'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

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What was KM thinking and writing 90 years ago today? The ‘KM blog’ posts daily extracts of her letters and notebooks written almost 90 years ago...
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31 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

My dear Elizabeth
   It would be too marvellous if we might be men and brothers for once, and I am more grateful than I can say. I will pay it back the moment my book is paid for. But that will not be before the late autumn. . .May I keep it as long as that? Of course, if in the meantime my Papa shakes a money bag at me - But it is far more likely to be a broomstick. Thank you from my heart, dearest Cousin!
   It is on my conscience that I was odious about poor Brett the other afternoon. I am so sorry for her, really. But to talk to her is exactly like talking to someone for an hour for two hours over the telephone. There she is, at one end of the line, waiting & listening. One ought to feel nothing but pity and I am ashamed of my impatience.
   Its such a divine night. Are you in the garden, I wonder? I think to watch the moon rise is one of the most mysterious pleasures in Life.
             Lovingly yours
                    Katherine. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 31 July 1922.]

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30 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

D.B.
   We could not phone you last thing, when this letter came, because of the Festa. Will you decide what you would like to do & phone Ida here. She will then get through to Zurich.
   I am glad its nice where you are. We had a quite wonderful time here in the garden before the rain fell. (Huge great drops like ½ d buns.) But the garden was lighted by lanterns & a faraway band played & there were Bengal lights, golden rain, rockets. Marvellous! There was a special dinner, too, with a whole great salmon lying on a bed of roses with little crayfish adoring.
   I am v glad the ladies are nice. Isn't it pleasant to sit in friendly tumpany again?
   Yes, Somerset Maugham lays it on too thick. Its too downright good a story - don't you think? Too oily! And there is not enough rain in it. The rain keeps stopping. The whole story ought to have been soaked through & through - or steamed with the after the rain feeling. And it isn't & doesn't.
   What about Northanger Abbey? Is it possible? And the New Statesman?
   I like you awfully
                       Y.W. [To J. M. Murry, late July 1922.]

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29 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

D.B.
I was quite wrong about Arco. L.M. had ‘made a little muddle' about the A.Ms and p.ms. The truth is you start from here at about 11 o'clock one morning & you are in Arco the next evening at about 8.30. That is if you spend the night in Milano. It you don't you change at midnight & so on & so on. If you would still like to go I will find out everything very exact. I sent your toospeg cream after you today. What an awful man on this p.c. Why? After that I say no more Betsy.  [To J. M. Murry, late July 1922.]

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28 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

lt is awfully kind of you to have sent me a copy of your lovely poem, Old Homes. Many, many thanks. I like especially the verse beginning:
   Thence, too, when high wind through the black clouds pouring - One walks straight into your chill, pale, wet world as one reads .... I love the sound of water in poetry.
   How are you, I wonder, and where are you spending the summer? It's the moment here when all the dahlias are out, every little child is eating a green apple, the vines have been cut down for the last time and the grapes are as big as marbles. In fact, this whole valley is one great ripening orchard. Heavens! how beautiful apple trees are! But you know these things a great deal better than I do.
   If H.M.T. [Tomlinson] is near by - give him my love, will you? [To Edmund Blunden, c.30 July 1922.]

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27 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I hope you have enjoyed your time in London and that you have not found it too tiring. I suppose dear little Rally is just the same. And have you listened to Lou's rattle. She seems to run up conversation as if with a sewing machine. I have never met any one so incessant. I get quite dazed after a time, and don't even try to pipe above the sound. But her courage and good humour are amazing.
   Jack is still in his lofty perch among the mountains. At the week-ends, whenever the weather is wet, we play billiards. There is a splendid table here and we are both very keen. Its a fascinating game. I remember learning to hold a cue at Sir Joseph Ward's, and I can see now Rubi Seddon's super-refinement as if she expected each ball to be stamped with a coronet before she would deign to hit it. Jack is extremely keen on all games. I often think of what an enthusiast he would become on board ship.
   Dear little "Elizabeth" has been spending the afternoon with me. She is on the eve of a very large house party at her chalet   [To Harold Beauchamp, 28 July 1922.]

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26 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

There is a remarkable old talker here at present - an American, aged eighty eight - with his wife and daughter. The daughter looks about sixty five. According to the ancient gentleman, they have been on the wing ever since he retired at the age of seventy five, and they intend remaining on the wing for another fifteen years or so! He is full of fire still, dresses every night for dinner, plays bridge, and loves to start a gossip with "In the year 1865". Its very interesting listening to his memories of early Noo York and of American life generally 'way back. I think he mistook me for a young person home for the holidays. For he introduced himself with the words "Boys seem skeerce here. May be you wouldn't mind if I tried to entertain you a li'll". When he said boys, I thought at first he must be alluding to farm labourers, but then memories of American novels "put me right", as they say. [To Harold Beauchamp, 28 July 1922.]

