Katherine Mansfield

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

Katherine Beauchamp Mansfield (14 October, 1888 - 9 January, 1923) was a New Zealand poet and writer of short fiction.

Sourced

  • 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 (1906-04-24), 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.
  • 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 (1920-12-03), from The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. IV
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for 1920-12-19
  • 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.
  • 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 (1921-05-21), 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for 1922-01-29
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for July 1922
  • 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 (1922-10-11), from The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, ed. 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for October 1922
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for 1922-10-14
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for Oct. 14, 1922
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for Oct. 14, 1922
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for Oct. 14, 1922
  • 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.
    • The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), entry for Oct. 14, 1922
    • These are the final words of the journal
  • Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change of attitude.
  • 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.

Unsourced

  • I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
  • Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.
  • The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your actions will be.

Misattributed

  • Once we have learned to read, the meaning of words can somehow register without consciousness.
    • Anthony Marcel, Ph.D, Cambridge University, quoted in Louis Crowe, Speed Reading - Harness Your Computer's Power to Triple Your Reading Speed (2005), p. 18

External links

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