cinématographe, revolutionising both modern entertainment and storytelling. The influence of both of these new technologies comes together in modernist fiction, with the new fascination for capturing the visual process in words. While a variety of studies exist that examine the impact of visual technologies on the fiction of authors like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, I believe that Katherine Mansfield’s writing displays a similar visual consciousness, which is often overlooked. This visuality can be read as a form of translation, another trope of modernist fiction that mirrors the rise of the visual in its concerns with displacement, defamiliarisation and liminality. In her comprehensive essay on ‘Modernism’s Translations’, Rebecca Beasley states that translation is not solely a linguistic concept, instead acting as a model for the ­structure of modernist thought. Beasley writes, The period has a strong predilection for surface/depth oppositions that distinguish conceptual abstraction from concrete sensation: such oppositions structure Freud’s psychoanalysis, Frazer’s anthropology, Eliot’s and Pound’s poetics and the vitalist, pragmatist, and idealist philosophies of, respectively, Bergson, James, and Bradley. The conversion of sensation to concept, experience to knowledge, is frequently conceived by these ­thinkers as an act of translation.5

It is possible to interpret the intermediality of Mansfield’s fiction as a similar act of translation, as she cinematically recreates the visual process in words, transforming sensations into concrete form. The liminality of Mansfield’s work is a marker of the translation process since her writing, like her characters, exists in a state of in-betweenness, o ­ scillating 48

Criticism between realism and surreal, subjective impressions. While the voice of the author is never far from the surface in Mansfield’s fiction, providing both insightful and scathingly witty reflections, her stories are still cinematically focalised through the eyes of her characters, and her famous reliance on significant objects as the driving force behind her plots reflects Spiegel’s argument that character development in the modern novel occurs through contemplation of ‘objects in the external world’, which allow the reader to ‘grasp the subject largely by means of visual images’.6 In addition to Mansfield’s use of subjective focalisers, the influence of the visual effects of various technologies appears throughout her works; the short stories are peppered with references to cinema and photography as well as accounts of the visual experience of travel, and Mansfield translates the visual experience of these new technologies into words. To return to Balzac’s term, Mansfield’s fiction is undoubtedly an example of a ‘literature of images’, as she explores both what and how her characters see and how they are seen by others. In this essay, I hope to demonstrate the visuality of Mansfield’s fiction and the ways in which this visual style was inspired by the new technologies of rail travel and the cinema as they changed the ways in which the modern world was perceived. I will examine this visual consciousness as a form of translation, discussing Mansfield’s conversion of word into image and image into word, as well as her explorations of the potentiality of adapting the visual effects of various arts and technologies into fictional form. Furthermore, I am interested in the connection between translation and transposition, as the liminal journeys undertaken by Mansfield’s characters result in their altered interpretation of the world around them. The visual parallels between rail travel and turn-of-the-century popular entertainment are illustrated in Mansfield’s short story, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ (1915), which recounts a young Englishwoman’s travelling experiences at the outset of the Great War as she illicitly journeys to meet her sweetheart, a soldier stationed in a French village. Mansfield provides a subjective account of rail travel from the narrator’s perspective, with her journey being mediated through the camera eye of her ‘mobilized virtual gaze’, to use Anne Friedberg’s terms.7 The window of the train takes on a screen-like role as the narrator transforms the people she passes into performers and the scenery into elaborate stage sets, setting herself apart from the trials of a country preparing for war and creating the impression that the French countryside and its inhabitants exist solely for her entertainment. The story also acts as one of many examples in Mansfield’s works of the journey or rite of passage as a form of translation, as the narrator passes both physically and psychologically 49

Katherine Mansfield and Translation from one place to another. In his study of the impact of railways on nineteenth-century thought, Wolfgang Schivelbusch discusses the effect of this new transport technology on human perception, suggesting that many early accounts of rail travel are comparable to the visual effect of the panorama, a popular form of entertainment that provided audiences with an immersive and changing visual space. These studies can be read as an early example of intermedial translation, as writers strove to find a new language to translate the visual sensations that these technological innovations brought about into words. Schivelbusch quotes from Benjamin Gastineau’s La Vie en chemin de fer, in which he states: Devouring distance at the rate of fifteen leagues an hour, the steam engine, that powerful stage manager, throws the switches, changes the décor, and shifts the point of view every moment; in quick succession it presents the astonished traveller with happy scenes, sad scenes, burlesque interludes, brilliant fireworks, all visions that disappear as soon as they are seen; it sets in motion nature clad in all its light and dark costumes, showing us skeletons and lovers, clouds and rays of light, happy vistas and sombre views, nuptials, baptisms, and cemeteries.8

This comparison of landscapes seen from a mobilised perspective to ­ choreographed shows is particularly apparent in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, as the soldiers the narrator sees through the window seem selfconsciously aware of spectators, watching the train passing ‘as though they expected at least one camera at every window’.9 Another soldier is described as ‘like a little comic picture’ (440), implying that the soldiers have been set up in staged vignettes for the public eye rather than being real people. The later image of them marching, ‘winking red and blue in the light’ (441), is similarly suggestive of an advertisement rather than a realistic scene, reflecting common wartime propaganda imagery used on posters and in film. Mansfield presents the story from the narrator’s perspective, suggesting that, for the average British citizen, the realities of war would be translated into marketable images, converting horrific violence into scenes of heroism and glory. The subjectivity of the narrator’s impressions also allows for her emotions to be visually depicted; she interprets the Red Cross hospital sheds she passes as ‘rigged-up dancing halls or seaside pavilions’ and describes the cemeteries as ‘beautiful’ and ‘gay’ (440–1). Mansfield uses these absurd comparisons as an indication of her character’s excitement over her adventure as well as a means of demonstrating that, despite her aspirations to worldliness, the narrator is sheltered and naïve, childishly treating her illegal and potentially dangerous journey as a holiday. According to Daniel Katz, this type of encounter with the foreign or the unfamiliar is a form 50

Criticism of translation, as the narrator transposes the unfamiliar images of war and death that she is confronted with into the domestic and familiar, visually translating the scenes she witnesses to mirror her own desires.10 Returning to Schivelbusch’s study, a further change brought about by rail travel was its potential to alter cultural perceptions of the space–time continuum. Schivelbusch notes that the time spent getting from A to B is not objective, but rather a subjective understanding of space–time, and the new, faster transport provided by the railways therefore resulted in a perceived shrinkage of both time and space. Paradoxically, this spatial diminution could simultaneously be interpreted as an expansion, as the new technology of rail travel made distant places more easily accessible, answering the imperialist late nineteenth-century drive to transpose and domesticate the foreign.11 This response to travel as a means of fusing past with present also parallels cultural responses to literary translation, illustrated by Walter Benjamin, who marks translation as the force that constantly renews a text: ‘Just as the manifestations of life are intimately connected with the phenomenon of life without being of importance to it, a translation issues from the original: [. . .] their translation marks their stage of continued life.’12 In a reflection on the effects of the railways on the modern consciousness, Heinrich Heine addressed the paradox of time and space, asking, What changes must now occur, in our way of looking at things, in our notions! Even the elementary concepts of time and space have begun to vacillate. Space is killed by the railways, and we are left with time alone [. . .] I feel as if the mountains and forests of all countries were advancing on Paris. Even now, I can smell the German linden trees; the North Sea’s breakers are rolling against my door.13

It is interesting to note that Heine described this change in visual terms, suggesting that the railway will change ‘our way of looking’; it seems that the privileging of the visual over other sensory information was evident from as early as the 1840s. Heine’s description of this spatial shrinkage also anticipates a later first impression of another new technology: namely, Woolf’s 1926 essay on the cinema. In spite of the obvious differences between the railway and the cinema, it seems that their impact on vision and perception are strikingly similar. Woolf’s account echoes Heine’s as she imagines the potentials of the new medium, writing, ‘[t]he most fantastic contrasts could be flashed before us with a speed which the writer can only toil after in vain. The past could be unrolled, distances could be annihilated.’14 In addition to this changed perception of space, Woolf also suggests that first-time cinemagoers experienced a similar temporal distortion to early train travellers, as she 51

Katherine Mansfield and Translation describes the disorientation she feels on discovering that the events on screen occurred ten years in the past: ‘We are beholding a world which has gone beneath the waves.’15 The influence of these new technologies on cultural perceptions of time and space is a theme commonly explored in modernist fiction. The fragmentation and lack of linear chronology that characterise the works of this period point to a move towards a non-Euclidean understanding of space–time, replacing the concretised narrative with a new fiction in flux. The concept of fiction in flux provides another connection between translation and the visual, relating to Samuel Johnson’s definition of translation as transposition.16 Transposition is defined as the act of moving people or objects from one place to another, and this can equally be applied to the relocation of literary works and their intermedial translations.17 In Mansfield’s works, the notion of existing between languages, cultures and places is a repeated theme, often illustrated through her characters’ visual transpositions through time and space. An example of this spatial and temporal distortion occurs in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’: as the narrator reaches for her Burberry overcoat, she appears to have physically returned to the moment when she first saw the coat in her friend’s home. Mansfield writes, ‘My eye lighted upon it hanging in her little dark hall. The very thing! The perfect and adequate disguise – an old Burberry’ (439). Interestingly, this cinematic flashback effect is not exclusive to Mansfield, with similar scenes appearing in the works of her contemporaries: Joyce’s Eveline hears the music of a street organist and has the sensation that ‘she was again in that close dark room’ by her mother’s deathbed, while Woolf’s Rachel Vinrace from The Voyage Out (1915) is similarly displaced to the moment of her mother’s death when the scent of broom is mentioned, causing her to ‘see’ her aunt assembling funereal flower arrangements.18 The connection between these involuntary memories is that all three have a sensory trigger – the sight of the Burberry, the sound of the organ, the scent of the flowers – again emphasising the cinematicity of this effect. As Woolf points out, the use of such a leitmotif in film allows for boundaries of space and time to be effortlessly transcended: ‘We should have the continuity of human life kept before us by the repetition of some object common to both lives.’19 Another similarity between Eveline, Rachel and Mansfield’s protagonist is that all three are young women who are poised at the outset of a life-changing journey. It is possible that it is the act of journeying itself, or the anticipation of journeying in Eveline’s case, that allows for these characters’ fluidity of consciousness; although they are physically static while experiencing their immersive memories, the disruption of 52

Criticism the journey allows the boundaries of space and time to break down. In Modernist Short Fiction by Women, Claire Drewery suggests that travel is a movement ‘out of the normal parameters of life [. . .] into a different, other, world’, adding that ‘the journey, embodying linear, physical and also spiritual attributes, thus represents the “interspace” of consciousness in an interlude of spatial and temporal transition’.20 The term ‘interspace’ here is again suggestive of translation, with the translation process being interpreted as a liminal space or a space of mediation. Shirley Chew and Alistair Stead draw attention to the connection between translation and travel: [S]emantic transportation, whether active or passive, may be easily correlated to the literal or transferred senses of the migration of writers or characters, underling the point that [. . .] translation under consideration may be the activity of the writer or the projected character, or both, and bringing to the fore the potentiality for cultural resignification.21

However, the ripe potentials for both this resignification and the spiritual insights that Drewery implies the journey brings about are often thwarted in modernist fiction. All three journeys in the above examples have a negative outcome: in a classic example of paralysis which is the controlling force in the lives of Joyce’s Dubliners, Eveline does not make it on to the ship that would provide her with an escape from her father’s tyranny; her way is blocked by railings. Rachel’s journey is both physical and metaphorical, as she travels from London to South America while simultaneously beginning her development from a primitive creature from the ‘bottom of the sea’ (19), in the words of her mentor Helen, to the successful society lady her father wishes her to become, a role against which she learns to rebel. Both of these journeys also prematurely come to an end, as Rachel’s illness causes her to return to a prehuman state, which critics like Alex Zwerdling do, however, interpret as a message of empowerment, representing Rachel’s rejection of the socially acceptable persona that has been forced upon her as she is pressured into marriage and following in the footsteps of her mother.22 In ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, the protagonist undergoes a similar rite of passage from innocence to experience, and while she reaches her physical destination, her naïve interpretation of her journey as a thrilling adventure is swiftly crushed as she comes face to face with the reality of war. It would appear that in modernist fiction, the journey is not always a route to positive change, instead resulting in paralysis, alienation and death. As well as presenting the individual rite of passage, the journey in Mansfield’s fiction is also representative of social change on a larger scale. In literature and the arts, the railway was commonly used as a 53

Katherine Mansfield and Translation symbol of this changing world order; according to Schivelbusch, trains are a key feature of modernity, representing the visible presence of technology in the everyday, public domain. Schivelbusch writes, ‘thus the physical experience of technology mediated consciousness of the emerging social order; it gave a form to a revolutionary rupture with past forms of experience, of social order, of human relation’.23 This transition in human experience is explored throughout Mansfield’s œuvre, with the railway setting of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ providing an ideal metaphor for a risky journey from older propriety to more modern and liberal beliefs. Mansfield allows a sensation of guilt to permeate the holiday-like atmosphere of the narrative through use of a filmic device as the narrator imagines a decorative seagull on another passenger’s hat becoming alive. The movement of the seagull is comparable to the visual effects of early trick film, in which inanimate objects appeared to come to life, often for comic effect or to suggest a supernatural presence. While the seagull’s animation fits in with the flippant and comical tone of the first half of the story, it also marks a transition to the more serious undertones of the second half. As the woman who wears the seagull hat interrogates the narrator, it becomes increasingly obvious that she suspects the purpose of the narrator’s ‘indiscreet journey’. In one of the narrative’s many instances of translating word into image, the narrator’s increasing guilt is amplified as she begins to imagine the seagull echoing the woman’s words in a more direct and condemning manner, and she feels the judgement of its gaze: ‘Its round eyes, fixed on me so inquiringly, were almost too much to bear. I had a dreadful impulse to shoo it away’ (442–3). The narrator’s imagined address to her fellow passenger – ‘Excusez-moi, madame, but perhaps you have not remarked there is an espèce de sea-gull couché sur votre chapeau’ (443) – is also significant as an example of literal translation, with the narrator’s thoughts throughout the story fluidly shifting between her native English and a collection of schoolgirl French phrases. While initially suggesting her excitement at the Otherness of her adventure’s location, these language games also illustrate the narrator’s status as an outsider; Mansfield translates the sensation of auditory displacement into words when the narrator is unable to understand the ticket collector’s advice, hearing only ‘you must change at X.Y.Z’ (440), while her mental shifts between French and English when confronted by the woman with the seagull hat and the officers who check her passport suggest a frantic struggle for words which ultimately proves futile, as she knows she will be unable to defend her actions in any language. The seagull, like the train, is therefore representative of the narrator’s liminality; in spite of her free-spirited nature, there is still tension between her personal 54

Criticism beliefs and her deeper, internalised beliefs regarding women’s roles. Similar subjective visual effects appear in ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’ (1908); as Rosabel travels home by bus, her eye is caught by a sensual scene in a fellow passenger’s book, and the shame that her subsequent arousal causes her to experience makes her feel as though she is being scrutinised, causing ‘the whole row of people on the opposite seat [. . .] to resolve into one fatuous, staring face’.24 While the animation of the seagull is comparable to early filmic effects, the visual transformation in ‘Rosabel’ anticipates the techniques of expressionist film, like Metropolis (1927) or Der letzte Mann (1924), in which close-ups of eyes and faces are nightmarishly superimposed over each other in order to illustrate a character’s distress. An early example of the liminal journey is also apparent in ‘Rosabel’, as the contrast between the beautiful streets through which the bus passes and its decidedly unglamorous lower ­middle-class passengers emphasises Rosabel’s state of in-betweenness. While she sets herself apart from her own social class, the over-familiarity and objectification that she experiences from the affluent customers at her work suggests that she is unlikely to attain the fairytale lifestyle to which she aspires. Like so many of Mansfield’s characters, Rosabel is caught between worlds, and Mansfield’s choice to open the story with Rosabel’s journey from the affluent area where she works to the poverty of her home emphasises the isolation of her existence. This sensation of in-betweenness is, of course, also relevant to Mansfield’s own experiences, both as an expatriate writer and as a sexually liberated, bisexual woman in a time in which Victorian morality still endured. The events in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ are autobiographical, as Mansfield travelled into the French war zone in 1915 to visit writer Francis Carco, with whom she was briefly infatuated, and it is likely that she experienced similar conflict to her protagonist in her attempts to reconcile the freedom of her bohemian adult life and the Victorian values of her childhood and family. Angela Smith draws attention to a dream described in Mansfield’s notebooks which illustrates this sensation of duality.25 Mansfield meets Oscar Wilde and invites him to her family home, yet instantly regrets the decision: ‘When I arrived home it seemed madness to have asked him. Father & Mother were in bed. What if Father came down & found that chap Wilde in one of the chintz armchairs?’26 The pressure of leading a double life clearly invades Mansfield’s subconscious, just as the seagull in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ is a manifestation of her character’s subconscious fears. Mansfield’s experiences of duality can also be linked to a deeper sense of dividedness, since she was never truly at home in either New Zealand or England. Her status as an outsider reflects Julia Kristeva’s arguments 55

Katherine Mansfield and Translation in Strangers to Ourselves, in which she defines the foreigner or exile as being characterised by ‘lost origin, the impossibility to take root, a rummaging memory, the present in abeyance. The space of the foreigner is a moving train, a plane in flight, the very transition that precludes stopping. As to landmarks, there are none.’27 Both the sensation of rootlessness and the inability to stop travelling were defining characteristics of Mansfield’s existence; in the words of Eva Hoffman, she spent a life ‘lost in translation’.28 Katz draws attention to the connections between exile, expatriation and translation in his study on expatriate American modernists, suggesting that the modern traveller or ‘cosmopolite’ – a term borrowed from Henry James – has lost the ability to feel at home anywhere, ‘including and above all in his or her originary “home”’.29 This idea of sociocultural translation, or lack of translation, is relevant to Mansfield’s own sense of exile; like James’s cosmopolite, her constant travels never brought her closer to the sense of belonging that she sought. This outsider status can potentially be traced back to Mansfield’s childhood since colonial New Zealand culture was itself a translated form of Englishness. As stories like ‘The Garden Party’ (1922) explore, with the Sheridan family’s determination to uphold upper-class English values and fashions in spite of the incongruity of their surroundings, the speech and culture of New Zealand society are not their own, but rather a mimicry of a different society. Katz posits that this translated sense of homeland leads to uncertainty and exile: ‘How does one live when one’s language is itself a “translation,” when the native tongue has been separated from its conditions of nativity?’30 The notion of being lost in translation is also a state that has particular associations with women’s writing and experiences. Chew and Stead suggest that ‘translation is often the conscious subject of women’s ­writing’, with many female authors and their female characters using translation as a means of subverting patriarchal culture.31 Through the act of writing, women partake in an act of border-crossing between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ literary subjects, translating male-established literary conventions into a female literary voice. This sense of translation is particularly applicable to modernist women writers, as around the turn of the century the number of women with the time, education and social freedom to be able to create and publish works of fiction was dramatically on the rise, thus providing the greatest historical challenge to the ‘masculine’ language of the narrative. In spite of this shift towards a greater sense of creative freedom, however, a significant majority of works by modernist women tackle issues of exclusion and marginality. Drewery argues that the consciousness and exploration of liminality is a connecting theme across modernist women’s fiction, with these works 56

Criticism sharing a common ‘acute awareness of shifting transient states, exclusionary categories, marginality and superfluity as conditions which are intimately tied to women’s subjectivities’.32 It would be difficult to find a writer to whom these words more directly apply; the vast majority of Mansfield’s stories present women at moments of transition or women who have been driven to the margins of society by their age, sexuality or failure to conform to expected social roles. As well as representing the changing values at the turn of the century, the narrator’s rite of passage in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ also reflects the ways by which literature as a whole was affected by the Great War. At the outset of the narrative, the narrator epitomises pre-war naïvety with her dreams of adventure – facing lions and rescuing shipwrecked ladies – reflecting the popularity of romance and adventure tales at the turn of the century, as exemplified in the fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne. This period of light-hearted fiction was, however, abruptly brought to an end by the impact of the war; the sheer scale and destructiveness of this event led to the belief that culture, the arts and civilisation were in crisis, and writers turned to apocalyptic prophesying. In The Modern British Novel, Malcolm Bradbury marks the Great War as a turning point for modern fiction, characterised by the realization that the[re] would have to be new words, that the war had drained most of the old ones of signification, that a different language, pared of most of the old romantic and cultural associations, would have to be found.33

This shift from romantic idealism to a starkly realist style of fiction is presented in miniature in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, with the narrator’s journey from innocence to experience paralleling the larger-scale transition that was simultaneously taking place in Europe. The narrator’s shift from pre-war optimism, experimentation and newness to a more sinister and bleak outlook is shown visually through her changing subjective impressions of the world around her; the houses that seemed festive during her train journey become menacing once she reaches the village and moves closer to the realities of war, looking ‘strange and mysterious’ in the ‘ragged drifting light and thin rain’ (445). The train itself also takes on a new role towards the end of the narrative; while initially it was the narrator’s ally – ‘the train was on my side’ (440) – it later becomes a threat as she compares its far-off sounds to ‘a big beast shuffling in its sleep’ (449), anticipating Yeats’s apocalyptic post-war visions in ‘The Second Coming’ (1919) of an unknown creature slowly advancing upon civilisation. Similar symbols of destruction appear as the narrator and her lover dine in a café; the uneasy presence of war, 57

Katherine Mansfield and Translation even in this supposedly safe, domestic space, is suggested by the wallpaper. The narrator’s claustrophobia and discomfort are apparent as she contemplates the ‘creamy paper patterned all over with green and swollen trees – hundreds and hundreds of trees reared their mushroom heads to the ceiling’ (446). The overwhelming number of the trees, as well as the words ‘swollen’ and ‘reared’, make them appear threatening, recalling the sinister black trees at the outset of the story and implying that the natural world is infected by some unnatural sickness. ‘Mushroom heads’ is also a direct reference to war, creating a visual representation of explosions. These symbolic backdrops feature in several of Mansfield’s stories, such as ‘Leves Amores’ (1907), in which the birds and flowers on the wallpaper come alive as a visualisation of the two characters’ sexual reawakening. This striking effect is potentially a nod to early projection technology like the magic lantern, as well as acting as an articulation of taboo or forbidden emotions through images rather than words as a means of avoiding censorship. In ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, the shift towards a negative, post-war understanding of the world is also evident through the narrator’s changing interpretations of time. The outset of the narrative is characterised by temporal fluidity as the narrator’s fairytale-like impressions of the world around her are interspersed with immersive memories of the past and images of a projected future ‘when the war is over’ (441). However, towards the end of the narrative, this promise of the future has been replaced by uncertainty, as time seems to have ground to a halt; the narrator thinks ‘there is no village at all – the streets are quiet under the grass. I have an idea this is the sort of thing one will do on the very last day of all – sit in an empty café and listen to a clock ticking until –’ (446). The festive atmosphere from the beginning of the narrator’s journey has been stifled, with the village’s blanketing under grass implying the end of human civilisation. The ticking clock too suggests a countdown to some apocalyptic event, with the ominous breaking off at the word ‘until – ’ emphasising the unknowability of the future. Much like Kezia and Linda’s fear of an unknown presence in ‘Prelude’ (1917), referred to simply as ‘IT’ and ‘THEY’,34 the narrator cannot find the words to articulate her fears, as the war has destroyed the certainties of conventional language. Returning to Bradbury’s argument, the unfinished sentences and the narrator’s avoidance of addressing the realities of her situation suggest that Mansfield is trying to translate war experience into a language that does not yet exist, resulting in the story’s constant sense of loss and rupture beneath its adventure-like veneer. War has shifted human experience into an area for which there is no comparative means of communication, meaning that war and 58

Criticism post-war texts exist in abeyance; for Mansfield, there is no sufficient means of translating an event of such magnitude into words. In a letter dating from 1919, Mansfield describes the war as another site of liminality, stating, ‘The war transforms, through tragic knowledge, familiar reality, as the liminal’s experience of the rite of passage transforms the things of ordinary life: they are intensified, they are illumined.’35 Similar subjective impressions of the liminal journey appear in ‘The Little Governess’ (1915), which also recounts a young woman’s travels through Europe, in this case a governess moving from England to Germany to meet her new employer. As in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, the governess’s journey is a rite of passage from innocence to experience, with the story providing an even bleaker assessment of the ways in which women are viewed by society. An aspect of this story that is often overlooked, however, is its presentation of a character’s first experience of high-speed travel, recalling the accounts of this bewildering new visual sensation to which Schivelbusch draws attention. Mansfield’s translation of the acuity of the visual process into words is again evident here as the governess sees people as blurs of colour which gradually gain clarity as the train slows. The descriptions move from impressionistic details as the train travels at speed, like ‘a woman with black hair and a white shawl’,36 or a glimpse of a colourful blanket as it is ‘flung across a window frame’ (428), to detailed close-ups of flowers in the station as the train comes to a stop. The visual distortion that comes with viewing a scene from a mobile perspective recurs throughout Mansfield’s stories: the protagonist of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ watches as lampposts ‘sw[i] m past the train’ (443), while the physicality of high-speed travel is suggested in ‘Something Childish but very Natural’ (1914) as the train leaves London and ‘flings behind the rooftops and chimneys’.37 It is interesting to note that a theme common to all of these accounts is the fluidity of interior and exterior; the governess too experiences the curious sensation that she is static while the outside world is moving, watching houses ‘glide by’ (428). This perceived static viewing experience again demonstrates the connection between rail travel and cinematicity in modernist thought, with the governess’s sequential descriptions of each new scene that appears before her recalling Gastineau’s description of the railway journey as a series of theatrical vignettes. In her essay on the cinematicity of Mansfield’s fiction, Sarah Sandley draws attention to both the railway journey and the use of fragmented scenes as examples of the visual consciousness of the short stories. Sandley describes Mansfield’s fiction as being ‘structured as episodic, filmic vignettes – the action moves forward in an often discontinuous manner, switching from one scene, time and place to another, with the added sensation 59

Katherine Mansfield and Translation of speed and movement, often by train, and the drama of darkness and light’.38 This intermedial translation from cinematic image to written word again emphasises the liminal status of Mansfield’s fiction as she draws influence from a variety of art forms. In addition to this subjective account of the physical journey in ‘The Little Governess’, Mansfield also presents her protagonist’s psychological journey in visual terms. Sandley’s comments on ‘the drama of darkness and light’ are particularly relevant as Mansfield manipulates light and colour to present the tension between innocence and experience in the narrative, particularly in the contrast between the ladies’ cabin and the ship’s deck. The soft, pastel colours and gentle light within the ladies’ cabin present it as a place of safety for the governess, with the other ladies’ feminine activities – caring for their clothes, arranging their hair, knitting – emphasising that the governess’s sense of safety is due to this being an exclusively female space. However, this safe, child-like world is abruptly destroyed as the ship arrives in France and the governess makes her way on to the deck. Mansfield’s subjective narration effectively illustrates the disorientation of travelling by night and awaking to find oneself in an unfamiliar place, as the deck seems sinister and dangerous with the soft shapes and colours of the ladies’ cabin being replaced by ‘strange muffled figures’ and ‘masts and spars of the ship black against a green glittering sky’ (423). The word ‘strange’ is repeated several times in this sequence, suggesting the governess’s lack of experience in such situations, while the description of her moving ‘with the sleepy flock’ (423) implies that she is a sacrificial lamb, i­nnocent to the dangers that lie ahead. The colour and lighting effects used both in the ladies’ cabin and on the deck reappear throughout the story, allowing the governess’s emotions to be expressed visually through exaggerated images rather than coherent thought. Similar visual effects appear in Mansfield’s later story, ‘The Voyage’ (1921), in which the liminal states of adolescence, travel and death – all ‘transitional times’,39 in the words of Drewery – combine as the young protagonist Fenella is sent to live with her grandparents following the death of her mother. As with the governess’s journey, the strangeness of Fenella’s voyage is emphasised by its nocturnal setting, and the fragmentation of the faces of the ‘dark men’40 on the ship suggest that the certainties of her old life are breaking apart. The lighting effects in both stories anticipate chiaroscuro effects in film in which intense, angular shadows were used to express emotion, a visual effect which was in turn translated from the literary narrative methods of Gothic fiction. Mansfield’s expressionistic use of colour also reflects the early uses of colour in film, anticipating films like de Mille’s 60

Criticism Joan the Woman (1916), which uses tinted negatives to colour the shots of the fire, creating an apocalyptic effect in the scene in which Joan of Arc is burned, as well as Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera (1925), where the scenes in which Christine descends to the phantom’s lair are tinted green, similar to Mansfield’s use of the colour green in ‘The Little Governess’ to create a sinister effect and to illustrate her heroine’s liminal status. Mansfield’s fascination with female subjectivity is apparent throughout her works as she presents the world as it appears from a multitude of disparate perspectives. Her writing can be read as a form of translation, both in its intermedial transposing of images into words and, in a more figurative sense, in its explorations of the in-between or untranslatable status of women, expatriates and other marginalised groups. In order to translate these characters’ experiences, as well as her own, into words, Mansfield often turns to the visual, recreating the ways in which people see during moments of liminality: a journey into the unknown, a clash between old and new values, an encounter with the trauma of war. In Mansfield’s recreation of the sensory experience of travel, the influence of both rail travel and the cinema on modern perception is evident; the impact of high-speed travel on understandings of time is explored, as well as the use of cinematic effects to express emotions in visual terms. This inherent intermediality in Mansfield’s fiction therefore allows for the short stories to be read as translated works, drawing from a ­multitude of sources to create a verbal collage of female subjectivity. Notes   1. Alan Spiegel, Fiction and the Camera Eye: Visual Consciousness in Film and the Modern Novel (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976), p. 17.   2. Honoré de Balzac, untitled 1840 review of Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma, qtd. in Spiegel, p. 5.   3. Joseph Conrad, A Conrad Argosy (London: Doubleday, 1942), p. 83.   4. Fernand Léger, ‘Contemporary Achievements in Painting’, in Cubism, ed. by E. F. Fry (London: Thames & Hudson, 1914), p. 135.  5. Rebecca Beasley, ‘Modernism’s Translations’, in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, ed. by Mark Wollaeger and Matt Eatough (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 551–70 (p. 554).   6. Spiegel, p. 25.   7. Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern (Oakland: University of California Press, 1994), p. 6.   8. Benjamin Gastineau, La Vie en chemin de fer (Paris: E. Dentu, 1861), p. 31.  9. Katherine Mansfield, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, in Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan, eds, The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), Vol. 1, pp. 439–51 (p. 440). Page numbers hereafter appear in parentheses, with references to other stories referred to as Fiction, followed by volume and page number.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation 10. Daniel Katz, American Modernism’s Expatriate Scene: The Labour of Translation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), p. 15. 11. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1986), p. 35. 12. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1 1913–1926, ed. by Marcus Bollock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1996), pp. 253–63 (p. 254). 13. Heinrich Heine, Lutezia, 2 vols (Charleston: Nabu Press, 2002), vol. 2, p. 360. 14. Virginia Woolf, ‘The Cinema’, in Virginia Woolf: Selected Essays, ed. by David Bradshaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 172–6 (p. 175). 15. Woolf, p. 173. 16. Samuel Johnson, Johnson’s Dictionary (Boston: Benjamin Perkins & Co., 1828), p. 394. 17. Shirley Chew and Alistair Stead, Translating Life: Studies in Transpositional Aesthetics (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999), p. 4. 18. James Joyce, ‘Eveline’, in Dubliners, ed. by Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 25–9 (p. 28); Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 33. 19. Woolf, ‘The Cinema’, p. 175. 20. Claire Drewery, Modernist Short Fiction by Women: The Liminal in Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Richardson, May Sinclair and Virginia Woolf (Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), p. 18. 21. Chew and Stead, p. 3. 22. Alex Zwerdling, Virginia Woolf and the Real World (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), p. 178. 23. Schivelbusch, p. 15. 24. Fiction, 1, p. 134. 25. Angela Smith, ‘Introduction’, in Katherine Mansfield: Selected Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. ix–xxxii (p. x). 26. Margaret Scott, ed., The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, 2 vols (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 243. 27. Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), pp. 7–8. 28. Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation (London: Vintage, 1998). 29. Katz, p. 6. 30. Katz, p. 14. 31. Chew and Stead, p. 4. 32. Drewery, p. 11. 33. Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel 1878–2001 (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 82. 34. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Prelude’, in Fiction, 2, pp. 49–90 (p. 53, p. 67). 35. Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984–2008), Vol. 3, p. 97. 36. Fiction, 1, p. 428. 37. Fiction, 1, p. 375. 38. Sarah Sandley, ‘Leaping into the Eyes: Mansfield as a Cinematic Writer’, in Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays, ed. by Gerri Kimber and Janet Wilson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 72–83 (p. 78). 39. Drewery, p. 11. 40. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Voyage’, in Fiction, 2, pp. 372–9.


Unshed Tears: Meaning, Trauma and Translation Davide Manenti

‘What we most fear, I suggest, is not death; nor even physical anguish, mental decay, disintegration. We fear most the loss of meaning. To lose meaning is to lose one’s humanity, and this is more terrifying than death.’ Joyce Carol Oates1

In the early nineteenth century, Schleiermacher noted that ‘understanding is an unending task’ and ‘the talent for misunderstanding is infinite’.2 In more recent times, meaning has been understood as an endless deferral; the more one tries to grasp it, the more it appears ungraspable. This rings especially true if we consider the particular form of understanding that is translation. Since the meaning of a text is closely attached to its ‘letter’ – its sound or signifier – translation can never be a simple transfer of meaning. Indeed, no matter how accurately one brings meaning ‘home’,3 the result is inevitably approximate, partial – a fraught compromise reached through negotiation and compensation. If meaning is constantly deferred and displaced, however, what kind of ‘testimony’ can translation truly offer? In other words, how can ­translation bear witness to its reference – the source text? I will tackle this question by examining the relationship between translation and two other types of witnessing: psychoanalysis and literature. In particular, I will explore the notion of trauma, which has attracted considerable interdisciplinary attention over the past few decades. Trauma is an experience that ‘simultaneously defies and demands our witness’,4 challenging the way we normally understand meaning. Since Sigmund Freud’s pioneering work, trauma has been fruitfully investigated through literary writing. ‘If Freud turns to literature to describe the traumatic experience,’ Cathy Caruth argues, ‘it is because 63

Katherine Mansfield and Translation literature, like psychoanalysis, is interested in the complex relationship between knowing and not knowing.’5 In this essay I will consider some key aspects of trauma and discuss how they relate to translation. I will then provide a close-reading of a story that, in my view, exemplifies the structure of the traumatic experience: Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Life of Ma Parker’. Finally, through the analysis of my own translation of that story, I will propose a rethinking of translation as a form of testimony that originates where a direct access to meaning seems to be denied.

Traumatic Departures In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), Freud examines traumatic neuroses affecting veterans from the Great War. These neuroses consist of belated and repetitive intrusions – flashbacks, obsessive thoughts or dreams – of horrifying images witnessed at the front. Comparing war neuroses with accident neuroses, Freud argues that ‘dreams occurring in traumatic neuroses have the characteristic of repeatedly bringing the patient back into the situation of his accident, a situation from which he wakes up in another fright’.6 Thus trauma develops from a ‘fright’ or ‘lack of preparedness’ for an overwhelming event – an event that, Caruth explains, ‘is experienced too soon, too unexpectedly, to be fully known and is therefore not available to consciousness until it imposes itself again, repeatedly, in the nightmares and actions of the survivor’.7 The repetition compulsion haunting the traumatised is, according to Freud, an attempt ‘to master the stimulus retrospectively, by developing the anxiety whose omission was the cause of the traumatic event’.8 Trauma is the belated and always frustrated effort to cope with ­ungraspable meanings. In the second chapter of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud elucidates the structure of repetition compulsion through the well-known case of the fort/da game. A one-and-a-half-year-old boy – Freud’s grandson – has developed the habit of throwing objects away, whilst uttering the sound ‘oooo’. With the help of the boy’s mother, Freud understands that the ‘o’ sound means fort (‘gone’ in German). On another occasion, the little boy is seen throwing a spool over the edge of his bed, uttering the usual ‘o’, and then retrieving it, uttering da (‘there’). The boy, Freud speculates, is staging the departure and return of his mother. Yet Freud eventually understands that the first act, that of departure, is ‘staged as a game in itself and far more frequently than the episode in its entirety, with its pleasurable ending’.9 Through that game, the boy is re-enacting the departure of his mother; what he repeats over and over 64

Criticism again, c­ ompulsively, is what he cannot fully understand – the traumatic ­experience of being abandoned. It is in the paradoxical structure of trauma – as an event that is experienced only belatedly and as ‘an attempted return that instead departs’10 – that I see a parallel with translation. ‘Translation’, writes Susan Bassnett, ‘may be a means of recovering the past, of bringing the dead back to life, but what it recovers must remain forever incompletely known and understood’.11 In the fort/da game, the meaning of the traumatic event is deferred and compulsively repeated. Even Freud’s actual translation of the boy’s sounds into German – a coded language – is less straightforward than it might appear: the analyst moves from one interpretation to the other (the game is now a game about departure, now about departure and return, and then again about departure), almost suggesting a re-enactment of the game structure in his own theoretical speculation.12 Paradoxically, however, the encounter with an ungraspable meaning turns into something new: the repetition of a creative act. Indeed, Freud emphasizes that the fort/da game was the ‘first self invented game’ of the boy, an observation that Jacques Lacan and, more recently, Cathy Caruth later adopted and developed. The game ‘represents the origin of symbolic language as such in the differentiation of the phonemes o and a’.13 Freud’s example recalls Derrida’s image of translation as a child who is not simply ‘a product subjected to the law of reproduction’, but ‘has the power to speak on its own’.14 With his game the boy bears witness to the inexplicable otherness of his past; yet, in returning to this past, the boy simultaneously departs into the future of his own existence. Walter Benjamin maintained that translation ensures the survival of a text, offering the potential for an ‘afterlife’;15 trauma, like translation, is its survival, its future: the ‘waking up in another fright’.

