Monday, August 28, 2006

Conf 230 Influence

Finished Katherine Mansfield and dumped Zadie. Succumbed to Sunday Times, started Joyce's Portrait of an Artist and continued with the Hollywood memoirs.

In Mansfield intro, William Boyd writes about Chekhov's influence on Mansfield and Joyce.

'Literary influences are often hard to analyse precisely, but Chekhov's stories were revolutionary in their effect, and not only in Russia, nothing quite like them had been seen before. What Mansfield took from Chekhov was more of a stylistic borrowing rather than philosophical. Chekhov's mature stories function on various levels. First of all there is an indifference to or rejection of narrative tension = what Gerhardie called the ~event plot~. Chekhov believed in loose ends, he knew that life did not function neatly, that it was instead all about ambiguities, contradictions, half guessed inferences and sheer mystery and opacity. As Chekhov said to a friend 'It was time writers, especially those who were artists, recognised that there is no making out anything in this world.'

A few months ago read in daughter's homework a paragraph about shoulder blades being the place where angels' wings were fixed on. Oooh! love that! I said. It wasn't her, she told me, but from Skellig, a children's book she was reading, and part of her appraisal of that book. But then I read it again in Mansfield last night.

'When Mansfield died in 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal 'One feels = what? A shock of relief? A rival the less? Katharine's my rival no longer... I was jealous of her writing - the only writing I have ever been jealous of.'

Incidentally, Chekhov's final masterclass in death - in his last moments he called for a glass of champagne, drank it and died.

My notes from Mansfield:

rather fattish

False - false as ever

What had that creature in the glass to do with her, and why was she staring

I know that I am silly and spiteful and vain, I'm always acting a part. I'm never my real self for a moment.

What tiny moments she was really she

Her heart leapt, it seemed to turn right over

We had the courgette flowers last night, stuffed with ricotta and ham.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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