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The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks

Complete Edition

2002
Author:

Katherine Mansfield
Margaret Scott, editor

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The only unexpurgated collection of Katherine Mansfield’s private writings-now available for the first time!

Edited by Margaret Scott

"It is only now, with the publication of Margaret Scott’s complete and unselective transcription of the material bequeathed to Murry, that we can really see Mansfield, off her guard and unexpurgated, for the first time. . . . Mansfield's notebooks are remarkable, touched by a sense of the underlying pathos of things, two parts tragedy and two parts comedy." Times Literary Supplement (London)

Ours, of course, is an age with a stronger stomach for raw autobiography. We have also developed a taste for the writer’s story behind the story, for Mansfield’s ‘Notebooks’ and letters provide fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, testimony of both. Her struggle against loneliness, and the ache of abandonment she describes during years of illness, rise beyond personal complaints to become, in her transparent prose, models of spiritual searching.

The New York Times Book Review

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Edited by Margaret Scott

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) published three collections of short stories-In a German Pension, Bliss, and The Garden Party-during her tragically short life, and was acclaimed as one of modernism’s most daring and original writers. After her death from tuberculosis in France, Mansfield’s private writings and letters were edited by her husband, John Middleton Murry, and published in four volumes between 1927 and 1954. Murry, however, took liberties in recasting his wife’s journals and notes. He excluded most of the vast mass of material and revised much of what he included, resulting in a distorted image of Mansfield as a passive, ethereal spirit.

More than four decades later, the real Mansfield finally emerges in The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, the first unexpurgated edition of her private writings. Fully and accurately transcribed by editor Margaret Scott, these infrequent diary entries, drafts of letters, introspective notes jotted on scraps of paper, unfinished stories, half-plotted novels, poems, recipes, and shopping lists offer a complete and compelling portrait of a complex woman who was ambitious and at times ruthless, neurotic and sexually voracious, witty and acerbic, fascinated with the minutiae of daily life and obsessed with death.

"It is only now, with the publication of Margaret Scott’s complete and unselective transcription of the material bequeathed to Murry, that we can really see Mansfield, off her guard and unexpurgated, for the first time. . . . Mansfield's notebooks are remarkable, touched by a sense of the underlying pathos of things, two parts tragedy and two parts comedy." Times Literary Supplement (London)

"Mansfield’s work speaks about what is irretrievably lost, material, mortal, unless it is turned to artifice-and nowhere more than in these notebooks, where she is so reluctantly introspective." London Review of Books


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Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888. One of the most influential short-story writers of the modern era, she was a great admirer of Anton Chekhov and an accomplished cellist. Among her works are In a German Pension, Prelude, Bliss and Other Stories, and The Garden Party and Other Stories. She died of tuberculosis in 1923.

Margaret Scott is National Library research fellow at New Zealand’s National Library in Wellington. She has coedited five volumes of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield.

Book Default Image

Ours, of course, is an age with a stronger stomach for raw autobiography. We have also developed a taste for the writer’s story behind the story, for Mansfield’s ‘Notebooks’ and letters provide fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, testimony of both. Her struggle against loneliness, and the ache of abandonment she describes during years of illness, rise beyond personal complaints to become, in her transparent prose, models of spiritual searching.

The New York Times Book Review

It is only now, with the publication of Margaret Scott’s complete and unselective transcription of the material bequeathed to Murry, that we can really see Mansfield, off her guard and unexpurgated, for the first time. . . . Mansfield's notebooks are remarkable, touched by a sense of the underlying pathos of things, two parts tragedy and two parts comedy.

Times Literary Supplement (London)

Mansfield’s work speaks about what is irretrievably lost, material, mortal, unless it is turned to artifice-and nowhere more than in these notebooks, where she is so reluctantly introspective.

London Review of Books

What a treat it is to have all this marvelous material readily available now in book form! It is due to the persistence of one dedicated woman, Margaret Scott, who has brilliantly transcribed and edited these notebooks: a Herculean accomplishment.

Virginia Woolf Miscellany

Scott’s two-volume edition finally gives us a Mansfield her friends would finally find more recognizable.

Woolf Studies Annual

There is good reason, therefore to join in the applause greeting Scott’s meticulous compliation of Mansfield’s personal writings.

Southern Humanities Review