Unshed Tears: Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Life of Ma Parker’ Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Life of Ma Parker’ was published in 1921, one year after Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and can legitimately be read as a story about death, grief and traumatic awakening to life.16 Ma Parker is an old charwoman who has just lost her little grandchild. The day after his funeral, a Tuesday morning, she has already returned to work. Her employer is a ‘literary gentleman’ – one of Mansfield’s satirical portraits of London’s ‘well-to-do pseudo-bohemians’.17 The only words of condolence he is able to offer are: ‘I hope the funeral was a – a – success.’18 The place looks like a ‘gigantic dustbin’, but this is the gentleman’s ‘system’: ‘you simply dirty everything you’ve got, get a hag in once a week to clean up, and the thing’s done’ (293). Ma Parker 65

Katherine Mansfield and Translation is overwhelmed by grief; while she tidies things up, her mind wanders, revisiting upsetting memories. She has toiled away her whole life: first as a kitchen maid in dreadful places and then as a mother of thirteen children. Seven of these have died; the others have fallen ‘victim to the other ills of the late-Victorian underclass: emigration, prostitution, poor health, worse luck’.19 Ma Parker’s husband, a baker, has also died, of tuberculosis, and now her grandchild Lennie – ‘all she’s got from life’ (296) – is gone too. In despair, Ma Parker eventually leaves the gentleman’s apartment: ‘She was like a person so dazed by the horror of what has happened that he walks away – anywhere, as though by walking away he could escape’ (296). She is determined to find a place where she can ‘keep herself to herself’ and have ‘a proper cry’ (297). But the ending of the story is unredemptive; in the midst of human indifference, frozen by an icy wind, Ma Parker’s tears remain unshed. An almost compulsive thematic and stylistic repetition marks the story from beginning to end. Repetition is first suggested by the controlled reoccurrence of Ma Parker’s activities. Expressions like ‘every Tuesday’, ‘for years’, ‘now and again’, ‘Many a time’ and ‘Every Sunday morning’ communicate Ma Parker’s daily routine. Repetition has settled her pain into habitual gestures; an extraordinary endurance has blended into the banality of an ordinary ‘hard life’: Then she tied her apron and sat down to take off her boots. To take off her boots or to put them on was an agony to her, but it had been an agony for years. In fact, she was so accustomed to the pain that her face was drawn and screwed up ready for the twinge before she’d so much as untied the laces. ‘[. . .] I’ve had a hard life.’ Even the neighbours said that of her. Many a time, hobbling home with her fish bag she heard them, waiting at the corner, or leaning over the area railings, say among themselves, ‘She’s had a hard life, has Ma Parker.’ And it was so true she wasn’t in the least proud of it. It was just as if you were to say she lived in the basement-back at Number 27. A hard life! (292–3)

However, as the story unfolds, the way in which Ma Parker recollects her past becomes less predictable, more complex and problematic. A general sense of numbing emerges in Ma Parker’s recollection. Her memory is disrupted, fragmented; it is full of gaps – like the fishnet bag she carries; it is a worn memory – like the ‘very worn’ clouds she sees out of a smudgy window. Take, for example, the following two passages: Nothing remained of Stratford except that ‘sitting in the fireplace of a evening you could see the stars through the chimley,’ and ‘Mother always


Criticism ’ad ’er side of bacon ’anging from the ceiling.’ And there was something – a bush, there was – at the front door, that smelt ever so nice. But the bush was very vague. She’d only remembered it once or twice in the hospital, when she’d been taken bad. (294) Her husband sat up in bed with his shirt pulled over his head, and the doctor’s finger drew a circle on his back. ‘Now, if we were to cut him open here, Mrs Parker,’ said the doctor, ‘you’d find his lungs chock-a-block with white powder. Breathe, my good fellow!’ And Mrs Parker never knew for certain whether she saw or whether she fancied she saw a great fan of white dust come out of her poor dear husband’s lips . . . (294)

Ma Parker’s intrusive thoughts are compulsive attempts at ‘translating’ the jagged fragments of her past into a cohesive and meaningful narrative. Significantly, the climax of the story coincides with the most painful memory of her recent past, a memory that is not only unbearable but also impossible to understand: She took her brushes and cloths into the bedroom. But when she began to make the bed, smoothing, tucking, patting, the thought of Lennie was unbearable. Why did he have to suffer so? That’s what she couldn’t understand. Why should a little angel child have to arsk [sic] for his breath and fight for it? There was no sense in making a child suffer like that. (296)

The problem of the reference – Lennie’s illness and death – here becomes a problem of representation. The pain of Ma Parker, who has survived the death of her grandchild, is unspeakable. And the last touching scene of the story, with Ma Parker failing at having her ‘cry out’, amplifies the inexpressible dimension of her traumatic grief. Ma Parker’s unshed tears are not an answer; they are, however, a repetition. Her inability to get rid of her burden of grief repeats, I would argue, Lennie’s inability to get rid of the ‘great lump of something’ in his chest: ‘From Lennie’s little box of a chest there came a sound as though something was boiling. There was a great lump of something bubbling in his chest that he couldn’t get rid of’ (296). Ma Parker’s impossible cry is a ‘symptom of history’,20 the symptom of a history she cannot entirely possess but only unwittingly repeat, a history that continues to escape her but to which she none the less bears witness.21 Moreover, the problem of reference and representation is the problem of the author writing the story. It is interesting to note that repetition is central also to Mansfield’s narrative strategy. Repetition occurs in the use of the flashbacks that punctuate the story; more subtly, it is manifest in the choice of a third-person narrator whose vision and voice largely reflect – repeat – those of the protagonist, as in this passage: 67

Katherine Mansfield and Translation But the struggle she’d had to bring up those six little children and keep herself to herself. Terrible it had been! Then, just when they were old enough to go to school her husband’s sister came to stop with them to help things along, and she hadn’t been there more than two months when she fell down a flight of steps and hurt her spine. And for five years Ma Parker had another baby – and such a one for crying! – to look after. Then young Maudie went wrong and took her sister Alice with her; the two boys emigrimated [sic], and young Jim went to India with the army, and Ethel, the youngest, married a good for nothing little waiter who died of ulcers the year little Lennie was born. And now little Lennie – my grandson. . . . (294–5)

In this excerpt, through the technique of internal monologue, the narrator approximates the point of view to that of Ma Parker, goes as far as to adopt the character’s idiolect, and finally intrudes into her first person (‘my grandson’). The narrator reflects Ma Parker’s stream of consciousness, whose rhetoric rests on repetition. Key words, phrases and certain syntactic structures appear again and again in the text. Polysyndeton – the repetition of the conjunction ‘and’ – is one such pattern (as is the case in the passage quoted above). Another recurring conjunction is ‘but’, especially at the beginning of the sentence.22 Both ‘and’ and ‘but’ refer back to the preceding clauses and, at the same time, move forward to the following ones: they exemplify the ‘fort/da’ movement of Ma Parker’s mind, the traumatic rhetoric of her inner thoughts, her obsessive and frustrated search for meaningful coherence. Mansfield, as C. K. Stead notes, ‘doesn’t describe in abstract – she presents’. In her stories, ‘rather than being related the events occur’.23 This preference for showing over telling is particularly suited to a story where the main character does not simply remember what she has witnessed but also repeats what she has not fully understood. Indeed, the distinction between telling and showing reveals similarities with the distinction between remembering and repeating – a distinction made by Freud in his 1914 essay, ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working Through’: ‘the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten or repressed, but acts it out. He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action; he repeats it without, of course, knowing that he is repeating it.’24 This ‘poetics of repetition’ has also guided my translation of Mansfield’s story.

Translating Mansfield Ma Parker’s compulsive, and ultimately frustrated, effort to work through the meaning of her traumas can be read as a process of trans68

Criticism lation. Translation, as I have already mentioned discussing trauma, happens belatedly, looks back at the past of the source text and at the same time looks forward to the future of the translated text. It is a fort/ da game; it is both return and departure, listening and speaking.25 A translation – like a traumatic experience – can never be considered as definitive or exhaustive. This is why a text can be retranslated an indefinite number of times. Retranslation is always ‘stimulated’, writes Paul Ricœur, ‘by the dissatisfaction with regard to existing translations’.26 A new translation may bring the promise of a better and firmer grasp on the source text, but this is possible only within certain limits; ultimately – both theoretically and practically – one has to ‘give up the ideal of perfect translation’.27 To give up is to acknowledge the incommensurable difference between the source text and the translated one and to accept the impossibility of fully capturing and recapturing meaning. Yet translation is not simply a transfer of meaning; it is also the patient listening to the text’s letter – and the attempt to reformulate it in another language. It is here, on the level of the letter, that translation opens up to the ­possibility of a different and unexpected form of witnessing. Antoine Berman has argued that it is only through a ‘labor’ upon the letter that the translator may hope to bear witness to the ‘utter foreignness’ of the source text and simultaneously enrich and vivify the ‘SelfSame (Propre)’ of the translating language: Labor on the letter in translation is more originary than restitution of meaning. It is through this labor that translation, on the one hand, restores the particular signifying process of works (which is more than their ­meaning) and, on the other hand, transforms the translating language.28

Since the letter is the ‘body’ in which meaning finds its full realisation, an attention to the letter is also an indirect way to get access to the text’s profound signification. A ‘translation of the letter’ is not to be confused with a literalist or word-for-word translation. To labour upon the letter means to pay attention to the unique tone of the source text, to its dominant figures of sound, to the meaningful pauses of punctuation, to the pitch of the characters’ voice, to their silences, to the sonorous, material and iconic richness of words, to their echoes, and to the rhythmic flow of the text. Then, the labour on the letter involves the ability of bringing such elements over into another language, in a way that is comparable with the unique voice, rhythm and drive of the original. This is how I have approached the translation of ‘Life of Ma Parker’.29 One of the main challenges I had to overcome was how to translate Ma Parker’s idiolect. Ma Parker’s speech is, in fact, decidedly marked. Her 69

Katherine Mansfield and Translation accent is transcribed on the page by means of unconventional s­ pelling: ‘Beg parding, sir’, ‘kitching maid’, ‘to arsk’, ‘beedles’, ‘chimley’ and so on. One option would have been to reformulate Ma Parker’s level of discourse using one of the many regional varieties, or even dialects, of the Italian language. Such a decision, however, would have given the text an unjustified overtone of mockery. According to Berman, ‘a vernacular clings tightly to its soil and completely resists any direct translating into another vernacular. [. . .] An exoticization that turns the foreign from abroad into the foreign at home winds up merely ridiculing the original.’30 I have compensated for this loss by choosing an almost standard Italian peppered with colloquialism: la mia bella razione (‘my share’, 293); non ci vedeva un briciolo di orgoglio (‘she wasn’t in the least proud of it’, 292); perché se no si perdeva via (‘because they made her dreamy’, 294); a dirla tutta (‘you might say’, 294); e mica una da ridere! (‘and such a one for crying!’, 295); Jim era partito soldato in India (‘Jim went to India with the army’, 295); non era mai stato un ercolino (‘He’d never been a strong child’, 295). Another way to compensate for the losses on the micro-level of single words can be seen in the treatment of syntax. Here is my translation of a passage quoted earlier: Then, just when they were old enough to go to school her husband’s sister came to stop with them to help things along, and she hadn’t been there more than two months when she fell down a flight of steps and hurt her spine. And for five years Ma Parker had another baby – and such a one for crying! – to look after. Then young Maudie went wrong and took her sister Alice with her; the two boys emigrimated [sic], and young Jim went to India with the army, and Ethel, the youngest, married a good for nothing little waiter who died of ulcers the year little Lennie was born. And now little Lennie – my grandson. . . (295)

Poi, quando erano grandi abbastanza per andare a scuola, la sorella del marito era venuta a stare con loro per darle manforte, e dopo neanche due mesi non era caduta da una scala rovinandosi la spina dorsale? E per cinque anni Ma’ Parker dovette badare a un’altra figlia – e mica una da ridere! Poi la giovane Maudie si era messa su una cattiva strada, trascinando con sé sua sorella Alice; i due maschi erano migrati e Jim era partito soldato in India e Ethel, la più piccola, aveva sposato quella frana di cameriere, morto di ulcera l’anno in cui era nato Lennie. E adesso lui – il mio nipotino. . .

This passage reflects, lexically and syntactically, the oral modulation of Ma Parker’s internal monologue. Challenging the conventions of standard Italian, I have retained Mansfield’s use of polysyndeton without rationalising the text. Also, I have turned an affirmative sentence (‘she 70

Criticism fell down a flight of steps and hurt her spine’) into a negative rhetorical question (non era caduta da una scala rovinandosi la spina dorsale?), which has the effect of adding emphasis to the assertion, accentuating Ma Parker’s point of view and the detours of her perplexed state of mind. In other passages I have made use of marked syntactic structures – in particular dislocations – very frequent in spoken Italian: Lo compativa, il povero signorino (‘She pitied the poor young gentleman’, 293); Certo che è stata dura, la vita di Ma’ Parker (‘She’s had a hard life, has Ma Parker’, 293); Non ci stavo poi molto in negozio, io (‘I wasn’t in the shop above a great deal’, 294); Non c’era verso di farlo crescere, il piccolo Lennie (‘Nothing made little Lennie put it on’, 295); Nient’altro che offeso, pareva (‘Only he looked offended’, 296); Si sarebbe spaventata a morte, Ethel (‘It would frighten Ethel out of her life’, 297). I would suggest that, in addition to compensating for lexical losses and emphasising the oral level of discourse, dislocation also mimics the ‘deferred syntax’ of Ma Parker’s psyche. Now let us turn to the translation of ‘A hard life!’, one of Ma Parker’s mental refrains. Rather than translating it with ‘Una vita dura!’, I have opted for the marked expression ‘Dura, la vita!’ Once more, this emphatic construction makes up for the oral, fragmented modulation of Ma Parker’s discourse. When I reread this passage, I noticed – with surprise – that the translation had also gained something on a deeper semantic level. In Italian, ‘dura’ can be either an adjective (‘hard’) or a verb (the third person singular of the present tense of durare: ‘to last’, ‘to continue’); thus the expression ‘Dura, la vita’ means both ‘Hard life’ and ‘Life lasts / continues’. The Italian translation, in my opinion, succeeds in bearing witness to the traumatic truth of Ma Parker’s life: hers is not only a hard life, but also a life that, in spite of everything, dura; a life that survives trial, tribulation and trauma without fully ­understanding their meaning. Take this other example: ‘From Lennie’s little box of a chest there came a sound as though something was boiling’ (296). One problem here was the translation of that ‘little box of a chest’. What came to mind at first was ‘piccola cassa toracica’ (‘rib cage’), which somehow replicates the metaphor of ‘little box’. However, whereas Mansfield’s text is tenderly poignant – the point of view is still Ma Parker’s – the Italian version would have sounded coldly anatomical. An alternative was to get rid of the metaphor: ‘il piccolo petto di Lennie’ or ‘il petto mingherlino di Lennie’. I discussed this passage with Franca Cavagnoli – an experienced and award-winning literary translator who has translated Mansfield herself – and she suggested modifying ‘cassa’ with ‘cassettina’. The addition of the diminutive suffix makes the Italian 71

Katherine Mansfield and Translation version less clinical and more apt to convey Ma Parker’s emotional focalisation. Another translational difficulty was to match the sound and rhythm of Mansfield’s prose. Italian translations are likely to be between 10 to 15 per cent longer than their English originals. This happens not simply because Italian tends to be more ‘wordy’ than English, but also because Italian words are often longer than their English counterparts. This has an obvious impact on rhythm. The large number and stunning effect of one-syllable words in English is a constant challenge for the Italian translator. The heavy-handed rendering of a simple modifier, for example, can slacken or annihilate the rhythmic pattern of a sentence. Consider this example: ‘That over, she sat back with a sigh and softly rubbed her knees’ (292). An acceptable translation could be: ‘Quand’ebbe finito, si allungò sulla sedia con un sospiro e prese a massaggiarsi delicatamente le ginocchia.’ Even a non-native speaker of Italian can hear that the rhythm of the phrase is considerably weighed down. In order to lighten it, I sought a verb that could embed the particular semantic nuance indicated by the modifier. I found it in the verb ‘soffregare’, which alone denotes a soft massage: ‘Quand’ebbe finito, si allungò sulla sedia con un sospiro e prese a soffregarsi le ginocchia.’ This allowed me to do away with a rather heavy modifier and bring the Italian reader closer to the rhythmic effect of the original; furthermore – and again, unexpectedly – the sound of softly ‘survives’ in the prefix of the Italian verb ‘sof-fregare’. Mansfield chooses words for their meaning but also for their sonorous richness or iconic physicality. The translator ought to be aware of this in order to prevent the ‘qualitative impoverishment’ of the text – the loss of its ‘phonetic-signifying truth’.31 The description of the sound of Lennie’s chest, conveyed through Ma Parker’s perspective, is a case in point: ‘the great lump bubbled as a potato knocks in a saucepan’ (296). The difficulty was to translate that ‘knocks’. I could have translated it as: ‘il grosso grumo gorgogliava come una patata che bolle [to boil] in pentola’, but I would have lost the precise dull sound of the English ‘knocks’. This was my final version: ‘il grosso grumo gorgogliava con il tic toc di una patata in pentola’. The onomatopoeia allowed me to retain an echo of the source text; and notice the alliteration in ‘il grosso grumo gorgogliava’, which helped me to reproduce the plosive, drumming sound of ‘great lump bubbled’. The beautiful opening of the last section of the story offers another interesting case: ‘It was cold in the street. There was a wind like ice. People went flitting by, very fast; the men walked like scissors; the women trod like cats’ (296). The challenge here was to reproduce the 72

Criticism intense, iconic and sonorous richness of Mansfield’s words. My first try was: ‘Faceva freddo in strada. Il vento era di ghiaccio. La gente le volteggiava accanto, spedita; gli uomini camminavano come forbici; le donne avanzavano come gatti.’ But the translation of ‘walk like scissors’ and ‘trod like cats’ with the polysyllables ‘camminavano come forbici’ and ‘avanzavano come gatti’ left me unsatisfied; it was a slack rendering of the original. I repeated Mansfield’s words aloud again and again, compulsively, until one day two Italian verbs came to my lips that seemed to me to have the iconic and sonorous quality of the original: ‘gli uomini sforbiciavano via; le donne sgattaiolavano’. The verb sforbiciare (‘to cut with scissors’) combined with the adverb via (‘away’) can be used metaphorically to denote a brisk walk; sgattaiolare refers to the agile, sneaking movement of a cat (‘gatto’ in Italian). I replaced Mansfield’s similes (‘walked like scissors’; ‘trod like cats’) with two metaphorical verbs; however, a metaphor can be seen as ‘a shorter simile’ (brevior similitudo, in the words of the Roman rhetorician Quintilian), and the use of one word instead of three seems to me to compensate for the lack of one-­ syllable equivalents. Moreover, the alliteration of spedita, sforbiciavano and sgattaiolavano echoes some of the sounds of the original (in particular the ‘s’ in ‘faST’, ‘ScissoRS’, and ‘caTS’) – a reverberation that the Italian text would have otherwise lost.

‘To die in freedom’ I have discussed different kinds of repetition here: the repetition compulsion of Freud’s grandson; Ma Parker’s repetitive attempt at mastering a traumatic history that continually escapes her; the aesthetic repetitions of Mansfield, who shows (or acts out) what she cannot simply tell (or remember); and finally my own repetitions as a translator. To repeat is to bear witness to a meaning that is not otherwise available; and to bear witness offers the potential for an ‘afterlife’. In June 1938, Freud took refuge in London from Nazi-occupied Vienna. In a letter to his son Ernst, written shortly before his departure, Freud declares: ‘Two prospects keep me going in these grim times: to rejoin you all and – to die in freedom.’ Unlike the rest of the letter, the phrase ‘to die in freedom’ is not written in German but in English. The announcement of Freud’s freedom and death, Caruth observes, ‘is given in a language that can be heard by those in the new place to which he brings his voice, to us, upon whom the legacy of psychoanalysis is bestowed’.32 In Freud’s final departure I see the kind of witnessing that translation can truly offer: a form of testimony whose meaning is tied up with the past and at the same time stretches into the future of survival. 73

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Notes   1. Joyce Carol Oates, ‘The Aesthetic of Fear’, in Where I’ve Been, and Where I’m Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose (New York: Plume, 1999), p. 35.  2. Quoted in Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha, eds, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (London, New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 131.  3. ‘The translator invades, extracts, and brings home.’ George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 314.  4. Cathy Caruth, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History (Baltimore, London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 5.   5. Caruth, p. 3.   6. Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. by James Strachey (London: Hogarth, 1953–74), vol. 18, p. 13.   7. Caruth, p. 4.   8. Freud, p. 32.   9. Freud, p. 36. 10. Cathy Caruth, Literature in the Ashes of History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), p. 81. 11. Susan Bassnett, ‘Prologue’, in Tradition, Translation, Trauma: The Classic and the Modern, ed. by Jan Parker and Timothy Mathews (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 2. 12. Cf. Caruth, Literature in the Ashes of History, p. 15. 13. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience, p. 94. 14. Jacques Derrida, ‘Des tours de Babel’, in Difference and Translation, ed. by Joseph F. Graham (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 191. 15. Cf. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator: An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux Parisiens’, The Translation Studies Reader, ed. by Lawrence Venuti, trans. by Harry Zohn (New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. 75–85. 16. There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that Mansfield had ever read or was familiar with Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which was translated into English only in 1922. It is a well-known fact, however, that many writers of the time were deeply concerned with trauma, and in particular with the traumatic experience of the war. In Mrs Dalloway (1925), for example, through the character of Septimus Warren Smith, Virginia Woolf explored the theme of the ‘deferred effects of shell shock’ (Mrs Dalloway, London: Penguin, 1992, p. 201). 17. Sydney Janet Kaplan, Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction (Ithaca, NY, London: Cornell University Press, 1991), p. 12. 18. Katherine Mansfield, ‘Life of Ma Parker’, in The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, 1916–1922, ed. by Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), p. 292. Further page references are cited parenthetically in the text. 19. Susan Lohafer, Reading for Storyness: Preclosure Theory, Empirical Poetics, and Culture in the Short Story (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 72. 20. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience, p. 5. 21. It is worth noting that the ‘bubbling’ and ‘boiling’ sound of Lennie’s chest repeats, in turn, Mansfield’s own experience as a consumptive patient. In a 1920 journal entry, she wrote: ‘I cough and cough and at each breath a dragging boiling bubbling sound is heard. I feel that my whole chest is boiling’ (Margaret Scott, ed., The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks. Canterbury, New Zealand: Lincoln University


Criticism and Daphne Brasell Associates, 1997, Vol. 2, p. 219). For a discussion on how Mansfield ‘translated’ notebook material into her fiction, see Davide Manenti, ‘Indiscreet Journeys: Rewriting Katherine Mansfield’, in Authorial and Editorial Voices in Translation: Editorial and Publishing Practices, ed. by Hanne Hansen and Anna Wegener (Montreal: Les Éditions québécoises de l’œuvre, 2013, pp. 1–24); and Davide Manenti, ‘From the Store to the Story: Katherine Mansfield and the Question of Rewriting’, Journal of New Zealand Literature, 32: 2 (2014), pp. 167–81. 22. For example: ‘But Ma Parker bore him no grudge’ (293); ‘But she’d never heard his name’ (294); ‘But the bush was very vague’ (294); ‘But the struggle she’d had to bring up those six little children’ (294); ‘But it was no use’ (295); ‘But he was gran’s boy from the first’ (295); ‘But when she began to make the bed’ (296); ‘But what was more awful’ (296); ‘But at last’ (296); ‘But now!’ (296); ‘But at the thought of crying’ (297); ‘But to have a proper cry’ (297); ‘But where?’ (297). 23. C. K. Stead, Kin of Place: Essays on 20 New Zealand Writers (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2002), p. 20. 24. Sigmund Freud, ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through’, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. by James Strachey, vol. 12, p. 150 (italics in the text). 25. ‘The unique factor in the experience of translators is that we not only are listeners to the text, hearing the author’s voice in the mind’s ear, but speakers of a second text – the translated work – who repeat what we have heard.’ Edith Grossman, Why Translation Matters (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), p. 10. 26. Paul Ricœur, ‘Translation as Challenge and Source of Happiness’, in On Translation, trans. by Eileen Brennan (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 7. 27. Ricœur, p. 8. 28. Antoine Berman, ‘Translation and the Trials of the Foreign’, in Venuti, trans. by Lawrence Venuti, pp. 288–9. 29. My translation of ‘Life of Ma Parker’ and of other Mansfield stories will be published in 2016 by Feltrinelli. 30. Berman, p. 286. 31. Berman, p. 283. 32. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience, p. 23.


‘Making a Stay in X’: Suppressing Translation in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ Rachael Stanley

On 19 February 1915, Katherine Mansfield made her way by train from Paris to Gray to meet the French author, Francis Carco. He had been stationed there during World War One, and after making his acquaintance via John Middleton Murry, Mansfield believed herself to be in love with him. According to Antony Alpers, it was the discovery in Murry’s notebook of the ‘confess[ion] to Gordon Campbell that he didn’t know whether she was “more to him than a gratification”’, which finally led Mansfield to make her daring trip to France.1 By the time she had taken him as her lover, she admitted to herself that, ‘I don’t really love him now I know him’, but the relationship had enough of an impact on her to be fictionalised in her short story ‘An Indiscreet Journey’.2 The elopement is also described in detail by Mansfield in her notebooks and in letters to both Carco and Murry, as well as in an unsent letter to Frieda Lawrence. From these, we are able to witness the ways in which Mansfield figures and refigures this event, hovering on the border between reality and fiction, altering and editing her actions and emotions so that any ‘true’ depiction of the event becomes occluded. Before she embarks on her journey, her plan seems to her a fantasy that is intangible, yet once she is there it becomes a concrete reality in which, she tells Frieda, ‘England is like a dream’ (2/10). Once she finds herself back in the ‘real’ world of England, she decides to transform the event completely into fiction by writing it up as a story. I want to suggest that Mansfield’s use of the French language helps her to turn the actual events into fiction, representing, as it does for her, otherness and fantasy. Indeed, the language seems inextricably linked to an association with her lover; her notebooks in particular reveal that during January and February 1915, as she made her plans to visit Carco, every mention of the French language makes her think of him. French becomes 76

Criticism part of the disguise she adopts as she visits Gray, and the way in which Mansfield slips between French and English reveals how she attempts to bring her fantasy of Carco to life. A close examination of the different texts that depict this journey to Gray shows just how intrinsic to Mansfield’s fantasy the French language was; it creates a distance between Mansfield-the-narrator and her surroundings; her apparent lack of control over the situation that she finds herself in is reinforced by her less than full comprehension of the foreign language. The use of French in Mansfield’s narrative becomes disconcerting for the reader because its purpose is never made explicit. There is never any indication of when or why the switch to French will be made; its haphazard nature gives the appearance that its status is uncertain for Mansfield too. What is more, it seems that there are times when a translation has occurred (for example, in the speech of the woman on the train which is given in not quite perfect English and includes some French phrases), but it is not made clear if the translation into English was performed by the French character or by the narrator. Mansfield actively suppresses the process of translation (a French phrase is never repeated in English, nor are there footnotes, nor is it ever explicitly stated that a French character is speaking in English), or resists it altogether by merely reproducing French. This becomes a troubling feature for the reader once we realise there is a dissonance between language and meaning, and that it is possible that the narrator is using French deliberately to conceal certain sentiments from the reader, in the hope that we will be satisfied merely to take the foreign language as a mark of authenticity. But while the reader is made suspicious of French, for Mansfield it becomes a disguise that liberates her from England and a reminder to her that she is bringing her fantasy to life by travelling to Gray/X. She uses the language to convince herself of the reality of her experience, as much as she hopes it will convince her readers of its truth. In discussing the process of translation, Clive Scott writes that whilst an author ‘has made choices which become a progressive concealment of the alternatives, the choices and the alternatives of the translator remain peculiarly visible’.3 Mansfield positions herself as both author and translator, however, by often refusing to translate French phrases, and, by not indicating if or when we are being offered passages that have undergone a translation (as in the speech of characters who are French but whose speech is rendered in English), she works continually to conceal the fact that in her role as narrator she is actively manipulating the depiction of events and blurring the line between reality and fiction. In a paradoxical twist, it is not, as we might initially assume, 77

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Mansfield’s inclusion of French that gives the fictionalised account of her trip to Gray the mark of verisimilitude. Rather, it is the ruptures in translation from French to English that authenticate this episode; if the story was merely the product of Mansfield’s imagination, she would inevitably have reproduced speech in perfect, idiomatic English, perhaps dropping in French words to give a stronger sense of place to the reader. Instead, what we find are curiously unfamiliar turns of speech that reveal a link back to French idioms. But by suppressing these moments of translation, where French has clearly been rehashed into English, we see how hard Mansfield is working to make it appear as though this narrative is made up; she silently reworks her memories into fiction through the process of translation, whilst at the same time leaving the traces of this process visible to the attentive reader, who cannot help but recognise it as a marker of authenticity. The response of Mansfield’s narrator to the French language, and the degree to which she seems to understand it, is a key indicator in revealing her state of mind. The absence of overt translations reveals Mansfield’s reluctance to permit space in which the reader could impose a different interpretation on to her narrative, and attests to the fact that there was a ‘real’ version of events that is not to be subjected to revisions. By using French occasionally throughout the narrative of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, Mansfield is overtly making claims for the truthfulness of her story, but it is the covert translations of other passages of text that authenticate the reality of the experience. By not signalling when these take place, she reinforces that this affair was a fantasy of hers; the reality of it disappointed her, but in the act of fictionalising she can rewrite it and remain in control of it. Gerri Kimber writes that the importance of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ ‘lies in the fact that it is one of the earliest fictional accounts of World War One written in English, and what is more, written by a woman’.4 Nevertheless, the story has received scant critical attention amongst Mansfield scholars: for example, Alpers (quite wrongly) writes it off as a ‘jaunty escapade filled with wartime ironies’.5 As with so much of Mansfield’s writing, the story appears deceptively simple. The ‘plot’, if it can be referred to as such, charts a woman’s journey from Paris to X (Gray) by train in order to meet her lover who is serving there; upon her arrival, she gains entry to the town by deception – her lover has written to her under the guise of a sick aunt. Once in X, she meets her soldier lover; they go for dinner and drinks, and stay out past the curfew. Here the story ends abruptly. But in spite of the lack of action, the narrative charts a confrontation between English and French cultures (notwithstanding the fact that the two countries were wartime 78

Criticism allies), between reality and fiction, and between the English and French languages, where the former represents reality for Mansfield, and the latter, fantasy. From the very beginning of the narrative, we are alerted to the narrator’s own wariness that she seems to be hovering on the border between reality and fantasy. She writes that her actions are ‘like any English lady in any French novel’.6 The lack of specificity repeated in this phrase – any lady, any novel – anticipates the way in which the story figures the experience as happening in an anonymised space divested of time. This already augments the impression of this being a kind of fantasy for the narrator, who thinks of her forthcoming journey in fictional terms, as she imagines herself to be living within a French novel. Both Mansfield as author, and her protagonist as narrator, actively work to move into spaces of unreality, of counter-sites within the real world, in which she will have to search for markers that will provide a clearer understanding of the borders between fact and fiction, signs and their meanings. The French language becomes one of the clearest of these signs because it instantly signals its status as part of the fantasy the narrator is living out. The story charts not only a journey into the strange space of the military zone of a French town during World War One, but also a move away from reality and everyday life into an imagined fantasy over which the narrator can wield increasing control. It is never made explicit in the text exactly how French is being used and why it is being used instead of English. Anna Smith describes the French phrases as ‘islands of italic type that float in the text’, and indeed they do seem to be stranded without any link to their surroundings.7 Within the same section of speech or writing, the language will alter from English to French with no clear indication of what governs this change. The phrases we find scattered throughout the opening of the story are exclamatives, which interrupt the text and which do not alter the sense of what is written. We read of the narrator being referred to as ‘ma mignonne’ (60) by the boy at the station; she describes the generic ‘petit soldat’ (61) she sees at each bridge the train crosses; she speaks of ‘ma France adorée’ (62) and exclaims ‘mon Dieu’ more than once (63). It is hard to argue that these serve any function other than simply indicating to the inattentive reader that we are indeed in France. This use of French, or occasionally German too, is consistent across all of Mansfield’s œuvre, in both her fiction and her personal writings. For example, in ‘The Journey to Bruges’, the narrator describes her experience on a ferry crossing to mainland Europe where ‘The most blatant British female produced her mite of French: we “S’il vous plaît’d?” one another and “Pardon’d” to our heart’s content in the saloon.’8 The use 79

Katherine Mansfield and Translation of French is a posture taken on, the meaning of the phrases utterly secondary to their role of indicating their Frenchness. The malleability of the French, and the apparent absence of any comprehension or respect for the language, is signalled by the way in which it is carelessly transformed into the English past tense by the addition of a ‘d’ at the end of each phrase. Mansfield is wryly demonstrating just how quickly a slippage occurs when a language comes out of the mouth of a non-native speaker; the meaning is instantly altered, even in a phrase as commonplace and comprehensible as ‘s’il vous plaît’. Mansfield’s use of foreign languages, dropping them into her texts without any clear indication of why English has been abandoned, can seem tautological. French is used to signal Frenchness – and apparently nothing more. More than this, however, Mansfield deliberately resists offering translations because of the very fact that the words spoken are being subjected to a change in meaning. In this instance ‘please’ no longer simply means ‘please’; its Frenchness is being deliberately employed to signal sophistication, and hints at the difficulty of ever maintaining the integrity of meaning in a foreign language, no matter how well one understands and uses it. If the ‘islands’ of French text seem to be used, first and foremost, in order to signal their otherness, there are other instances where Mansfield’s use of French reveals something more than her lack of faith in translation. When the narrator of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ rereads the letter from her pretend relative, which has actually been written by her lover, there is the first hint that French is being used for a particular purpose. Although we presume that the whole letter is written in French, only a couple of phrases in the text are French. We read that the house is located ‘juste en face de la gare’ and the letter signs off with ‘je vous embrasse bien tendrement’ (63). Why are these left untranslated? The impression given is that these are phrases which the narrator cannot translate, although this seems unlikely as we previously read her responding in French to the soldiers who helped her find her train. The letter’s sign-off is a customary phrase meaning roughly the equivalent of ‘love from’ in English. Literally translated, it would mean ‘I kiss you tenderly’, which has a rather stronger sense than is intended, but perhaps the narrator would prefer to think of this literal translation as the true sentiment of her lover speaking to her directly under the guise of her Aunt Julie. Or perhaps she is unaware of its idiomatic meaning. We simply cannot tell. All we can glean is that the French language forms part of the role she is playing; it becomes one of the means by which she brings her fantasy to life (crucially, this pretence of there being an aunt and uncle to visit is a lie which she never mistakes for reality, and it only reaffirms this episode’s status as fantasy). It becomes more evident later 80

Criticism on that her thoughts in French represent a counter-reality: the names of her tante Julie and oncle Paul, who do not actually exist but who are the ticket to her entry into the town, have to be repeated mentally by the narrator so she does not forget them. Once they become fixed in her mind, she no longer thinks of them in French, but in English. Clearly, English stands for reality, even if that reality is fictional, whereas there is an otherness to the French which causes it to maintain its status as fantasy. This movement into English happens seamlessly, and after all, the difference between ‘tante’ and ‘aunt’, ‘oncle’ and ‘uncle’, is clearly very slight and comprehensible to a non-French speaker. However, in Mansfield’s notebooks we find one instance during her infatuation with Carco where she herself translates French into English, in order to make the sentiment more vivid and real to herself. In late January 1915 she received a letter from Carco; she delights in writing in her notebook that, in it, ‘he called me “ma petite cherie” [sic] – my little darling’ (2/7). There is no practical reason for Mansfield to have repeated the phrase in English, especially given that the sole reader she anticipated for her notebook was herself; but perhaps, by translating it, the full force of his affection appears more strongly to her. The rest of the diary entry is effusive: ‘I came up here & simply felt my whole body go out to him as if the sun had suddenly filled the room, warm and lovely [. . .] Oh, God save me from this war and let us see each other soon’ (2/7). Mansfield is excited, and to articulate his speech in her own language brings him nearer to her. A couple of weeks earlier, on 6 January 1915, she wrote, ‘As I went to Piccadilly in the evening on top of a bus I nearly got up & called out his name. I longed for him so, & yet I dare not push my thoughts as far as they will go’ (2/3) [my emphasis]. She desires to articulate through language exactly what it is brimming over in her thoughts, but to say his name out loud would be to break the fantasy; in pushing her thoughts further, she would have to confront the practicalities of realising her dream and accept that it may just remain a product of her imagination. It is also worth pointing out that Carco is usually referred to by Mansfield as either ‘him’ or ‘he’ or ‘F.’. Furthermore, certain entries are preceded by the initials ‘V.A.F.’, the exact meaning of which remains unknown but which in her notes Margaret Scott suggests ‘is presumably a private code in which the third initial refers to Francis’ (2/2). It cannot simply be expediency that prevents Mansfield from writing the name ‘Francis’ out in full; Jack, Lesley, Frieda, Lawrence and so on are as often written out in full as they are initialised, but Carco’s name is only ever written in full three times (in the entries for 1 81

Katherine Mansfield and Translation January [2/1], 26 January [2/7] and 2 February 1915 [2/8]). Nor could this coyness have been a result of trying to conceal her correspondence with Carco from Murry, to whom she told everything anyway. But by speaking his name aloud, or writing his name in full, or by translating his words into English, she is in part undermining her fantasy of Carco by reminding herself that he is real. When she chooses to leave his name unwritten, she can create a divide between ‘Francis’, the man who is stationed in Gray and who is writing her letters, and ‘F’, the image she has created of a man with whom she has convinced herself she is in love. Language is the particular means by which something becomes tangible for Mansfield. Before she lives out her adventure, it is even more necessary for her to make herself feel that Carco is really far away in France thinking about her, which is why it is necessary to render some of his correspondence into English to make it part of her everyday life. On the other hand, there is an element of mystery and secrecy, both of which are powerful aphrodisiacs for Mansfield, that she wishes to preserve by leaving some things unsaid or unwritten. Mansfield’s notebooks make it clear, in a way the narrator of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ does not, that for her the French language is synonymous with her lover. This is not to say that before she met Carco she did not use French; it would be dropped in, unannounced, from as early as 1906 with no real explanation for this transition into another language.9 But, perhaps naturally enough, once she takes up her correspondence with Carco at the end of 1914, the French phrases appear more frequently. Often she merely repeats passages from his letters to her (‘je vous aime chaque jour davantage’ [1/286]) or else she imagines herself talking to him (‘je suis jaloux [sic] de vous comme un avare’ [2/1]). From being metonymically associated with Carco, French then seems to become the language she switches to whenever she is describing particularly emotional or melodramatic feelings. We read that ‘je me sens incapable de tout’ and ‘je me deteste [sic] aujourd’hui’ (2/2). Days later, when she writes that she is feeling particularly anguished about Carco, having not received a letter from him, we read, ‘I deliberately drugged myself with Jack and made it the more bearable by talking French’ (2/6). Speaking Carco’s language alleviates her longing for him; the language becomes a substitute for the man and becomes a way for her to begin living out her fantasy of ‘F’, even whilst she is absent from him. This elision of the French language and Carco, which Mansfield seems to be conscious of, is only confirmed by the fact that in the one letter she writes to Murry from Gray, she does not use any French at all (2/9–10). Switching between languages is an easy way for Mansfield to distinguish not only her two lovers, but also the 82

