Katherine Mansfield da Gurdjieff (Italian Edition)

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The modernization of this area of the town, the division of the old estate, taller walls, and a certain reticence concerning Gurdjieff and his school make the place hard to spot, but at last we find it, secluded behind a tall stone wall. We follow the wall to a front gate and peer in. Since my last visit, the place has been transformed into an elegant residential complex. Continuing along the wall, we come to a side entrance leading to a parking area. The gate is locked, but a young woman in a track suit, noticing us on her way to her car, comes to enquire if we are looking for someone.

Quite simply we tell her we are looking for the place where Katherine Mansfield once lived, and where Gurdjieff had his school. She seems puzzled and tells us that she thinks Mansfield lived elsewhere, down the street perhaps, and has never heard of Gurdjieff. However, she lets us in, shows us how to open the gate to let ourselves out again and apologizes for not being able to help us on our search.

We go in and walk around the grounds, to what is now the rear of the building on the southern side, where the great lawns and flower beds once extended, now parceled off today with fences. That is what I want. An irresistible story: but then come the difficulties. Katherine kept secrets, covered her tracks, and moved house endlessly about 10 times in , for instance , leaving papers everywhere.


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After her death, Murry, haunted by her all through his next two catastrophic marriages, made the most of what she left behind her. Ignoring her request that he should "tear up and burn as much as possible", he edited a stream of stories, journals and letters, all heavily altered and censored — often to reflect better on himself. In the process, which one caustic observer called "boiling Katherine's bones to make soup", he kept her writing alive. He also made a lot of money out of her, and promoted a mythologised version of a martyred Saint Katherine, "sealed in porcelain", as Anthony Alpers put it.

For Alpers and other biographers, Murry's editing of Mansfield's posthumous life was both a vital source of materials and an obstruction. It wasn't until the s and s that Mansfield scholars in New Zealand began to publish complete editions of her letters and notebooks.

They had not only to unpick Murry's versions but to read Mansfield's handwriting; Margaret Scott told Kathleen Jones that she "once spent an entire week deciphering one word". Her on-off friend, the artist Beatrice Hastings, is well quoted here: "A difficult person to know. How does Jones — an experienced biographer of an assortment of women writers — approach the challenge? She is steady, thorough, professional and unsensational.

She is especially good on Mansfield's feeling for the landscape and people of New Zealand, on her financial situation often desperate, and dependent on the allowance from her much maligned father , and on the frequent squalor of her and Murry's living conditions — yet another appalling furnished flat, "grimy and draughty and smelling of dust, tea leaves and match ends in the sink", yet another wretched hotel room: "I know I shall die in one.

I shall stand in front of a crochet dressing-table cover, pick up a long invisible hairpin left by the last 'lady' and die with disgust. Jones firmly sees off previous biographers, for instance on Mansfield's plagiarism of Chekhov which Jones thinks has been over-stated , on her premature stillborn child not a miscarriage, says Jones and on her gonorrhea a false diagnosis, says Jones. It stands out as Mansfield looking back from her present unhappy life, alone, sick, seemingly abandoned by Murry and searching out someone from her past who offered security at a point in her life when she had never felt so insecure.

It is a letter written from a place of complete despair and a desire to reconnect and to perhaps forge a new direction for herself. Moore also concurs with this opinion: But why of all reviewers to Murry? Murry with his entrenched hostility to occult ideas? And if Katherine were the intended recipient, why not simply send it to her in the first place? His scepticism only accentuated her enthusiasm.

Keen for Mansfield to read the book, he nevertheless did not wish to be seen sending her things directly. I can foresee no change in my present condition of reading it and reading it. The treatment was expensive — and ultimately useless. Both were now fascinated with the esoteric theories of Gurdjieff on which they attended lectures given by P. Orage, who had been introduced to the ideas of Ouspensky by the poet F.

Flint in , had actually met the philosopher in , and the two men corresponded thereafter. Her intention was to return to Paris, not just to continue her treatment with Manoukhin, but with a notion of perhaps entering the community Gurdjieff was just then setting up — the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man — whose philosophy decreed that a cure for physical ailments such as tuberculosis depended first upon a healing of the inner spirit.

Two days earlier, on 28 September, Orage had resigned his editorship of the New Age in preparation for a similar move. For Mansfield, now gravely ill, this spiritual approach seemed to offer a real possibility of an alternative cure for her tuberculosis, in addition to her radiation treatment. After her death, Orage tried to analyse the impetus for Mansfield joining the Fontainebleau community: The real reason, and the only reason that led Katherine Mansfield to the Gurdjieff Institute was less dissatisfaction with her craftsmanship than dis- satisfaction with herself; less dissatisfaction with her stories than with the attitude toward life implied in them; less dissatisfaction with her own and contemporary literature than with literature.