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25 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Father,
   The days seem to whisk away here so fast that I don't think the farmer's wife would be in time to chop off their tails. I spend a large part of them tapping out my new long story or short novel on my little Corona. But I have been thinking of you so much, dearest, and hoping that your climatic and physical conditions are both more settled. I heard from Chad that you had been to see my good Doctor. I hoped he satisfied you and that you did not think I had over-praised him. It would be very nice to know from you what you thought of him.
   Since I last wrote we have had every variety of weather from Winter to Spring. Today, for instance, began with a cold downpour, gradually changed until it was a damp tropical morning, and now its a sharp Autumn evening. Its very difficult to adjust one's attire to these lightning changes. The only safe recipe is to start with flannel next to the skin, and build up or cast off from that. What a frightful bother! But judging from the reports in the Times, England has turned over a summer leaf again. Long may it remain fair. [To Harold Beauchamp, 28 July 1922.]

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24 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Mr Gerhardi,
   I had a letter from Mr. Pinker, my agent, today, asking me if I would put him in touch with you. I hastened to send him your address & to say he might mention my name. If you have not already got an agent I'd most cordially recomment Mr Pinker to you.
   What a good notice of Futility in the Lit. Sup! I hope you're having splendid reviews.
             Yours ever
                Katherine Mansfield

Dear Mr Gerhardi,
   l have written to you, since this letter, to the same wrong address. It was a business letter with regard to my agent Mr Pinker. Have you received it?
                 Yours sincerely
                       Katherine Mansfield [To William Gerhardi, late July 1922.]

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23 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Mr Pinker,
   Your letter about Mr Gerhardi only reached me today. I should be delighted if I might be the means of putting you in touch with him. His address is 40 Bradford Street, Bolton. Please mention my name, if you care to do so, in writing to him. I thought Futility a very remarkable first novel & highly promising considering the youthfulness of the author. Much better in fact than a great many ‘assured successes'.
   I am finishing my twelve stories for Shorter. They have turned into a kind of short novel. I hope to send you the typescript in a fortnights time. Perhaps some American magazine would not consider it too long.
   In the matter of that short story <At the> Her First Ball for the American Anthology. I am quite willing to let them reprint it.
   Many thanks for disposing of The Fly for me in America.
              Yours very sincerely
                    Katherine Mansfield.  [To Eric Pinker, c.24 July 1922.]

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22 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I went for such a lovely drive today behind a very intelligent horse who listened to every word the driver and I said and heartily agreed. One could tell from his ears that he was even extremely interested in the conversation. They are thinning the vines for the last time before harvest. One can almost smell the grapes. And in the orchards apples are reddening, it is going to be a wonderful year for pears. But one could write about the drive for as many pages as there are in Ulysses.
   It is late. I must go to bed. Now the train going to Italy has flashed past. Now it is silent again except for the old toad who goes ka-ka – ka-ka – laying down the law.
   Goodnight. [To S.S.Koteliansky, 17 July 1922.]

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21 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I do not go all the way with Lawrence. His ideas of sex mean nothing to me. But I feel nearer L. than anyone else. All these last months I have thought as he does about many things. Does this sound nonsense to you? Laugh at me if you like or scold me. But remember what a disadvantage it is having to write such things. If we were talking one could say it all in a few words. It is so hard not to dress ones ideas up in their Sunday clothes and make them look all stiff and shining in a letter. My ideas look awful in their best dresses.
   (Now I have made myself a glass of tea. Every time I drop a piece of lemon into a glass of tea I say ‘Koteliansky'. Perhaps it is a kind of grace.) [To S.S.Koteliansky, 17 July 1922.]

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20 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I do not want to be hard. I hope to God I am not unsympathetic. But it seems to me there comes a time in life when one must realise one is grownup - a man. And when it is no longer decent to go on probing and probing. Life is so short. The world is rich. There are so many adventures possible. Why do we not gather our strength together and LIVE. It all comes to much the same thing. In youth most of us are, for various reasons, slaves. And then, when we are able to throw off our chains, we prefer to keep them. Freedom is dangerous, is frightening.
   If only I can be a good enough writer to strike a blow for freedom! It is the one axe I want to grind. Be free - and you can afford to give yourself to life! Even to believe in life.  [To S.S.Koteliansky, 17 July 1922.]

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19 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

There are certain things in this new book of L[awrence]'s that I do not like. But they are not important or really part of it. They are trivial, encrusted, they cling to it as snails cling to the underside of a leaf. But apart from them there is the leaf, is the tree, firmly planted, deep thrusting, outspread, growing grandly, alive in every twig. It is a living book; it is warm, it breathes. And it is written by a living man with conviction. Oh, Koteliansky, what a relief it is to turn away from these little predigested books written by authors who have nothing to say. It is like walking by the sea at high tide eating a crust of bread and looking over the water. I am so sick of all this modern seeking which ends in seeking. Seek by all means, but the text goes on "that ye shall find". And although of course there can be no ultimate finding, there is a kind of finding by the way which is enough, is sufficient. But these seekers in the looking glass, these half-female, frightened writers-of-today - you know, darling, they remind me of the green-fly in roses - they are a kind of blight. [To S.S.Koteliansky, 17 July 1922.]