Criticism way in which she is dividing herself between the two men. Although Mansfield’s use of English does not, of course, always carry an association of Murry, it is worth noting that she also confesses in her notebook on 18 January 1915 that ‘All day I was possessed by my hate of England. It is after him [Carco] my one passion – a loathing for England’ (2/5). It is hard not to see this as a rejection of Murry, too, or at the very least the product of her infatuation with the Frenchman. In Mansfield’s notebooks and diary entries, she creates an image of Carco that is impossible for the real man to live up to, which is demonstrated by her depiction of how she longs for him. His inevitable failure to live up to her fantasy is summed up in her ‘I don’t really love him now I know him’ comment. However, in the narrative of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, the narrator makes a far greater show of being aware that she is taking part in something that seems unreal: Mansfield arms her fictional self against the disappointment she endured in reality. In becoming part of the French fantasy she has imagined for herself, the narrator thinks of her actions in terms of a fictional performance. Whilst in her notebooks Mansfield seems to be making the move from the fantasy she has of ‘F’ to the reality of Francis, in the story we see our narrator actively working to make herself part of the fantasy. Aside from her admission that she is framing herself as an English woman in a French novel, she literally clothes herself in the disguise of her ‘very significant’ Burberry. It is, she claims: ‘the perfect and adequate disguise [. . .] Lions have been faced in a Burberry. Ladies have been rescued from open boats in mountainous seas wrapped in nothing else. An old Burberry seems to me the sign and the token of the undisputed venerable traveller’ (60). Crucially, this disguise has been ‘borrowed from a friend’ (60) and does not belong to her; its quintessential Englishness will mark her out as foreign to those who see her and reaffirms psychologically her outsider status. Although the narrator has admitted donning the disguise of a venerable traveller, it is only when she notes the ‘lovely little boy in coloured socks, dancing in front of the electric lotus buds that curve over the entrance to the Métro’ (60) that the reader is able to locate where we are, and the image of clichéd Britishness embodied by the Burberry is contrasted against a design of irrefutable Frenchness. The metro sign signals where we are, but need not be read, in much the same way that French seems to be used in this early part of the story solely to indicate Frenchness. The metro sign is a metonym for Paris, which is never named, and more importantly indicates the France that the English, Burberry-clad narrator is invading. That it is the female character who dons a disguise is a significant deviation from the version of events recounted in Mansfield’s notebooks. She makes no mention 83

Katherine Mansfield and Translation of her own appearance and it is in fact Carco whom she describes as being in costume: ‘F. again dressing en petit soldat’ (2/9). Once more, her notebooks reveal that whilst Mansfield avoids figuring herself as part of a fantasy or fictional narrative, she still desires to see Carco in this way, even though she has already admitted that her love affair is not playing out exactly as she might have wished. The reappearance of French in her journal once again affirms the fact that the foreign language can help to remove her sense of reality and aid in her creation of the fictional ‘F’ with whom she thought herself in love. If at times Mansfield’s transitions from French to English happen wordlessly, or are made explicit in her notebooks via her own translations, there are the slightest hints of disruption in the text of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, which seem deliberately to problematise the notion of translation. The speech of what we must presume are French characters is presented in English in such a way as to reveal the difficulties inherent in translation. Their remarks are rendered in clunky English phraseology that appears, to those familiar with French, as almost direct translation, as, for example, when the waiting-boy in the bar asks the narrator ‘You are two?’ (67), before seating her. The meaning of this is perfectly evident, and the result of literally translating the French phrase ‘vous êtes deux?’ But the phrase is never expressed like this in English and seems obviously to reveal that this expression has undergone translation. Similarly, when the narrator is in conversation with the seagull-bedecked woman on the train, she is asked if she is travelling to X. ‘Oui’, replies the narrator, to which her fellow passenger says ‘I also’ (64). While not incorrect in English, it is not particularly idiomatic simply to use ‘I also’ as a complete phrase; the more informal ‘me too’ or even the extended ‘I am also going there’ would seem more natural. In French, however, the phrase ‘moi aussi’ would be idiomatic; while this has not been literally translated as ‘me also’, there is a sense of slight confusion in the register here. The two languages have somehow become mixed up. Later the woman asks, ‘Are you making a long stay in X, mademoiselle?’ (65). One never ‘makes a stay’ in English, but this is the literal translation of the idiomatic French phrase ‘faire un séjour’, which means ‘to spend time’ (somewhere). The narrator’s conversation with the woman then becomes intertwined with the imaginary conversation she conducts in her head about the strange (presumably stuffed) bird on her hat. In her imagined speech she uses a mixture of French and English, much like a novice would whose knowledge of a language only extends so far: ‘Excusez-moi, madame, but perhaps you have not remarked there is an espèce de sea-gull couché sur votre chapeau’ (64). That she attempts to think in French seems to confirm the fact 84

Criticism that her fellow passenger is speaking French, and her blending of the languages indicates her stumbling comprehension. But the narrator’s ignorance can only be a posture; she understands the woman’s speech perfectly, having rendered it in English (as I argued earlier, the perfunctory translations are a sign of verisimilitude, not miscomprehension), so it seems improbable that she could not have fully translated her thoughts on the seagull into French. These inconsistencies point to Mansfield working to make her narrator appear more naïve than she herself was, using a limited comprehension of French to evoke the feeling that this whole episode is a flight of fantasy over which the narrator has limited control. The same silent translations seem to happen in Mansfield’s notebooks too. We read that the woman who owns the house Mansfield and Carco stay in asks (or rather, tells) them, ‘it is all right’ (2/11). Again, this is perfectly comprehensible and grammatical English, but it is not a particularly idiomatic way of expressing the question. Whilst it is common in French to give a statement a rising intonation to turn it into a question, it happens far less frequently in English. In any case, were we to attempt to translate the phrase ‘it is all right’ back into French, ‘ça va’ would seem to be far more appropriate (although it is notoriously difficult to render this literally into English). These very small incongruities are barely noticeable in the text of the story (or in Mansfield’s notebooks) and are never commented on by the narrator. We cannot be sure who the translator is. Did the female passenger speak English because she knew that it was the language of the narrator and are the errors therefore hers? Or is it the narrator herself who has wordlessly translated the French speech? These small ruptures in the text give only the smallest hint that the narrator feels a sense of discontinuity with her surroundings. If we accept that it is she who is translating the words into English, then her slightly too literal interpretations, and her inability to express in full French her alarm at the seagull, hint at only a surface understanding of the language. She can adequately translate most words but there is a crucial absence of meaning, of contextual coherence, which renders the language blank for her; it becomes well ordered and less messy, as all of the inferences, implications and connotations of the words do not exist for her. The only meanings she takes from French either are the literal meanings of the words, which she is able to translate perfunctorily, or else the language simply signals its status of otherness in its Frenchness. The narrator’s evasion of explicitly fixing the location of the story is exemplified by the reference to her destination as simply ‘X’. Perhaps this is a nod to the generic conventions of the spy thriller, in which 85

Katherine Mansfield and Translation people and places must take aliases, or possibly, to push this point further, the name Gray was simply too unappealing, too stubbornly English-sounding for Mansfield’s ears. Unlike the other French words she uses, which seem to lack any connotations for our narrator, Gray is a name that cannot help but hint at a lack of romance and is therefore suppressed. It is relevant that Mansfield decides not to change the name of the town; she could have made up a French name or plucked one from a map, yet she consciously chooses to make it nameless. This repression of reality is occluded by the narrator, who presents her reluctance to name her destination as a form of ignorance. On the first train out of Paris she thinks, ‘what is the name of the station where I have to change? Perhaps I shall never know’ (62). Having asked before departing where to change, she received the reply ‘XYZ’. Repeating her question only prompts the same answer, recorded again as XYZ, but this time with the comment, ‘again I had not heard’ (61). And yet what she does not supposedly hear is recorded as a set of letters, or more accurately a set of sounds. We are not simply told she mishears or misunderstands: words are placed within the ticket collector’s mouth. His French becomes a series of unfamiliar sounds on to which our narrator struggles to confer meaning. This disjuncture between hearing and meaning recurs throughout the text, as objects ‘speak’ to the narrator and voices only create sounds. We read of bayonets that say ‘not this way’ (62), doors that ‘ping’ (68) and the inanimate seagull who asks her ‘what are you going to X for?’ (65). Conversely, when she hears French speakers talking, their speech is recorded as sounds as often as words. When describing how the young waiter in the café talks, the narrator describes, ‘sometimes his voice boomed up from his throat, deep and hard, and then in the middle of a sentence it broke and scattered in a funny squeaking’ (68). Similarly, at the end of the story, the blue-eyed soldier’s speech becomes a physical object: his ‘happy voice trickled through the dark’ (73). Speech, whether imagined or real, seems to permit the slide into fantasy for the narrator, who seems to be able to confer meaning upon objects, should she want to, and divest meaning from language, if it will aid in her sense of the town remaining an ­imaginary fantasy for her. * * * Alpers recounts an anecdote of a meeting he had with Carco in 1950. As it was decided that Alpers’s French was not up to scratch, and nor was Carco’s English good enough, a translator was required. Summing up all the difficulties of having to use this proxy, Alpers confesses that ‘the interpreter being distractingly pretty and most of the conversation 86

Criticism meant for her’, the conversation was far from smooth.10 No act of translation can ever avoid being an act of reinterpretation, omission, censorship or alteration. In Alpers’s case, he could see the non-linguistic signs alerting him to the fact that there was something he was missing. In Mansfield’s texts, however, it is almost impossible to catch all of these moments of rupture: to know when translation is taking place and to be aware of the possible effect this is having on the text. The very fact that she wants to suppress the act of translating, or else leave it up to the reader, suggests a desire to downplay the omnipotence she has as narrator and to give the impression that the narrator is ignorant and inexperienced. And yet it is because traces of these translations exist that we can be sure that this fictionalised narrative has its roots in reality; the translation is the product of a ‘real’ French referent that the reader is not being permitted access to, confirming the power Mansfield has as narrator to manipulate this story in whatever way she chooses. For Mansfield, France and the French language provide the means through which she can create unreal spaces for her narrator whilst satirising her narrator’s, and perhaps her own, desire to disengage from reality and to fictionalise and fantasise about an alternate realm, one that is not that different from her own everyday life but one in which everything seems simpler and more orderly. The ways in which Mansfield’s depiction of her time in Gray in her journal diverges from that told in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ only serves to demonstrate that she had to work quite deliberately to inoculate her narrator from the potential disappointment she could suffer if her journey into the fantastical space of France became too real, as it seems to in her notebooks. But if the two different versions of events, the ‘real’ one and the ‘fictional’ one, reveal that the fantasy could never be fully realised for Mansfield, both portrayals show that the French language consistently remained a source of bewilderment and mystery, her employment of it lasting as a small marker of her hopes that she could become part of the fantasy embodied by ‘F’. Mansfield’s switching between French and English, where the process of translation has been erased from the text, reveals the difficulty of ever making fantasy reality and the uncertain status of her and her narrator’s relationship to the language. Knowing too little French would have cut her off completely from taking on the role she wanted to play as a woman in a French novel, but knowing too much of the language would have drained it of its mystery. Mansfield shows the tricky balancing act she tried to maintain when she fled to France, and endows her narrator with greater naïvety than she had in order to shield her from the disappointment of realising that fantasies rarely come true. 87

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Notes   1. Antony Alpers, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (London: Jonathan Cape, 1980), p. 171.   2. Margaret Scott, ed., The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, 2 vols (Canterbury, New Zealand: Lincoln University Press, 1997), Vol. 2, p. 9. Further references to Mansfield’s notebooks will be taken from this edition and placed parenthetically in the text (volume / page number). Although I have used Scott’s edition of Mansfield’s notebooks, I have doubled-checked Murry’s edition of Mansfield’s journal and found that – interestingly – every passage that I have quoted from Mansfield’s notebooks has been left untouched by Murry.   3. Clive Scott, Translating Baudelaire (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000), p. 218.   4. Gerri Kimber, Katherine Mansfield: The View from France (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2008), p. 68.   5. Alpers, p. 176.   6. Katherine Mansfield, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, in Selected Stories, ed. by Angela Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 60–73 (p. 60). Further references to this story will be taken from this edition and placed parenthetically in the text.   7. Anna Smith, ‘Cold Brains and Birthday Cake: The Art of “Je ne parle pas français”’, in Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays, ed. by Gerri Kimber and Janet Wilson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 158–71 (p. 167).   8. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Journey to Bruges’, in The Collected Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), pp. 523–9 (p. 526).  9. See Notebooks, 1, p. 78. Even earlier, in Part 2 of Notebook 29, Mansfield uses her notebook to practise her French, writing out banal descriptions and tables of words (and their English counterparts), presumably either to learn or to refer to in future. As she triumphantly writes, ‘J’étudie la langue française et toutes ses particularités, j’ai déja [sic] parcouru les élements [sic] de sa grammaire’ (1/45). 10. Alpers, p. 179.


‘Nous ne suivons pas la même route’: Flaubertian Objectivity and Mansfield’s Representations of Travel Philip Keel Geheber

In Notebook 2 – often called the ‘Urewera Notebook’ – Katherine Mansfield quotes the end of Gustave Flaubert’s July 1852 letter to his best friend, Maxime du Camp. She copied the phrase ‘Nous ne suivons plus la même route, nous ne naviguons plus dans la même nacelle. Moi je ne cherche pas le port, mais la haute mer.’1 Flaubert follows these lines with one short, pithy phrase which Mansfield did not reproduce in her notebook but which must have resonated with how she viewed her position in 1908 as she planned to embark on an artistic career: ‘If I am shipwrecked, you have my permission not to mourn.’2 Flaubert had reached an early crossroads in his pursuit of a literary career when he wrote these lines. His first version of L’Éducation sentimentale (1845) was a failure; at the insistence of Louis Bouilhet and du Camp he had abandoned his first version of La Tentation de Saint Antoine (1849); he set out on an 18-month-long trip with du Camp through Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Italy; after returning to Rouen in June 1851, he subsequently began writing Madame Bovary (1857). Soon after this 1852 exchange with Maxime du Camp, Louis Bouilhet would replace du Camp as Flaubert’s most trusted critic / advisor.3 In the letter from which Mansfield copied, Flaubert details his feelings toward du Camp’s advice that he play the role of a public man of letters in Paris, publishing in periodicals, making professional connections, and remaining abreast of literary trends as du Camp was then doing. In characteristic disdain for that life, Flaubert retorts: As for my ‘position,’ as you call it, of man of letters, I abandon it to you willingly. . . . I decline the honor of such a title and of such a mission. I am simply a bourgeois living quietly in the country, occupying myself with literature, and asking nothing of others, neither consideration nor honor nor even esteem.4


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Behind Flaubert’s ironic posturing – refusing to compromise his art by professionalising himself, yet opting to be a country bourgeois – he seems to claim he is happy to follow his own instincts and work as he is most comfortable, remaining patient enough, though frequently frustrated in the process of finding le mot juste, to discover what he is capable of producing. At Beauchamp Lodge in London,5 Mansfield found herself in an analogous position, steadfastly refusing to follow anyone’s path but her own. The trick for her was first mapping out which path was hers. Gerri Kimber comments briefly on the position of the Flaubert note. It appears before a ‘prose-story’ vignette, possibly about a lesbian experience, with a title cribbed from Arthur Symons, ‘Leves Amores’. Kimber remarks that ‘The inference of new paths to be trod, new directions to take, immediately preceding the penning of such a vignette, cannot be coincidental.’6 Mansfield’s notebooks are a record of her reading and evidence of how she surveyed and engaged with the literary field to depart on a new trajectory. This mode of translation is situated within the context of Kimber’s assertion that Mansfield was subject to ‘deeprooted French literary influences from the earliest stages of her career’,7 and Angela K. Smith’s contention that Mansfield ‘was not simply a modernist, but a female modernist, subtly altering the characteristics of male modernisms to suit her female perspective’.8 Mansfield’s reading in French is heavily influential on her development of her own modernist idiom and illustrates Steven G. Yao’s assertion that ‘modernist writers understood and employed translation as a kind of dynamic procedural lens’.9 Mansfield’s translation of Flaubertian objectivity and tropes from Madame Bovary to suit her own perspective and context exemplifies how this ‘dynamic procedural lens’ of translation functions as a generative mode of literary production. To this end, this essay will first discuss how Notebook 2 fits into Mansfield’s early aesthetic formulations to represent travelling young women. She uses the second half of Notebook 2 to work through translating techniques to represent travel gleaned from French sources into a new, condensed form in English. Finally, this essay will offer a comparison of several intertextual echoes of Madame Bovary in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ in order to illustrate one way in which Mansfield transposes a French male perspective of travel in the treatment of an old theme: the lovers’ tryst. Akin to Walter Benjamin’s argument that translation grants an ‘afterlife’, ‘a transformation and a renewal of something living’ in the original text,10 Mansfield’s story gives continued life to the detached Flaubertian narrative voice by translating it from the sleepy mid-nineteenth-century provinces to the frenetic pace of life in the Zone des armées in World War One France. 90


Notebook 2: Surveying the Literary Field and Recording Impressions en Route Notebook 2 spans several decisive moments early in Mansfield’s life: namely, the decision to return to London to pursue an artistic career. In a similar way to the couple of years during which Flaubert abandoned one book, began another and allowed his ten-year closest friendship to fizzle out, Notebook 2 records early literary experiments which parallel experiments in living. The notebook spans lesbian relationships, Mansfield’s relationships with Arnold and then Garnet Trowell and her subsequent pregnancy, and, of course, her marriage to George Bowden in March 1909.11 This notebook is also concurrently used with Notebook 8, which includes details of the trip to Paris with Margaret Wishart’s family in October 1908, which she reconfigures in ‘His Sister’s Keeper’.12 Together, these notebooks are the record of 19-, 20- and 21-year-old Kathleen Beauchamp struggling through the choices and decisions she makes to become the independent, cosmopolitan artist, Katherine Mansfield. In addition to the Urewera camping trip diary, Notebook 2 is full of jottings from French writers. From the epigraph, a playful or accidental reversal of the line from Nicolas Boileau’s Épître IX – Mansfield has ‘Rien n’est vrai que le [sic] [beauté]’ for Boileau’s ‘Rien n’est beau que le vrai [. . .]’13 – to notes on Balzac’s Comédie humaine, and quotations from Mérimée, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant and Mallarmé, the notebook records her reading and thinking processes at this time. She surveys these influential figures to see where she might fit and what she can use as a starting point for her own art. Her purpose here is signalled with an optimistic tone in the note: ‘The year has dawned. My Year. 1908 [. . .] Well – I have the brain and also the inventive faculty! What else is needed?’14 What Mansfield seems to need and actively seek out are models to adopt and translate into the particularities of her period and locales. Notebook 2 serves as a kind of early working commonplace book, a document allowing Mansfield to annotate the literary tradition she was grappling with, how she saw herself and writing in relation to this tradition, and how she hopes to develop her art in light of it.15 In Notebook 2, she twice makes an important distinction between two types of nineteenth-century French realist fiction. The first time, she is still in Wellington and the note appears circa February 1908 between ‘Juliette Delacour’ and a description of a Thursday spent at Island Bay. She writes: The partisans of analysis describe minutely the state of the soul, the secret motive of every action as being of far greater importance than the action


Katherine Mansfield and Translation itself. The partisans of objectivity give us the result of this evolution sans describing the secret processes. They convey the state of the soul through the slightest gesture – i.e. realism, flesh covered bones, which is the artists method for me. In as much as art seems to me pure vision I am indeed a partisan of objectivity. Yet I cannot take the simile of the soul and the body for the bone is no bony framework. Supposing ones bones were not bone but liquid light – which suffuses itself, fluctuates – well and good, but the bones are permanent and changeless – .˙. – – that fails.16

Her note about objectivity here guides the direction in which she wants to write, and it is a paraphrase of the translation of Guy de Maupassant’s prefatory essay to Pierre et Jean (1888), ‘Le Roman’.17 Maupassant also discusses the ‘tutelage’ of Flaubert and treats him as the ultimate partisan of objectivity. As she later notes of Maupassant, ‘Great artists are those who can make men see their particular illusion. (That is true with limitations)’,18 and a large part of her drive towards ‘objectivity’ is to make her readers ‘see’ the way her characters do. Mansfield’s reading throughout 1908 and 1909 gives her examples to illustrate these ideas. She pairs Balzac with the ‘Partisans of Analysis’ and the piercingly insightful omniscient narrators required by that mode, and she pairs Flaubert with the ‘Partisans of Objectivity’. Adding to her earlier definition, Mansfield further characterises her sense of an objective writer: ‘He makes his characters so demean themselves that their slightest gesture shall be the expression of their souls. So there is more colour. It is a portrait, but the flesh covers the bones. He was trained under the severe eye of Flaubert.’19 The severe, Flaubertian eye enables seemingly objective representations, like gestures, to reveal hidden motivations. Mansfield covers the bones of her characters’ personalities with the flesh of an impersonal narrative structure adapted from Flaubert and the French ‘Partisans of Objectivity’. The final section of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ exemplifies this sense of objectivity as the narrative voice simply reports the speech and records the movements of characters as the woman, ‘little corporal’, blue-eyed soldier and his friend discuss their tastes for whisky and then go to the Café des amis in search of Mirabelle.20 In Notebook 2, Mansfield starts to wed the subjectivities of travel to a transposed Flaubertian narrative style. Many of her notebook entries, which include records of locations passed, jottings about the weather and time en route, descriptions of the vistas out of the window, and general impressions of place, begin to puzzle out representations of traversed space that her stories would so effectively portray. The majority of these records are composed in transit and reflect the Mansfieldian trope of the transposed subject revelling in the space between linguistic 92

Criticism and geopolitical boundaries. As Antony Alpers highlights, ‘Trains – and windows, anywhere – made Kathleen want to write.’21 In transit, she records her impressions, as in these two examples, which highlight her affect towards the two spaces as she travels to Belgium via Harwich: In the train to Harwich [. . .] I feel that I am going home. To escape England it is my great desire – I loathe England. In the train to Anvers. I love Belgium for I love green & mauve. I wonder when I shall sit & read aloud to my little son.22

England is loathsomely stifling and evokes entrapment; Belgium and the Continent conjure thoughts of vitality and creation. Even though Mansfield was compelled to travel extensively – often for reasons of poor health – the line jotted in one notebook, ‘Though more than half her life had been spent in travelling the thrill remained’,23 highlights the liberating act of travelling for the colonial female subject. She did not feel ‘home’ in colonised New Zealand or in colonising Britain but, rather, in the interstitial spaces where all are equally not at home. Mansfield’s transpositional aesthetics explores the perceived ‘thrill’ and sense of freedom afforded to women by travel throughout her œuvre and she began to tease out how she would do this in Notebook 2. Mansfield’s early habit of keeping travel diaries helps her recreate women experiencing travel. Her rehearsal of those travel experiences allows her to avoid the distance that creeps into some of Zola’s hyperobjectified narratives, as she recognizes: ‘Zola defines Art as nature seen through a temperament (drives in a Victoria to see the peasants).’24 Through repetition, she refines her temperament out of the narrative to draw the narrative voice closer to the character’s experience, à la Flaubert. Diaries retroactively attribute causality to events, and Sara Ahmed notes that these ‘active forms of mediation’ allow one to attribute an affect to an object. In this way, ‘The proximity of an encounter might be what survives an encounter. In other words, the proximity between an affect and object is preserved through habit.’25 Mansfield internalised affects associated with travel through habitual writing practices in Notebooks 2 and 8. Furthermore, her frequent identification with her characters and their affective states during the act of writing preserved the proximity of affect and object. In a letter to William Gerhardi from 13 March 1922, she claimed that, while writing ‘The Voyage’, she was ‘on’ the boat: ‘I was Fenella hugging the swan neck umbrella [. . .] It wasn’t a memory of a real experience. It was a kind of possession.’26 This ‘kind of possession’ is akin to Flaubert’s artistic ‘hallucinations’. He described these to Hippolyte Taine in a letter from 1 December 1866. They were ‘like a thunderbolt, instantaneous 93

Katherine Mansfield and Translation invasion, or rather irruption, by memory; for hallucination, properly so-called, is nothing other than that, at least for me. It is a spewing out of memory, an outpouring of what it has stored up.’27 Hallucination allows Flaubert to see perfectly the scenes and people he describes. Similarly, Mansfield’s ‘possession’ enables her to see a scene, to render emotional states through the description of primarily visual phenomena (though tactile, aural and olfactory perceptions are also present). What Flaubert achieves through memory and imagination, Mansfield achieves through notebooks mediating personal experience. Thus her translation of autobiographical notebook material into fiction allows her to represent characters’ emotional responses to objects impersonally. For example, the detailed, chronological account of the October 1908 train from Victoria Station to Newhaven, the crossing to France, and the train from Dieppe to Gare St Lazare in Notebook 8 is broken up, temporally split apart, and reinserted in the 1909 typescript of ‘His Sister’s Keeper’.28 This story opens with the line, ‘The girl came up on deck to find Dieppe like the mouth of some giant monster’,29 and then, in the buffet at Dieppe train station, the narration flashes back to the departure from London: Glancing at her watch she found that it was barely three o’clock. Three o’clock in the morning . . . and Dieppe . . . when she had only made up her mind at six o’clock the evening before, and at seven she had been at Victoria, debating still, still safe, and now . . . well, anything to live.30

Instead of the safely chaperoned and, no doubt, well-planned trip to Paris with the Wisharts for a naval officer’s wedding, the context of the departure from London is recalled through free indirect discourse in quick bursts of anxious memory, which hints at some urgency but does not disclose the full extent of the circumstances. The ellipses hide what lurks behind the façade of the objective temporal facts here: it is 3 a.m., she decided to come to France at 6 p.m., she was at Victoria Station at 7 p.m., ‘debating still, still safe’. These details allow a partial glimpse at the secret motive of the action without fully analysing the ‘secret processes’ a ‘Partisan of Analysis’ might. The early attempt in ‘His Sister’s Keeper’ to represent a character’s impulsive decision and anxiety without explicitly stating the cause is a sort of Flaubertian objectivity taken to the limit. Elsewhere in the notebook, Mansfield noted that ‘The feeling roused by the cause is more important than the cause itself.’ That is the kind of thing I like to say to myself as I get into the train. And then, as one settles into the corner ‘For example’ or ‘Take, for instance. . .’ Its [sic] a good game for one.31


Criticism While the feelings of a subject in ‘translation’ between places, languages, domestic arrangements and potential identities32 may be more important than the particular causes, Mansfield’s commitment to ‘objective’ narrative requires that she evoke emotional states without explicitly naming them. Through free indirect discourse, dialogic voice, punctuation and ‘thought sequences juxtaposed with narrative’, Mansfield achieves a ‘denial of an authoritative narrative centre’.33 By deploying a Flaubertian impersonality and minimising any clarifying authoritative voice, Mansfield avoids explicitly drawing the causal relationships between a character’s emotions and environment. Causality often becomes incomprehensible, as in ‘Bliss’, where one slips into circular logic trying to determine if the baby, tray of fruits and pear tree are sources of Bertha Young’s bliss, or if her bliss colours her perceptions of these. This causal relationship is even more difficult to untangle for Mansfield’s figures in transit. In his seminal work on nineteenth-century rail travel, Wolfgang Schivelbusch conceptualises ‘the machine ensemble’ as the complex technological system that ‘interjected itself between the traveler and the landscape’. The traveler no longer perceived the surrounding world directly, but rather did so ‘as it was filtered through the machine ensemble’.34 However, the machine’s filtering does not force the subject to experience space entirely passively; the passenger still chooses where to focus attention among the filtered views. A bus is a similar ‘machine ensemble’, and the commute home for Rosabel on the Atlas bus in ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’ is an excellent example of how this transpositional process functions. Riding on the bus is a form of transposition as Rosabel crosses rush-hour London from Oxford Circus to her fourth-floor flat in Richmond Road. Inside the bus, Rosabel actively deciphers the signs, images and messages that surround her, translating them from sensory experience into language. She notices the ‘New Woman’ novel, Anna Lombard, that a girl her own age is reading, as well as the advertisements for Sapolio cleaner, Heinz tomato sauce, and the ‘inane, annoying dialogue’ in the Lamplough’s pyretic saline advertisement (3). Looking out of the bus windows, she sees that ‘the street was blurred and misty, but light striking on the panes turned their dullness to opal and silver and the jeweller’s shops, seen through this, were fairy palaces’ (3). Furthermore, the body is incorporated into the machine, so that, at the same time that the ‘machine ensemble’ filters the subject’s experience of the external world, it makes the subject an active participant in the production of the space it traverses. Many of these representative techniques that Mansfield uses are developments of Flaubert’s detached narrative voice and his use of free indirect 95

Katherine Mansfield and Translation ­ iscourse to represent travelling characters’ impressions, particularly in d Madame Bovary.

Madame Bovary and ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ There are several intertextual echoes of Madame Bovary in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ that indicate how Mansfield transposed elements of a Flaubertian tradition to suit her circumstances. These echoes are particularly strong in the representation of travel as transgression in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, as both Emma Bovary and the unnamed heroine cross boundaries of geography and social propriety. Mansfield’s lovers’ tryst at once retells her own four-night trip to Gray to begin an affair with Francis Carco,35 while it also translates and compresses Emma Bovary’s infamous cab ride with Léon and subsequent Thursday visits to Rouen into her anonymous narrator’s arrival at X. Mansfield’s description of the rendezvous updates provincial reactions to the couple speeding through town in a horse-drawn cab from one of shock to one of welcome distraction from the horrors of the trenches, and it also illustrates how modern transportation had altered perceptions of space since the first half of the nineteenth century. The first page of Mansfield’s story establishes grounds for this comparison, while contrasting the story’s comedy with Madame Bovary’s tragedy; the woman imagines herself ‘jump[ing]out of [her] pajamas and into a basin of cold water like any English lady in any French novel’ (62). Like Emma Bovary’s identification with heroines of the romantic novel, the protagonist here mimics behaviour she has read about in fiction. Thus Mansfield explicitly places this romantic liaison in dialogue with previous fictional ones. The character then grabs her ‘age-old Burberry’, which she thinks will be ‘The perfect and adequate disguise’ (62). Just as Emma’s ‘lowered black veil’ and circuitous route prevented someone from recognising her in Rouen,36 Mansfield’s female character needs an article of clothing that would most conceal her body to prevent recognition. She thinks the Burberry is ‘the sign and the token of the undisputed venerable traveller’ (63), and the aside ascribes romantic, adventurous qualities to the coat: ‘Lions have been faced in a Burberry. Ladies have been rescued from open boats in mountainous seas wrapped in nothing else’ (62–3). Yet the Burberry coat is ‘very significant’ (62) and allows her to blend in with the soldiers in the Zone des armées because it had been strongly associated with British officer kits since the Boer War. World War One era catalogues featured endorsements from the War Office and Lord Kitchener, and the company’s own post-war records showed that over 500,000 Burberry trench coats had been worn by combatant 96

Criticism officers.37 It acts like camouflage – also invented in World War One – for Mansfield’s heroine. Burberry had been the brand of conquest in South Africa, so not only is the trench coat an emblem of national conquest, but also it becomes here synonymous with the woman’s infiltration of the restricted zone and romantic conquest of her ‘little corporal’. Of necessity, the meetings of the pairs of lovers – Emma and Léon / the unnamed woman and the ‘little corporal’– are secretive and require that the travelling women follow the man, literally, in his arrangements for the assignation. Emma would meet Léon in Rouen’s ‘area of theatres, bars, and whores’, where ‘There was a smell of absinthe, cigars, and oysters’: Turning a corner, she would recognize him by his curly hair, which invariably escaped from beneath his hat. Léon continued along the pavement. She followed him to the hotel; he climbed the stairs, opened the door, entered the room . . . Then, what an embrace!38

Similarly, Mansfield’s lovers meet and proceed to the cab and then hotel: Terribly pale, with a faint smile on his lips, his hand at salute, stood the little corporal. I gave no sign, I am sure I gave no sign. He stepped behind me. ‘And then follow me as though you do not see me,’ I heard him half whisper, half sing. [. . .A]gainst the toll-house there leaned a tiny faded cab. Montez vite, vite! said the little corporal, hurling my suit-case, the postman’s bag, the paper parcel and the Matin on to the floor. (68)

Once in the cab, they greet each other with ‘Bon jour [sic], mon amie’ and ‘Bon jour [sic], mon ami’ (68). After arriving at the hotel, ‘aunt’ Julie ‘opened the door of the white room and shut it upon us. Down went the suit-case, the postman’s bag, the Matin. I threw my passport up into the air, and the little corporal caught it’ (69). While Flaubert’s ‘What an embrace!’ is likely Emma’s thought since it seems to enter the text as free indirect discourse, it still qualifies and serves as analysis. No embrace is described by Mansfield. Instead, the rush and anticipation of the couple to get to their room while dodging the ‘thick as violets’ police and sense of relief once they arrive there is objectively represented in the economic ‘Down went the suit-case, the postman’s bag, the Matin’ and the playfully triumphant toss of the passport. The focus on the passport trading hands from the woman to the ‘little corporal’ is not only a celebratory gesture, but also recalls the break-up letter Emma Bovary never delivers. Even though Mansfield’s protagonist has the letter and visiting card from Paul and Julie Boiffard as a ruse 97

Katherine Mansfield and Translation to get her into the restricted zone, the passport alone is sufficient in this instance for her to travel from her rooms in Paris to the small hotel in X. The two colonels, God I and God II, allow her to pass through the station checkpoint into the Zone des armées without even looking at the letter. The letter she has to hand is not needed, just like the letter Emma had written and planned to deliver to Léon at Rouen cathedral. Emma’s break-up letter would have ended the affair, yet after the famous cab ride all over town, ‘a bare hand emerged from between the tiny yellow cloth curtains and flung out some torn scraps of paper, which scattered in the breeze and landed a little way off’.39 In both cases, the letter does not serve its intended function. Mansfield’s image of the passport tossed to the little corporal reiterates that the letter was unnecessary, comically recalling Emma’s break-up missive carried by the breeze. The depictions of travel in both texts illustrate the experience of the characters, but they differ in the way they represent the dominant modes of thinking about space of their times. The neuro-­phenomenologist Erwin Straus details phenomenal relationships with space in The Primary World of Senses: A Vindication of Sensory Experience, which indicate how travel speed altered perceptions of space. If we apply Straus’s distinction between ‘landscape space’ and ‘geographic space’ to these texts, Flaubert’s provinces remain landscapes while Mansfield’s France becomes a traversable geography. The distinction between these two types of space rests on the presence of a horizon. According to Straus, ‘In a landscape we are enclosed by a horizon; no matter how far we go, the horizon constantly goes with us.’40 Thus, a landscape is contiguous: ‘In a landscape we always get to one place from another place; each location is determined only by its relation to the neighboring place within the circle of visibility.’41 In contrast, geographical space is horizonless and transparently structured. Straus writes that ‘When we seek to orient ourselves somewhere, or ask directions of someone, or even use a map, then we establish our here in a place of horizonless space.’42 Therefore, ‘[e]very place in such a space is determined by its position with respect to the whole and ultimately by its relation to the nullpoint of the co-ordinate system by which this space obtains its order. Geographical space is systematized.’43 One experiences landscape space as a continuous whole, whereas geographic space relies on an imaginary external construct for order. Increased transportation speed over time drove this fundamental change in the perception of space. As Emma travels to Rouen each Thursday in the Hirondelle, she traverses a landscape. Flaubert describes the coach rolling on while ‘passing endless rows of apple trees; the road ahead, between its two ditches filled with yellow water, stretched on and on, gradually narrowing as it 98

Criticism neared the horizon’.44 This landscape space slowly morphs and blends together under Emma’s gaze as a unified whole: Emma knew it from end to end; she knew that after a pasture there came a sign-post, then an elm, a barn, or a road-mender’s hut [. . .] At long last there were brick houses built closer together, the road resounded under their wheels, and the Hirondelle was rolling along between gardens, where Emma might catch a glimpse, through a fence, of statues, a landscaped mound crowned by a trellised arbour, clipped yew trees, or a swing. Then, suddenly, the town lay spread out before her eyes.45

Orchards give way to pastures, which give way to elm, barn, then finally brick houses and the Norman capital. Unlike this slowly shifting landscape Emma witnesses passing by the window, Mansfield’s heroine traverses a systematised space. The reasons for her journey might be ‘indiscreet’, but the trip itself is spatially ‘discrete’. Space collapses and can be traversed in an instant, from origin to end point. This is especially the case when there are no features outside of the conveyance to mark distance, as in an underground railway. On the Quai, she passes ‘a lovely little boy in coloured socks, dancing in front of the electric lotus buds that curve over the entrance to the Métro. Alas! There was not even time to blow him a kiss. When I arrived at the big station I had only four minutes to spare’ (63). Just as quickly as she enters the Métro, she arrives at the main station; the hurried speed of her entry and arrival are underlined by the lack of time to blow a kiss and the ‘four minutes to spare’. In contrast to the familiarity of the boy, the Métro and the big station, on the train she encounters the foreignness of the forbidden zone: she ‘must change at X.Y.Z.’ (63). Moreover, these depersonalised place names at once illustrate the incomprehensibility of the French reply to her question, ‘Does one go direct to X?’, and also three-dimensional Cartesian space where any location can be determined by relation to the null point, or origin (0,0,0). In France, this origin is kilometre zero in Paris, the starting point of Mansfield’s indiscreet journey. This also recalls military depersonalisation – perhaps why the two lovers are never named in the story – where location names are sets of coordinates, soldiers are identity numbers, and targets are Xs. The war remains in the background for the most part, and reminders of death cannot penetrate her optimistic affect. Flaubert’s Cimetière Monumental46 becomes the exclamatory, ‘What beautiful cemeteries we are passing!’ (64). She misreads the unfamiliar signs around her in the war zone with anticipation of the liaison which further alienates her from a sense of landscape space. 99

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Soldiers are whistling out of the windows, Red Cross men come and go from buildings, and at every bridge, station and crossing a ‘Forlorn and desolate’ private stood looking ‘like a little comic picture waiting for the joke to be written underneath’ (64). The cab ride in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ recasts the conventions of secrecy, transgression and visibility from the famous scene in Madame Bovary. Part of the joke in Madame Bovary, at Emma and Léon’s expense, is that the reader infers what is going on in the cab. Thus Flaubert’s narrative eye remains outside of the cab, detached, and gives a frenetic account of the cab’s route around Rouen. The places are compounded in such a way that makes them overwhelming and like comic catalogues, so that a reader may just chuckle when each new location is mentioned. But there is discretion in what is reported. Like Emma’s trips to Rouen, Flaubert notes how the cab gets to where it is going. Places are named in succession: rue Grand-Pont, place des Arts, quai Napoléon, pont Neuf, carrefour La Fayette and so on.47 Everyone who notices the cab as it passes these parts of the sleepy provincial city is scandalised by ‘this spectacle unheard of outside the capital: a cab with drawn blinds that constantly reappeared, sealed up tighter than a tomb and tossing like a ship’.48 While nearly everyone in Rouen has seen the cab, its passengers remain unknown. In contrast, the narrator of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ foregrounds surveillance in the war zone early in the story. Out of the train window, she sees soldiers working on the rail line, noting that they stared back at her, their ‘eyes fixed on the train as though they expected at least one camera at every window’ (64). Here, the ‘female observer, trespassing in a male world’,49 is also observed. Mansfield’s ‘little corporal’ and narrator experience anxiety that they will be spotted, like Emma and Léon, but Mansfield inverts this scene so that her lovers are visible to the town. Many people see Mansfield’s transgressive characters, who are in a vulnerable position since women could not be in the military zone unauthorised and soldiers could not ride in cabs: ‘both doors, which were the complete sides of the cab, flapping and banging’ wouldn’t stay shut (68). At the barracks, ‘[a] crowd of laughing faces blotted the window’ (68). The heightened anxiety and precaution in the scene is for nothing, as everyone who spots them finds it comical. Furthermore, most of the soldiers display a cavalier attitude towards military regulations, as when they enter the Café des Amis at 8.30 for a mirabelle when no soldier was allowed in a café after 8. Rather than being scandalised, the comedy of the flapping ‘fools of doors’ and the woman’s presence amongst the soldiers is a welcome diversion from the cycle of boredom, banality and horror of trench life. By transposing the cab ride, 100

Criticism Mansfield rewrites the defamiliarisation through which Flaubert strictly divides interior, feminine space from exterior, masculine space. Her character’s incursion into the male space of the Zone des armées renews Emma’s cab ride through Rouen, Léon’s space, but Mansfield’s open cab doors reinvigorate both spaces by allowing a mutual gaze to pass between them. As Smith comments, indeed, ‘there is a sense of anarchy inspired by the implied amorality of the narrator which reinforces the notion that the war could be a dangerously liberating experience for women’.50 In Mansfield’s discontinuous and ambiguous geography, X is nothing like Flaubert’s Rouen landscape with its explicitly named features; X could be any small village near the front. While Emma’s affairs eventually lead to her downfall and suicide, no one in Mansfield’s story faces any consequences. The sense of anarchy in ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ is heightened by the impersonal, Flaubertian narrative technique. Mansfield’s appropriation of these techniques and translation of the Bovaryesque tryst signals that the war, coupled with increased mobility, liberates everyone, especially women, from the bourgeois social proprieties that Flaubert’s fiction indicted.