One must become more to write better. After all, I did observe those things, and I had to set them down.

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Further, they have had no other purpose than to record my attitude, which in itself stood in need of change if it was to become active instead of passive. And, like everything unconscious, the result has been evil. The gulf between us was painful to us both; and living under the same roof became a kind of torture. I could not bear it. The blanks, the silences, the anguish of continual misunderstanding.

Were we positive, eager, real — alive? No, we were not. We were a nothingness shot with gleams of what might be. He had been born in in Alexandropol, on the Russian-Turkish border. The experiences and special education to which he was exposed, as James Moore explains, imbued him with an irrepressible striving to understand clearly the precise significance of the life process on earth, of all the outward forms of breathing creatures and, in particular, of the aim of human life in the light of this interpre- tation.

Gurdjieff believed that civilisation had thrown men and women out of balance, so that the physical, the emotional and the intellectual parts had ceased to work in accord. Twenty years of his life, from — , were spent in Central Asia, dedicated to a search for traditional knowledge. Together with the followers he had gathered over these years who had somehow managed to leave Bolshevik Russia, he arrived eventually in Paris.

There had been plans to set up his Institute in London, but these had been cut short by the British authorities who suspected him of being a Russian spy. Gurdjieff never talked about Zen, and he was living Zen. Similarly for students of Gurdjieff, the dualistic separation of body and mind, the material and the spiritual, stuffing oneself with knowledge with- out developing corresponding being can only impede the circulation of life and lead to the destruction of the humanness of humanity. We cannot go to sleep by trying. So, too, we only get free will by renouncing self-will.

Consciousness of will. Conscious that you have a will and can act. Risk any- thing! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices.

Violet, Katherine Mansfield

Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth. But even this is far in the future.

Katherine Mansfield

Just to be a completely developed human being, to have our mind, emotions, movement, body, mechanism, in well-proportioned order, is a difficult task. And most of us, indeed, are still far from even that. In the evening we worked in movement, exercises, memorising, concentration.

There were some, weak physically, who did very little; some who did noth- ing. They were only in touch with the ideas and life that interested them. To these latter belonged Katherine Mansfield. They burned with the desire and hunger for impressions. She wanted to sit down and eat with all the students, but someone called her to a different dining-room.

Have the Germans forgiven Katherine Mansfield?

Such services formed a part of the Zen discipline and every least action must be done absolutely perfectly. Thus many a weighty dis- cussion ensued while weeding the garden, paring a turnip, or serving tea. The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Its not of course work for the sake of work. Yet, strangely enough, not long after she moved away we found ourselves talking about her during a break.

A Writer's Life in Rome & Tuscia

No one knew her. Everywhere, her graciousness elicited the same welcoming response. She was often to be found in the kitchen when it was at its busiest, in the cowshed when the cows were being milked, and each morning in the barnyard scattering the grain with a delicate hand. We bent over backwards to please her and make her life easier. Often it was my job to carry wood up to her room, where we kept a fire burning day and night. Not to make her feel a burden, we were careful to bring the wood when she was not there.

Her room was on the second floor, next to Mr. An especially peaceful atmosphere suffused this beautiful room, with its large window looking out over the gardens. How are you? She took her usual place and watched us working with a far-away look in her eyes. Suddenly, she put her head in her hands and began to weep.

I went over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. What do you want? I want so much to stay here until the end. I want to stay here with all of you. But I could not keep silent. A strange determina- tion came over me on her behalf: not to give up, not to lose hope.

NZEDGE Legends — Katherine Mansfield, Writer — Culture

Gently, I spoke my mind. At first he had been reluctant. They are bound to say that we were the cause of her premature death. These women were not easily put off.

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It was a tiny wooden balcony, artistically designed, with a small staircase of five or six steps, surrounded by a balustrade gilded in Eastern style. The floor was covered with mattresses and real Eastern rugs. Cushions and round pouffes, covered with coloured tapestry, invited one to rest and gaze at the ceiling, cleverly painted by our talented artist with all kinds of birds, insects and little animals hiding among fanciful branches.

Among them one could detect caricatures of all the inmates of the house. Under the balcony stood our three cows and the mule, Drafit. When my turn came to work for a week in the cowshed, I gave spe- cial care to the little balcony; I decorated the staircase with leaves and branches, and used to sit and wait for Mrs. Hes what one wants to find him, really. But I do feel absolutely confident he can put me on the right track in every way.

Oh, how I long to! But I shall not for a long time.


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