The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Mansfield’

Travel Souvenirs: An Interview with Joanna Walsh

September 22, 2015 | by

Joanna Walsh

Joanna Walsh’s writing enacts what Chris Kraus has called a literal vertigo—the feeling that if I fall I will fall not toward the earth but into space—by probing the spaces between things.” Walsh, a British writer and illustrator, is fascinated by liminal spaces, especially in the many varieties encountered by tourists. She’s sometimes known by her French nom de guerre, Badaude, loosely translated as “gawk,” and suggesting the perambulatory figure of the flaneuse. Her work trades on the literary genres of the miniatureshort stories, essays, even postcardsreminiscent of Marcel Schwob, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes, and Lydia Davis. Her 2014 Twitter initiative @read_women is an archival who’s who of modern female writers, extolling in its tweets the distaff works of everyone from Leonora Carrington to Elena Ferrante.  Aside from her abundant online presence,Walsh’s prolific output includes three new books: Hotel, Vertigo, and Grow a Pair: 9½ Fairytales About Sex, all of which run from the bantam lengths of fifty-five to 170 pages.

Among her seemingly disparate subjects are hotel architecture and etiquette, sexual politics in twentieth-century psychoanalysis, the perils of family vacations, the fantasias of cinema, and fables of transgendered witches. In Walsh’s feminist cosmogony, all are brought to bear as inscrutable souvenirs of the everyday mundane. She elucidates the slippery, gendered in-betweenness of everyday ritual in a manner reminiscent of Derrida’s disquisition on the chora—that most mysterious and mundane of spaces, not unlike the anonymous corridor of a hotel.

I reached Walsh, appropriately enough, at a hotel in Mexico. She and I shared a lively discussion about hotel culture and theory, travel fantasies, and the contemporary potential of fairy tales.
Read More »

Eugene Goostman Is Not What He Seems, and Other News

June 9, 2014 | by


This boy is a machine. A screenshot from a test conducted by the Royal Society of London.

  • “In 1919 John Middleton Murry was appointed editor of the London literary magazine The Athenaeum. Shortly afterward, in a rare case of felicitous nepotism, he hired his wife Katherine Mansfield to be its fiction reviewer … from her very first column she’s frank about the terrible ephemerality of most fiction, and the trap both reviewers and readers can fall into by hitching themselves to a brand new novel’s rapidly dying star … Mansfield openly wonders why anyone should bother with new novels at all.”
  • Eugene Goostman, a computer program masquerading as a thirteen-year-old Ukrainian boy, has become the first artificial intelligence to pass the Turing Test: in five-minute text conversations, it fooled more than 30 percent of humans into thinking it was a person.
  • Why did a beluga whale named Noc try to emulate human speech? “He sounds, on first hearing, at least, less like a person talking than a delirious drunk humming an atonal tune through a tissue-covered comb … But the science behind Noc’s mimicry and its apparent motives reveals something far more urgent and haunting: the spectral outpourings of a young white whale calling to us across both time and the vast linguistic divide between humans and the other animals.”
  • And while we’re discussing animals, “What kind of a person looks upon the world’s largest land animal—a beast that mourns its dead and lives to retirement age and can distinguish the voice of its enemies—and instead of saying ‘Wow!’ says something like ‘Where's my gun?’” Wells Tower reports from one of the last elephant hunts in Botswana.
  • The most transgressive song of 1909: “If we listen closely to ‘I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife—But Oh! You Kid!’ we may hear a surprising lesson: that the culture-quaking shocks, the salaciousness and transgression we associate with blues and jazz and rock and hip-hop, first arrived in American pop many years earlier.”


On Twaddle

October 14, 2013 | by


“I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was, too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.” ―Katherine Mansfield



Cult Classic: Defining Katherine Mansfield

March 18, 2013 | by

katherineIn “Je Ne Parle Pas Français,” a short story by Katherine Mansfield, the narrator muses: “I believe that people are like portmanteaux—packed with certain things, started going, thrown about, tossed away, dumped down, lost and found, half emptied suddenly, or squeezed fatter than ever, until finally the Ultimate Porter swings them on to the Ultimate Train and away they rattle …”

Mansfield’s own Train has proved to be less Ultimate than she may have hoped. Despite sharp instructions to her husband to publish as little as possible after her death, the enterprising John Middleton Murry quickly set about curating her legacy. He perceptively noted (with, one imagines, a gleeful rubbing of hands), “Since Katherine Mansfield’s death, the interest in her personality has steadily increased.” It was, he explained, his duty to make known her private correspondence, the stories she was unsatisfied with, the journals in which she had recorded her thoughts.

It has been a lively afterlife. In the ninety years since Mansfield’s death, her work has never been out of print; the same stories repeatedly reedited and reissued in newer, more “authentic” editions. Biographies have multiplied, clamoring for validation like conspiracy theorists. Scholars have greedily rummaged through this particular portmanteau, each emerging with quite irreconcilable portraits of the author. Read More »


Hear That Lonesome Gasket Blow, Part 4: Tonight the Sea Is Douce

February 19, 2013 | by


On the Saturday closest to my thirtieth birthday, I went out on the town with Andrew and Izzy, two of my Highbury flatmates. With my time in dreamy Wellington drawing to a close—to say nothing of my waning metabolic rate—the need to run a little wild at the end of an afternoon spent contemplating fiction felt realer than ever.

To this end our trio wound up, at three in the morning, after hours of dancing, walking toward a Burger King on the corner of Cuba and Manners. This Burger King occupies the ground floor of a heritage building with an Edwardian Baroque façade. Once home to the first Te Aro branch of the Bank of New Zealand, the building now shoulders what the local government describes as “considerable townscape significance.”

“My uncle used to be the president of Burger King,” said Andrew, sitting across from me and eating fries. The Burger King before us teemed with loud, drunken revelers.

“I can one-up you,” said Izzy. “My grandfather used to be the chairman of the National Front.”

“What’s the National Front?” I asked.

“You don’t know what the National Front is?” said Izzy. “Are you kidding me? Fucking Americans!”

“Look,” I said. “I know about a lot of things outside of America. I can’t know about all of them.”

“You know what the Klu Klux Klan is,” said Izzy.

“Well, of course.”

“It’s like the Klan, but in the UK.” Read More »


Dogs, Scientologists, and Ipanema

July 24, 2012 | by

Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, Ipanema

  • “The Girl from Ipanema” is fifty! (Not the real one—she’s sixty-seven—but the bossa nova classic.) It is the second-most-covered song, after “Yesterday.”
  • A graduate student at King’s College London has discovered a previously unknown 1909 short story by Katherine Mansfield in the university library. Read an excerpt from “A Little Episode” here.
  • What these writers think about when they think about running.
  • What Maira Kalman thinks about herself.
  • The most beloved dogs in literature? We think Nana Darling was robbed.
  • Portrait of the artist as a young Scientologist: a 1969 BBC interview with a teenage Neil Gaiman, then a believer.
  • [tweetbutton]