Capacity to Feel, Ability to See In the end, Mansfield’s habit of writing about travel in the notebooks and early stories allows her to hone a transpositional aesthetic that reimagines transit. The notebooks enable her to identify affects with the proper objects in order to translate the particularities of her experience, including her reading experience, into those of her characters. The lines between the experiences of life and fiction often blurred, as Mansfield described to John Middleton Murry from Menton on 3 November 1920: Ive been this man been this woman. Ive stood for hours on the Auckland wharf. Ive been at the stern and a hotel porter whistling through his teeth. It isn’t as though one sits and watches the spectacle. That would be ­thrilling enough, God knows. But one IS the spectacle for the time.51

Mansfield’s transposition of herself into the spectacle of her fictional characters recalls Flaubert’s famous, though apocryphal, identification with Emma Bovary, ‘Madame Bovary, c’est moi.’52 Perhaps she even imagined herself as another Emma as she travelled to Gray on her extramarital escapades, modulating Flaubert’s claim to ‘Madame Bovary, c’est Mansfield.’ In any case, the notebooks allow Mansfield to use translation as a generative mode of literary production as she jots 101

Katherine Mansfield and Translation notes on her literary forebears and translates the immediate feelings of experience into fiction. Feeling and seeing are important features of Mansfield’s creative process and transpositional aesthetics, and Flaubert describes a similar process of artistic gestation. In a letter to Louise Colet, 6 July 1852, he writes, Passion does not make poetry, and the more personal you are, the weaker. I have always sinned in that direction myself, because I have always put myself into what I was doing. Instead of Saint Anthony, for example, I am in my book; and I, rather than the reader, underwent the temptation. The less you feel a thing, the fitter you are to express it as it is (as it always is, in itself, in its essence, freed of all ephemeral contingencies). But you must have the capacity to make yourself feel it. This capacity is what we call genius: the ability to see, to have your model constantly posing in front of you.53

In these early notebooks and early stories, Mansfield writes the feeling out of herself, as the ink flows from the pen, so the passion of the immediate experience flows out of the writer. This process is particularly evident in the case of ‘An Indiscreet Journey’, which she wrote in Francis Carco’s Parisian flat in May 1915 some three months after her furtive journey to visit him in Gray.54 The note-taking process allowed her to express affective responses better in impersonal terms, without ever eliminating her capacity to see her models before her habitually and convey their emotive state. To discover her genius for short-form fiction, Mansfield did not follow the Flaubertian route to the letter; she studied his bearings in Notebook 2 and then charted her own course. Notes  1. Margaret Scott, ed., The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks: Complete Edition, 2 vols (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), Vol. 1, p. 160. Hereafter referred to as Notebooks, followed by volume and page number. ‘You and I are no longer following the same route, we are no longer sailing in the same skiff. [. . .] I am not seeking port, but the high seas.’ Translation from The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, trans. and ed. by Francis Steegmuller (New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1953), p. 137. Mansfield omits the middle sentence ‘Que Dieu nous conduise donc où chacun demande!’ (‘May God lead each of us where he wishes to go!’).  2. The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, p. 137. ‘Si j’y fais naufrage, je te dispense du deuil.’ Gustave Flaubert, Correspondance, ed. by Jean Bruneau, 5 vols (Paris: Gallimard, 1973–2007), Vol. 2, p. 122. Hereafter cited as Correspondance, followed by volume and page number.   3. Geoffrey Wall, Flaubert: A Life (London: Faber, 2001), pp. 157, 190 and 195–6.  4. The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, p. 137. ‘Quant à mon poste d’homme de lettres, je te le cède de grand cœur, et j’abandonne la guérite, emportant le fusil sous mon bras. – Je dénie l’honneur d’un pareil titre et d’une pareille mission. Je suis tout


Criticism bonnement un bourgeois qui vit retiré à la campagne, m’occupant de littérature et sans rien demander aux autres, ni considération, ni honneur, ni estime même’ (Correspondance, 2, p. 121).  5. Before 1910, this letter was only reproduced in Volume 2 of the first edition of Flaubert’s collected letters, edited by his niece, Caroline Commanville, Correspondance, 4 vols (Paris: G. Charpentier, 1887–93), Vol. 2 (1889), pp. 122–4, and excerpted in Émile Faguet’s commentary in the ‘Grands Écrivains français’ series, Flaubert (Paris: Hachette, 1899), p. 20, and René Descharmes’s commentary Flaubert: Sa vie, son caractère, et ses idées, avant 1857 (Paris: Librairie des amateurs, 1909), p. 351. The National Library of New Zealand catalogue does not list any of these books in their holdings. Based on the availability of these volumes and the note’s position in the notebook, it seems Mansfield transcribed the phrases from the letter while she was in London.   6. Gerri Kimber, Katherine Mansfield: The View From France (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008), p. 104, n. 12.   7. Kimber, p. 97.  8. Angela K. Smith, The Second Battlefield: Women, Modernism and the First World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 170.   9. Steven G. Yao, ‘Translation Studies and Modernism’, in A Handbook of Modernism Studies, ed. by Jean-Michel Rabaté (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2013), pp. 209–24, p. 216. 10. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, Selected Writings Volume 1: 1913–1926, ed. by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 253–63, p. 256. 11. Notebooks, 1, p. 164, n. 169. Antony Alpers, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (London: Viking, 1980), pp. 83, 85, 93. 12. Notebooks, 1, pp. 211 and 228. See also Kimber, p. 104, and Alpers, p. 75. 13. Notebooks, 1, p. 135. Selections from Boileau, ed. by Oscar Kuhns (Boston: D. C. Heath & Co., 1908), p. 60, l. 43. ‘Nothing is beautiful but the true.’ Author’s translation. 14. Notebooks, 1, p. 151. 15. Ian Gordon remarks that notebooks like this one travelled with her and provided ‘raw material for creation’, although he relegates an overview description of the ‘Casual Jottings’ to his appendix. See Katherine Mansfield, The Urewera Notebook, ed. by Ian Gordon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 15, 91. 16. Notebooks, 1, p. 156. 17. It is unclear whether she translated this herself or read it in translation. The language of the 1890 translation is closest to Mansfield’s note. It reads, ‘The partisans of analysis demand that the writer should undertake to indicate the least evolutions of the mind, and all the most secret motives that determine our actions, while according to the fact itself only a secondary importance’ and ‘instead of explaining at length the state of mind of the personage, the objective writers seek the action or gesture which a man in a determined situation would inevitably accomplish in that particular state of mind.’ Guy de Maupassant, Pierre et Jean [Peter and John], trans. by Alexina Loranger (Chicago: Laird & Lee, 1890), pp. 29, 30. 18. Notebooks, 1, p. 165. 19. Notebooks, 1, p. 166. 20. Vincent O’Sullivan, ed., Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories (New York: Norton, 2006), pp. 72–5. Hereafter cited parenthetically by page number. 21. Alpers, p. 56.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation 22. Notebooks, 1, p. 164. 23. Notebooks, 1, p. 304. 24. Notebooks, 1, p. 165. 25. Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 27, 28. 26. Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984–2008), Vol. 5, p. 101. Hereafter cited as Letters, followed by volume and page number. 27. The Letters of Gustave Flaubert: 1857–1880, trans. and ed. by Francis Steegmuller (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 97–8. ‘[C]omme la foudre, un envahissement ou plutôt irruption instantanée de la mémoire car l’hallucination proprement dite n’est pas autre chose, – pour moi, du moins. C’est une maladie de la mémoire, une relâchement de ce qu’elle recèle’ (Correspondance, 3, p. 572). 28. Notebooks, 1, pp. 211–13. 29. Notebooks, 1, p. 228. 30. Notebooks, 1, p. 229. 31. Notebooks, 2, p. 159. 32. ‘Translation’ is used more broadly here as the movement from one entity to another, similarly to its use in physics. In that discipline, ‘translation’ is the ‘Transference of a body [. . .] from one point of space to another’ (Oxford English Dictionary, ‘translation’ n., Def. 1f). 33. Dominic Head, The Modernist Short Story: A Study in Theory and Practice (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 114, 117. Head argues that ‘Ole  Underwood’ marks the beginning of this facet in the published fiction. However, Mansfield’s instinct for this fictional effect seems to be present in earlier sketches and vignettes. 34. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century (Oakland: University of California Press, 1977), p. 24. 35. She left Paris on 19 February 1915. See Kimber, p. 68. 36. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. by Margaret Mauldon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 233. Hereafter cited as Madame Bovary Translation, followed by page number. 37. Jane Tynan, British Army Uniform and the First World War: Men in Khaki (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), pp. 119, 120. 38. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 234. ‘[Q]uartier du théâtre, des estaminets et des filles’; ‘On sentait l’absinthe, le cigare et les huîtres’; ‘Elle tournait une rue; elle le reconnaissait à sa chevelure frisée qui s’échappait de son chapeau. Léon, sur le trottoir, continuait à marcher. Elle le suivait jusqu’à l’hôtel; il montait, il ouvrait la porte, il entrait . . . Quelle étreinte!’ Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary: Mœurs de province, Folioplus Classiques (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2004), p. 310. Hereafter cited as Madame Bovary followed by page number. 39. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 217. ‘[U]ne main nue passa sous les petits rideaux de toile jaune et jeta des déchirures de papier, qui se dispersèrent au vent et s’abattirent plus loin’ (Madame Bovary, p. 290). 40. Erwin Straus, The Primary World of Senses: A Vindication of Sensory Experience, trans. by Jacob Needleman (London: Collier–MacMillan, 1963), p. 319. 41. Straus, p. 319. 42. Straus, p. 319. 43. Straus, p. 319.


Criticism 44. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 273. ‘[L]es pommiers à la file se succédaient; et la route, entre ses deux longs fossés pleins d’eau jaune, allait continuellement se rétrécissant vers l’horizon’ (Madame Bovary, p. 308). 45. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 232. ‘Emma la connaissait d’un bout à l’autre ; elle savait qu’après un herbage il y avait un poteau, ensuite un orme, une grange ou une cahute de cantonnier [. . .] Enfin, les maisons de briques se rapprochaient, la terre résonnait sous les roues, l’Hirondelle glissait entre des jardins où l’on apercevait, par une claire-voie, des statues, un vignot, des ifs taillés et une escarpolette. Puis, d’un seul coup d’œil, la ville apparaissait’ (Madame Bovary, p. 308). 46. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 217; Madame Bovary, p. 289. 47. Madame Bovary Translation, pp. 216–17; Madame Bovary, pp. 288–9. 48. Madame Bovary Translation, p. 217. ‘[C]ette chose si extraordinaire en province, une voiture à stores tendus, et qui apparaissait ainsi continuellement, plus close qu’un tombeau et ballottée comme un navire’ (Madame Bovary, p. 289). 49. Smith, p. 167. 50. Smith, p. 170. 51. Letters, 4, p. 97. 52. Flaubert does identify, however, with Saint Anthony and the lover in L’Éducation sentimentale. See Yvan Leclerc, ‘“Madame Bovary, c’est moi”: formule apocryphe’, Centre Flaubert, February 2014, (last accessed 6 June 2014). 53. The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, p. 138. ‘La passion ne fait pas les vers. – Et plus vous serez personnel, plus vous serez faible. J’ai toujours péché par là, moi; c’est que je me suis toujours mis dans tout ce que j’ai fait. – À la place de saint Antoine, par exemple, c’est moi qui y suis. La tentation a été pour moi et non pour le lecteur. – Moins on sent une chose, plus on est apte à l’exprimer comme elle est (comme elle est toujours, en elle-même, dans sa généralité, et dégagée de tous ses contingents éphémères). Mais il faut avoir la faculté de se la faire sentir. Cette faculté n’est autre que le génie. Voir. – Avoir le modèle devant soi, qui pose’ (Correspondance, 2, pp. 127–8). 54. Kimber, p. 68.


Foreign Languages and Mother Tongues: From Exoticism to Cannibalism in Katherine Mansfield’s Short Stories Elisabeth Lamy-Vialle

Mansfield’s relationship with France is expressed in many different ways in her short stories, one of which is the fundamental role played by the French language. Mansfield confronts English-speaking readers with a foreign language that constantly interacts with their mother tongue, creating an intriguing tension between the two languages, both of which are unsettled as a result, and lose their familiarity. This tension puzzles native speakers, whether French or English, albeit through different processes; the title of one of her most famous stories, ‘Je ne parle pas français’, through its very paradoxical nature, epitomises the issue of the interaction between mother tongue and foreign tongue. This goes beyond what Roland Barthes calls the ‘effet de réel’ (effect of reality),1 in which French is the semiological vehicle of Frenchness; in Mansfield’s stories the diegetic space and a certain exoticism which it purportedly creates are immediately swept away by irony, as French words force themselves into the text, thus producing linguistic and semantic blurring. When Mansfield imposes the Other’s tongue on her reader, or what Derrida would call the double ‘monolingualism of the Other’,2 she opens up, in the core of literature (which Proust already views as ‘a sort of foreign language’),3 an in-between space in which two languages will interact and be questioned. My purpose in this essay is to show the place and role Mansfield accords the French language and its various degrees of intensity and meaning, focusing on the stories which are set in France. To this end, I shall focus on ways that irony constantly undermines clichés (cultural, social and linguistic), on how the concept of Frenchness is constructed, and on how the mother-tongue is questioned, more particularly in the schizophrenic process at work in ‘Je ne parle pas français’ when, between the English and the French characters, 106

Criticism language becomes a ‘cannibal-language’ and is synonymous with power and mastery over the Other. This cannibal-language will be considered here mostly as the aggressive appropriation of the Other through his/ her language in order to leave him/her speechless and powerless.

Linguistic and Cultural Clichés Mansfield’s almost flawless mastery of French allows her to use the language for semantic, semiological, linguistic and symbolic purposes. Occasional insertions of French words into short stories which do not take place in France seem to denote snobbishness or conceit, as seen in the way some characters exhibit their prowess in a foreign language, however limited this may actually be. One such instance is Reginald Peacock’s ‘Voilà tout’;4 another is Isabel in ‘Marriage à la Mode’, whose trivial use of ‘Mes amis’ (316) echoes the very title of the text (in itself an intertextual reference to Hogarth), or again the aptly named French teacher in ‘Carnation’, M. Hugo, with an interesting injunction as far as language is concerned: ‘Un peu de silence, s’il vous plaît’ (653). The use of French is sometimes legitimised at a surface level when it is spoken by French characters exiled in England, such as Marie in ‘Revelations’. Indeed, ‘Marie’ is the recurrent name for French servants in Mansfield’s stories, in keeping with many French plays or novels of the times when a maid called Marie was a clichéd stock character. These examples are striking by their near-insignificance from a linguistic point of view; the French words introduced into the text are meant to convey an effect of foreignness or heterogeneity, as underlined by the constant use of italics which maintain the distance between the two languages and, ostensibly, tell the reader that the value of such French words is different from the rest of the narrative texture. Their inclusion is not meant to disturb the narrative process but it nevertheless interrupts the flow of the dominant language. In the case of Mansfield’s stories set in France, a different process is at work. Here she uses recurrent words or expressions that are easily ‘identifiable’ by her readers as belonging to the French language. The question of their being understood may actually come second, although the impact of such confrontations between two languages is important. Addressing an English-speaking audience of readers, Mansfield appears to consolidate the diegetic space by using terms which actually reinforce the clichés she consciously works on, such as the cab driver or the concierge with her filthy shawl. Numerous occurrences of ‘Madame’, ‘Monsieur’, ‘S’il vous plaît’, ‘Allez, vite’ and ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bonsoir’ (often written in two words, as is the case in her own notebooks and 107

Katherine Mansfield and Translation letters),5 merely fulfil an illustrative function, contributing to Barthes’s ‘effect of reality’. Most of the time, the French spoken by the characters is actually doubled up within the narrative by the equivalent English words, so as to avoid any kind of semantic loss. The use of French is thereby rendered almost superfluous and serves to create exoticism which complies not with a supposedly authentic use of French (despite being convincing), but with what English-speakers would see as a sense of authentic Frenchness. In other words, the exoticism and foreignness created by French in the stories paradoxically reinforces a sense of familiarity in the readers, reassuring them about their understanding of the French language. This probably also explains why one of the dominant lexical fields is that of food and cooking, even if, as we shall see, the link between food and language goes far deeper in the symbolic structure of her stories. Readers who actually speak French probably experience a satisfying sense of superiority, of mastery, being able not only to identify but also to understand what is being said, and thus cross the frontier between the two languages. For French-speakers reading Mansfield, the experience is similar, but inversed. They exert their mastery of a foreign tongue when confronted with the text in English, but it proves difficult to relate what they feel as belonging – cultural familiarity, their country and language – to what is represented as foreign, if not alien. The Francophone reader has the impression that the authenticity of the English in the stories (in other words, the language of narration and of the characters) grants it a dominant position that tends to ‘contaminate’ the Other’s tongue. It proves difficult, once the satisfaction in recognising one’s mother tongue has passed, to read the French words Mansfield sprinkles throughout the text as if they were authentic. The word ‘concierge’ works as a counter-example: sounding French and identified as such by French readers, it is actually a commonly used word in English, as evidenced by the absence of italics in the texts. What may reactivate the word in its ‘Frenchness’ is the cliché which surrounds it: for example, the filthy shawl. The referential fallacy, to take up Riffaterre’s words,6 is double here: on one level, the French setting and the French language used in the story may be seen to correspond to some reality existing outside the text; on another level, it may correspond to what English readers think relevant as far as this reality is concerned. Being a mere fallacy, the confusion between reality and representation is, however, undermined by Mansfield’s irony from the outset. She sets up clichés, both linguistic and cultural, that she knows will ‘make sense’ immediately, for her readers only to destroy them seconds later. One of the most striking examples is probably the description of the Parisian building 108

Criticism in ‘Feuille d’Album’, where reality differs according to the senses used to apprehend it: ‘One of those buildings that look so romantic on rainy nights [. . .]. One of those buildings that smell so unromantic all the year round, and where the concierge lives in a glass cage on the ground floor, wrapped up in a filthy shawl’ (162).7 The impression that lingers on is, perhaps, that of the ‘uncanny’, an unbalanced movement between the familiar and the alien, creating a cognitive dissonance which challenges what French readers think they know about their own language and culture. It echoes what Derrida writes about the mother tongue: ‘The language called maternal is never purely natural, nor proper, nor inhabitable [. . .] There is no possible habitat without the difference of this exile and this nostalgia’, and what he calls ‘the impossible property of a language’.8

Domestication and Mastery of the Foreign Tongue Many of Mansfield’s stories set in France thus put into focus an exacerbated relationship to the Other’s language. In direct speech, Mansfield’s narrators cannot resist giving a mimetic or phonetic rendering of defective English or French, which are read, rather than heard, by the reader. We find several processes of phonetic distortion in her stories, such as the pronunciation of ‘Allez vite’ changed into ‘Allie, veet’ in ‘The Young Girl’ (300), or ‘Allay’ in ‘Honeymoon’ (392), or in ‘The Man Without a Temperament’, ‘Vous avez voo ça’ (135). Such distortion, however limited and humorous, is nevertheless unsettling. The semantic blurring it provokes is perceptible only to readers who can speak both languages, and even here, there will be a brief lapse during which the meaning of the words is suspended in an in-between space created by the confrontation between the two. This in-between space cannot be considered as a meeting point between the two languages; on the contrary, it proves to be beyond both. It is a hybrid space which does not really serve as a passage from one to the other, but is rather an unsettled space that is constantly in motion and cannot be inhabited. The effect produced in Mansfield’s dialogues recalls the Tower of Babel rather than the Pentecost.9 In ‘The Young Girl’, for example, ‘Allie, veet’ seems quite exotic to a French speaker, since the English pronunciation, conveyed in mock-phonetic transcription, ‘anglicises’ the French and tends to overwhelm it, resulting in an unfamiliar semantic and linguistic space. Conversely, in the same text, the waiter’s accent distorts conventional English pronunciation. He is unable to pronounce ‘the’ and drops his ‘h’s: ‘“Dis way, sir. Dis way. I have a very nice little table,” he gasped. “Just the little table for you, sir, over in de corner. Dis way.” [. . .] “You 109

Katherine Mansfield and Translation will not ’ave toasts to start with? We ’ave very nice toasts, sir”’ (394). This distortion, however frequent, is nevertheless a cultural cliché; the reader easily identifies it as a typical French accent. It is corroborated by another cliché: the body movements of the waiter, his ‘body language’: ‘And he grimaced and smirked and flicked his serviette like a fin’ (395). The narrator’s irony targets all characters, French- as well as Englishspeakers, confronting them, and the reader, with a linguistic space in which both languages are reactivated and questioned in their very essence and structure. An early story, ‘The Journey to Bruges’, draws a parallel between exile and the passage from one tongue to another: ‘In the act of crossing the gangway we renounced England. The most blatant British female produced her mite of French: we “s’il vous plaît’d?” one another on the deck, “Merci’d” one another on the stairs, and “Pardon’d” to our heart’s content in the saloon’ (526). However awkward the stereotypes might appear, the story plays upon fascinating confrontations with the foreign tongue. While on the ship sailing towards the continent, the English travellers may renounce England but not quite their English. In these linguistically international waters, the hybrid French that springs up in the narration actually mirrors the movement of the ship: English on its way to French, caught in an in-between space, both literal and linguistic. Ungrammatical phrases such as these confront the reader with a language that is doubly foreign. It recalls Deleuze’s definition of literature in the essay ‘He Stuttered’, in which he plays on Proust’s words. A great writer, Deleuze argues, is ‘a foreigner in his own language; he does not mix another language with his own; he fashions in his language a language that does not preexist it. To make language in itself cry, stutter, stammer, murmur.’10 Yet, we must also take the expression literally, as Jean-Jacques Lecercle does in his study of Welsh writers such as Dylan Thomas and Bernice Rubens;11 we can see Mansfield’s writing as doubly foreign, since it uses French within its own ‘folds’, as Deleuze puts it.12 In ‘Journey to Bruges’, the trace of English grammar is artificially grafted on to the French words or expressions by using the verb ending ‘d’, in an act of violence performed against the foreign tongue. The noun ‘Merci’ and the more complex syntagm ‘S’il-vous-plaît’ are turned into verbs, making the violence both grammatical and morphological. From a semantic point of view, English itself seems to be losing its identity, an identity which does not resist the very act of colonising the other language.13 Mansfield thus triggers a complex process of deconstruction within both languages. This is the ‘becoming-other of language’, which Deleuze describes as ‘a minorization of that major language, a 110

Criticism delirium that it carries away, a sorcerer’s line that escapes the dominant system’.14 This creates a struggle between two dominant systems: Mansfield’s mother tongue is unsettled by her own writing and by the introduction of French (French being similarly discomposed through syntactic recreation). In the story, all the passengers, and particularly the character embodying Great Britain (‘the most blatant British female’), seem to acknowledge the other’s tongue without renouncing their own. In this particular case, it seems as if they have actually conquered and domesticated the foreign language, acknowledging its foreignness and yet emptying it of its alien value. However, the effect on the reader may be reversed, and this hybrid French, translated by the first-person narrator (‘Merci’d’), may actually diminish the characters rather than enhance their superiority, since it betrays their inability to incorporate the other’s tongue verbally (which again confirms the archetype of ‘the most blatant British female’). The simultaneous recreation of French and English ­nevertheless introduces a poetic effect here. In terms of the balance of linguistic power, ‘The Doves’ Nest’ offers a complex confrontation between French and English. The two servants, Marie and Yvonne, finding themselves together in the kitchen of the Southern villa, ‘naturally’ speak in French; language is here fulfilling its illustrative function, along with adding a significant quantity of the picturesque, as their French is popular and idiomatic, as well as vivid and colourful (we may notice that most French characters are indeed socially inferior to the English characters with whom they interact). Yet Mansfield chooses to leave some sentences ‘untranslated’ in the narration, such as ‘J’ai un morceau de gorgonzola ici pour un prrince’ (444). The meaning of the sentence remains relatively clear for non-French speakers, thanks to the Italian word ‘gorgonzola’ and the cognate ‘prince’, a so-called transparent word which Mansfield takes pleasure in defamiliarising. Indeed, Yvonne ‘hisses’ the word, (prolonging the ‘r’), ‘like lightning’, which is not surprising if one takes into account the antagonism conveyed by this sentence and the following one: ‘“Do you think”, cried Yvonne scornfully, “That I would ever buy such cheese pour ces dames? Never. Never. Jamais de ma vie”. Her sausage finger wagged before her nose, and she minced in a dreadful imitation of Mother’s French, “We have none of us large appetites, Yvonne”’ (444–5). The polyphony we often recognise in Mansfield’s writing (as shown by the expression ‘Mother’s French’, conveying the daughter’s voice) finds a new expression here: she mixes French and English in Yvonne’s sentence, which escapes mimetic rules, despite the inverted commas. The English introduced by the narrator in 111

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Yvonne’s line is obviously meant to avoid a semantic loss, yet this English is supported by the non-informative expression ‘Jamais de ma vie’ (or, rather, ‘Jamais de la vie’ in idiomatic French), which works both emotionally, translating the character’s indignation, and semiologically, conveying Frenchness. It enables the narrator to dramatise the tension, not only between the characters but also between the languages. What is at play is power or revenge; Yvonne tries to resist her social inferiority as a servant by keeping the best piece of cheese for herself and asserts her linguistic superiority by mocking her mistress’s French (‘in a dreadful imitation’). The distortion here works on several levels: between English and French, and standard English and hybrid English. French and English seem to feed on each other, dramatically blurring the frontier between linguistic territories and identities. The scene also plays with clichés, making Yvonne’s rebellion rather pathetic. What is striking here, as in many other instances, is the link between food and language, which provokes confusion or overlapping between the oral stage and language, the latter being, in Freudian terms, the social product of the former: Yvonne, agitating a ‘sausage finger’, is said to ‘mince’ Mother’s words. The choice of the verb ‘to mince’ is loaded with metaphorical meaning and humour. Yvonne actually ‘does not mince her words’ to mock her mistress, and she symbolically ‘minces’ and ‘swallows’ the latter in a temporary and mean victory meant to reassert her linguistic and culinary superiority. The challenge for the narrator, as much as for Yvonne, is to render this ‘dreadful imitation’ of French by an English-speaker, but in English, not in French – that is, paradoxically, through a hybrid English in which French slips through: ‘We have none of us large appetites’, rather than ‘We none of us have large appetites’ (445). The link between language and food is clearly established as Yvonne puts into her mouth both the excellent cheese and the mother’s words.

‘Je ne parle pas français’ and Cannibal-language The various strategies seen so far are further developed in ‘Je ne parle pas français’. From the outset, the text foregrounds language issues, with a stress on the question of the mother tongue. Although the very concept of a mother tongue has nowadays been shown not to rely on linguistic attributes, I would nevertheless like to consider it in Mansfield’s story as the language inherited from one’s mother or from maternal substitutes. We will see how this mother tongue, English or French, becomes an alien space that is both threatening and threatened. 112

Criticism The very title of the story is paradoxical in French because the statement refutes its semantic content (the impossibility of speaking French cannot be expressed in French). The French reader is faced with a hermeneutic alternative: should he or she take for granted the content of the statement (the speaker cannot speak French), or ignore its semantic value and only consider the linguistic vehicle which proves the character’s ability to speak French? The title is no clearer for an English-speaker (a priori the addressee of the short story) because it is stated in a foreign tongue, making it theoretically heterogeneous and out of reach, out of control. The ‘I’ of the incipit also contributes to the blurring of the narrative, as we soon discover that there is no co-referentiality between this narrative ‘I’ and the eponymous ‘Je’ of the title, between a seemingly English subject (the French narrator speaking English) and a seemingly French one (the English character stating in French that she cannot do so, in a sort of contradictory performative sentence). The rest of the text will work on the specular relationship between the two languages and the characters: Dick, the English writer specialising in French literature, and Raoul, the Frenchman interested in English literature, as the narrator perverting the rules of the confessional genre. In this narrative, working on the narcissistic mode which leaves Raoul fascinated by both his body and the body of his discourse, the specular relationship between the two men places the question of the mother tongue in the foreground (a question which also develops the idea of the latent homosexual ­attraction between the two). Both characters express a refusal of the mother tongue by endorsing the other’s language. Raoul himself disposes of his family in a few words: ‘I have no family’; and Dick speaks ‘excellent French’ (71), Raoul says, only to qualify his judgement a few pages later: ‘a shade too French’ (74). Raoul is actually caught between the over-determination of his own Frenchness, accumulating clichés (‘We French’, ‘true Parisian’) and his hardly concealed desire not only for an Englishman but also for the English language; it is significant, for example, that Raoul possesses an ‘English writing table’ (67). In his speech, he uses a few French words which validate the Paris setting (and the sad little café), but even this unconsciously interferes in his otherwise controlled imitation of English. If not actually ungrammatical, Raoul’s English makes excessive use of clauses, starting with coordinating conjunctions such as ‘but’ and ‘and’ (‘And the moment of hesitation’, ‘And then there is the waiter’), repetition (‘sad, sad’, ‘Agony, agony, agony’, ‘I puffed and puffed’), Latinised polysyllabic words and nominal sentences. His French slips through to reinforce his foreign identity for the English reader, who, 113

Katherine Mansfield and Translation in turn, identifies his own understanding of French. It also captures perfectly Raoul’s ambiguity and ambivalence. Similarly, Dick seizes on the French language as a way to escape both his mother tongue and his mother’s grip, reminding us of Louis Wolfson, the American schizophrenic writer who refuses to speak his mother’s tongue and narrates his own experience in ‘his’ French in Le Schizo et les langues.15 From the beginning, Dick’s mother is introduced as a malevolent figure, with Raoul almost crossing himself when he first sees her ‘wild-looking’ photograph (72). Dick’s mastery of French stresses his desire to escape from her, and it is indeed a power relationship that is described between the main protagonists of the story. When Dick comes back to Paris with Mouse, re-enacting the romantic lovers’ elopement, he and Raoul impose the French language on her: to her ‘Je ne parle pas français’, Raoul replies, ‘“But I’m sure you do,” I answered, so tender, so reassuring, I might have been a dentist about to draw her first little milk tooth.’ As for Dick, he imposes a final ‘“Of course she does”’ (78). This is not meant to reassure Mouse, but rather to lock her into her linguistic powerlessness. The violence directed against her is also conveyed by the verb used: ‘“Of course she does”, Dick swerved back to us’ (78). The two men deprive Mouse’s sentence of its meaning and dispossess her of her own discourse. The image of the dentist used by Raoul, notwithstanding its sexual connotations, is particularly unpleasant and reinforces Raoul’s predatory image. With the milk tooth and its links with the mother, he drags her mother tongue and discourse out of her mouth in a much darker version of the servant in ‘The Doves’ Nest’. Similarly, when she speaks French, she is said to use a ‘clipped English’ accent. Language is an issue of domination and power; Raoul speaks the other’s tongue, feeds on it and imposes his own tongue on the other. Dick, on the contrary, will not prove able to resist either his mother or his mother’s tongue. He finally returns to her, leaving Mouse in Raoul’s hands. Although, after meeting Raoul, Dick had gone back to England and written a few letters to him in French, his last letter before fleeing back to his mother is written in his mother’s tongue as much as in his mother tongue. The letter states his failure: ‘I can’t kill my mother.’ It is indeed the mother’s triumphant voice that can be heard, her victorious coming back into language: ‘I felt her drag me back to her – calling. I can hear her now as I write’ (87). This offers a striking echo to Louis Wolfson’s text: Wolfson wants to silence his mother’s voice, which he repeatedly describes as ‘haute, aigüe, perçante’ (‘highpitched, piercing, shrill’) and ‘triomphale’ (‘triumphant’).16 One can imagine the piercing voice of Dick’s mother, that of a lethal siren, dragging him back home. In the letter addressed to Mouse, but significantly 114

Criticism read by Raoul, Dick’s discourse becomes incoherent and is pervaded by negations which acknowledge his loss of mastery and power (‘I can’t’), as well as by numerous repetitions. His language stammers and he is reduced to silence: ‘It’s all unspeakably awful’ (87). Choosing to obey both his mother’s voice and his mother’s tongue is certainly a regression to oral sexuality preceding language; it prevents him from experiencing another form of sexuality and compels him to abandon Mouse in Paris. Nothing is left to her, not even her mother tongue. She is in a foreign country she cannot escape from, fearful of social condemnation: ‘all my friends think I am married’ (89). Her very last words in the text are, of course, ‘Je ne parle pas français’, on which Raoul comments: ‘That was her swan song to me’ (90). This is the last of the many animal metaphors attached to her, from her nickname to her description as a butterfly (the Madame Butterfly abandoned by her foreign lover); reduced to an animal, Mouse is not gifted with the faculty of language – even her handwriting is described as ‘spidery’. The metaphorical death she experiences, conveyed by the image of the swan song, is that of her language and discourse. Through this final ‘Je ne parle pas français’, she is cast into an in-between space of language; she cannot return to the mother tongue (she cannot return to England, an unmarried and ‘fallen woman’), nor does she speak the foreign one. One should remember the first occurrence of the statement in the text: the pink blotting-paper upon which Raoul reads ‘Je ne parle pas français’, which reminds him of a ‘little dead kitten’s tongue’ (63) – that is, of a ‘dead language’. Mouse, ironically, has now become a dead kitten, which completes the metaphorical network within which Raoul imprisons her. Language is, once again, an instrument of power and domination. Raoul’s discourse, both in the diegesis and in the narration, is an attempt to manipulate the other characters as well as the readers. He never gives to others but takes something from them, in a cannibalising relationship which is rightly conveyed by the image of the dentist dragging the tooth from Mouse’s mouth. Even if he allows himself to be seduced and consumed, he is indeed also a cannibal, feeding on others. The food imagery displayed in the text is not only a sexual metaphor; it is also tied to the issue of language. When Raoul, as a child, accepted ‘little fried cakes’ from the African laundress in return for her kisses, we are told that he particularly enjoyed the kisses inside his ears that ‘nearly deafened’ him (66): that is, returning him to an oral and narcissistic stage before language (in a scene significantly shared with a woman emblematic of the Other). He admits that his childhood has been ‘kissed away’ and that he has become ‘greedy beyond 115

Katherine Mansfield and Translation measure’ (66). This greediness is now no longer passive. This is bluntly acknowledged when Raoul is waiting for Dick and Mouse at the Gare Saint Lazare, and makes of Paris a gigantic trap for foreigners: ‘Into the trap they walked and were snatched and taken off to be devoured. Where was my prey?’ (77). Raoul feeds on others and uses language to ‘consume’ them and reduce them to silence. In one of the last scenes of the story, as he sits daydreaming in the café, Raoul imagines himself and Mouse in an idyllic scene in which they have returned to childhood innocence. He pictures himself offering a fish and wild strawberries to Mouse, a substitute for Dick, the lost object of his desire. Yet, in a reversal so common in Raoul’s discourse, he soon finds himself back in the café, selling Mouse to ‘a dirty old gallant’ (91): ‘ “But I’ve got the little girl for you, mon vieux. So little, so tiny”. I kiss the tips of my fingers and lay them upon my heart. “I give you my word of honour as a gentleman, a writer, serious, young, and extremely interested in modern English literature”’ (91). Raoul kisses the tip of his finger, in what seems a typical French gesture, thereby associating Mouse with some delicate dish to be consumed immediately, an impression reinforced by the very last words of the story: ‘“You haven’t dined yet?” [Madame] smiles. ‘No, not yet, Madame” ’ (91). A final sentence, ominous and threatening. In Black Sun, Julia Kristeva describes what she calls ‘melancholy cannibalism’: Melancholy cannibalism which [. . .] appears in many dreams and fantasies of depressed persons accounts for this passion for holding within the mouth [. . .] the intolerable other that I crave to destroy so as to better possess it alive. Better fragmented, torn, cut up, swallowed, digested . . . than lost.17

This is the ‘cannibal-language’ that we discover in Katherine Mansfield’s stories, a perfect illustration of the sense of loss and exile experienced by most of her characters. It makes them either predator or prey, the former using language as a weapon to dispossess the latter of his / her identity in an attempt to fight the reality of death and to fill an inner emptiness. Notes   1. In his essay, ‘The Reality Effect’, Roland Barthes studies the value of descriptions in the works of so-called French realist writers such as Gustave Flaubert (many critics have drawn a convincing parallel between Flaubert’s ‘A Simple Heart’ and Mansfield’s ‘The Canary’). What Barthes argues about the value of descriptions in such works can be linked to the ‘signifying value’ of the inclusion of French words in Mansfield’s stories set in France. He comments on Riffaterre’s ‘referential illusion’ (see n. 6) in the following terms: ‘The truth of this illusion is this: eliminated from


Criticism the realist speech-act as a signified of denotation, the “real” returns to it as a signified of connotation; for just when these details are reputed to denote the real directly, all that they do, without saying it, is signify it; Flaubert’s barometer, Michelet’s little door finally say nothing but this: we are the real; it is the category of “the real” [. . .] which is then signified.’ Roland Barthes, ‘The Reality Effect’, in The Rustle of Language, trans. by Richard Howard (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), pp. 141–8 (pp. 147–8).  2. Derrida opens his famous work, Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin, trans. Patrick Mensah (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998) with the provocative statement: ‘I only have one language, yet it is not mine’ (p. 4). Beyond the contradiction, what Derrida states here is our relationship to our own ‘mother tongue’, the impossibility of owning it, confronted as we are with the Other’s tongue and the Other’s voice. The post-colonial context of the essay (Derrida being a Franco-Maghrebi Jew born in 1930 in French Algeria) poses the question of the power of language over the Other and its ontological function: how can I be identified through my language, and how can I fit my individuality into this collective voice that I do not own?   3. ‘Les beaux livres sont écrits dans une sorte de langue étrangère’: ‘Beautiful books are written in a sort of foreign tongue’. ‘Contre Sainte-Beuve’, in Marcel Proust’s Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, trans. John Sturrock (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1988), p. 93. The essay was posthumously published in French in 1954.   4. Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987), p. 146. All further references are to this edition and placed parenthetically in the text.  5. The obvious ‘calque’ from the English ‘Good morning’ which we find in ‘Bon jour’ – written as two words instead of one – actually reactivates the expression in its etymology, whereas intensive use in French tends to cover its actual meaning behind a mere greeting formula, as is also the case with the English ‘Good morning’.   6. Michael Riffaterre, ‘The Referential Fallacy’, Columbia Review, 57 (1978), pp. 21–35.   7. My italics.   8. Derrida, pp. 58, 63.   9. In his 2012 book, Penser entre les langues (Paris: Albin Michel, 2012), Heinz Wismann looks at questions of bilingualism, adopting theological terminology to tackle the plurality of languages. He sees the translator as one who may speak, like the Apostles, ‘en langues’ (in languages rather than in one language), and thereby serve as the gobetween, the ‘passeur’, between his mother tongue and a foreign tongue. The very process of translation thus creates a third space. In the examples given here, we see that, unlike the process evoked by Wismann, this third space does not ‘trans-late’ in order to fill in the gap between two linguistice spaces but, on the contrary, creates an effect of disruption and cacophony. 10. Gilles Deleuze, ‘He Stuttered’, in Essays Critical and Clinical (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), p. 110. 11. Jean-Jacques Leclercle studies the way in which the Welsh language slips into English syntax in Rubens’s novels, mainly in the characters’ direct speech. The recurrent grammatical errors he studies (‘There’s lovely you look’, ‘Looks nice, it will, long’) not only serve as social and regional markers, but also revivify the English language. Jean-Jacques Lecercle, ‘La Stylistique deleuzienne et les petites agrammaticalités’, in Bulletin de la société de stylistique anglaise, 30 (2008), pp. 273–86. 12. See Deleuze’s study of the Baroque period in Fold: Leibnitz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992).


