Katherine Mansfield

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It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.

Katherine Mansfield Murry (14 October 18889 January 1923), born Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp, was a New Zealand poet and writer of short fiction, who wrote under the name Katherine Mansfield.

Quotes[edit]

I have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to become a writer can afford to indulge in it.
By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love — the earth and the wonders thereof — the sea — the sun.
I want, by understanding myself, to understand others. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming so that I may be (and here I have stopped and waited and waited and it’s no good — there’s only one phrase that will do) a child of the sun.
I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
The world to me is a dream and the people in it are sleepers. I have known a few instances of intensity but that is all. I want to find a world in which these instances are united.
  • Would you not like to try all sorts of lives — one is so very small — but that is the satisfaction of writing — one can impersonate so many people.
    • Letter to Sylvia Payne (24 April 1906), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield (1984-1996), vol. I
  • To acknowledge the presence of fear is to give birth to failure.
    • Journal entry, "Reading Notes" (1905-1907), quoted in Ruth Elvish Mantz and John Middleton Murry, The Life of Katherine Mansfield (1933), p. 212
  • To work — to work! It is such infinite delight to know that we still have the best things to do.
    • Letter to Bertrand Russell (7 December 1916), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. I
  • It's a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don't lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath — as terrible as you like — but a mask.
    • Letter to her future husband, John Middleton Murry (July 1917), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. I
  • If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools. With mushrooms it is so simple — you salt them well, put them aside and have patience. But with love, you have no sooner lighted on anything that bears even the remotest resemblance to it than you are perfectly certain it is not only a genuine specimen, but perhaps the only genuine mushroom ungathered.
    • "Love and Mushrooms," journal entry (1917), published in More Extracts from a Journal, ed. J. Middleton Murry, in The Adelphi (1923), p. 1068
  • I'm a writer first & a woman after.
    • Letter to John Middleton Murry (3 December 1920), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. IV
  • I have made it a [[rule] of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to become a writer can afford to indulge in it. You can't get it into shape; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in.
  • Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.
    • Journal entry (19 December 1920), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927) edited by J. Middleton Murry
  • It's an infernal nuisance to love Life as I do. I seem to love it more as time goes on rather than less. It never becomes a habit to me. It's always a marvel. I do hope I'll be able to keep in it long enough to do some really good work. I'm sick of people dying who promise well.
    • Letter to Anne Estelle Rice (21 May 1921)), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. IV
  • Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order. This is what life has taught me.
    • Journal entry (29 January 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.
    • Letter to Ottoline Morrell (January 1922)
  • Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.
    • Journal entry (July 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love — the earth and the wonders thereof — the sea — the sun. All that we mean when we speak of the external world. A want to enter into it, to be part of it, to live in it, to learn from it, to lose all that is superficial and acquired in me and to become a conscious direct human being. I want, by understanding myself, to understand others. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming so that I may be (and here I have stopped and waited and waited and it’s no good — there’s only one phrase that will do) a child of the sun. About helping others, about carrying a light and so on, it seems false to say a single word. Let it be at that. A child of the sun.
    • Entry in her journal (10 October 1922) which she tore out to send to John Middleton Murry, before changing her mind. This later became the last published entry in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927) ed. J. Middleton Murry
  • Warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire to know, to feel, to think, to act. That is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for. ... This all sounds very strenuous and serious. But now that I have wrestled with it, it’s no longer so. I feel happy — deep down. All is well.
    • Entry in her journal (10 October 1922) which she tore out to send to John Middleton Murry, before changing her mind. This later became the last published entry in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927) edited by J. Middleton Murry
  • Were we positive, eager, real — alive? No, we were not. We were a nothingness shot with gleams of what might be.
    • Letter to John Middleton Murry (11 October 1922), from The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, edited by J. Middleton Murry (1928)
  • When we can begin to take our failures nonseriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.
    • Journal entry (October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.
    • Journal entry (14 October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love — the earth and the wonders thereof — the sea — the sun, all that we mean when we speak of the external world. I want to enter into it, to be part of it, to live in it, to learn from it, to lose all that is superficial and acquired in me and to become a conscious, direct human being. I want, by understanding myself, to understand others.
    • Journal entry (14 October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • I want so to live that I work with my hands and my feeling and my brain. I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing (Though I may write about cabmen. That's no matter.) But warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire, to feel, to think, to act. This is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for.
    • Journal entry (14 October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • When I say "I fear" — don't let it disturb you, dearest heart. We all fear when we are in waiting-rooms. Yet we must pass beyond them, and if the other can keep calm, it is all the help we can give each other.
    • Journal entry (14 October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927)
  • This all sounds very strenuous and serious. But now that I have wrestled with it, it's no longer so. I feel happy — deep down. May you be happy too. I'm going to Fontainebleau on Monday and I'll be back here Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. All is well.
    • Journal entry (14 October 1922), published in The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927); these are the final words of the journal
  • I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
    • As quoted in Katherine Mansfield : A Biography (1953) by Antony Alpers, p. 266
  • I am treating you as my friend, asking you to share my present minuses in the hope I can ask you to share my future pluses.
    • Quoted in Katherine Mansfield: The Memories of L.M. (1972; digitized 2006), p. 178. L.M. was Lesley Morris, the pseudonym of Mansfield's friend Ida Baker.


Misattributed[edit]

  • Once we have learned to read, the meaning of words can somehow register without consciousness.
    • Anthony Marcel, Ph.D, Cambridge University, quoted in Speed Reading - Harness Your Computer's Power to Triple Your Reading Speed (2005) by Louis Crowe, p. 18
  • Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.
    • Sally Poplin, as quoted in An Uncommon Scold (1989) by Abby Adams, p. 170
  • The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your actions will be.
    • This has been attributed to Mansfield on the internet, but no published source by her or any other author has been located.

External links[edit]

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