Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield is one of those shimmering literary figures whose life looms larger than her work. This is not because her writing lacks value: Mansfield’s spiky ...

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Mansfield was thirty-four. Having suffered tuberculosis for years, she died after hurrying up some stairs, intending to show her husband how well she was. This was at La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, house of George Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man: a sort of commune, organised around shamanic dancing, Eastern mysticism, and Gurdjieff’s compelling personality. For Mansfield, the Institute was not simply a last resort; she went there for a new beginning. In a letter to her friend Koteliansky, she wrote: ‘I mean to change my whole way of life entirely …’

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