Katherine Mansfield and Translation 13. In Penser entre les langues, Heinz Wismann refers to attempts to occupy the Other’s place and the Other’s tongue as ‘madness’ (‘une folie’). This is, of course, in the case of Wismann, a painful echo of the German occupation of France during World War Two and the role of his own father, a francophile translator and publisher in occupied France. The foreign language is a territory that you cannot occupy. 14. Deleuze, ‘Literature and Life’, in Essays Critical and Clinical, p. 5. 15. Louis Wolfson was treated as a schizophrenic when a teenager and underwent horrific treatments in psychiatric hospitals. He came to detest his mother and his mother tongue, and being fluent in several foreign languages, he invented a linguistic system in which English words took semantic or phonetic substitutes from other languages. He relates this linguistic experience in Le Schizo et les langues (Paris: Gallimard, 1970), with a preface by Gilles Deleuze. For obvious reasons, the text was never translated into English. The violence Wolfson operates on his mother tongue is also studied in Jean-Jacques Lecercle’s The Violence of Language (London: Routledge, 1990). 16. Wolfson, pp. 59, 44. 17. Julia Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), p. 12. My italics.


‘Among Wolves’ or ‘When in Rome’?: Translating Katherine Mansfield Gerri Kimber

Introduction1 Following Katherine Mansfield’s death in 1923, critical reviews of her work started to appear in France, fuelling an interest which concentrated primarily on her life and personal writing, and only secondarily on her fiction. This thirst for biographical detail gave impetus to the translations of the Letters and Journal in 1931 and 1932 (which had first appeared in English in 1928 and 1927, respectively). Within the space of a few years, translations of various volumes of her stories were also published. In this essay, I shall highlight how the translations of her fiction have, for the most part, diluted her narrative technique. Furthermore, I shall examine the fundamental problems of translating writing such as Mansfield’s and determine, via the use of in-depth analysis of the translated texts, whether Mansfield’s narrative and personal ideologies, together with literary nuances, survive translation from English to French. Theories abound as to the ‘correct’ way to translate, what rules should be followed, what ideologies adhered to: Mit Wölfen muss man heulen seems to be a straightforward statement and a translator may write ‘Among wolves one must howl’. The critic then says, ‘That is nonsense, isn’t it? You should have written “When in Rome, do as Rome does.”’ The translator replies, ‘But that is not what the author wrote.’ ‘No,’ says the critic, ‘but it is what he meant.’ And so the translator faces the question as to whether his function is to record the words of his original author or to give their meaning’.2 The translation of language is an exercise in comparison, the translation of texts, an exercise in interpretation.3


Katherine Mansfield and Translation For Susan Petrilli, ‘To translate is neither to “decodify” nor to “re-­ codify”. Such operations are doubtlessly part of the translative process, but they do not exhaust it. In the first place to translate is to interpret.’4 Jeremy Munday considers that translation studies encompass the ‘central recurring theme of “word-for-word” and “sense-for-sense” translation’.5 For Munday, the work of a translator may be summed up as follows: ‘Translating is an intellectual process that consists in re-articulating a thought expressed in a context. Just as knowing how to write is not enough to make one a writer, knowing two languages is not enough to make one a translator.’6 Margherita Ulrych concurs with the notion of having a ‘flair’ for translation, which goes beyond the notion of merely being a ‘competent’ translator, and adds: ‘A translation is the same as an independent text, as far as the receiving culture is concerned, and a derivative text insofar as it is a reconstruction or recreation of another text and the result of the translator’s mediating presence.’7 In the nineteenth century, a ‘good’ translation was, on the whole, perceived to be a more or less literal translation; Mary Snell-Hornby declares that ‘the process of translating literature was seen to be one of reverbalising a written text in another language’.8 In the first half of the twentieth century, this rigid adherence to the original text is challenged by the advent of modernist movements, which, according to Lawrence Venuti, ‘prize experiments with literary form as a way of revitalising culture. Translation is a focus of theoretical speculation and formal innovation.’9 Several commentators, including Venuti, also note the advent of translation as manipulation – in other words, using ­translation as a means to an end: Yet the effects of translation are also social, and they have been harnessed to cultural, economic, and political agendas: evangelical programs, commercial ventures, and colonial projects, as well as the development of languages, national literatures, and avant-garde literary movements.10

Finally, we arrive at an extreme viewpoint, noted by Susan Petrilli, where the translation may be perceived as a superior artistic creation to the original: Borges maintains that a translation never catches up with the original chronotopically, but may surpass it in terms of artistic rendition. Understanding ‘fidelity’ as creativity, and not imitation, repetition, a literal copy in another language, the translating text must establish a ­relation of alterity with the translated text.11

Here, we are far removed from the literal translation of the nineteenth century and earlier, and have arrived at an ‘artistic reinterpretation’ of 120

Criticism an original literary text, in order to convey best the stylistic nuances and meaning of the original.

Translating Mansfield’s Punctuation For David Daiches, writing as early as 1939, Mansfield’s style of writing is intrinsically tied to its content: The nature of the medium reflects back on, and to a large extent determines, the nature of the content. It is, like lyrical poetry, a type of writing where conception unites instantaneously subject (matter) with style (form). If we asked ourselves what is the story of The Daughters of the Late Colonel, for example, we should find it very difficult to express even the idea behind it, the conception underlying it, in any other terms than those employed by the author herself in telling it.12

Mansfield’s use of punctuation and syntax, when examined, reveals further problematical uses for the translator. In a letter written in 1921, she writes of having finished ‘Miss Brill’: I choose not only the length of every sentence, but even the sound... After I’d written it I read it aloud – numbers of times – just as one would play over a musical composition [. . .] If a thing has really come off, it seems to me there mustn’t be a single word out of place.13

The quotation above demonstrates the exactness of Mansfield’s art. Here again surfaces the problem of the free or the literal translation – the rigid adherence to the structure and vocabulary of the original, contrasted with a ‘looser’ translation which aims to capture the essence of tone and meaning of the original. A translator of Mansfield requires an unfettered medium with which to reproduce both tone and meaning. Nevertheless, the right to alter the essential structure of her writing needs careful scrutiny. For Eugene Nida, it is the quality of any given source text which determines its ease of translation: It must be recognized, however, that it is not easy to produce a completely natural translation, especially if the original writing is good literature, precisely because truly good writing intimately reflects and effectively exploits the total idiomatic capacities and special genius of the language in which the writing is done. A translator must therefore not only contend with the special difficulties resulting from such an effective exploitation of the total resources of the source language, but also seek to produce something relatively equivalent in the receptor language.14

Punctuation anomalies in translation can sometimes lead to a ­weakening, a minimising of tone and meaning. 121

Katherine Mansfield and Translation J.-G. Delamain, the original translator of Bliss and Other Stories, only loosely recreates the original punctuation in ‘Mr Reginald Peacock’s Day’, within the confines of the paragraph. The original story contains twenty-nine hyphens, used both within the narrative, which help to convey the workings of Reginald Peacock’s inner consciousness, and in his speech, as a device which he employs constantly. Within Mansfield’s use of free indirect discourse, the hyphen intensifies the notion of thought processes at work, together with the general air of conversational ‘intimacy’, which pervades this form of presentation. The French translation contains eleven hyphens – a significantly smaller amount. This absence explains a perceived absence in the intimate tone of the narrative in translation. The use of suspension points in this story also creates problems in translation. There are seventeen cases in the original and twenty in the translation. In the latter, however, they are used indiscriminately and frequently not in the same places as the original: even the bath tap seemed to gush stormy applause. . . .15 et que le robinet de la baignoire sembla faire jaillir un impétueux applaudissement.16

The use of suspension points here reflects the use of the word ‘seemed’. It is an image that the reader is presented with; the finality of the full stop concretises the essential fluidity of the image. In the following example, suspension points are added in the translation: ‘They fade so soon – they fade so soon,’ played Reginald on the piano. (2/53) ‘Elles se fanent si vite. . . se fanent si vite. . . ,’ jouait Reginald. (173)

The use, in the translation, of suspension points complicates the meaning of the original text. The difference in nuance is small but noticeable, for the rhythm is being irrevocably altered; the dash seems to perform the musical long note (so-o-on), whereas the ellipses slow down the text and suggest fading away. The problem of the narrator’s voice itself will be discussed shortly but the use of punctuation does play a role within it.17 In the third paragraph of the story, consisting of thirty-one lines of what are essentially internal thought processes via the technique of free indirect discourse, the French version has thirteen major punctuation differences. One full stop is used instead of a comma; two semi-colons replace two commas; a full stop replaces suspension points; five hyphens are omitted; one exclamation mark is omitted; finally, two question marks and one colon are added. One sentence reads as follows: 122

Criticism He rolled over in the big bed, his heart still beating in quick, dull throbs, and with every throb he felt his energy escaping him, his – his inspiration for day stifling under those heavy blows. (2/49) II se retourne dans le grand lit, son cœur bat encore à coups rapides et sourds. Il sent son énergie lui échapper à chaque pulsation; son inspiration pour la journée étouffée sous le martèlement de ces coups. (166)

The unnecessary alterations in punctuation – unnecessary, that is, for an understanding of the text – detract from the tone of the original through the inevitable breakdown of Mansfield’s syntactic technique, which relies on simple punctuation and the constant use of hyphens and suspension points to imitate the thought processes of her characters. There is a sense of rhythm, a sense of urgency to the English version – we can hear Reginald talking, hesitating over the choice of a word; we can almost hear him breathing, since his voice is indirectly that of the narrator’s. In the French version, an added full stop and a missed hyphen turn an individual’s thought processes into a considered, impersonal narrative. A few minor differences in punctuation can thus significantly alter both the mood and the understanding of a text. Finally, no attempt is made to translate the name ‘Peacock’, carefully and deliberately chosen by Mansfield, full of connotation, association and integral to the meaning behind the story. As Luca Manini points out: Proper nouns, which have a special status within the language system as opposed to common nouns, can be used as characterizing devices in literary texts and so become a meaningful element in the texture of such works. Names can in this way be endowed with an extra semantic load that makes them border on wordplay. The presence of meaningful literary names is likely to cause problems when the text is to be translated, the question being not only whether the transposition of such names in the target language is technically possible, but also to what extent this would be viewed as an appropriate procedure.18

I contend that it is essential to translate the word ‘Peacock’ since that sense of the ‘cocky’ proud male, constantly presenting a colourful, if ultimately vacuous and meaningless display, precisely defines Reginald Peacock in the mind of the English reader. For a French reader, who may not even understand the word ‘peacock’, the translation of the title as ‘La journée de M. Reginald Peacock’ is worthless. ‘La journée de M. Reginald Paon’, however, would bring an instant understanding of the character to a French reader. When the original punctuation is altered via translation in ‘Life of Ma Parker’, especially concerning the use of suspension points, it is again 123

Katherine Mansfield and Translation the free indirect discourse narrative which suffers. There are fourteen uses of suspension points in the original, compared with eleven in the translation. In this story, they constitute a flashback device, as Ma Parker shifts her thoughts from the present to the past, from memories of her husband and grandson, back to the realities of her present life as a cleaner to the ‘literary gentleman’: But he was gran’s boy from the first . . . . ‘Whose boy are you?’ said old Ma Parker [. . .] (2/295) Pourtant, depuis le commencement, il avait été le chouchou de grand-mère. ‘À qui tu es?’ dit la vieille maman Parker [. . .] (366)

In the quotation above, the suspension points constitute the equivalent, in a film, of ‘mist’ or ‘waves’ in the picture whenever the storyline retreats into the past. Their absence here – and elsewhere – in the French text minimises any intended effect. There is also no attempt at replicating the abbreviations ‘gran’ or ‘Ma’. The painful conclusion to this story, together with the seriousness of Ma Parker’s plight, is destroyed in the French by the introduction of exclamation marks, which lend the French version almost an air of gaiety in one of the bleakest scenes in the whole of Mansfield’s fiction: Even if she broke down [. . .] she’d find herself in the lock-up, as like as not. (2/296) Même si elle perdait courage [. . .] on la conduirait au poste, il avait des chances! (369)

Obvious syntactical changes are also evident in Marguerite Faguer’s translations in The Doves’ Nest, an example of which can be found in ‘The Doll’s House’, where the children see the doll’s house for the first time and are overwhelmed with excitement: ‘O-oh!’ The Burnell children sounded as though they were in despair [. . .] (2/415) Les petites Burnell poussèrent un ‘oh!’ prolongé qui ressemblait à un cri de désespoir. (466)

The immediacy of the ‘O-oh!’ in the English, which precedes any explanation, is lost in this translation by the ‘oh!’ placed midway in the sentence. Indeed, there is sense here that the French translators reinforce narrative control over the text, while Mansfield’s narrator slips into the wings and allows the characters to speak in their own voices, via the use of free indirect discourse; this seems to disappear in the French 124

Criticism t­ranslations. Thus, the French texts appear far more conventional and staid, with the appearance of an omniscient narrator’s voice – not actually present in the original stories. The reception of Mansfield’s stories in French is therefore inevitably compromised.

Idiolects, Modes of Expression and Humour Differences in the translation of speech patterns can lead to a serious distortion of artistic effect. Mansfield is recorded by many of her contemporaries as having a gift for impersonation, which she incorporated into her work through the myriad of characters presented there. Ida Baker, Mansfield’s schoolfriend and life-long companion remarks: There was a bell-like quality in her rich low voice and her singing was a high, pure soprano [. . .] She was a born actress and mimic, and even in her ordinary everyday life took colour from the company she was in.19

Leonard Woolf concurs with this opinion of Mansfield: By nature, I think, she was gay, cynical, amoral, ribald, witty. When we first knew her she was extraordinarily amusing. I don’t think anyone has ever made me laugh more than she did in those days. She would sit very upright on the edge of a chair or sofa and tell at immense length a kind of saga, of her experiences as an actress [. . .] [T]he extraordinary funniness of the story was increased by the flashes of her astringent wit. I think that in some abstruse way Murry corrupted and perverted and destroyed Katherine both as a person and a writer [. . .] Her gifts were those of an intense realist, with a superb sense of ironic humour and fundamental cynicism.20

This description of Mansfield, by a contemporary who knew her well, underlines how her humour was perhaps the foremost quality Woolf remembered about her. The almost complete absence of Mansfield’s humour in translation, both in her personal writing and in her fiction, is, I contend, one of the primary reasons for the prolongation of the legend surrounding her personality in France. Antoine Berman notes how [e]very novelistic work is characterised by linguistic superimpositions, even if they include sociolects, idiolects, etc. The novel, said Bakhtin, assembles a heterology or diversity of discursive types, a heteroglossia or diversity of languages, and a heterophony or diversity of voices.21

In Mansfield’s narrative technique, idiolects play an essential role; they are used as a vehicle primarily for her satire or humour, and through the use of accents she reveals status and social position without the 125

Katherine Mansfield and Translation need for detailed analysis, for which there is no space in a short story. Verisimilitude is a constant factor – she always makes the language of her characters appropriate to their personality and status. Again, the difficulties this poses for the translator are evident, as Munday explains: A semiotic function is also performed by idiolect and dialect [. . .] The systematic recurrence of this purposely functional feature of the speech of certain characters is identified by Hatim and Mason [. . .] as ‘a noteworthy object of the translator’s attention’. The peculiarities and connotations of the dialect are unlikely to be replicated easily in any TT [target text] culture.22

However, a novelist is not necessarily a dialectologist. We are not entitled to assume either his ability or his intention to record the speech of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, I believe that a translator should make the effort to record some sort of accent in order to provide his readers with at least a part of the richness of the original. Eugene Nida concurs with this opinion, making the following point on idiolects in translation: [I]t is essential that each participant introduced into the message be accurately represented. That is to say, individuals must be properly characterized by the appropriate selection and arrangement of words, so that such features as social class or geographical dialect will be immediately evident. Moreover, each character must be permitted to have the same kind of individuality and personality as the author himself gave them in the original message.23

Every walk of life is portrayed in Mansfield’s stories, from ‘down-andouts’ like Ada Moss, through to the Burnells’ servant girl Alice, on up to the very middle-class Sheridan family, through to the extremely wealthy Rosemary Fell in ‘A Cup of Tea’, each with their own distinctive ‘voice’. Mansfield’s translators, however, ignore most idiolects presented to them in the original text. Mistakes made by foreigners in their use of English have frequently been used with comic effect by novelists. In ‘The Man Without a Temperament’, Mansfield plays with the accent of the foreign waiter – the characterisation adding another dimension of richness to the story. No accent appears in translation: ‘Just this moment, Signora,’ grinned Antonio. ‘I took-a-them from the postman myself. I made-a the postman give them for me.’ (2/201) ‘A l’instant, Signora,’ ricane Antonio, ‘je les ai prises moi-même au facteur, j’ai forcé le facteur à me les donner.’ (152)

In ‘Honeymoon’, another foreign waiter appears; again, his idiolect is absent in translation: 126

Criticism ‘Dis way, sir. Dis way, sir. I have a very nice little table,’ he gasped. (2/490) ‘Par ici, Monsieur! Par ici, Monsieur! J’ai une très bonne petite table,’ disait-il, tout haletant [. . .]. (478)

Frequently, Mansfield utilises a pretentious accent when one or other character attempts a genteel mode of expression, which always introduces a note of humour. Nowhere in the stories is this type of idiolect more ruthlessly or more humorously portrayed than in the ridiculous self-importance bestowed upon Nurse Andrews in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’. Neither the original translation of 1929, nor the more recent 2002 version, reveals any idiolect as such: ‘When I was with Lady Tukes,’ said Nurse Andrews, ‘she had such a dainty little contrayvance for the buttah. It was a silvah Cupid balanced on the – on the bordah of a glass dish, holding a tayny fork. And when you wanted some buttah you simply pressed his foot and he bent down and speared you a piece. It was quite a gayme.’ (2/268) ‘Quand j’étais chez Lady Tukes,’ disait Nurse Andrews, ‘elle avait une petite machine si coquette pour servir le beurre. C’était un petit Amour en argent qui se tenait en équilibre sur le . . . sur le bord d’un plat de cristal, avec une fourche en miniature à la main. Et quand on voulait du beurre, eh bien, on appuyait tout simplement sur son pied, il se penchait, piquait un morceau et vous le donnait. Ça faisait un véritable amusement, quoi!’ (314) ‘Quand j’étais chez Lady Tukes,’ dit Miss Andrews, ‘il y avait un petit présentoir à beurre tout à fait ravissant. C’était un petit Amour en argent, en équilibre sur le . . . sur le bord d’un récipient en cristal et qui tenait à la main une minuscule fourchette. Et quand on voulait du beurre, on n’avait qu’à appuyer sur son pied et il se penchait pour vous en piquer un morceau. C’était amusant comme tout!’24

The differences between the two translations are small but significant, though neither of the translators has attempted to capture Nurse Andrews’s pretentious idiolect, which so absolutely and immediately defines her character for an English reader. This is the first time she speaks – the impact of these words is therefore all the more important. The title ‘Nurse Andrews’ obviously poses a problem for both translators since no French word is deemed suitable; ‘Miss’ seems to lead further away, however, from the true meaning, since by prefixing her name with the word ‘Nurse’, Mansfield is according her a certain position, is fixing her in our mind’s eye with her role in life, which ‘Miss’ simply does not fulfil. Concerning the use of idiolects in writing, Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi 127

Katherine Mansfield and Translation is of the opinion that ‘the translator cannot overcome the difficulty of extreme richness in lects, registers and styles and tends to standardize and unify the expression: he chooses stability instead of variety’.25 The idiolects need not be present in translation for a reader to understand the plot of any given story, but in the difficult task of trying to understand Mansfield’s art in a foreign language, their absence leads to no less than a bowdlerisation of the original. Nida endorses this view when he states in the following general comment: It is essential not only that a translation avoid certain obvious failures to adjust the message to the context, but also that it incorporate certain positive elements of style which provide the proper emotional tone for the discourse. This emotional tone must accurately reflect the point of view of the author. Thus such elements as sarcasm, irony, or whimsical interest must all be accurately reflected in [. . .] translation.26

It is Mansfield’s wicked humour which is lost, her ability to impersonate – and occasionally ruthlessly expose – stock types, which every reader will readily recognise. References to upper-class speech in Mansfield’s stories are generally uncomplimentary.27 All the examples examined above incorporate the role of status and social class with idiolect. In England, and especially in the class-conscious England of the 1920s, a colloquial accent would mark a person for life, and the middle and upper classes employed a very different sort of vocabulary to those beneath them in the social scale. France, however, has not been as conscious of accent as a delineator of social class to the same extent, so that, obvious stylistic difficulties notwithstanding, this might indicate another minor reason why Mansfield’s translators omit translating the myriad of idiolects present in her stories. There are also stories where particular modes of expression are employed to reveal the entire persona of a major character without the need for further character delineation – for example, Stanley Burnell in ‘Prelude’: ‘Well, you might just give me five-eighths of a cup,’ said Burnell [. . .] ‘Tiptop meat, isn’t it? [. . .] ‘By Jove, this is a pretty pickle. Eh, Beryl?’ (2/62–3) ‘Tu pourrais bien m’en donner les cinq huitièmes d’une tasse,’ répondit Burnell [. . .] ‘Viande parfaite, n’est-ce pas? [. . .] ‘Nom de nom, c’est un joli fourbi eh, Beryl?’ (26)

The evident pomposity of the translation mirrors the original, instantly revealing Stanley’s character. Another example occurs in the story 128

Criticism ‘The Lady’s Maid’. The story takes the form of a monologue by a servant, recounting incidents from the long history of service she has given her ‘lady’ – gentle comedy is blended with the eventually more insistent note of blank resignation to old age and loneliness. The modes of expression in her speech reveal her origins, but she attempts to upgrade her speech, not through affectation, but rather in a conscious effort to ‘improve’ herself. It is an ironical situation, for the lighthearted comedy of her words is contrasted with the sadness of her situation, as she describes a life selflessly devoted to the service of her mistress: ‘It fidgets me something dreadful to see her [. . .] When I tucked her up just now and seen – saw her lying back [. . .] a ducky little brooch [. . .]’ (2/261–4) ‘Ça me fait un souci terrible de la voir comme ça [. . .] Quand je l’ai bordée dans son lit, tout à l’heure, et que je l’y ai vue – que je l’y ai vue couchée [. . .] Une mignonne petite broche.’ (454)

The French translation does not register the correction of the colloquialism ‘seen’ to the grammatically correct ‘saw’, emphasising the servant’s self-imposed decision to better her speech and therefore her station. It is a glimpse of the character’s make-up which has been lost for the French reader – the smooth elegance of the French irons out class tensions altogether. The story itself is a bitter indictment of how servants are frequently made to feel guilty for wanting to lead a different life and highlights the difference between rich and poor, between those who wield power and those who submit. George’s mode of speech in ‘Honeymoon’ is inherent to the plot of the story: ‘Topping villa,’ said George [. . .] ‘Well you’d need a crowd of people if you stayed there long. [. . .] Deadly otherwise. I say, it is ripping.’ (2/490) ‘Chic villa,’ dit George. [. . .] ‘Évidemment il faudrait être très nombreux pour y séjourner longtemps. [. . .] Ce serait mortel autrement! Mais c’est épatant.’ (477)

George is an upper-class fool, a fact which his young and innocent new bride has yet to discover, though throughout the story Mansfield hints at a burgeoning awareness. His buffoon-type language has to be brought out in translation in order to make any sense of this underlying meaning. The above quotation shows how an attempt has been made to capture this verbal nincompoopery in French, with some degree of success. 129

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Social awareness emerges in the general tone of a story, the use of accents being one of the instruments for its portrayal. The tone can vary greatly, depending on the notions being put forward by the author; for example, sarcasm is normally used by Mansfield as a means of condemnation. In ‘Bliss’, her sarcasm reveals itself in the characters of the Norman Knights and the poet Eddie Warren. Portrayed as apparently witty, young literati, the words Mansfield puts into their mouths force us to laugh at them, not with them: ‘Isn’t she very liée with Michael Oat?’ ‘The man who wrote Love in False Teeth?’ ‘He wants to write a play for me’ [. . .] ‘What’s he going to call it – “Stomach Trouble”?’ ‘I think I’ve come across the same idea in a lit-tle French review, quite unknown in England.’ (2/148) ‘N’est-elle pas très liée avec Michael Oat?’ ‘L’homme qui a écrit L’Amour en fausses dents?’ ‘Il veut me faire une pièce’. [. . .] ‘Comment va-t-il l’intituler? Troubles digestifs?’   ‘Je crois que j’ai rencontré la même idée dans une petite revue française toute à fait inconnue en Angleterre.’ (116)

The stupidity of the conversation can be just as much appreciated in French as in English, although the mock sophistication of the French loan-word ‘liée’ cannot be perceived in translation. Eddie Warren has a peculiarly pedantic way of emphasising every other word; its absence in French is a lost source of comedy, which also takes the edge off the author’s sarcasm in her portrayal of these characters. A similar exposé of sham personalities is to be found in ‘Marriage à la Mode’: ‘I do wish, Bill, you’d paint it.’ ‘Paint what?’ said Bill loudly, stuffing his mouth with bread. ‘Us,’ said Isabel [. . .]. Bill screwed up his eyes and chewed. ‘Light’s wrong,’ he said rudely, ‘far too much yellow’; and went on eating. And that seemed to charm Isabel, too. (2/335–6) ‘Je voudrais tant, Bill, que vous peignez tout ça.’ ‘Que je peigne quoi?’ demanda Bill, d’une grosse voix en se remplissant la bouche de pain. ‘Nous,’ dit Isabel [. . .]. Bill roula des yeux et mastiqua. ‘Mauvaise lumière,’ répliqua-t-il sans amabilité, ‘trop de jaune.’ Il continua à manger. Et cela aussi parut enchanter Isabel. (379–80)


Criticism ‘J’aimerais tant Bill, que tu peignes ça.’ ‘Peindre quoi?’ demanda Bill d’une voix forte en se bourrant de pain. ‘Nous,’ dit Isabel. [. . .] Bill plissa les yeux en mastiquant son pain. ‘La lumière est pas bonne,’ jeta-t-il avec brusquerie, ‘beaucoup trop de jaune’, et il se remit à manger. Cela aussi sembla charmer Isabel. (FGP2, 174)

Idiolects and general speech patterns are intimately connected with the narrative process. Mansfield’s gift for impersonation – and her ability to transpose this gift to the written page – is one way in which her characters are so acutely brought to life. The brilliance of her writing, combining the vivacity of her wit, the sharpness of her tongue, the concerns of her mind, is, on the whole, achromatised and enfeebled in translation. I contend that the newer translation above is even weaker in its effect than the older version, with the heavy-handed repetition of the word ‘pain’ and the unnecessarily lengthy ‘La lumière est pas bonne.’ It is just possible to perceive in the French version Mansfield’s obvious satire against so-called ‘artists’, who, under the guise of Art, are able to while away their lives whilst living off the money of some generous benefactor. However, the words ‘rudely’ and ‘stuffing his mouth’ indicate the narrator’s viewpoint, and ‘sans amabilité’ and ‘se remplissant la bouche’ are dilutions of the original, disparaging, innuendoes. In addition, there is not enough movement and renewal in either translation to break down the ossification of the overwhelming hagiography of Mansfield’s life and work in France. Itamar Even-Zohar clarifies this idea: A highly interesting paradox manifests itself here: translation, by which new ideas, items, characteristics can be introduced into a literature, becomes a means to preserve traditional taste. This discrepancy between the original central literature and the translated literature may have evolved in a variety of ways, for instance, when translated literature, after having assumed a central position and inserted new items, soon lost contact with the original home literature which went on changing, and thereby became a factor of preservation of unchanged repertoire. Thus, a literature that might have emerged as a revolutionary type may go on existing as an ossified système d’antan, often fanatically guarded by the agents of secondary models against even minor changes.28

Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi also reiterate this sense of translation as manipulation: Translation does not happen in a vacuum, but in a continuum; it is not an isolated act, it is part of an ongoing process of intercultural transfer.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Moreover, translation is a highly manipulative activity that involves all kinds of stages in that process of transfer across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Translation is not an innocent, transparent activity but is highly charged with significance at every stage; it rarely, if ever, involves a relationship of equality between texts, authors or systems.29

Near the end of her life, Mansfield wrote in one of her notebooks: To be wildly enthusiastic, or deadly serious – both are wrong. Both pass. One must keep ever present a sense of humour. It depends entirely on yourself how much you see or hear or understand. But the sense of humour I have found true of every single occasion of my life. Now perhaps you understand what to be indifferent means. It’s to learn not to mind, and not to show you mind.30

The first edition of the French Journal did not contain this quotation, though it was present in the first English edition. It is not translated into French until the second edition of 1956. Thus the emphasis that she herself places on humour in both her life and her work was not a factor for consideration by early French scholars studying her work. Wit is frequently conveyed through the use of idiolects (and especially those of the minor characters), as I have indicated, as well as through situations or comical characters such as Nurse Andrews in ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, or Miss Moss’s landlady, Mrs Pine (curiously translated as ‘Mistress Pim’ in French), in ‘Pictures’. In fact, the story ‘Pictures’ abounds in caricatures of types that are easily ­recognisable, as in the aforementioned Mrs Pine: ‘My sister Eliza was only saying to me yesterday [. . .] “She may have had a college eddication [. . .] but if your Lizzie says what’s true,” she says “and she’s washing her own wovens and drying them on the towel rail, it’s easy to see where the finger’s pointing”.’ (2/179) ‘Ma sœur Eliza me le disait pas plus tard qu’hier au soir [. . .] “Miss Moss  peut avoir reçu une éducation au collège, [. . .] mais si ta Lizzie dit vrai,” dit-elle, “et qu’elle lave elle-même ses flanelles et les fait sécher sur le porte-serviettes, il est facile de voir de quel côté le vent tourne!”’ (139)

There is some indication of an idiolect in the French version, although the comic accent perceived in the use of the word ‘eddication’ receives no attention whatsoever. All these idiolects and general modes of expression are proof of Mansfield’s awareness of every walk of life – each one encapsulates an undertone which describes the inner psychology of a character. Their absence in translation leads to a further sterilisation of her work. 132


Use of Free Indirect Discourse In the majority of Mansfield’s stories – and certainly in the most accomplished ones – the narrator is not an emotionally neutered entity, but rather one or other of the characters through whom the narration is focalised. Stories are thus presented through the thoughts of someone experiencing the events taking place. This is a crucial aspect of her artistic technique – a direct, provocative way of writing – and one which lends itself to a high degree of reader participation. And in the same way that the mind shifts its focus from one thought to another, so the focus shifts within a single story. Occasionally, there are two or more narrators, but mostly there is just one – a single character around whose thought patterns, words and actions the storyline is attached. In order to appreciate Mansfield’s artistry fully, the use of free indirect discourse must be rendered in translation, since its absence would lessen the emotional effect, the originality and even the understanding; it is precisely through the glimpses of the characters’ minds during the narration that the reader arrives at a fuller understanding of the message the author wants to convey. The story ‘Life of Ma Parker’ provides an example of this technique, which takes the form of Ma Parker’s thought patterns. She moves around the literary gentleman’s flat, cleaning and polishing, but it is not her actions which are important but rather her thoughts, her inner life. In Delamain’s translation, the conversational tone of the narrative is diluted and consequently much of the intimacy of the story is lost. In the dialogue itself, some attempt has been made at converting a cockney accent into French – ‘Beg parding, sir?’ – ‘Mande pardon Monsieur?’ Yet within the interior monologue, Ma Parker’s idiolect is not retained: kitching maid / fille de cuisine arsking her / on lui en parlait beedles / cafards chimley / cheminée ’ad ’er side of ham ’anging / avait toujours son quartier de porc qui pendait

Without an attempt to recreate these colloquialisms, the reader’s notion of being intimately connected to Ma Parker and her story is lost, for she is talking to the reader and recounting her life in her own words. It is a story she has told many times, evident from such phrases as: ‘A baker, Mrs Parker!” the literary gentleman would say. (2/294) ‘Un boulanger, Mrs. Parker ?’ dit le monsieur auteur. (364)


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Here Ma always gave a little laugh [. . .]. (2/294) A ce point, maman Parker poussait toujours un petit éclat de rire [. . .]. (364)

The ‘would say’ of the first sentence merely translates as ‘dit’, and the nuance of the oft-told story is weakened. In the whole of this story, only one colloquialism within the interior monologue is preserved: ‘émigrimé’ for ‘emigrimated’. Yet in the French version, the translator sees fit to italicise it, thereby according it undue prominence; in the English, it is perceived as nothing more than an idiosyncrasy of the idiolect. Any intimate liaison between Ma Parker and the narrator is thus destroyed by this form of distancing from the subject. Idiolects and general speech patterns are intimately connected with the narrative process. Mansfield’s gift for impersonation – and her ability to transpose this gift to the written page – is one of the major ­factors which bring her characters so acutely to life. The narrator in ‘Sun and Moon’ is a small boy. The language is ­therefore simple and abundant in child-like images and vocabulary: real things and not real ones / les choses vraies et pas vraies goldy chairs / chaises dorées a cap like a blancmange / un bonnet comme du blancmange it wasn’t real night yet / Bien que ce ne fût pas encore la vraie nuit funny, awfully nice hats nodding up the path / des drôles de chapeaux très beaux qui dodelinaient le long du sentier

None of the French equivalents constitutes child-speak to the same degree as the English originals do. In the translation of the story as a whole, the essential naïvety of the storyteller, together with the underlying theme of the adult’s sham world, are barely discernible, in the same way that the different speech registers (the little boy’s ‘queryings’ contrasted with the adult’s commands and exclamations) are ill defined. A similar pattern emerges in ‘The Doll’s House’. Here the reader inhabits the mind of the little girl Kezia, and adults are presented through the speech and thoughts of the children. The translation of the early paragraph describing the doll’s house lacks the child-like charm of the original vocabulary: There stood the doll’s house, a dark, oily spinach green, picked out with bright yellow. [. . .] and the door [. . .] was like a little slab of toffee. (2/415) La maison de poupées se dressait donc dans la cour. Elle était d’un vert épinard, sombre, huileux. [. . .] la porte [. . .] ressemblait à un caramel. (465)


Criticism If a combined assessment is made of all the points discussed so far – the vocabulary, punctuation, idiolects, tone and handling of the ­narrator – it becomes difficult to distinguish between the overall successes and failures of each individual translator. However inadequate these translations are for their reader public, they are still in use today, in some cases almost ninety years after they were first published.

Conclusion On the subject of translation as manipulation, Susan Bassnett writes: Translation, like criticism, editing and other forms of rewriting, is a manipulatory process. It was suggested by some that the manipulation approach focussed too closely on the fortunes of a text in the target culture, and that by examining what took place during the processes of reading, rewriting in another language and subsequent reception, attention was being directed away from the source text and its cultural background.31

Considering the translation of Mansfield’s short stories, perhaps the most overriding feature which seems to be lost in translation is her humour. Other emotions do seem to be able to make the journey from English into French, whereas the humour almost never does. The sharp-witted, sarcastic comedienne perceived in her original writing becomes dulled in translation. The reintroduction of this humour into the translations would do much to introduce a saner, more down-to-earth, comical writer to the French reading public. I believe that successful translations of Mansfield’s fiction which would accurately reveal both her artistry and her personal philosophy can only be written by someone completely familiar with her work in English. This is not, however, to deny the difficulties of producing translations from writing that many would consider ‘untranslatable’. As Lefevere concludes: We should make it easy on ourselves – we translators – and calmly tell the world that total equivalence [. . .] does not exist, and that the best we – and our readers – can hope for is some kind of optimal approximation. That is always possible.32

It is precisely this ‘optimal approximation’ in language, coupled with an adherence to form and meaning, as exemplified by Charles Mauron in his translation of In a German Pension, which will ultimately reveal the originality of Mansfield’s personal artistic and philosophical aesthetic to the French reader. 135

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Notes  1. This essay is a revised version of a section of Chapter 4, ‘Translating Katherine Mansfield’, from my book, Katherine Mansfield: The View from France (Oxford, Bern: Peter Lang, 2008), pp. 125–79.   2. Theodore Savory, The Art of Translation (London: Jonathan Cape, 1968), p. 18.   3. Jean Delisle, Translation: An Interpretive Approach (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1988), p. 76.   4. Susan Petrilli, ‘Translation and Semiosis. Introduction’, in Translation, Translation (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003), ed. by Susan Petrilli, pp. 17–37 (p. 17).   5. Jeremy Munday, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications (Abingdon: Routledge, 2001), p. 18.   6. Munday, p. 28.   7. Margherita Ulrych, ‘Diversity, Uniformity and Creativity in Translation’, in Petrilli, pp. 133–52 (p. 133).   8. Mary Snell-Hornby, ‘Literary Translation as Multimedial Communication: On New Forms of Cultural Transfer’, in Petrilli, pp. 477–86 (p. 477).  9. Lawrence Venuti, ed., The Translation Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 11. 10. Venuti, p. 5. 11. Susan Petrilli, ‘Translating with Borges’, in Petrilli, pp. 517–30 (p. 517). 12. David Daiches, The Novel and the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), p. 76. 13. Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984–2008), Vol. 4, p. 165 [17 January 1921]. 14. Eugene Nida, ‘Principles of Correspondence’, in Venuti, pp. 126–40 (p. 133). 15. Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’ Sullivan, eds, The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), Vol. 2, p. 50. Hereafter, ­references are placed parenthetically in the text, referring to volume and page number. 16. Marie Desplechin, ed., Katherine Mansfield: Les Nouvelles (Paris: Stock, 2006), p. 168. Hereafter, page references are placed parenthetically in the text. 17. Contemporary French translation theorists such as Henri Meschonnic and Yves Bonnefoy (poet and translator) have been fixated on the ‘translating punctuation’ dilemma, and how it affects textual rhythm, breathing, flow and so on. 18. Luca Manini, ‘Meaningful Literary Names. Their Forms and Functions, and their Translation’, in The Translator: Wordplay and Translation, ed. by Dirk Delabastita (Namur: St Jerome, 1996), pp. 161–78 (p. 161). 19. Ida Baker, Katherine Mansfield: The Memories of L.M. (London: Michael Joseph, 1971), p. 233. 20. Leonard Woolf, The Autobiography of Leonard Woolf (London: Hogarth Press, 1964), p. 204. 21. Antoine Berman, ‘Translation and the trials of the Foreign’, in Venuti, pp. 284–97 (p. 296). 22. Munday, pp. 100–1. 23. Nida, in Venuti, p. 139. 24. La Garden-Party et autres nouvelles, trans. and pref. by Françoise Pellan (Paris: Gallimard, 2002), p. 133. Hereafter referred to as FGP2, and references placed parenthetically in the text.


