Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Jerome Meckier

Abstract

Katherine Mansfield among the Moderns examines Katherine Mansfield’s relationship with three fellow writers: Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley, and appraises her impact on their writing. Drawing on the literary and the personal relationships between the aforementioned, and on letters, diaries, and journals, this project traces Mansfield’s interactions with her contemporaries, providing a richer and more dynamic portrait of Mansfield’s place within modernism than usually recognized.

Hitherto, critical work has not scrutinized Mansfield in the manner I suggest: attending to representations of her as a character in other’s work, while analyzing the degree to which her influence on the aforementioned authors affected their writing and success. Albeit, her influence extends in vastly different ways, and is affected by gender and nationality. While Woolf’s early foray into Modernism is accelerated by Mansfield’s criticism of her work, several of Woolf’s texts – “Kew Gardens,” Jacob’s Room, and Mrs. Dalloway – are similar in certain respects to Mansfield’s work – “Bliss” and “The Garden Party.” A repudiation of Mansfield, personally, and a retelling of her work are seen in Lawrence’s The Lost Girl and Women in Love. Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves and Point Counter Point, contain characterizations of Mansfield that undermine her writing, and her person: both are affected by the mythical misrepresentation of Mansfield, created by Murry after her death, known as the “Cult of Mansfield.”

Using Life Writing, this study asserts that Mansfield had impact on the writing of Woolf, Lawrence, and Huxley. Taking into account the many issues that surround the recognition of this, among them: gender politics, colonialism, marginality by genre, and personal relations – these all, to varying degrees, prevented critics from acknowledging that a minor modernist author played a role in the undisputed success of three major authors of the twentieth century.

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