Criticism 25. Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi, ‘Text Linguistics and Literary Translation’, in Translation Studies: Perspectives on an Emerging Discipline, ed. by Alessandra Riccardi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 120–32 (p. 132). 26. Nida, in Venuti, p. 139. 27. See G. L. Brook, The Language of Dickens (London: Deutsch, 1970). 28. Itamar Even-Zohar, ‘The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem’, in Venuti, pp. 192–7 (p. 195). 29. Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi, eds, Post-Colonial Translation: Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 2. 30. Margaret Scott, ed., The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, 2 vols (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), vol. 2, p. 329. 31. Susan Bassnett, Translation Studies (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. xii–xiii. 32. André Lefevere, ‘The Pragmatics of Translating a National Monument’, in Dutch Crossing, ed. by José Lambert and André Lefevere (Bern, Leuven: Peter Lang / Leuven University Press, 1993), pp. 27–34 (p. 30).




Côte-à-côte in Katherine Mansfield’s Heart Cri de cœur

Cri d’un autre côté du cœur

She cries out from her grave No, no, no, my dears all not ‘leave all fair’ but: je vous adore! leave me alone! You keep me on my toes, Let me RIP through on tenterhooks, your societies your conferences my pen up to scratch: your codswallop about me without you & tear it all apart I’d be up here in these trees flying, flying all over Fontainebleau read me read me for all you’re worth dropping down to my very own that’s why I wrote   Carrefour & my forest rock but STOP the folk of Avon made for me carving me up then away, & serving me like Ariel at too many tables but tethered always to my grave, stop the industry & that staircase at Le Prieuré. stop the production Weep not get off my back & know, visiting me stop flying on my wings I’m freed again fly on your own


Katherine Mansfield and Translation let me be please let me are eye pee (on you all) hear me!

talking of me, you turn over every stone & the damp, yellowed grass lifts its thin, squashed limbs & poppies grow. Then I can fly further. You know how I love the sun how I dance in its light.


Three Sonnets from a Poetical Work Entitled ‘K’ Bliss ‘driving through Eternity in a timeless taxi’

the couple sit motionless they are alone / transfixed / 2 people in a room in a terrace block packed against a park & a Novotel / 2 people        in a street populated by hawkers tourists down&outs reading DH Lawrence / a girl who hides her Maori lover in a hitch-hiker’s bag / the couple    roped together by intertwining their pulses seize the moment / split the starlight’s dominion & all paradise breaks loose / like war horses sparking steel hooves at the sky IAIN BRITTON


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Pounamu ‘the rainbow shell . . . sings in the profoundest ocean’

my birthdate is acknowledged / husband & wife meet for servings of Cornish weather / for an intimacy squandered at a table / they love hate the philosophies of tandem living the companionship of isolation they baulk at their dependence on primal reactions / the grey asphalt skies / the hymn-struck foxes / rainbows which dip double-headed into the sea   a candle burns in a window / my birthday gift perhaps /   tonight Katya pins her brother’s pounamu to her scarf IAIN BRITTON

The Monastery ‘What am I guarding myself for so preciously? This is the mystery’

     i add my name to hers to the aliases barred-up behind windows she stares beyond the graffiti’d walls of her home the crucifixes the gargoyles the small girl chasing a bird’s shadow


Katherine Mansfield and Translation she rubs her hands for a whiff of her brother’s hair for words dripping in red ink K deciphers her emotions soaks her prayers in water / she feels the twilight pains of a solitary white gardenia IAIN BRITTON

Another Exile Paints a Spring Portrait of Katherine Mansfield (for Eric McCormick) There are all these lines without words telling you a whole story. The portrait is a yellow table a gingko leaf shaped fan you think might smell of sandalwood, a paperweight some flying sheets of paper and a Chinese vase of ‘yellow-grey, 2 blues and brown’ [guess who] curving itself round mountains and the wide open branches of trees looking up river. Also an apple halved, on a plate with knife and rose. Maybe there’s a cat asleep beside the blue cup. Certainly a teapot (and you fill in the cake from the corner shop). Everything is luminous and shines. Green makes a slight impression on the wind flowing in the way sky runs through the open window snaring the light on a jug of jonquils catching fire at the edge of spring. And there’s your still-life portrait landscape in a figure.

[yes, you’ve got it, Frances Hodgkins]

RIEMKE ENSING © from The K.M. File and Other Poems with Katherine Mansfield (Christchurch, NZ: Hazard Press, 1993). 144

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Note by Kathleen Jones I keep coming across writers and poets who’ve become fascinated by Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield’s life story, her diaries and letters, her work and the way she wrote (so lucidly and powerfully) about it, somehow catch the writerly imagination. New Zealand poet Riemke Ensing, my most recent discovery, is one of those who has entered into a ­dialogue with Mansfield in poetry. Mansfield is the ultimate ‘writers’ writer’ – there is always some aspect of her life and work with which we can connect. For Ensing, it is the aspect of exile. Ensing was born in the Netherlands and came to New Zealand in 1951, where she taught English Literature at the University of Auckland. Her collection, The K.M. File and Other Poems with Katherine Mansfield is one of eleven collections of poetry. It was published back in 1993 with artwork by Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett and Judith Haswell, and it should really be reissued because of its importance to Mansfield aficionados. This poem takes me straight to Mansfield’s account of being in John Fergusson’s studio – her descriptions of the china, the way the light fell across the room, the colours – but it is actually a dialogue with one of Frances Hodgkins’s still-life portraits. Hodgkins was one of New Zealand’s first notable painters – a contemporary of Mansfield who also came to England in order to develop her art, became part of the modernist movement and died in 1947. There is no evidence that the two women ever connected, though their paths crossed on several occasions in London and France. I love the way the poem builds up allusions and images, inviting you to guess the answer to the question posed at the beginning. What are all these lines and words leading up to? New Zealand academic Lucy McAllister wrote in an essay that she considered the poems in Ensing’s collection ‘to have a playful and cryptic purpose like a cross word puzzle’, and she chose the ‘Spring Portrait’ as a particular example of this style: The poet describes in detail a painting: ‘The portrait is a yellow table / a gingko leaf shaped fan you think / might smell of sandalwood’. Ensing is specific about shape, smell and particularly colour: ‘a Chinese / vase of “yellow-grey, 2 blues and brown”’. The use of italics [. . .] should signal to the reader that this phrase contains key information. In the margin is a parenthesised ‘guess who’. This is a challenge from the poet: she knows the identity of the artist. Is the reader able to deduce the painter’s identity from the references to specific style and colour? The theme of a puzzle or game is continued until the final couplet. This


Katherine Mansfield and Translation does not directly answer the riddle: it is a riddle in itself. In a matter-offact tone Ensing states ‘And there’s your still-life portrait / landscape in a figure’. This juxtaposes four types of painting as one and reverses the usual relation of ‘Figure in a Landscape’. However, the italicised ‘still-life portrait’ is the crucial ‘signal’ for the reader to look at the notes in the margin. It is here that the answer lies: ‘[yes, you’ve got it/ Frances Hodgkins]’. In effect the poet has described Hodgkins’s painting style without directly stating the artist’s name.1

So the poem manages to include both Mansfield and Hodgkins – describing the portrait by Hodgkins in words that reference Mansfield. There is a strong sense of longing in the last lines – the jonquils refer to Mansfield’s exile in the south of France among fields of those ­blossoms – the imagined familiar landscape – the cat curled up beside the blue cup (Wingley?), and the nostalgia for a sky that ‘runs through the window’. Mansfield, like many exiles, was often homesick for the New Zealand landscape and that is fully realised in the poem. One exile writing about two others. Riemke Ensing came from Europe to New Zealand, Katherine Mansfield and Frances Hodgkins went in the opposite direction, but the feelings of displacement are common to the work of all three. Note 1. Lucy McAllister, ‘The Puzzle of Poetry’, Deep South, 2: 2 (Winter, 1996), University of Otago. (last accessed 3 November 2014).


SHORT STORIES Welcome to Paradise Mandy Hager

It was a glimpse into Paradise. The sun caught the old town first, its jumble of faded pastels glowing like the gilded ceilings of the Vatican – yellow, pink, rose, white, red, orange, grey and cadmium; medieval plasterwork rising joyously from the silky sea as it had done for more centuries than she could even comprehend. Next the light would hit the mountains up beyond, their dark wooded valleys and bare silver rock-faces diffused behind the daily haze of early morning cloud. By ten the cloud would burn away, heat smothering the land with a shimmer of dry-roasted air. Lucy would wake, tie on her sarong and carry her freshly brewed coffee out onto the balcony to watch the day begin. She would hear them first: the crunch of footsteps on gravel in between the tracks. Always in bands of two or three, sometimes four, though never more than five. A larger group was far too obvious. Red rag to a bull. At first she was surprised by their tidiness: pristine white trainers, crisp shirts and jeans, mirrored sunglasses, spotless backpacks – once she’d even seen a label still dangling from a pack – and they all had mobile phones glued to one ear, chatting as they cast worried glances back over their shoulders or peered intently up the tracks ahead. The white of their eyes and teeth flashed in the first probing rays of sun and, early evening, when the last few drifted by after the sun had sunk, that same flashing glow of white reminded her of the bioluminescence found in strange alien sea creatures hidden from the known world. The irony wasn’t lost on her; she hated that in some minds such links were literal. She’d stumbled on the reason for their neatness one evening on her ritual walk. Just beyond the border, where the road wove up the hill towards the first of Italy’s charming little hilltop towns, she’d spied 147

Katherine Mansfield and Translation a gully filled with cast off clothes and tattered sandals spilling out of plastic bags. So this was where they ditched the smell of poverty and desperation to don the trappings of the Promised Land – that place where troubles, fears, and deprivation would somehow fall away . . . if only they could get across the border and blend in with the crowd. They were all roughly her age or younger; predominantly boys, still gangly and cocksure, most in their late teens. Seldom female, though once her mother took pity on a skinny pregnant girl; ran down to the train tracks that bordered the garden of their rented apartment and handed her bottled water and a bag of oranges to stop her wilting in the midday sun. This, so far, had been the sole gesture of kindness Lucy had observed from anyone. Most frowned or looked away. Some, she had no doubt, informed on them to the police. The police – now, they were in the thick of it. So well turned out. Testosterone-wide jaws. Steel-capped boots, holstered guns, Tasers, batons . . . and that was just the local cops. Of late, big-shot outsiders also came. Brawny men, self-important, muttering into RTs wired with ear-pieces. They crammed into vans behind a veil of tinted glass, sliding doors open to reveal the machine guns slung so casually at their sides. She watched them from a safe distance as she drank smooth Italian coffee at the bar beside the border. A busy junction, plenty of Europeans crossing over each day to buy cheap booze and cigarettes from the Tabac next door. Never questioned. Never a passport shown or stamped. Some days she’d watch them herd group after group back into Italy, sweat glistening off furrowed ebony brows as they were turned away. Other times, she’d watch the police let a select few slip through, only to nab them further down the street. Cats toying with mice. They waited at the train station, boarded each carriage when it stopped and wandered through, gazes sweeping over every face until they spied the skin tone they were seeking. Always black. Their eyes would focus then. Lock on the target. Their bodies stiffen. She could almost hear their thoughts. Blanc . . . blanc . . . blanc . . . noir! Temps d’agir. Move! Move! Move! It made her feel ill to see tall thin boys spread-eagled in narrow alleyways that stank of dog piss, frisked while the surrounding throng of police looked on, fingers fondling guns. Saw vans stopped, rear doors opened, trucks turned inside out. If caught, the police would redirect them back across the border, sweat pooling in the hollow of defeated eyes as they stood like errant school boys in the sizzling summer sun. Sometimes the Italians joined the Frenchmen at the border, posing in their uniforms (high camp, circa 1980s), sporting silly hats. Would hassle these unfortunates – the poor ‘illegals’ – rub their noses in the 148

Creative Writing fact that no one, no where, wanted them. They had no agency. Had slipped between the global gaps, fallen in the pit between the Haves and Nots. And it didn’t seem to matter what had driven them to flee their homelands or that they were in desperate need, they were still unwelcome. Ping pong balls tossed across the border then volleyed back. Au revoir! Arrivederci. Fuck off. Ciao. She felt such guilt. She’d come to while away her days floating in the salty Med; share the precious windfall that had brought her parents here for six whole months. But when they’d picked her up they were preoccupied with this; couldn’t stand the politics. And the very next morning she saw her first troop of shambling teenage boys, skin as black as liquorice, quick-stepping along the tracks. She’d pulled back into the shadow of the eaves; couldn’t bear for them to judge her decadence. Prickly indigestible guilt rose up inside her. Hadn’t lessened since. She’d breezed into Nice airport with a passport stamp; was greeted with ­pleasant Bonne Journée. No questions asked. This wasn’t right. At night, after the dishes were done, her parents always settled down to catch the BBC world news. Within a week of Lucy arriving, another boat from Africa had sunk before they made it safely to Lampedusa’s shore. Dozens dead. Teenagers. Mothers. Fathers. Kids. Most had walked for weeks, left family, sorrow, war, death, rape. Sold their bodies, sold their souls, just to chance that dangerous crossing from Third to First. There, they said, they would find work, live real lives, laugh, shop, have sex, get a decent education, do something to make a difference back at home. They lived on hope, yet hope was also what they sought – a chance to make a future different from the bleakness that had come before. As her mother watched the shell-shocked faces of the few survivors and the poor bastards who pulled the bodies from the sea her tears fell freely. ‘I can’t bear it, Johnny. How can they just sit there and let these ­tragedies unfold before their eyes?’ ‘Come on, you know it’s not the Italians, love, it’s the roughish ­bastards who . . .’ On it went, this discussion they returned to, night on night: how countries had a right to police their borders, how the underlying problem was inequity, how the police were reluctant meat in the sandwich, how they were creating a climate of hate like the years leading up to the Second World War . . . Lucy took to walking after dinner. Couldn’t settle with her parents; had to outpace her sense of helplessness and ever-growing guilt. She was so white. So privileged. And yet she had so little real power. She walked up the road towards Italy, the huge stratified cliffs with 149

Katherine Mansfield and Translation their seams of pink and orange looming over her and the sea smoothing its ruffled feathers way down below. She’d cross the border, thinking how she’d tell her friends she walked from France to Italy and back each night, past the row of police cars and vans, the bored faces, the huddles of watchful Africans further up. As darkness fell, one by one they’d give up for the day and start the long grinding trudge back to Ventimiglia, the closest town. Since she’d started this nightly walk their numbers were rising. At first there were only one or two hanging back, not daring to meet her eye, hoping for a lucky break. Now the footpath was cluttered with groups, some exhausted, some resentful, some just lying on the ground. She refused to ignore them like the other walkers who were out; would meet each eye and give a friendly smile, the kind she’d give to anyone whose path she crossed. She’d walk up to the vantage point that spread the view before her like a dreamscape – France off to her right, with the spire of Menton’s ancient church reaching for the last light, and Italy claiming the coast to her left, its terraces and dry-stone walls snaking around the hills like contour lines – and let the beauty of the scene soothe her, steel her, for the trek back down. Her friendly smile didn’t go unheeded. Some spoke to her now, a few in French, to which she’d have to say ‘Désolé, je ne parle pas français’, ironically her most polished phrase. Most times, they’d switch to English then, always polite, asking questions to which she was sure they knew the answers. Is the border far away? Are there any police there? Is there a bus back to Ventimiglia? How long will it take to walk? Were they merely craving conversation, some acknowledgement that someone, anyone, would treat them as a fellow human being? Or was it a prelude to some call for help? If so, it never came. Just polite questions to already established facts. But when she stopped to speak with them she found she was the target of disapproving glances from any Europeans who passed. It cemented something in her, a determined stubbornness, an increased fury at the blatant sense of Them and Us. One night on her downward beat she was greeted by a tall pleasantfaced youth. ‘Hello. You speak English?’ She stopped and smiled again. He wore stiff blue jeans and a teeshirt that said Nike 72. His shoes were so white they emitted glare. ‘Yes, I do.’ He had tired rings under his eyes and a slightly stale smell of sweat, despite his pristine clothes. ‘Are any police down there – at border?’ ‘Yeah. Sorry. Still quite a few.’ ‘You are English?’ ‘No, I’m from New Zealand.’ 150

Creative Writing ‘New Zealand. Wow. You live here?’ ‘Just visiting. My mum is doing some research here for six months.’ A car drew level with them, its female driver glaring as if Lucy was passing state secrets to the enemy. She turned her back on the woman. Felt her cheeks heat up. ‘What about you? Where are you from?’ ‘Eritrea. You know?’ ‘Yep.’ She laughed. ‘Well . . . roughly.’ Felt ignorant. ‘It’s near Ethiopia, right?’ Fingers crossed. He smiled, a warm smile that lit his eyes, and jerked his head towards the groups nearby. ‘Sure, sure. Next door. And there be lots of Ethiopians here too.’ He swiped the sweat building on his top lip onto his shoulder and sighed. ‘My home not safe. You know? Many in jails. Many dead.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ What else could she say? ‘What your name?’ ‘I’m Lucy.’ ‘Eyemlucee? Okay. Hello!’ She tried not to smile as he offered his hand, not wanting to embarrass him by correcting this. His fingers were long and pale, nails wide, chewed to the quick. He pointed to himself. ‘Hayat. Means lion.’ ‘Cool. How do you do?’ She shook his hand solemnly, aware of the leathery texture of his skin. Wanted him to know what she’d been feeling all these days, that she was on his side, but was scared it would come out all bleeding-heart. Besides, it was far too big. Might make her cry. Always did, when something meant a lot to her. Out of nowhere, as if channelling someone braver, stauncher, more daring than herself, a crazy idea fluttered up and flew straight from her lips. ‘I’ll walk you through, if you like.’ ‘You what? Pardon?’ Holy shit. Had she really said that? ‘The border. I’ll walk you through like you’re my friend and the police might not stop you. It’s worth a try.’ He stood staring, mouth agog, as her heart rapped so hard and fast she was sure he’d hear it. Was she mad? What would they do if they caught her? Could they send her home? ‘You think that work?’ She grinned now, adrenaline goading her. Shrugged, like she did this all the time. ‘I can’t promise anything, but we could try it.’ ‘Really? You would do?’ ‘Yeah, why not?’ If nothing else it would ease a little of the guilt, more practical than a Hail Mary. ‘Okay!’ His eyes mirrored her own terror-laced excitement. ‘Let’s do!’ 151

Katherine Mansfield and Translation They started walking downhill together, side by side, but he was a good half a metre taller and his long legs soon outpaced her. ‘Slow down,’ she said. ‘This is supposed to be a friendly stroll!’ He put the brakes on. Eased back beside her. ‘Sorry, sorry.’ They side-stepped around a guy who sprawled across the footpath, fast asleep. ‘My friend, Yemane.’ ‘Is he okay?’ ‘He walked long way today.’ The border was just around the next corner now. ‘So, tell me about your family,’ she said, hoping to strike up a conversation that might look natural. Immediately regretted it. What if his family had suffered some terrible misfortune? Stupid, stupid. ‘Two sisters and five brothers,’ he said. Sweat coursed down his forehead and she could smell his fear mingle with her own. Feral. Sour. Ahead, two policemen lounged against an open van door, three more playing cards inside. Only one faced up the road towards them, his body-language relaxed as he chatted to his mate. But as Lucy and Hayat approached she saw him stiffen, and when he fixed her with his stare she fought its intense gravitational pull. Mustn’t look at him. Mustn’t seem to notice him at all. Out. Having. A. Friendly. Stroll. She lunged for Hayat’s bony elbow and hugged it to her. Started prattling. Made it loud. ‘Yeah, and remember that time we went to the beach and you fell in the water?’ She faked a laugh, tinny to her ear. Hayat stared at her as if she was completely off her rocker, but she couldn’t stop. Could feel the policeman’s scrutiny zero in, detonating a sonic boom inside her head. ‘Yeah, yeah, you know, and Sally said that if we wet her she’d . . .’ Fuck knows what else she said. Just kept up some kind of pointless dribble until they were through the border, had crossed the road, and hightailed it up the steps onto the street above. Out of sight. She punched the air. Out Of Fucking Sight! When she dropped Hayat’s arm she nearly buckled as her knees gave out. He steadied her. ‘Okay?’ ‘Yeah, thanks.’ She gulped down air. Pointed along the road. ‘If you keep going that way you’ll avoid their usual hangout down by the tracks. This’ll take you right into the middle of town.’ ‘So much thank you, Eyemlucee. You go back get Yemane now?’ ‘What?’ Her elation evaporated. ‘Yemane. He needs too.’ ‘But I . . .’ Could she? Maybe? No, not tonight. They’d recognise her. Saint Lucy of the fiery red-dyed locks. She wasn’t exactly a wallflower. 152

Creative Writing ‘Look, I’m really sorry but I can’t. They know me now. If they see me come through again with someone else they’ll stop me, you can bet on it.’ She forced herself to look into his eyes, so he could read her disappointment, her regret, and know that it was real. But it hurt, seeing the realisation dawn on him. Like watching a movie without the sound. He worked through frustration, shouldered his resentment, and then shook off his resignation to gift her a genuinely grateful smile. ‘Goodbye Eyemlucee. To you I give my thanks.’ They shook hands again and she wished him luck. Watched him walk away, this tall lion of a boy, alone on this tidy suburban street with the darkening Mediterranean sea below. Hugged herself. Welcome to Paradise, she whispered. She couldn’t quite suppress a shudder.


An Invitation to Dinner Parineeta Singh

Today when my wife announced that she had invited Miss Fulton to dinner a spark of joy electrocuted me. I was flipping through the letters which had arrived with the morning post when I was startled by my wife’s voice. She had a way of moving as if her feet didn’t touch the ground and could enter a room without sound. This was something I liked about her when we first met, but recently this characteristic had been making me cagey. ‘You don’t mind, do you? Having another guest?’ she asked. I shook my head and circled my arm about her waist. I felt her relaxing and she nuzzled my ear. I had long ago told her that our marriage was going to be more of a friendship, but she still initiated small intimacies. I told her that I had to get to the office early, so I didn’t want breakfast; but the truth was that I just wanted to get out of the house and be alone with my thoughts. Outside the trees were dazzling, splendid in all their bloom; a carnival of countless multi-coloured flowers. It was a radiant morning, cool and bracing, and there was an expectant feeling in the air. As if the air was holding itself still, waiting for something to happen. Some pre-ordained culmination, beautiful and divine; s­ omething which could simply not be otherwise. The first time I had seen Miss Fulton was at the club. She was sitting with my wife and shone out shimmering in a sapphire blue dress. As I wove my way through the crowds to this mermaid-like creature, she turned her glowing cat-like eyes suddenly upon me as if marking me out from all the other men in the lounge. I exerted myself quite a bit in the conversation that day so that she might see me as a sophisticated, cultured man being witty for her benefit. But though I managed to move my wife to delighted laughter more than a few times, Miss Fulton did no more than smile. When she got up to leave, the melusine with the half-shut eyes, she 154

Creative Writing forgot the white silk scarf that she had unknotted from her neck earlier in the evening. She was almost at the door when I noticed it lying beside the chair she had just vacated. My wife called out to her, but her light voice did not carry far and I had to go up to her and return it. That was my first private exchange with her. ‘Would we have the pleasure of seeing you again?’ I asked, my voice trembling. There was no indication that she even considered giving a reply; her face was placid and calm, her eyes withholding of expression. But a few days later I heard that my wife had succeeded in making a closer acquaintance, so Miss Fulton must have relented. I had great hopes of this evening. I thought of our house and what Pearl would think of it. Would she admire our paintings, our furnishings? She would surely approve of our flowering pear tree. I had noticed it only this morning; it had seemed a perfect corollary of my blossoming hopes. An unmistakable sign in my own garden. After lunch I lost myself in work and had to ring up my wife, asking her to push the dinner back ten minutes. She seemed to want to talk longer, but I was impatient with her, not having the time or space for her in my head. I hoped that Eddie would turn up safely – he was really quite hopeless at getting to venues and keeping appointments. Finally when it was time to go home I was reluctant; I was afraid that I would show outward signs of the passion which was consuming me. After building her up so much in my head, I might turn into metal man in the presence of my muse. As I entered the house my over-alert ears picked up Knight’s voice, ‘Why doth the bridegroom tarry?’ he was asking. A wave of irritation passed over me. I did not want to spend the next two hours being sociable with these people. I went upstairs to wash and to give myself some time. I had to be in the right frame of mind – calm and collected, charming and impersonal – before giving myself over to these people for the next couple of hours. She wasn’t there and I tried my best to feign nonchalance. My wife remarked, ‘Has Miss Fulton forgotten?’ and I shrugged my shoulders noncommittally. ‘I expect so,’ I said. After a few minutes she did arrive, self-contained as usual, and untouchable. All throughout dinner I kept my eyes averted from the melusine, and after dinner of course my wife had to take everyone to the kitchen so that they could marvel at the new coffee machine. Procuring new appliances for the kitchen was something of a passion for her. Over coffee, Mrs. Knight asked me questions about my child, a subject I have not the slightest interest in and which leaves me yawning with boredom, but I managed flippant and sparkling answers while she looked on admiringly. 155

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Soon after, there was talk of going. I tried to get Knight to stay on for another drink as I did not want to be left alone with my wife after they had gone. But they had a train to catch and demurred. Miss Fulton was moving towards the hall when I seized my chance. ‘Let me help you,’ I said, trying my best to keep the eagerness out of my voice. I hoped that my wife would take this helpful gesture as simple politeness and make nothing of it. There, alone outside the cloak room (the others were still in the drawing room), I finally took Pearl Fulton into my arms, and she assented, placing her fingers against my cheek. My happiness could not have been greater. All my premonitions had been confirmed; while looking at the pear tree this morning I had felt that the evening would have a happy and profitable conclusion for me, and it was as I had imagined. I felt an exhilarating euphoria, ecstasy almost. A feeling close to rapture. Something that could only be called bliss.


Beau Champ Aimee Gasston

‘I feel that my love and longing for the external world – I mean the world of nature has suddenly increased a million times – When I think of the little flowers that grow in the grass, and little streams and places where we can lie & look up at the clouds – Oh I simply ache for them.’ Katherine Mansfield, Bandol, 1918

You couldn’t really see the sun – it was like a poached yolk hiding inside its white, but when it burst it would be something really special. Some birds were soaring, coasting high, high, trying to plash around up there in those esculent clouds but no, no, o! they would always cleave. But there was no sadness in that, for down below there was such fine green of so many vibrantly different kinds, and so many sturdy boughs and trunks beneath that, silver sinews and august umbers, some gymnastically betrothed, some straight and stoic. And there were rivers, sparking and slicing through the landscape like liquid knives, and ancient lumpen cows chewing, woollen and aloof, rapt by prehistoric philosophies. There were single walls half-standing reclaimed by ivies, stained by the water’s chalky sobs. And, to remind you it was autumn, for you could not have told by the casual heat, sycamore seeds pirouetted to the ground and leaves of silver and umber flickered briskly down. Yet there were also teeming butterflies – of meadow brown, cabbage white and admiral red – so only gravity owned the pleasure of announcing plant from insect. Two small, sleek, dark dogs asserted their solidity against this joyous, rhythmic mass and one, giddy with the redolence of underleaves, forgot himself too long. When he looked up at last they had gone, gone, his dearest ones, and so he braced himself with a wriggle of his haunches 157

Katherine Mansfield and Translation and torpedoed off, a black bullet honed on love. And that was why the birds were singing. The sun at last revealed itself and Super Mario clouds chased like catamarans across the flat sea of the sky.



Figure 1. Typescript page of Tennessee Williams’s ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’. Tennessee Williams Collection, Box 29, Folder 8. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, with kind permission.


‘The Night of the Zeppelin’ by Tennessee Williams Gerri Kimber

Whilst on a Research Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in July / August 2014, I came across a tenpage, typewritten first act (with autograph emendations), of an unpublished and unnamed play fragment by Tennessee Williams. It comprises two separate scenes: the first, eight-page scene is called ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’ and the second, two-page scene is called ‘Armistice’.1 There are four characters in the play: Katharine Mansfield [sic], John Middleton Murry, D. H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda Lawrence. Mansfield and Murry’s friendship with the Lawrences is well documented elsewhere, and was significant to all four of them. Having initially met in mid-1913, the two couples became firm friends almost immediately. Both Frieda and Mansfield were technically married to other men when they first met, and the families of both Murry and Lawrence were shocked at the women their sons had taken up with. In July 1914, Mansfield and Murry were witnesses at the Lawrences’ wedding, and Frieda gave Mansfield her old wedding ring, which Mansfield wore for the rest of her life – indeed, she was buried wearing it. However, the relationship between the couples reached a crisis point in Cornwall in mid-1916. They had been brought together by Lawrence’s keen desire to found a community, which he wanted to call ‘Rananim’, a word taken from a Hebrew psalm that their Ukrainian Jewish friend, S. S. Koteliansky, was fond of singing. Such was Lawrence’s overwhelming enthusiasm for the project that Mansfield and Murry were browbeaten into returning to England from France, where they had just spent three blissful months in Bandol, and where Mansfield had been rewriting ‘The Aloe’, turning it into what would become one of her most famous stories, ‘Prelude’. Of the grey granite cottage at Higher Tregerthen, near Zennor, just 161

Katherine Mansfield and Translation outside St Ives, rent £16 per annum, into which Mansfield and Murry moved in April 1916, Lawrence had written: It is only twelve strides from our house to yours: we can talk from the windows: and besides us, only the gorse, and the fields, the lambs skipping and hopping like anything, and sea-gulls fighting with the ravens, and sometimes a fox, and a ship on the sea.2

As Murry wrote to Ottoline Morrell from Bandol on 26 February 1916: ‘We are going to stay with the Lawrences for ever and ever as perhaps you know; I daresay eternity will last the whole of the summer.’3 Here is Mansfield’s own take on life in the Cornish ‘idyll’, in a letter to Koteliansky, written on 11 May 1916: You may laugh as much as you like at this letter, darling, all about the COMMUNITY. It is rather funny. Frieda and I do not even speak to each other at present. Lawrence is about one million miles away, although he lives next door. He and I still speak but his very voice is faint like a voice coming over a telephone wire. It is all because I cannot stand the situation between those two, for one thing. It is degrading – it offends one’s soul beyond words. I don’t know which disgusts one worse – when they are very loving and playing with each other or when they are roaring at each other and he is pulling out Frieda’s hair and saying ‘I’ll cut your bloody throat, you bitch’ and Frieda is running up and down the road screaming for ‘Jack’ to save her!!4

This early ‘Rananim’ was a disaster and, as Murry correctly guessed, eternity lasted barely two months. However, it remains a celebrated episode in twentieth-century English literary history. So many people have written about it, analysed it, fictionalised it. Amy Rosenthal wrote a play about it called On the Rocks, which played in Hampstead in 2008.5 I interviewed Rosenthal at the time, and she said she felt compelled to write about this episode because it was just so comical and so obviously doomed to fail on every level. More recently, Professor Robert Fraser has written another humorous play based on these events in 1916, called Bugger the Skylarks: Lawrence and Mansfield at War, published in the second volume of Katherine Mansfield Studies.6 Tennessee Williams openly acknowledged that, as a writer, he was profoundly influenced by Lawrence. Of course, Williams never knew Lawrence personally but he did correspond with Frieda. In his first letter to her, written on 29 July 1939, he wrote: I am a young writer who has a profound admiration for your late husband work [sic] and has conceived the idea, perhaps fantastic, of writing a play about him, dramatizing not so much his life as his ideas or philosophy which strike me as being the richest expressed in modern writing.7


Critical Miscellany Having requested a meeting, he visited her ranch in Taos, New Mexico, just a month later on 29 August 1939. As James Fisher notes: Lawrence’s experience connected with Williams’s, whose plays were similarly steeped in representations of sexuality previously unseen in American drama. [. . .] As a nomadic and restless writer, Williams seemed to be ­seeking validation from Frieda as Lawrence’s surrogate.8

Williams’s poem ‘Cried the Fox’ (1939) is dedicated to Lawrence, as is the play Battle with Angels (1941). Two further plays, The Case of the Crushed Petunias (1941) and You Touched Me (1945), are based on short stories by Lawrence. But perhaps Williams’s best-known ‘tribute’ to Lawrence was the one-act play depicting Lawrence’s final demise, I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix (1941). Perhaps tribute is the wrong word, however, for in his introduction to the play, Williams writes of Lawrence: ‘Much of his work is chaotic and distorted by tangent obsessions, such as his insistence upon the woman’s subservience to the male.’9 Norman J. Fedder remarks, in his commentary on the play: ‘The short work [. . .] is, in effect, a rather uncomplimentary dramatization of these “tangent obsessions”,’ since the play ‘consists, for the most part, of a series of hysterical quarrels between Lawrence and his wife, Frieda’. Indeed, Frieda Lawrence’s preface to the play is almost, in Fedder’s words, ‘a refutation of the work it introduces’.10 This is a complex business. As for Mansfield and Murry, they have walk-on parts in Williams’s literary life. There are several mentions of them in his notebooks. On 13 March 1936, whilst studying on a course at Washington University College on Contemporary British and American Literature, Williams records: ‘Got “A” on Mansfield paper last night [. . .] It didn’t deserve such a good grade.’11 In another paper on the ‘Nature of Artists’, he had written: ‘the greatest of the moderns were afflicted with respiratory disorders: Chekhov, Mansfield died of tuberculosis.’12 In 1937, he writes: ‘Read Murry’s autobiography “Between Two Worlds” – Fascinating portraits.’13 In a letter to Joseph Hazan from 3 September 1940, Williams comments: Read the collected letters of D. H. Lawrence, the journals and letters of Katharine Mansfield [sic], of Vincent Van Gogh. How bitterly and relentlessly they fought their way through! Sensitive beyond endurance and yet enduring! Of course Van Gogh went mad in the end and Mansfield and Lawrence both fought a losing battle with degenerative disease – T.B. – but their work is a pure shaft rising out of that physical defeat. [. . .] They live, they aren’t dead.14

And so to ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’, the title clearly referencing Lawrence’s poem ‘Zeppelin Nights’: 163

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Now, will you play all night!     Come in my mother says, Look in the sky, at the bright    Moon, all ablaze! Look at the shaking, white    Searchlight rays! Tonight they’re coming!     It’s a full moon! When you hear them humming    Very soon, You’ll stop that blooming    Tune – [Children sing on unheeding:]    Sally go round the sun!    Sally go round the moon!    Sally go round the chimney-pots       On Sunday afternoon!15

Lawrence himself remembered ‘the war horror drifting in, drifting in, prices rising, excitement growing, people going mad about the Zeppelin raids’.16 The first zeppelin raid in London occurred on 31 May 1915 and killed seven people. Initially, the zeppelins flew too high for the anti-aircraft guns to reach them, but by 1916, incendiary bullets were bringing zeppelins down, and as a result, by September 1916 they were more or less phased out as a means of attack on London (with just one more raid to come in October 1917), replaced instead by aeroplanes. Witnessing a zeppelin raid in 1915, Lawrence wrote: Then we saw the zeppelin above us, just ahead, amid a gleaming of clouds: high up, like a bright golden finger, quite small, among a fragile incandescence of clouds. And underneath it were splashes of fire as the shells fired from earth burst. Then there were flashes near the ground – and the shaking noise. It was like Milton – then there was war in heaven.17

Mansfield also recorded witnessing a zeppelin raid whilst living in Francis Carco’s apartment on the Quai aux Fleurs in Paris. Two zeppelins had flown over Paris, bombing areas near the railway yards. The day after the attack, on 21 March 1915, she wrote about her experience in a letter to Murry: There came a loud noise like doo-da-doo-da repeated hundreds of times. I never thought of zeppelins until I saw the rush of heads & bodies turning upwards as the Ultimate Fish [. . .] passed by, flying high with fins of silky grey. It is absurd to say that romance is dead when things like this happen


Critical Miscellany – & the noise it made – almost soothing you know – steady – and clear dooda-doo-da – like a horn. I longed to go out & follow it [. . .].18

In ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’, the setting is the room of a shoddy lodging place in London, 1916. The Murrys, John Middleton and Katharine Mansfield [sic], are visiting the Lawrences. It is near Christmas. Some German cookies, made by Frieda and a bottle of wine are on a little table and there is a small artificial tree with home-made decorations. The legend, PEACE ON EARTH, crowns the tree.

In a humorous opening few lines, the four are playing charades, with Frieda and Lawrence trying to act out ‘Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns’: ‘Lawrence clasps his knee, Frieda rows energetically.’. This first scene centres on the character of Katharine, who has by far the most lines. Katharine: (slight and dark and feverishly bright, a radiant bird-like being) It’s something to do with boating. John: Rowing isn’t it? Katharine: (Exultantly shrieking) NERO! (She coughs)

As Katharine continues to cough, Frieda is anxious she is not warm enough, but they have run out of coal for the stove – just two lumps left. Lawrence makes the point that just one torpedo cost £4,000 and that they could live on that for the rest of their lives: ‘And they shoot them like firecrackers.’ For the price of two torpedoes, ‘we could live in ivory towers for the rest of our lives.’ Katharine acerbically notes, ‘An ivory tower on the Mediterranean. With central heating.’ When Lawrence starts talking of the four of them ‘going off and making a new life somewhere’, Katharine, wearily – and not without a hint of sarcasm – gives him some suggestions: ‘Brighton Beach? Cornwall? [. . .] Avalon, perhaps.’ The sound of an air raid brings such trivial discussion to an abrupt halt. John rushes out to see if it is a raid and immediately disappears into the night. Katharine asks Lawrence to ‘Call John back in. He loses his head whenever there is any excitement and runs around on the streets like a headless chicken.’ She expresses her exasperation with the war: ‘It’s all so silly and messy. Why doesn’t the kindergarten teacher make these bad little boys stop throwing blocks at each other?’ Meanwhile, Lawrence at the window admires the pyrotechnic display. Katharine, her distress increasing at John’s disappearance, announces to Frieda’s horror that she is going to look for him. She and Frieda tussle as Lawrence cries, ‘It’s the zeppelin!’ And echoing language 165

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Williams must have remembered from his reading of Lawrence, the stage directions note: ‘THE SKY THROUGH THE WINDOW IS CRIS CROSSED BY SILVER BEAMS. INTO THE LIGHTED AREA SAILS SERENELY THE CURIOUS SILVER OVAL OF THE ZEPPELIN.’ After a detonation, Katharine, becoming hysterical, begs to be let out: ‘I feel stifled!’ Shortly afterwards, in a long soliloquy, she exclaims: ‘A woman isn’t really lonely, I mean terribly lonely, until she falls in love. – (And then she’s alone on the desert – completely, completely alone!)’ And a little further on in the same speech, in a clear reference to Mansfield’s story ‘Bliss’, Katharine says: ‘Frieda, did you ever see a pear tree early in the evening? [. . .] It’s just like a perfect host of little silver birds had come to roost on the branches.’ Katharine’s anxiety over the detonations and John’s absence makes her cough up blood, and in another long speech she talks of her heart bleeding, not her lungs, and her youthful ‘mistake of believing in the possibility of things being lovely – instead of like they are’. Eventually John re-enters, ‘breathless and hatless’. Berated by Katharine for his absence, he says, ‘Little Kitty, I’m so sorry.’ Katharine’s response: ‘Nobody’s sorry. Everybody knows that this is the way of the world [. . .] so they grin and laugh and go running about on the streets like the bombs were April showers! – raining down May flowers!’ Revealing to John that she has coughed up some blood and that she thinks she’s dying, Lawrence interjects: I bring up blood from the heart myself now and then. All of us are dying I believe. But we’re a Phoenix race, we’ll rise from our ashes.

However, Frieda’s sharp retort: ‘Lorenzo, quit preaching,’ brings the atmosphere back down to earth: ‘Go and get a cab, the raid is over.’ John carries Katharine out towards the cab; ‘smiling wanly and blowing them a kiss’, she calls out ‘Merry, merry Xmas!’ Once they have gone, Lawrence comments, ‘poor Kitty! Not a great artist, perhaps, but a fine and delicate artist. She’s like that pear tree she mentioned – covered all over with ghostly silver birds.’ After more theorising about the horrors of war, Frieda interrupts with the announcement that it is starting to snow, and Lawrence suddenly hears ‘choir boys singing carols!’ FROM THE STREET COMES THE PURE SINGING OF A BOY’S CHOIR –– ‘God rest ye, merry gentlemen, May nothing ye dismay ––’ CURTAIN


Critical Miscellany In the second, much shorter scene of one-and-a-half pages, called ‘Armistice’, the setting is exactly the same, only this time just Lawrence and Frieda are present. Frieda is ironing as a shocked Lawrence enters the room to announce that the war is over. Frieda, ecstatic, laughs uncontrollably, as Lawrence starts to make plans for them finally to be able to leave the country. In a violent manner, ‘LIKE A MAN POSSESSED he capers and flings out his arms. – Stiffly, awkwardly, crazily! – He dances about the ugly little room.’ What to make of this experimental fragment? There are niggling factual errors, which are hard to ignore. The last zeppelin raid in 1916 took place on 23 September, three months before Christmas. Calling Mansfield ‘Kitty’? She was never, to my knowledge, called ‘Kitty’ by anyone. Lawrence tended to misspell Mansfield’s name as Katharine; hence, perhaps, Williams’s spelling. Mansfield did not have a haemorrhage of the lungs until 19 February 1918, considerably later than the events described here. As for ‘Armistice’, by November 1918 Frieda and Lawrence were, in fact, living in some poverty in Derbyshire, having been forced out of Cornwall under the terms of the Defence of the Realm Act, because of Frieda’s German nationality and fears she was a spy. And yet, there are elements that ring true: Mansfield’s sharp sense of humour and her perceptiveness (though perhaps not the overt self-pity and helplessness witnessed here); Murry’s absence for almost the entire time – as was so frequently the case when Mansfield needed him – and his seeming inability to deal with ‘life’; Frieda’s practicality and calling a spade a spade; and finally, Lawrence’s philosophising about the ways of the world and how he thinks things should really be. As noted above, Williams had read Mansfield’s works – including the early editions of the journal and letters – as well as Murry’s autobiography, and the relationship between both couples clearly fascinated him, as it has so many other authors since. Having never been published, this piece has been almost entirely forgotten. Mansfield scholars will appreciate the fact that Tennessee Williams centred the scene ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’ around her character, and relish this connection to an iconic American writer.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation

Tennessee Williams THE NIGHT OF THE ZEPPELIN19 Set notes – old fashioned black leather ottoman and morris-chair. A murky, liver-covered chandelier, olive green curtains, yellowish stained wall paper. Chill. Damp. Horrid.20 SCENE: Room of a shoddy lodging-place in London, 1916. The Murrys, John Middleton and Katharine Mansfield, are visiting the Lawrences. It is near Christmas. Some German cookies, made by Frieda and a bottle of wine are on a little table and there is a small artificial tree with home-made decorations. The legend, PEACE ON EARTH, crowns the tree. Now they are playing charades. Lawrence and Frieda are doing the acting when the curtain rises. ‘Nero fiddles While Rome Burns’ is the subject – Lawrence clasps his knee, Frieda rows energetically in a straight-back chair. Katharine: (slight and dark and feverishly bright, a radiant birdlike being) It’s something to do with boating. John: Rowing, isn’t it? Katharine: (Exultantly shrieking) NERO! (She coughs) (FRIEDA AND LAWRENCE APPLAUD) Lawrence: Frieda: Katharine:

Here’s the rest of it. (He imitates a fiddler) (Roams about the room with a burning match) Oh, that’s ridiculously simple – “Fiddles while Rome burns!” Of course.


(anxiously) You’re not warm enough in here. Lawrence, can’t you coax a little more heat out of that wretched stove? Lawrence: I’m afraid we’ll have to keep moving. – The scuttle’s exhausted. Two more lumps. – It’s so dear now. John, do you know the price of torpedoes? Four thou168

Critical Miscellany sand pounds a piece. – My God, we could live on that for the rest of our lives. – And they shoot them like fire-crackers. Just think, just think! For the price of two torpedoes – We could live in ivory towers the rest of our lives. Frieda: But would we want to live in ivory towers? Katharine: (gloomily) Yes, I would. An ivory tower on the Mediterranean. With central heating. Frieda: Katharine, you’ve got to get out of London. Katharine: It’s no use talking. We’re trapped in London till the end of the war, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion the war is going to last longer than any of us. Lawrence: We’re going off and make a new life somewhere. Just the four of us! Katharine: Where are we going? Brighton Beach? Cornwall? Lawrence: No! Katharine: Avalon, perhaps. Lawrence: Someplace that’s wild. Someplace without – (AIR RAID SIREN SPLITS THE NIGHT) – the refinements of civilization!21 Katharine: John: Lawrence: Katharine:

What is it? – A raid? I’ll go and see. (RUSHES OUT) Everyone’s turning out lights. It must be a raid. (alarmed) Call John back in, Lawrence, call John back in. He loses his head whenever there’s any excitement and runs around on the streets like a headless chicken. (– at door) – John! – oh – Gone.22 Lawrence: Frieda, turn out the lights. Katharine: (moaning a little) Oh, God, how I hate it all! It’s all so silly and messy. Why doesn’t the kindergarten teacher make these bad little boys stop throwing blocks at each other? Frieda: Some day – some day – some day – We’ll live in a grown-up world. After all, reason, intelligence, understanding – they’re all comparatively modern inventions. We haven’t actually learned the use of them, yet. Katharine: Will we ever, do you think? Lawrence: (at the window) Look! Frieda: What? 169

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Lawrence: All of the pyrotechnical display! Beautiful? Katharine: No. It’s a nightmare. I’m going to go out and find John. Frieda: Katharine, don’t you move from this house! Have you lost your mind? Katharine: (nearly screaming) Let me go, I’m going to find John! Frieda: I will not let you go out alone. (A LOUD DETONATION) Katharine: (sobbing) John! John! Frieda: (holding her comfortingly) Hush. John’s all right. John’ll be back in a minute. Lawrence: (still at the window) It’s the zeppelin! (THE SKY THROUGH THE WINDOW IS CRIS CROSSED BY SILVER BEAMS. INTO THE LIGHTED AREA SAILS SERENELY THE CURIOUS SILVER OPAL OF THE ZEPPELIN. Frieda: Look, Katharine. The zeppelin. Katharine: I don’t want to see it. I don’t like death, I hate it! (ANOTHER DETONATION) Katharine: Please, please, please let me out! I feel stifled! Frieda: Katharine, you’re making yourself hysterical. Now stop it. Lawrence, come back from that window and help me calm this girl. Pour some wine. Katharine: I don’t want wine, I want John. Why did he run off and leave me? Why, why, why! Love makes people so lonely. Did you know that? A woman isn’t really lonely, I mean terribly lonely, until she falls in love. – (And then she’s alone on the desert – completely, completely alone! –)23 There’s nothing on earth so lonely as being in love. Oh, God – (She sobs and coughs) I want to close my eyes and keep them closed for good – (for always. I don’t want to look at anything more on earth.)24 Frieda, did you ever see a pear tree early in the evening? Frieda: (soothingly) Ja, mein liebchen. Katharine: What a strange woman you are. – The Baroness von Richtofen.


Critical Miscellany Frieda: No, just Frieda Lawrence. Katharine: She says ‘Ja, mein liebchen’ – so soft, so tender – And way up there in the sky – maybe it’s her brother dropping death on us! Frieda: (covering her face) Hush! – You make me ashamed. Katharine: I didn’t mean to, Frieda. What was it I asked you? – Oh, yes. – Have you ever seen a slender young25 pear tree – early in the evening. – It’s just like a perfect host of little silver birds had come to roost on the branches! (MUFFLED DETONATIONS) John! – Oh, John!26 Lie quiet. – You’ve brought up a little blood.27 (sadly) Have I brought up blood? Only a little. Not much. Lie quiet till John gets back and we’ll drive you home in a cab. Katharine: They say it comes from the lungs. But I don’t think so. I think it comes from the heart. I think my heart’s bleeding, Frieda. Shall I tell you why? When I was a girl I had a belief in beauty. I made the awful mistake of believing in the possibility of things being lovely – instead of like they are. I was quick, I was like a bird, so quick and young and alive! It never seemed that I could move quickly enough. I – I – I was so dizzy with longings. Here it was! No, it was over there! And then it wasn’t there either! – It must have slipped out of my hand! – Oh, yes – Yes, now I could see it! Much, much higher up than I thought it was. . . . Frieda: (gently) What are you talking about it? Katharine: (sighing) – I don’t know. Why doesn’t John get back? – I think I’m dying this minute. – I’m all so tired and empty. – Have I bled very much? Frieda: No. – Lie still. – Just a little. Lawrence: The zeppelin’s going away, it’s turning slowly around and going away. It looks rather disappointed. I wonder why?

Frieda: Katharine: Frieda:


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Frieda:

When people make death and destruction they’re always disappointed in the results. I believe they must have a queer, perverted idea that that’s the way to make life – by making death. And when they discover their error – poor stupid things! – Of course there’s nothing to do but turn around and go away with an air28 of jilted devotion.


John! What’s the matter? Thank God you’re back. Poor Katharine – Terrified! (kneeling beside the old-fashioned black leather ottoman) Darling! Katharine: (turning weakly away from) Don’t ever speak to me. Leave me alone. John: Kitty! (HE KISSES HER AVERTED SHOULDER) Little Kitty – I’m sorry! Katharine: No, no, no, you’re not sorry. Nobody’s sorry. Everyone knows that this is the way of the world and there’s no help for it and so they grin and laugh and go running about on the streets like the bombs were April showers! – raining down May flowers! Take me away. Oh, please, take me away. I brought up blood. – Not from my lungs but my heart. – I think I’m dying – dying! John: Oh, Kitty, Kitty, be quiet! I’m holding you close again, there’s nothing can hurt you. Lawrence: I bring up blood from the heart myself now and then. All of us are dying I believe. But we’re a Phoenix race, we’ll rise from our ashes. We hold in our hearts the little flame of the future. It won’t burn out – We’re going to keep it alive. Frieda: Lorenzo, quit preaching. – Go and get a cab, the raid is over. Katharine: Is it over? Frieda: Yes, it’s over, over!29 Katharine: I’m so glad, so glad!


Critical Miscellany Frieda: Murry:30 Katharine:

John – carry me, will you? I’m too tired to move. Shall we go with you? No, we can manage all right. Merry Xmas! (smiling wanly and blowing them a kiss) Merry, merry, Xmas!

(MURRY CARRIES HER OUT THE DOOR. THE LAWRENCES WAVE AND CALL GOODBYES FROM THE WINDOW. THEY TURN SLOWLY FROM THE WINDOW WHEN THE COUPLE HAS DISAPPEARED) Frieda: Poor Katharine. Lawrence: Yes, poor Kitty! Not a great artist, perhaps, but a fine and delicate artist. She’s like that pear tree she mentioned – covered all over with ghostly silver birds! And the war is shaking them down, the world is going to strip her branches bare before they can really start singing! It’s a pity, a shame – No, it’s none of that. It’s something worse than that. It’s a crime against God, a hideous crime against God. And they’re going to do it again. – And again and again. – 31 Frieda, there’s only two armies who take part in war. They have two banners. One banner has the word CUPIDITY on it. STUPIDITY is the word that’s on the other. But here’s the curious thing. – the men who do the fighting are all blind-folded so they can’t read the legends on the banners. If they did, they’d stop. Some day somebody is going to take off the bandage over his eyes and read those banners. He’ll set up a terrible shout – like thunder! – louder than cannons!32 – and all the fighting men will tear off their blind-folds, too, and read the banners and turn about and destroy the human-beasts who gave them those two banners to murder by!


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Frieda:33

In the meantime, let’s go to bed. – Snow is commencing to fall. We’re34 going to have a white Christmas. Lawrence: Listen – carolers! Choir boys singing carols!35 FROM THE STREET COMES THE PURE SINGING OF A BOY’S CHOIR –––– “God rest ye, merry Gentlemen, may nothing ye dismay ––––” CURTAIN.

ARMISTICE (SCENE: The same. Armistice day. – LAWRENCE ENTERS WITH A STUNNED APPEARANCE) Frieda: (ironing) What’s all the commotion? Lawrence: Armistice. War’s over. (FRIEDA STOPS IRONING. STARES BLANKLY INTO SPACE. LAWRENCE SITS DOWN ON THE OTTOMAN AS THOUGH STUNNED) Frieda: (in a whisper, after a long pause) – I don’t believe it. Do you? Lawrence: No. (PAUSE) Frieda:

(softly) Nevertheless I think it must be true.


(throwing out her arms) Now we can live, we can breathe! We can be happy, Lawrence, – happy, happy! Lawrence: (jumping up) Hurry! Pack! Get started! Frieda: What? Lawrence: We’re going away, we’re going to elope together! Frieda: Where are we going? 174

Critical Miscellany Lawrence: Around and around and around! – Around the world in a rocket! (LIKE A MAN POSSESSED, he capers and flings out his arms. – Stiffly, awkwardly, crazily! – He dances about the ugly little room. He frenziedly treads the huge roses in the carpet –––) Lawrence: Frieda: Lawrence:

Wonderful – Terrible! – Terrible, terrible – Wonderful! (shocked out of her own ecstacy by the violence of his) Lorenzo, what are you doing? (wildly) Performing a dance, – reciting incantations! Before the dark gods, Frieda, before the great dark gods. – The mysterious ones – The wonderful ones! – The terrible ones!

(HE DARTS CRAZILY TO THE WINDOWS AND TEARS THE UGLY DRAPES APART. THE ROOM IS FLOODED WITH MISTY, FOGGY LONDON MORNING SUNLIGHT. A VAST MUTED CACOPHANY OF SOUND FROM THE FRANTIC STREETS. Bells, whistles, shouts) Lawrence: Look! Listen! Glory! – Madness! – Life! Frieda: – Ja. – Life. . . . CURTAIN INTERMISSION Play text: Copyright © 2014 The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. for the Estate of Tennessee Williams, and the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Tennessee Williams Collection. Please note: performance rights are not available and this fragment is for scholarly use only. Notes   1. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (hereafter HRC), Tennessee Williams Collection, Box 29, Folder 8, ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’. I would like to record my thanks to Jack Blanton at the HRC for his support and guidance following my discovery. This report was first published in the Times Literary Supplement, 5 September 2014, pp. 14–15 and is reproduced with kind permission.   2. George J. Zytaruk and James T. Boulton, eds, The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Vol. 2, June 1913 to October 1916 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 569 (8 March 1916).


Katherine Mansfield and Translation   3. Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 5 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984–2008), Vol. 1, p. 248 (26 February 1916, letter from Mansfield to Morrell, but with handwritten postscript by Murry). Hereafter referred to as Letters, 1.  4. Letters, 1, pp. 262–3 (11 May 1916).   5. Amy Rosenthal, On the Rocks (London: Oberon, 2009).   6. Robert Fraser, ‘Bugger the Skylarks: Lawrence and Mansfield at War. A Battle in Ten Scenes’, Katherine Mansfield Studies, 2 (2010), pp. 100–62. A novel by Helen Dunmore, Zennor in Darkness (London: Penguin, 1993), is based on the Lawrences’ stay in Cornwall in 1917, at the height of World War One.   7. Albert J. Devlin and Nancy M. Tischler, eds, The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams, 1920–1945 (New York: New Directions, 2000), p. 185.   8. James Fisher, ‘D. H. Lawrence’, The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia, ed. by Philip C. Kolin (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), p. 123.  9. Tennessee Williams, I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix (New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1979), p. 3. 10. Norman J. Fedder, The Influence of D. H. Lawrence on Tennessee Williams (The Hague: Mouton, 1966), p. 48. 11. Margaret Bradham Thornton, Tennessee Williams: Notebooks (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 15. 12. Thornton, p. 110. 13. Thornton, p. 101. 14. Thornton, p. 14. 15. D. H. Lawrence, ‘Zeppelin Nights’, Poetry, 14: 4 (July 1919), pp. 180–1. 16. D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo, ed. by Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 216. 17. James T. Boulton, ed., The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 106. To Lady Ottoline Morrell (9 September 1915). 18. Letters, 1, p. 159. 19. In the Tennessee Williams collection, these pages are erroneously titled ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’. In fact, there are two separate scenes of an untitled play, here: ‘The Night of the Zeppelin’ and ‘Armistice’. 20. This set note is handwritten above the scene title. 21. This last phrase handwritten here, the original typed one having been crossed out in the line above. 22. ‘John! – oh – Gone.’ Handwritten addition by Williams. 23. Parentheses pencilled in by Williams. 24. Parentheses pencilled in by Williams. 25. The word ‘little’ is crossed out, immediately after ‘young’. 26. These words are a pencilled emendation. The typed words ‘Is that John calling?’ crossed out immediately before them. 27. The typed word ‘No’ is crossed out at the beginning of this speech. 28. ‘With an air’ is handwritten and replaces the crossed-out typed words ‘in a state’. 29. ‘– Merry Xmas!’ crossed out at the end of the line. 30. Clearly a slip of the pen, as Murry has been called ‘John’ up to this point. 31. The next two lines are crossed out:   ‘CUPIDITY! – STUPIDITY’   That’s the two-armed cross on which they’ve nailed us!’


Critical Miscellany 32. ‘Louder than cannons’ is a handwritten addition. 33. The name ‘Frieda:’ is a handwritten addition. 34. The ‘ll’ of ‘We’ll’ is crossed out by hand and replaced by ‘We’re going to’. 35. ‘Choir boys singing carols’ is a handwritten addition.


Dorothy Brett’s Umbrellas (1917) Frances Spalding

Behind this playful, exuberant image,1 celebrating Lady Ottoline Morrell and her court at Garsington, lie complex emotions. At an early age, Dorothy Brett had suffered from hearing problems. It first became noticeable while she was a student at the Slade School of Art, then, as now, part of University College, London. The Provost of this prestigious institution, horrified by the fact that Brett and two friends had chosen to picnic on the hallowed lawn inside the courtyard, delivered a severe reprimand. ‘I’m sorry, I’m deaf,’ Brett replied, ‘I haven’t been able to hear a word you said.’2 To some degree, it may be possible to turn the early stages of deafness to one’s advantage. Certainly, both D. H. Lawrence and John Middleton Murry thought Brett’s deafness was psychosomatic. Brett herself knew otherwise. It was through Lady Ottoline, whom she met around 1915, that she was drawn into a world of talented individuals composed of artists, writers and intellectuals. This intense, brilliant coterie loved to talk, and Brett, needing to step out of her inner security into the warmth of friendship, was frustrated by not being able to follow what was being said. Yet she and her friend from the Slade, Dora Carrington, for a couple of years spent almost every weekend at Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire. This had become Lady Ottoline’s home in 1915, when she and her husband decided to leave London in order to use the massive garden and estate attached to the manor as a source of agricultural work for those of their friends who were conscientious objectors. In this way, by giving employment to Clive Bell and Aldous Huxley, for example, Ottoline and her husband Philip saved them from forced labour or prison. For Brett, however, Garsington was a source of pleasure and frustration. In 1918, she summed up the problem it had presented in a letter to Bertrand Russell: 178

Critical Miscellany Can you imagine what it means to see life revolving round you – see people talking and laughing, quite meaninglessly! Like looking through a shop window or a restaurant window. It is all so hideous I sometimes wonder how I can go on. I think if it were not for my painting I would end it all.3

Russell saw immediately how terrible it was and sent her a great ream of advice: [T]ry, as far as possible, not to sit about with people who are having a general conversation; get in a corner with a tête-à-tête; make yourself interesting in the first place by being interested in whoever you are talking with, until things become easy and natural. I suppose you have practised lip reading? Take care of your inner attitude to people: let it not be satirical or aloof. [. . .] Don’t judge people morally: however just one’s judgement, that is a barren attitude. Most people have a key, fairly simple: if you can find it, you can unlock their hearts [. . .].4

From this oil painting, Umbrellas, it would seem that Brett had already learnt much that Russell advised. It is not clear when she and Mansfield first met, but when Brett gave a party in Lawrence’s honour in the autumn of 1915, Murry and Mansfield were among the guests, and already Brett could identify Mansfield’s taste in clothes and her characteristic gestures: ‘she dresses nearly always in black with a touch of white or scarlet or a rich, deep purple. Her movements are quaintly restricted; controlled, small, reserved gestures. The dark eyes glance about like birds, the pale face is a quiet mask, full of hidden laughter, wit and gaiety [. . .].’5 Who better, therefore, to portray the scene in Umbrellas? Although this is primarily an animated portrait of people Brett knew well, it is also artfully structured around the abstract shapes created by the umbrellas. These wheel about and help frame the sitters. The dark green umbrella in the far distance is the only one seen full on – deliberately so, as it blocks our exit and keeps us firmly within this dream-like setting. Ottoline presides at its centre, in a pink dress, and immediately opposite her is Aldous Huxley, squatting on a stone, box or large book, with his long legs folded together. All attention seems to be on what he is saying, for Ottoline, as well as Brett, seated to her left, and Lytton Strachey, on her right-hand side, are all looking at him, and Ottoline’s daughter Julian, in a lemon dress, leans forward with one hand on Huxley’s shoulder as if she too wishes to be part of the communication. Somewhat separated from the main group are the figures of Murry and Mansfield, found in the register immediately behind, and easily identifiable owing to Mansfield’s habit, at this time, of putting her hair up in a top-knot on top of her head. 179

Katherine Mansfield and Translation But what is the painting about? A hot summer day, when the heat is so pronounced that umbrellas are brought out. A gathering of friends in a relaxed rural setting. A moment in time when talented individuals shared laughter, teasing, ideas, partly as means to put up a stay against the gloom created by a war that was increasingly becoming an unmitigated disaster. But it is also about one woman’s amused response to a scene, observed, remembered and reimagined, with herself firmly inserted in the group. And yet, as we know, she was both an insider and outsider, unable to engage fully in the flow of conversation. Owing to her knowing and observant eye, most of the figures are immediately recognisable. (The figure in the upper left register may be Clive Bell, but this cannot be firmly ascertained.) But the distortion for humorous purposes is affectionate, never satirical. If anything, the mood created seems slightly wistful, even a touch melancholy, and the image more fanciful than real. We are charmed and entertained, but retain the sense that something is occluded, out of reach. Notes 1. Cover image: Umbrellas, 1917, by Dorothy Brett, 139.5 × 140.4 cm, oil on canvas. Reproduced with kind permission of Manchester City Galleries. © The John Manchester Foundation. 2. Dorothy Brett, quoted in Sean Hignett, Brett: From Bloomsbury to New Mexico (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984), p. 50. 3. Hignett, p. 51. 4. Bertrand Russell, quoted in Hignett, p. 52. 5. Dorothy Brett, quoted in Hignett, p. 75.



Katherine Mansfield in Many Guises J. Lawrence Mitchell

Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, eds, The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 784 pp., £125, ISBN 9780748685011 Just two years after the publication of The Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield in two volumes comes another handsomely produced and admirably edited book, The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield, the third volume in The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield. The materials brought together here have been drawn from archives around the world – Austin, Texas, London, New York and Wellington, New Zealand – and the editors, Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, have also fruitfully drawn upon the specialised knowledge of experts in translation studies (Claire Davison) and in Polish (Miroslawa Kubasiewicz). Mansfield scholarship is truly international in scope! ‘What Volume 3 [. . .] demonstrates’, say the editors, is ‘the scale of [Mansfield’s] intellectual achievement, with intelligence and imagination vigorously interacting’ (xxv). Indeed, they seem to have identified and included ‘every piece of non-fiction’ that Mansfield wrote – excepting only the diaries, which are to appear in the fourth and final volume – and they proudly emphasise ‘the new material presented in this volume for the first time, and in every section’ (xxi). This volume is divided into four parts: Poems and Songs; Translations; Parodies, Pastiches and Aphorisms; Reviews and Essays. There are also eight wellchosen illustrations, most of them never before published. The editors are under no illusion that Mansfield had hitherto unrecognised talent as a poet, and they acknowledge only ‘flashes of brilliance in a mostly mediocre collection’. This may be unnecessarily defensive, 183

Katherine Mansfield and Translation given their remit to publish ‘all of KM’s extant work, fiction and non-­ fiction, good and bad, youthful and mature’ (xxi) and that Mansfield never made any claims about herself as a poet. They also resist the temptation to follow Vincent O’Sullivan in treating Mansfield’s evocative vignettes in the style of Ernest Dowson as prose poems that open the way to her ‘special prose’.1 However, the editors have expanded the published corpus from 84 to 179 poems and poetic fragments, while recognising that many of these ‘often read as stepping stones, not written primarily with publication in mind’ (3). Yet it must be said that some of the poems of Mansfield’s maturity have real merit and undeniable lyrical power, especially ‘To L.H.B.’, the moving elegy for her dead brother, and ‘To Stanley Wyspianski’. Many others at least have biographical interest to commend them. Nowhere is the biographical element more in evidence and at issue than in John Middleton Murry’s treatment of the poems, a subject about which O’Sullivan was understandably caustic in his Introduction to Poems of Katherine Mansfield (1988). Murry’s introduction to Poems (1923) did his dead wife no favours; on the one hand it told us that she was ‘very reserved about her verses’, some of which had been refused by an editor (apparently A. R. Orage of the New Age), and on the other hand it gushed about her ‘exquisite spirit’.2 For all his determination to make a posthumous poet of his wife, there were certain poems that Murry chose to omit from this selection, clearly because they portrayed him in a bad light, notably ‘the three savage poems’ that the editors deem ‘a bitter attack on Murry’s perceived abandonment of her’ (131). Yet he was quite happy to include the twenty-two items of juvenilia that he wrongly labelled ‘Child Verses: 1907’. Ida Baker noted in her annotated copy of Poems that Mansfield had in fact written these verses in New Zealand, not while she was at Queen’s College, and ‘before she was fourteen years old’ (38). So knowledge of the dates of composition is important in evaluating the poems, and the fact that ‘eighty of the poems were written before KM left New Zealand at the age of nineteen to return to London’ (xxi) is hardly inconsequential. Moreover, the editors utilise Baker’s wellfounded corrections and O’Sullivan’s scholarly edition to reorder the poems in illuminating ways, especially in the case of what they label ‘an elegiac group of poems for Leslie Beauchamp’ (109). Some of these Murry had misdated and grouped under the title ‘Poems: 1909–1910’ (for example, ‘Little Brother’s Secret’ and ‘Little Brother’s Story’) and some he included under ‘Poems: 1911–1913’ (for example, ‘The Storm’ and ‘The Gulf’), so that the impact of the group as a whole was considerably weakened. ‘The Gulf’ is a brief, but important, poem because, redated, it reads 184

Reviews like a sequel to the elegiac ‘To L.H.B.’, and it signals a new and more affirmative stage in Mansfield’s grieving. The editors note that, despite Murry’s dating, ‘there is a clear implication that this concerns the death of KM’s brother’ and then quote Ida Baker’s confirmatory annotation, ‘I think after Chummie [Leslie] died’ (110). We can only regret that Murry’s claim that ‘the poems have been roughly grouped in periods’3 and his editorial acumen have here proven so unreliable. These mistakes might have been rectified in the second edition (1929/30) or even in the American (Knopf) edition, but were not. The ‘strange case’ of ‘Sunset’, as Ruth Elvish Mantz dubbed it,4 one of the two poems added to the second edition of Poems, exemplifies Murry’s legendary disorganisation and just how he could muddy the waters, from a bibliographical perspective. After its first appearance in the Athenæum on 23 January 1920, ‘Sunset’ was in fact reprinted ten times in the UK and USA, originally under the pseudonym Elizabeth Stanley but in the USA under Katherine Mansfield. However, on the strength of Murry’s assurances that it had been recently ‘found among her papers’, the poem was repeatedly welcomed as a first printing. In Mantz’s The Critical Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield (1931), Murry ‘explains the confusion’ thus: The real cause of all this trouble over ‘Sunset’ is that I missed it (and the other two) in collecting from the Athenæum. Then some time later I found the MS. of the poem and had not the faintest recollection of its having been published before. To crown all this, when in 1929 I began a systematic search of the files [. . .] [and] I found the poem, I had not the faintest memory that I had previously discovered it in MS. (66)

Quite an admission! Kathleen Jones, who offers the most sympathetic portrayal to date of Murry in Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller (2010), admits that ‘his editorial comments are inaccurate’ and that ‘Katherine’s estate becomes the victim of John’s inadequate organisational skills.’5 In a number of ways, Mansfield made herself a European rather than a merely English writer. She was marginally multilingual, had some knowledge of French, German, Italian, Maori and Russian, and became accustomed to ‘slipping playfully and creatively between languages, dialects, and linguistic registers’ (141–2). So Claire Davison, author of the recently published Translation as Collaboration: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S. S. Koteliansky (2014), observes in her substantial tenpage Introduction to the ‘Translations’ section of volume 3. This is an incisive observation that invites us to see translation as an activity central to Mansfield’s creative disposition. Yet translation as such has never loomed large in discussions of Mansfield’s accomplishments, in 185

Katherine Mansfield and Translation large part, Davison argues, because her contributions were all but invisible: she had ‘quite simply disappeared into the shadows of other people’s translations’ (142). Well, perhaps not quite – for B. J. Kirkpatrick makes explicit reference to Mansfield’s contributions in the B-section of A Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield (1989). In any case, Davison provides us with a full and persuasive account of Mansfield’s joint ventures in translating with S. S. Koteliansky, the Ukrainian intimate of D. H. Lawrence, Mark Gertler and other Bloomsbury figures. He is a figure ubiquitous enough to have merited his own biography: Galya Diment’s A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The Life and Times of Samuel Koteliansky (2011). Mansfield always had a special place in his heart, though their relationship was not without its strains and Murry was often the irritant. ‘Kot’ actually moved into 5 Acacia Road after Mansfield fled from its memories and he made of her bedroom (then his) something of a shrine with inherited possessions, including her desk-chair, her blanket and, eventually, her carved walking stick. Despite Koteliansky’s coaching in the language, Mansfield never achieved fluency in Russian, though she worked diligently at it until the end of her life, in Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, where she was surrounded by Russian speakers. However, she was an eager and able ‘co-translator’ (143) – ‘collaborator’ was Mansfield’s own preferred term – who clearly enjoyed wrestling directly with a text and with the details of ‘textual rhythm, voice, gender, and narrative construction’ (144). So it is important that her role in ‘the Anglophone reception of Russian culture’ (144) be fully acknowledged and her translation work made easily accessible. After all, when their translation of Chekhov’s letters appeared in the Athenæum between April and October of 1919, Mansfield actually toyed with the idea of trying to beat into print Constance Garnett’s February 1920 edition of Letters to His Family and Friends. Two years later, prompted by her reading of Garnett’s version of War and Peace, she wrote thanking her for her translations: ‘I felt I could no longer refrain from thanking you for the whole other world that you have revealed to us through these marvelous translations from the Russian.’6 No doubt, she would have liked to think that some day her translations would be shown similar magnanimity. Alas, even the admiring Koteliansky betrayed his collaborator in suppressing her contribution to The Note-Books of Anton Tchekhov (1921), edited by him and Leonard Woolf for the Hogarth Press (1921). ‘We did not use Katherine’s name [or work] because she was not then known as a writer’, he later admitted to Mantz, then working on her bibliography.7 The American (Huebsch) edition, Note-Book of Anton 186

Reviews Chekhov (1921), on the other hand, did include her contribution, albeit without any acknowledgement. This inconsistency seems to have occasioned some confusion in the translation section of volume 3. Though the suppression of Mansfield’s name is properly associated with the work of Koteliansky and Leonard Woolf, in the notes to ‘The Diary of Anton Chekhov’ (262), Davison blames Koteliansky and Murry in her ­introduction (142). Yet, in this matter at least, Murry was innocent! Mansfield always took her literature seriously – we might even say that she was peculiarly vulnerable to it. In the early days, it was Oscar Wilde whom she embraced; later, it would be Dostoevsky and Chekhov with whom she became intimate enough to perceive how they might serve her in life as well as in literature. The kind of intimacy required by the work of translation – savouring words and phrases for their quintessence – left its mark on her and her work. Davison helpfully suggests that ‘a useful starting point can be to read [the translations] as some of the multiple masks and identities KM tried on’ (149). To this we might add that her delight in assuming a Slavic identity – Boris Petrovsky, Katerina, Katoushka, Kissienka – or naming her Japanese dolls O Hara San and Ribni, are really by-products of her absorption in literary c­ ulture, her need to work from within. Among the ‘Parodies, Pastiches, and Aphorisms’, two are of special interest – an intriguing collection of aphorisms and a piece that may have been intended as a review of the play Sumurun (387), Max Reinhardt’s 1911 production based on Friedrich Freska’s Tales of the Arabian Nights. The typed aphorisms were discovered by doctoral student Chris Mourant, of King’s College, London, among the papers of Miron Grindea, editor of the Adam International Review. Gerri Kimber found a corresponding typescript signed and dated by Mansfield in 1911. The cynical tone of these pieces suggests the influence of Orage and Beatrice Hastings and that they were intended for the New Age. Two will suffice to give their flavour: Life’s a game of cards – which mainly consists of shuffling. Love feeds upon itself – that is why it is so soon starved to Death.

‘Sumurun: An Impression of Leopoldine Konstantin’ was discovered – along with a nice assortment of other items – by Gerri Kimber in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. It ‘does not easily fit into any category’, the editors admit – though it may have been intended as notes towards a never-completed review. They speculate that Mansfield ‘must have seen the almost silent play-pantomime’ (387) during its six-week run at the London Coliseum in 1911. The ‘open eroticism’ which made 187

Katherine Mansfield and Translation ‘Sumurun’ so successful would not have accorded with Murry’s ­carefully nurtured image of ‘Saint Katherine’, and that no doubt explains why he ‘never used it in any of his posthumous publications of KM’s work’ (387). Antony Alpers justly observed in his 1980 biography: ‘Jack was prim, as his editing of Katherine’s papers has disclosed.’8 The contemporary postcard reproduced alongside ‘Sumurun’ of a voluptuouslooking Leopoldine Konstantin slyly hints at another role Katherine might have found tempting in her shape-shifting days. The final section of volume 3 – the reviews section – includes material that has been more easily accessible than many of the poems and translations, as the editors readily acknowledge. But they have added hitherto overlooked reviews and have also gone back to original manuscripts to correct Murry’s ‘frequent small editorial changes and/or inaccuracies’ (xxv). Whether the time Mansfield devoted to reviewing seriously hindered her own creative work may be an unanswerable question, though the editors pointedly cite her complaint to Murry about ‘reviewing [E. F.] Benson when one might be writing one’s own stories which one will never have time to write’ (425). If she had to write reviews, however, she definitely wanted personal recognition, not the bland ‘we’ and ‘in our opinion’ that Murry favoured. One item included in the review section exemplifies the problems surrounding such issues: ‘The Lost Girl’, Mansfield’s handwritten ‘notes’ about D. H. Lawrence’s novel of 1920. The text – with Mansfield’s ‘I made these notes. Read them—will you?’ at the top – was first printed in 1939 in The Scrapbook of Katherine Mansfield (a clever invention of Murry’s to encompass hitherto unpublished Mansfield miscellanea). It was printed again in Katherine Mansfield’s Letters to John Middleton Murry 1913–1922 (1951), and more recently in volume 4 of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield (1996). Now it has been recycled as a ‘review’ of sorts. The notes themselves seem likely to have fed into the very negative Athenæum review of The Lost Girl under the title ‘the Decay of Mr. D. H. Lawrence’, also included here in volume 3. It was only signed ‘M’ but B. J. Kirkpatrick notes in her discussion of it in A Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield, under ‘Doubtful Contributions’, both that ‘the marked files of the Athenaeum record KM as the reviewer’ and that, in the opinion of Alpers, ‘this is pure Murry, and not KM for a moment.’9 For good measure, the editors here cite Sydney Janet Kaplan’s persuasive case that the review should indeed be attributed to Murry, who, in fact, included it in his Reminiscences of D. H. Lawrence (1933). Volume 3 is an exemplary accomplishment that makes for stimulating reading. It has required a good deal of archival work to make accessible published, but out-of-print, material, to document new finds, and 188

Reviews to reveal the true extent of Mansfield’s translations. All in all, it is a real tribute to the industry and the scholarship of the editors, Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith, and their editorial assistant Anna Plumridge. Notes 1. Vincent O’Sullivan, Poems of Katherine Mansfield (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1988) pp. ix–x. 2. John Middleton Murry, ‘Introductory Note’, Poems by Katherine Mansfield (London: Constable, 1923), p. xi. 3. Murry, p. xii. 4. Ruth Elvish Mantz, The Critical Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield (London: Constable, 1931), p. vii. 5. Kathleen Jones, Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), pp. 46, 47. 6. Katherine Mansfield to Constance Garnett, 8 February 1921, in Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, eds, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, Vol. 4, 1920–1921 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 176. 7. S. S. Koteliansky to Mantz; qtd. in B. J. Kirkpatrick, A Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 84. 8. Antony Alpers, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (New York: Viking Press, 1980), p. 341. 9. Antony Alpers (personal communication) in B. J. Kirkpatrick, A Bibliography of Katherine Mansfield (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 151.

c Anne Fernihough, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), xii + 288 pp., £55, ISBN 9780199668625 In this engaging and wide-ranging work of literary historiography, Anne Fernihough sets out to revise prevailing images of the Edwardian period as characterised by ‘a “golden afternoon” calm’, ‘dull materialism’ or ‘anxiety and uncertainty’, instead emphasising ‘a utopian, hyper-­ individualist strand within pre-war intellectual culture that had a far-­ reaching impact on literature and literary theory both before and after the war’ (32). She does this by concentrating on the forward-­looking aube-de-siècle debates staged in the pages of two influential weekly papers, the New Age and the Freewoman (later retitled the New Freewoman and then the Egoist). Fernihough explores how these publications were shaped by the radical socialist and feminist views of their first editors, A. R. Orage and Dora Marsden, but also included counter-voices challenging their own changing political and intellectual commitments. Orage’s outlook was initially aligned with an anarchistic brand of ‘ideal socialism’ ‘concerned more with personal liberty and spiritual 189

Katherine Mansfield and Translation growth than with economics and the elimination of poverty’ (4). In his opening editorial in the New Age on 2 May 1907, Orage dismissed ‘statistical classifications and sociological formulae’ in favour of ‘the intensification of life’ and ‘the creation of a race of supremely and progressively intelligent beings’ (5). Likewise, in the first issue of the Freewoman, dated 23 November 1911, Marsden espoused an anti-­ suffragist feminism which scorned the vote and concentrated instead on the ‘spiritual’ cause of the ‘freewoman’, who would be bounded by no commitment to conventional political causes or to existing female roles inside or outside the home (11). Fernihough adduces Stephen Dedalus in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) as a fictional example of the ‘superman’ envisioned by Orage, and Miriam Henderson in Dorothy Richardson’s Pointed Roofs (1915) and Ursula Brangwen in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow (also 1915) as fictional embodiments of the ‘freewoman’ ideal. She also shows, however, that fearless hyper-individualism and aloofness from the masses could express themselves in various (and sometimes paradoxical) forms in the early years of the twentieth century, not only in the cultivation of the mind, but also through habits of celibacy, abstemiousness and the regulation of diet and ingestion. At each stage Fernihough reminds us of the prevailing influence of Nietzsche, Bergson and Max Stirner in underpinning discourses on individualism, gender and modernity in the period, but we are also shown how the ideas of a later generation of Edwardian sexologists, philosophers and reformers – including Otto Weininger, Havelock Ellis, Wilhelm Worringer, Edward Carpenter and Horace Fletcher – drew upon, reflected and transformed these discourses. Freewomen and Supermen examines how important strands of Edwardian radical thought inform the work of a dizzying range of writers, including those whom we have typically considered as realists, such as Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells and Upton Sinclair, as well as canonical modernist figures like Henry James, T. E. Hulme, Virginia Woolf, May Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Lawrence, Rebecca West and – of course – Katherine Mansfield. Fernihough opposes the tendency to separate out ‘Edwardian realism’ from ‘early modernism’ by showing how all these writers’ works address the central issue of individualism, touching on topical subjects like diet reform, suburban living, the modern city and urban architecture, eugenics, and gender and identity. Mansfield features prominently in the book because a number of the fictional sketches collected in her debut volume of short stories, In a German Pension (1911), were first published in the New Age in 1909 and 1910. Fernihough notes that 190

Reviews Mansfield’s stories in some ways fitted well into the New Age at this time, taking their place alongside articles subjecting the institutions of family and nationhood to severe scrutiny, as well as scaremongering pieces about the rapidly expanding German navy and the presence of German spies in Britain. (119)

Yet, while the narrator’s fierce independence and scorn of child-­ bearing in the sketches speak directly to the concerns of the freewoman, Mansfield’s focus on abject bodies and conspicuous (and messy) consumption undermines and ironises the notions of bodily and racial purity held dear by both Edwardian radicals and the cure patients at the Pension Müller. Fernihough’s analysis makes it clear that the ‘Pension collection as a whole cannot be assimilated to Marsden’s hyper-individualism’ (120). A later discussion of the sketches in the context of Hulme’s politicised aesthetics also shows how resistant they are to the political objectives of one classical strand of High Modernism, since their ‘antiromantic’ atmosphere, ‘avoidance of abstractions’ and ‘adherence to concrete particularity’ provide no reassurance of purity and aloofness but a vision of ‘a radically unstable world in which boundaries of all kinds (between the classes, between the sexes) are threatening to ­disintegrate’ (159). Mansfield may employ a recognisably modernist impersonality in these pieces, but her own brand of individualism is ‘not incompatible with more collectivist versions of feminism and socialism’ (120), ­demonstrating that, while all aesthetic choices have political implications, ‘the relationship between aesthetics and politics is never straightforward’ (159). By inserting these much-maligned sketches back into the conflicted context of their radical Edwardian moment, this excellent book brings both the texts and their author into sharper focus for us. Andrew Harrison University of Nottingham

c H. S. Ede, Savage Messiah: A Biography of the Sculptor Henri GaudierBrzeska (Leeds: Kettle’s Yard and Henry Moore Institute, 2011), 319 pp., £25, ISBN 9781905462346 This magnificently produced republication of Ede’s biography, originally published in 1931, is a valuable resource for Mansfield ­ 191

Katherine Mansfield and Translation scholars seeking to situate her life and work within cross-disciplinary and transnational modernist networks and collaborations. A contributor to Rhythm, a friend of Mansfield and Murry, and the occasion for Mansfield’s admiration and hostility, Gaudier is a fascinating figure in Mansfield’s life and artistic milieu. Ede’s biography of the artist he  admired but never knew is itself a remarkable artifact in the reception history of modernism, plunging its reader into the pas­ sionate work of recuperation and recovery of this influential figure. As the co-editors, Sebastiano Barassi and Jon Wood, write in their foreword, by 1927 ‘Gaudier was slowly fading into obscurity’ (4), pace Ezra Pound’s immortalisation of the sculptor in Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir (1916). Much of Gaudier’s work and possessions after his 1915 death in World War One were acquired by Ede in his capacity as Tate Gallery curator in 1926, including almost one thousand hand-written pages of memoir by Gaudier’s bereft, ailing companion, Sophie Brzeska. Co-editor Evelyn Silber, the most prominent scholar of Gaudier’s work, contributes an essay to this volume in which she explains Ede’s sources and how the curator recovered Gaudier’s life through these pages and correspondence, written in French, English and Polish. Silber describes the ‘vivid conversational style and emotional rawness’ of this writing, which provided Ede with the opportunity ‘of eavesdropping on [the couple’s] lives and i­nnermost thoughts’ (256). Readers of this volume have renewed access to Ede’s own ardent recovery of Gaudier’s life, as he turned from his professional role as art historian and curator to the more experimental role of biographer, creating what Barassi and Wood describe as a well-researched ‘fiction’ from Sophie’s manuscripts and correspondence (255). Barassi, Wood and Silber provide extraordinarily meticulous and thorough explanatory footnotes and essays, a chronology, a catalogue of source materials, and lavish illustrative materials. The visual works include full-colour plates of Gaudier’s sketches, drawings, paintings and designs, as well as reproductions of all eight cover designs for successive editions of Savage Messiah. These covers, too, tell a story about modernism’s reception history over the course of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Both Mansfield and Murry found his art, as well as his personality, hugely compelling. Murry’s June 1918 celebration of Gaudier’s genius and strength in the Nation reveals a near-worship of the artist. Mansfield, in turn, celebrates Murry’s review of Gaudier’s work in her letters. Ede’s biography devotes a chapter to the Gaudier-Brzeskas’ relationship with Mansfield and Murry, and its demise. The interactions of these couples 192

Reviews reminds us of how modernist social groupings fulfilled, if ­temporarily, longings for sanctuary when the modern world seemed hostile and indifferent. Ede writes of Murry, Mansfield and Henri and Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska that ‘They talked of going to live together on a Pacific island’ (108), and one is reminded of D. H. Lawrence’s visions of communal living, starting with his utopian schemes for co-habitation with Murry and Mansfield in Cornwall. Indeed, Murry’s exoticising admiration for Gaudier could only be compared, in Murry’s own estimation (as revealed in The Autobiography of John Middleton Murry: Between Two Worlds), with his attraction to Lawrence. Murry deeply mourned the loss of his association with Gaudier.1 This edition of Savage Messiah offers several lines of enquiry into the two couples’ intimate world, revealed not only in the published text, but also its sources (Sophie’s manuscript materials, for example). Such enquiries contribute to ongoing examinations of modernist sociability and coteries. In addition, the new edition’s inclusion of visual materials invites further consideration of the role of the visual arts, including sculpture, in Mansfield’s life and aesthetics. The 2011 edition of Savage Messiah is a rich resource for Mansfield scholars and for scholars of both literary and visual modernism. Rishona Zimring Lewis and Clarke College, Portland Note 1. John Middleton Murry, Between Two Worlds (New York: Julian Messner, 1936), pp. 223–4.

c Maurizio Ascari, Cinema and the Imagination in Katherine Mansfield’s Writing (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 120 pp., £45, ISBN 978137400352 Mansfield’s visual perception was unusually acute. It was an asset when observing or recalling for the purposes of fiction, but it was a liability when she was trying to concentrate on her writing; she would, for instance, deliberately turn her desk away from a view so as not to be distracted. Given this, and given Mansfield’s daring, it is not surprising that she was an early enthusiast of ‘the movies’. From the first days of this new form, she unashamedly watched silent films. She also tried her hand at acting as an extra and was a fan of Charlie Chaplin. ‘Unashamed’ is an apposite description since early silent 193

Katherine Mansfield and Translation movies, regarded as the quintessence of photographic realism, were ­incompatible with the tenets advocated by the avant-garde Rhythm, which strove to move beyond what its editor, John Middleton Murry, regarded as an outmoded aesthetic. Vincent O’Sullivan and Antony Alpers were the first to draw critical attention to the fact that Mansfield quickly grasped the inter-art potential of cinema, O’Sullivan for instance describing Mansfield’s early piece ‘The Pic-Nic’ as ‘a film script’.1 Maurizio Ascari, in Cinema and the Imagination in Katherine Mansfield’s Writing, gives a new and interesting account of the ways in which Mansfield used film as a tutor to assist her as she searched for a new form. It was an instrument she appropriated to develop her narrative technique, using cinematic devices as aesthetic tools. Ascari identifies three phases. ‘Early cinematic stories’ (36) like ‘The Little Governess’ are structured as episodic, filmic vignettes. They deploy ellipses as the equivalent of the cinematic techniques of dissolving and fading out, juxtapose scenes for psychological effect, and deploy the literary equivalent of long shots to draw attention to body language, gesture and costume. In the second phase, which Ascari describes as a ‘turning point in the development of Mansfield’s aesthetics’ (56), there is a shift from representing reality to recording it. This development emphasises the vitalism, rather than the realism, of cinema, and is best expressed by Mansfield in her well-known letter to painter Dorothy Brett: ‘When I write about ducks I swear that I am a white duck with a round eye, floating in a pond fringed with yellow blobs and taking an occasional dart at the other duck with a round eye, which floats beneath me’ (qtd. 56). World War One changed everything for Mansfield on a personal – and subsequently aesthetic – level. Following the death of her brother, as she sought to resolve her sense of inner emptiness, she developed a sceptical view of the cinema as a totem of consumerist mass culture. This altered perspective gave rise to what Ascari identifies as ‘Mansfield’s post-war reappraisal of cinema’ (61) and is the third phase of her use of the cinema in her stories. ‘Je ne parle pas français’ is convincingly interpreted by Ascari in this context. The story is described as having performance and artifice at its core, with the cynical and unreliable narrator, Raoul Duquette, ‘simultaneously actor and spectator’ (64). At just 120 pages, this short but important addition to Mansfield scholarship will be of great interest to those seeking to expand their knowledge of inter-art influences on Mansfield’s fiction. Sarah Sandley 194

Reviews Note 1. Antony Alpers, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (New York: Viking, 1980), p. 239; Vincent O’Sullivan, ‘Introduction’, New Zealand Stories (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 5.

c Tammy Clewell, ed., Modernism and Nostalgia: Bodies, Locations, Aesthetics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 288 pp., £50, ISBN 9781137326591 Tammy Clewell’s recent collection, Modernism and Nostalgia: Bodies, Locations, Aesthetics, constitutes an important reminder for scholars of the period: we must not stop at the simple assumption that the modernists were either progressive or conservative, or that their views of the past were either cynical or romanticised. The essays included here are interested in a peculiarly modernist nostalgia, ‘a modern state of mind’ (2), which arises as a result of an endless reference to the past, ‘reveal[ing] how deeply rooted in the damaged, the old, the vanishing, and the lost were the variety of efforts to imagine and produce the new’ (6). Modernism has been a frequent touchstone of the memory boom in literary criticism. In the past few years alone, we have seen the publication of Tammy Clewell’s Mourning, Modernism, Postmodernism (2008), along with Patricia Rae’s Modernism and Mourning (2007), Robert Hemmings’s Modern Nostalgia: Siegfried Sassoon, Trauma and the Second World War (2008) and Gabrielle McIntire’s Modernism, Memory, and Desire: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (2008). All of these authors are contributors to the present volume, a fact which testifies to the calibre of the researchers included in this fine collection. Modernism and Nostalgia has three sections: ‘Bodies’, ‘Locations’ and ‘Aesthetics’. The ‘Bodies’ section explores nostalgia as a kind of illness and includes essays on Rebecca West, Siegfried Sassoon, T. S. Eliot and Elizabeth Bowen. There are essays on Katherine Mansfield, Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, Arthur Symons, Thomas Burke, George Orwell and W. H. Auden in the ‘Location’ section, which examines nostalgia as dependent on particular places. Innovative textual representations of nostalgia are considered in the ‘Aesthetics’ section, which focuses on the writings of Rupert Brooke, Ezra Pound, E. M. Forster, James Joyce, Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh. The collection traces the various states of longing exhibited by modernist writers, unified in a critical response to the past which sees little 195

Katherine Mansfield and Translation use in the selective remembering of Victorian nostalgia. As Clewell notes, the essays also speak across the book’s divisions; indeed, valuable attention is paid to aesthetics – the linguistic or narrative construction of nostalgia – in most of the contributions, and each author adds to the collective and thoughtful unpacking of the relationship between modernism and nostalgia. Of particular interest to readers of Katherine Mansfield Studies is Carey Snyder’s essay on ‘Katherine Mansfield, D. H. Lawrence, and Imperialist Nostalgia’. Snyder uses Lawrence’s evocation of ‘a nostalgic return to the primitive to revitalise modern civilisation’ (131) as a touchstone for Mansfield’s initial move towards Lawrentian primitivism in ‘How Pearl Button was Kidnapped’, and then her ultimate rejection of it in ‘The Woman at the Store’. Mansfield’s rejection of Lawrence’s brand of nostalgia, Snyder argues, finds its source particularly in his degradation of femininity (134), and she shows how Mansfield draws on her New Zealand youth to present what may be a more realistic ‘portrait of degradation, violence, and lunacy in settler life’ (144). Only the essays by Snyder and Barry J. Faulk (on ‘Modernist Urban Nostalgia and British Metropolitan Writing, 1908–1934’) deal substantially with modernist innovation occurring in the period preceding World War One, and as such, many of the attitudes towards nostalgia traced here depend on the traumatic effects of the war to describe the ways in which nostalgia appears following this event as ‘a sign of loss’ (260). This aside, Modernism and Nostalgia does well to draw out the simultaneous and contradictory – rather than mutually exclusive – processes of a longing for and a distrust of the past. In this sense, it makes an important contribution to our understanding of memory and cultural identity in the early part of the twentieth century. Jessica Gildersleeve University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba

c Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock, eds, Russia in Britain, 1880– 1940: From Melodrama to Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 336 pp., £55, ISBN 9780199660865 Russia in Britain takes its place among a cluster of recent works that address the reception of Russian culture in Britain during the long nineteenth century and beyond, including Galya Diment’s A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The Life and Times of Samuel Koteliansky (2011); A 196

Reviews People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture (2012), edited by Anthony Cross; and Caroline Maclean’s forthcoming The Vogue for Russia: Modernism and the Unseen in Britain 1900–1930 (2015). In his 1956 study of British–Russian literary relations, Gilbert Phelps asked whether the Russian contribution to British letters could more accurately be described as a far-reaching renaissance or a high-burning, but ultimately short-lived, fever. Recent contributions to the field continue to navigate between these two extremes, weighing in on how much of an impact can plausibly be ascribed to the reception of Russian culture in Britain. Russia in Britain opens with an ambitious theoretical Introduction by Beasley and Bullock, which rejects the traditional influence-based paradigm of British–Russian cultural relations in favour of questions of circulation, translation and mediation within institutional contexts. The Introduction further argues for a shift from exclusively literary topics to a multidisciplinary approach. A central concern of the volume is the role that Britain plays as a host culture, and it seeks to articulate Russia’s place in the cultural landscape of Britain. From its ‘foreignising’ approach to transliteration to its methodological framework, Russia in Britain aims to defamiliarise established approaches to the reception of Russian culture in Britain. The product of a conference held in 2009 at the London Institute for English Studies, Russia in Britain is made up of somewhat eclectic individual contributions, but they have been carefully arranged and cross-referenced to provide coherence and continuity. The first cluster of chapters focuses on the theatre: Laurence Senelick offers a study of early British melodramatic productions with Russia as their setting, and Michael Newton addresses the role of the Russian background of Wilde’s Vera: or the Nihilists. Later in the volume, Stuart Young provides an account of the fate of non-Chekhovian drama on the British stage. Three other chapters come under the rubric of social activism: Charlotte Alston traces the growth of the Tolstoyan Movement in Britain and abroad, Robert Henderson examines the workings of the Russian Library in Whitechapel, and Matthew Taunton contributes a lively discussion of the Stalin–Wells Talks and the polarising function of Soviet ideology within the life of British intellectuals. Two particularly engaging chapters focus on the reception of Russian music in Britain: Philip Ross Bullock’s, on the role of Russian music in contemporary debates between academic and popular music, and Ramsay Burt’s, which links the first performance of Le Sacre du printemps with the bodily sacrifice performed by Suffragette Emily Wilding Davidson. Caroline Maclean’s chapter on British responses to Kandinsky, and a concomitant 197

Katherine Mansfield and Translation ­ reoccupation with the mystical facet of Russian aesthetics, is the lone p chapter on the visual arts. Two chapters discuss translation and canon formation: Rebecca Beasley’s, on the development of Russian studies in British universities, and Ian Patterson’s, on the distribution of Soviet literature in Britain between 1917 and 1940. Two dynamic contributions on film round out the volume. In the first, Laura Marcus explores the political and aesthetic dimensions of the reception of Soviet films in the 1920s. In the second, James Smith draws on recently declassified archive material from MI5 to detail the role of British intelligence and policing agencies in the suppression of Soviet films during the 1930s. Ken Hirschkop closes the volume with an Afterword that sounds a note of caution, arguing that perhaps ‘Russian culture may not have been the kind of material its host culture could adapt or amalgamate’ (268). Full of evidence of intense, if sometimes short-lived, engagements with a variety of Russian cultural projects, the collection as a whole nevertheless testifies to the wide-ranging roles Russian culture played in Britain between 1880 and 1940. In line with the goals articulated in the Introduction, the individual chapters of Russia in Britain encompass a breadth of institutions and genres, producing an interdisciplinary study of the British reception of Russian culture that is full of unexpected, but productive, juxtapositions. When the subject does turn to literature, however, the methodological focus on institutions rather than individuals is somewhat limiting. This is particularly acute in Caroline Maclean’s tantalisingly brief treatment of Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Russian’ contributions to the literary magazine Rhythm, a subject one hopes will be expanded upon in her forthcoming book. Indeed, both Mansfield’s response to Russian culture and the reception of Mansfield in the Soviet Union are rich topics that warrant continued consideration on their own terms. Mansfield had a lifelong fascination with everything from the music of Tchaikovsky, Rimski-Korsakov and Mussorgsky, to the prose of Turgenev, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Among the last things she wrote before her death in 1923 was a list of phrases she wanted to learn how to say in Russian, culminating in the declaration: ‘I would like to speak Russian with you.’ In the Soviet translations of Mansfield’s stories that began to appear in 1922, this longing was in some sense fulfilled. By playing the role of a ‘translator’ for works she herself had written under the pseudonym Boris Petrovsky, Mansfield raises important questions about the nature of circulation, translation and mediation in the relationship between Russian and British culture that are at the core of Russia in Britain. At the same time, her position as a New Zealander introduces an important complication to the Russia/Britain framework 198

Reviews of the volume. The limited treatment Mansfield receives in the volume, however, only serves to indicate how many questions about the Englishlanguage reception of Russian culture remain to be explored. Overall, Russia in Britain is a thought-provoking and diverse volume that will prove illuminating to scholars of British and Russian modernism, comparative cultural studies and social history, as well as to specialists in theatre, music, film, dance and translation. Irina Kogel University of California, Berkeley

c Anna Snaith, Modernist Voyages: Colonial Women Writers in London, 1890– 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 278 pp., £60, ISBN 9780521515450 Texts travel, as do commodities. At the turn of the twentieth century, Anna Snaith reminds us, so did colonial women, albeit in the ‘wrong way’ (1); while British women were often sent to the colonies as part of schemes to deal with the ‘surplus woman problem’ (1), the subjects of Snaith’s study move subversively from colonial outposts to the heart of the British imperial metropolis, London. Modernist Voyages is an ambitious attempt to remap modernist genealogies and geographies, to chart journeys without positioning them as relative to the urban centres of London, New York or Paris. Snaith attempts to situate colonial modernist writing as part of multiple and layered imperial networks of political and literary activism, and also to find a place for the long-time dark twin of Literary Studies scholarship, empire, which is present but, more often than not, ignored. Very much in the tradition of the scholarship of Howard Booth and Nigel Rigby, Susan Stanford Friedman, Elleke Boehmer and, more recently, Saikat Majumdar, Snaith attempts to ‘colour’ modernism, substantiating claims of its plurality and demonstrating how modernist circles and groups enabled and encouraged the literary production of those from the margins of empire. While male modernists trickle into the study as ideological targets or intellectual enablers and mentors, the seven case studies that Modernist Voyages comprises focus on a range of women writers from across the imperial world, all of whom spent some time in London, whether or not this was their only journey abroad or the one that had the greatest impact on their work. They range from the now canonical Jean Rhys, Olive Schreiner, Katherine Mansfield and Christina Stead to the 199

Katherine Mansfield and Translation critically neglected and under-represented Una Marson, Sara Jeannette Duncan and Sarojini Naidu. Modernist Voyages examines simultaneously the intellectual networks that London afforded these women, the spaces in which their writing was produced and circulated, and the political critiques they articulated, uneven though these often were. By reversing, in the process, the very ‘metropolitan gaze’ (22) of the white modernist writer, Snaith uncovers the different ways in which these women write of London as a coming together of hospitable and inhospitable spaces, of cosmopolitan and conservative pockets. She also shows that some of these women, as in the case of Naidu, made the decision not to write about London at all. Central to the argument of Modernist Voyages is the connection between women, race and the imperial nation, bound together by the rhetoric of anti-colonialism. While the writers that Snaith deals with often have drastically different approaches to the subject of the cultural, political and economic edifice of empire, they are similar in that their political views inform, in various ways, their literary output. The strength of the study is that it demonstrates convincingly the inextricability of the two – the literary and the political – and so reframes seemingly apolitical writers such as Mansfield and other more overtly political ones such as Naidu, whose role in the Indian nationalist movement often eclipses the value of her aesthetic endeavours. The body of the woman is at the heart of this work: the body of the female writer as a gendered, racialised body, and the inescapable metaphor of the woman’s body as nation. Race is integral to the writing of these women – all of whom are colonials – as it is to our assessment of them, though Snaith sometimes does not highlight the differences in their situations quite enough to the satisfaction of this reader. Naidu and Marson are the only women in Modernist Voyages who are not white; their ‘voyagings out’ (1, and elsewhere), therefore, would have been much more difficult than, say, Schreiner’s or Mansfield’s, who, despite suffering repeated jibes due to their colonial heritage (Mansfield was called a ‘little savage’ by the principal of Queen’s College in London when she went to school there), could still ostensibly blend in unnoticed in London. Marson and Naidu are continuously prey to the objectifying and exoticising tendencies of metropolitans – in the case of Naidu, by her mentors Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons. When they are included in mainstream literary and cultural life in London, they are there because of their differences, rather than in spite of them. Snaith is, however, sensitive to the uneven portrayal of race in the literature on which she focuses. On the one hand, we have Rhys’s grappling with the constructed nature of racial identity. On the other, we 200

Reviews have a writer like Schreiner, who, while declaring that the ‘Black Peril’ was nothing but a fantasy, reveals in her novels the limits of views on racial integration. For her, the key is not racial assimilation but coexistence through ‘mutual effort and collaboration’ (37), with whites and blacks living ‘side by side’ (39). Imperialism, in turn, has often been framed as the plundering of the female body, both in political rhetoric and in literary representations. In Schreiner and Duncan, this is read through the woman as ‘“realised” capital’ (100), as having a veritable market value, on a par with the traditional commodities that poured into Britain from the colonies – for example, diamonds in Schreiner’s From Man to Man, and colonial wealth and property offered in London as a woman’s dowry in Duncan’s Cousin Cinderella. In all of these texts, the writers make a clear connection between an overly materialistically driven world and the moral ineptitude of the characters they depict. These take the familiar form of stories of rejected or fallen women, whose only choices are death or prostitution. Another form the preoccupation with the female body takes is the representation of the nation as mother, though this often works in contradictory ways in each of the case studies Snaith uses. In the case of Schreiner, the empire is recurrently cast as a family, with the maternal Queen Victoria at the helm, even while Snaith realises that such a characterisation is an attempt to mask ‘colonial violence with images of female benevolence’ (38). By contrast, for Naidu, the nation-as-mother becomes the basis for a political nationalist movement which makes parallels between the sacrosanct nature of nation-space and the vulnerability of women who need to be protected by male citizens. In both cases, as Snaith demonstrates, the writers constantly grapple with the double-edged nature of not only the manner in which popular ideologies imagine women, but also the contradictions inherent in their own attempts at reimagining them, often lapsing into the very objectifying tendencies against which they struggle. While Modernist Voyages is laudable for its extraordinarily fine detail and extensive historical research, its definitions are, at times, slippery. While Snaith’s inclusion of writers not traditionally considered modernist is well within the bounds of a project that intends to unsettle definitions of modernism, her argument that writers inhabiting, writing about and even critiquing modernity are modernist is more problematic. This is most apparent in the chapter on Naidu. While, for example, one can understand the inclusion of Mansfield in a study of modernism, Naidu’s typically Indian Victorian adoption of Romantic poetic models was not displaced by her modern, progressive political views on women’s issues. 201

Katherine Mansfield and Translation That she writes from a place of modernity is undeniable – and this is the case with many late nineteenth and early twentieth-century colonial writers – but modernism and modernist writing may not be the best vocabulary through which to discuss this. Modernist Voyages is, nevertheless, an extremely valuable theoretical and literary study and brings together an unusual range of writers in an original and exciting framework. Priyasha Mukhopadhyay University of Oxford

c Claire Davison, Translation as Collaboration: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S. S. Koteliansky (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 194 pp., £70, ISBN 9780748682812 This is a very astute and much-needed book for anyone who is interested not only in ‘Russian Bloomsbury’ and more general issues of literary translation, but also in what, in the end, significantly informed and shaped the writings of two female writing giants of that period: Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. Based on her extensive archival research, Davison convincingly argues that Woolf and Mansfield undertook their collaborations with Koteliansky with the utmost seriousness, that they read and analysed his first drafts ‘scrupulously, not only to normalise language but also to further their own understanding of Russian literature’, and that their own ‘heavily annotated drafts’ make it obvious that ‘they were certainly not just correcting howlers’ (37). The best way to summarise Translation as Collaboration is by borrowing the title of its concluding chapter, ‘Only Inter-connect? Translation, Transaction, Interaction’, since the book definitely has these three distinct parts. It starts with a very painstaking analysis of the translations that Woolf and Mansfield worked on in collaboration with Koteliansky, and considers how these differ from other available translations of the same works. Davison here also defends Koteliansky and his ‘literal’ initial versions against the critics (including myself) who agree with D. H. Lawrence (his best co-translator, in my opinion) that they were at times much too ‘crude’ (113). She points out that the English of Koteliansky’s letters is much more smooth and idiomatic than the English of his translations and suggests that his literalness was therefore intentional and ‘driven by conviction and integrity rather than disdain for English style’ (23). Davison also gives examples of debates raging at the time – 202

Reviews and today – about over-polished translations ‘kill[ing] the spirit of the original’ (23). No one would seriously argue with the keenness of such an observation when applied to many translations, especially when one realises that in Constance Garnett’s English renditions, for example, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky often sound alike (which, God forbid, they should not!) and much like Thackeray. And yet I still question the validity of Koteliansky’s all-too-literal approach, which was particularly evident when he ventured into solo translations. One example, which I give in my recent book about Koteliansky, is where he describes a maid in a play by Zinaida Gippius as someone ‘with air, dry, imposing, wearing a cap’ and her nose as ‘red with the frost’ (A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury, 126). Before Davison gets into the particulars of what Woolf and Mansfield contributed to the team efforts and how it affected their own writings, she spends some time discussing what, to her, is the ideal translation model: one partner is a native speaker of the language from which a work is to be translated and the other is a native speaker of the language into which the work is to be translated. As a successful contemporary example she names Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, of whom I am, alas, not a fan; this, to me at least, proves once again that our views of translations tend to be as subjective as our interpretations. But all my disagreements cease when I get to the second part of Davison’s book, the one that deals with interconnections, interactions and ultimate transformations; here I find myself gratefully learning, enthusiastically nodding in consent and loudly applauding. She is excellent when discussing how Woolf’s and Mansfield’s gender, past experiences, illnesses, depressions and thoughts of suicide interact with the texts they are helping Koteliansky translate, and how they affect their contributions. This is especially poignant when Woolf, a victim of early and incestuous sexual abuse, co-translates Dostoevsky’s ‘Stavrogin’s Confessions’, or when Mansfield, who always idealised Chekhov, gets to co-translate his late letters, many dealing with his fast-developing tuberculosis, at a time when she herself had been diagnosed with the same severe disease. Davison is struck, she tells us, by how, in their notes, Mansfield and Woolf ‘rarely [. . .] refer to protagonists, plot or the overall dynamics; instead, they are notes from within, occupying the marginal, emotional spaces of the texts’ (83). She points out how, in their rendering of texts, they are more often than not ‘guided by their own, instinctive textual sympathies’ (104), which also leads to what Davison calls ‘gender-aware investment’ (96), where women characters are subtly both spotlighted and fleshed out more in these reworkings of Koteliansky’s original translations. 203

Katherine Mansfield and Translation As to the transformations, the works Woolf and Mansfield helped to translate also affected their own, and Davison makes very well-­articulated cases for that towards the end of her book when she discusses the ‘fragmentary’, ‘moments-of-being’ nature of many of the translations and how their work on them with Koteliansky ignited or reinforced the writers’ own literary experiments and proclivities. Galya Diment University of Washington, Seattle


Notes on Contributors

Iain Britton is Director of Maori Studies at King’s School, Auckland, New Zealand. He has published five collections of poetry. Hauled Head First into a Leviathan (2008) was nominated for Best First Collection category in the Forward Poetry Prizes, 2008. His poems have also been included in the Shearcatcher Poetry Anthology (2012). A new collection of poems, photosynthesis, was published in 2014. Claire Davison is Professor of Modernist Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France, specialising in intermedial modernisms, modernist translation networks and cultural transpositions. Her monograph, Translation as Collaboration: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S. S. Koteliansky, is published by Edinburgh University Press (2014). Claire also works as a freelance translator. Galya Diment is Professor and Thomas L. and Margo G. Wyckoff Endowed Faculty Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. She is author of The Autobiographical Novel of Co-Consciousness: Goncharov, Woolf and Joyce (1994), Pniniad: Vladimir Nabokov and Marc Szeftel (1997, 2013) and A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The Life and Times of Samuel Koteliansky (2011, 2013). She has also edited Goncharov’s Oblomov: A Critical Companion (1998) and co-edited MLA Approaches to Teaching Lolita (2008), and Between Heaven and Hell: The Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture (1993). Louise Edensor is a Lecturer in the International Foundation Programme at Middlesex University in Dubai and is the Editorial Assistant for Katherine Mansfield Studies. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Northampton, working on her thesis ‘Katherine Mansfield and the Construction of the Self’. Riemke Ensing received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand Poetry 2012. Her set of poems entitled Storm Warning was recently set to music by composer Alex van den Broek and premiered at the WORD – Writers & Readers Festival in Christchurch in 2014.


Katherine Mansfield and Translation Aimee Gasston is originally from Jersey and is a doctoral candidate at Birkbeck, University of London, UK, researching the modernist short story. She is a member of the Katherine Mansfield Society and New Zealand Studies Network, and co-convenes the Modernist Magazines Research Seminar with Chris Mourant and Natasha Periyan. Philip Keel Geheber completed his PhD at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and his book manuscript is entitled ‘Joyce, Realism, and the Nineteenth-Century French Novel’. He currently works as an instructor at Louisiana State University in his hometown of Baton Rouge. Jessica Gildersleeve is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, and serves as Marketing Secretary of the Katherine Mansfield Society. She is the author of Elizabeth Bowen and the Writing of Trauma: The Ethics of Survival (2014) and is currently working on the collection (with Patricia Juliana Smith) Elizabeth Bowen: Innovation, Experiment, and Literary Reputation and a critical study of the work of Christos Tsiolkas. Mandy Hager was the 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow. She is a multi-award-winning novelist and tutors novel writing for the Creative Writing programme at Whitireia, New Zealand. She often writes about social justice and environmental issues, is an avid follower of politics, and actively works to seek change towards a more equable and sustainable world. Her website can be found at . Faye Harland is a second-year doctoral candidate at the University of Dundee, UK. She specialises in feminist approaches to literature and film, specifically in texts of the modernist period, and the subject of her thesis is the gendering of the visual in the fiction of Katherine Mansfield. Faye’s research project is funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. She is currently the postgraduate representative of the Katherine Mansfield Society. Andrew Harrison is Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature and Director of the D. H. Lawrence Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is a member of the International Advisory Board for Katherine Mansfield Studies. Melinda Harvey is Lecturer in English at Monash University, Australia. Her edited collection (with Sarah Ailwood), Katherine Mansfield and Literary Influence, is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press in 2015. She is co-Reviews Editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies. 206

Notes on Contributors Kathleen Jones is a poet, biographer and fiction writer, author of  eight  biographies including Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller. She has  also worked in broadcast journalism and won awards for her fiction  and poetry. Kathleen is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and in 2012  was  elected a Fellow of the English Association for services to literature. Janka Kascakova is a Senior Lecturer in English literature at the Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia. Her research centres on modernism and the modernist short story, especially the works of Katherine Mansfield; and fantasy literature, chiefly the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. She has published numerous articles on Katherine Mansfield and is the translator into Slovak of a collection of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories. Jan Kemp’s collections, Voicetracks (2012) and Dante’s Heaven (2006), are available from and Dantes Himmel from . Her work is also on . Now, as Mansfield became ‘a NZ European’ and still linked to her national and poetic roots, Jan lives permanently in Germany. She is currently ­working on a manuscript, Black Ice & the Love Planet. Gerri Kimber, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Northampton, UK, is co-Editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies and Chair of the Katherine Mansfield Society. She is the deviser and Series Editor of the four-volume Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield (2012–15). She is the author of Katherine Mansfield: The View from France (2008) and Katherine Mansfield and the Art of the Short Story (2015). Irina Kogel is a doctoral candidate in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, where she is working on a thesis that explores the place of the Russian realist novel in the aesthetic development of Henry James, Virginia Woolf and Wyndham Lewis. Elisabeth Lamy-Vialle is Associate Professor in the English Department at U-PEC (Université Paris-Est Créteil), Paris, France, in British literature and translation. She specialises in British modernist literature with essays on Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Bowen. She is also a translator and her research has lately focused on the question of the interaction of foreign languages in literary texts, as well as on the translation processes. 207

Katherine Mansfield and Translation Davide Manenti is a doctoral candidate in Literary Translation Studies at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. His thesis discusses the concept of rewriting in relation to Katherine Mansfield’s Notebooks. A graduate of the University of Milan, he has also worked as editor and translator for several Italian publishing houses. Todd Martin is a Professor of English at Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, USA. He teaches twentieth-century British and American literature and has published on such various authors as John Barth, E. E. Cummings, Clyde Edgerton, Sherwood Anderson, Julia Alvarez, Edwidge Danticat and Katherine Mansfield. He is the Membership Secretary for the Katherine Mansfield Society and co-­ Editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies. J. Lawrence Mitchell is Professor of English at Texas A&M University, USA, and has just completed a four-year term as Director of Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. Recent publications include articles in The Book Collector, English Literature in Transition 1880–1920, The Hemingway Review and Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. Chris Mourant is completing his PhD at King’s College London, UK, researching Katherine Mansfield and periodical culture. He is a cofounder of the Modernist Magazines Research Seminar at the Institute of English Studies, and has been a postgraduate representative of the British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS).  Priyasha Mukhopadhyay is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Oxford, UK. Her thesis focuses on the construction of readerships in late colonial South Asia. She is also interested in post­ colonial theory, the modernist novel and the history of hunger. Sarah Sandley was the Katherine Mansfield Society’s first Chair, and remains connected to the Society as Honorary Chair. Her PhD thesis was entitled Epiphany in the Short Fiction of Katherine Mansfield. Her most recently published work is ‘Mansfield as a Cinematic Writer’, in Gerri Kimber and Janet Wilson (eds), Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays (2011). Sarah lives in Auckland, New Zealand; she works as a Chief Executive Officer, and is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Auckland Museum. Kathryn Simpson is Senior Lecturer in English at Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. Her main research interests are in modernist w ­ riting, 208

Notes on Contributors particularly the work of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. Other interests include the work of contemporary writers Sarah Waters, Ali Smith and David Mitchell. She is the author of Gifts, Markets and Economies of Desire in Virginia Woolf (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and co-edited Virginia Woolf: Twenty-First-Century Approaches (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). She is co-Reviews Editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies. Parineeta Singh studied poetry for her Master’s at Newcastle University, UK, and has had many poems published online. She has also had her short fiction published in print magazines such as Vintage Script, Linnet’s Wing and Indigo Rising. She was recently shortlisted  in the top ten and published in Eating my words: the National Flash Fiction Day 2014 anthology. She lives in London and is a doctoral candidate in creative writing studies at the University of Surrey. In the near future, she hopes to produce a publishable collection of short fiction. Frances Spalding is Professor of Art History at the University of Newcastle, UK. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art; in 2005, she was made a Companion of the British Empire for Services to Literature. Professor Spalding is also a renowned critic and biographer. Her most recent book is Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision (2014), published to coincide with an exhibition of the same title, which she guest-curated for the National Portrait Gallery, London. Rachael Stanley is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Nottingham, UK. Her thesis explores the legacies of naturalism in twentieth-century British fiction, focusing on the writings of James ­ Joyce, George Orwell and J. G. Ballard. Rishona Zimring is Professor of English at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA. She is the author of Social Dance and the Modernist Imagination in Interwar Britain (2013), as well as numerous essays on the literature and culture of modernism and modernity. She published ‘Mansfield’s Charm: The Enchantment of Domestic “Bliss”’ in Katherine Mansfield Studies, vol. 4 (2011).


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