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18 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear precious Koteliansky,
   After all, I shall not have the money to come to England for a week this autumn. I must be in Paris on August 20th and then for about 10 days I must attend to my Father who is coming to see me there on his way back to New Zealand. After that, I shall be alone for the autumn, and for 10-12 weeks I must go to the clinique once a week. But I tell you all these tedious details simply because, in spite of my Spartan feelings in my last letter, I wonder again if there is any possibility of your coming across during that time. I do - I long to see you and for us to talk. Do not think I am trying to interfere or to make demands. It is not that at all. But it would be so nice, so awfully nice to look forward to such happiness. I want to talk to you for hours about - Aaron's Rod, for instance. Have you read it? [To S.S.Koteliansky, 17 July 1922.]

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17 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Caro Riccardo
   I keep on thinking about you. I am tired of having no news from you & now Jack has come down here for the weekend & he has not heard.
   Send me even a p.c. e will you? I don't want to ask you for news about things unless you are in the mood to talk about them, but a sight of my dear little brother's handwriting would be most awfully welcome.
   Jack, as you know, will be in England for August-September. . . ?
With so much love, Richard dear.
                 Yours ever
                         Katherine.
I enclose a little photo taken in the garden. Do you like it.
Brother & sister of the painter, R.M., you observe. [To Richard Murry, 16 July 1922.]

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16 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Id like, if I may, to discuss the other points in your letter. Let me see if I understand you. You mean you can only ‘care' for such things as the little cat, the old man, the note of a bird, in the period of reaction against your belief in Pain & a life of sacrifice & yourself But as your belief is all-important to you that period of reaction means little. Am I right? Therefore the last of the five stories was the only one you really cared about for there you express your very self. . . I mean, you are writing with real conviction. Do you know what I feel? To do this successfully you will have to do it more indirectly. You will have to leave the student out. Now there is a moment in that story where you succeed. Its where the little girl's throat works - she weeps. She wants the apple & is afraid she is not going to have it. (Always remembering this is just my personal feeling.) Your student argues, explains too much. He ought perhaps to have said not a single word.
   But I hope you will go on writing. The important thing is to write, to find yourself in losing yourself (There is no truth profounder. I do not know myself whether - this world being what it is - pain is not absolutely necessary. I do not see how we are to come by knowledge & Love except through pain. That sounds too definite expressed so baldly. If one were talking one would make reservations . . . Believe in pain I must. [To Arnold Gibbons, 13 July 1922.]

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15 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Mr Gibbons,
   I am appalled that I expressed myself so clumsily as to make it possible for you to use the word ‘plagiarism'. I beg you to forgive me; it was far from my meaning. It was absorbed I meant. Perhaps you will agree that we all, as writers, to a certain extent, absorb each other when we love. (I am presuming that you love Tchekhov.) Anatole France would say we eat each other, but perhaps nourish is the better word. For instance Tchekhov's talent was nourished by Tolstoi's Death of Ivan Ilyitch. It is very possible he never would have written as he did if he had not read that story. There is a deep division between the work he did before he read it & after. . .All I felt about your stories was that you had not yet made the ‘gift' you had received from Tchekhov your own. You had not yet, finally, made free with it & turned it to your own account. My dear colleague, I reproach myself for not having made this plainer. [To Arnold Gibbons, 13 July 1922.]

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14 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Yes, the title of your novel is lovely, and from the practical standpoint excellent. I see so many pretty little hands stretched towards the library shelf. . . ‘About Love'. I don't see how any body could avoid buying a copy. But tres serieusement, I am so glad you are at work on it. Do you intend to ‘adopt a literary career' as they say? Or do you have to make literature your mistress. I hope Bolton is not a permanent address if you dislike it so. I was there 17 years ago. I remember eating a cake with pink icing while a dark intense lady told me of her love for Hadyn Coffyn & that she had 13 photographs of him in silver frames in her bedroom. I was very impressed, but perhaps it wasn't a typical incident. I meant to tell you of the lovely place where I am staying but this letter is too long. The flowers are wonderful just now. Don't you love these real summer flowers? You should see the dahlias here, big spiky fellows, with buds like wax, and round white ones and real saffron yellow. The women are working in the vines. Its hot and fine with a light valley wind.
    Goodbye. I am so glad we are friends. [To William Gerhardi, 10 July1922.]

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13 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

People on the whole understand Tchekhov very little. They persist in looking at him from a certain angle & he's a man that won't stand that kind of gaze. One must get round him - see him, feel him as a whole. By the way isn't Tolstoi's little essay on The Darling a small masterpiece of stupidity.
   - - And when you say you don't think T. was really modest. Isn't it perhaps that he always felt, very sincerely, that he could have done so much more than he did. He was tormented by Time, and by his desire to live as well as to write. ‘Life is given us but once.' Yet, when he was not working he had a feeling of guilt; he felt he ought to be. And I think he very often had that feeling a singer has who has sung once & would give almost anything for the chance to sing the same song over again - Now he could sing it . . . But the chance doesn't return. I suppose all writers, little and big, feel this but T. more than most. But I must not write about him; I could go on and on and on. . . [To William Gerhardi, 10 July1922.]

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12 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I am extremely interested to hear of your book on Tchekhov. Its just the moment for a book on Tchekhov. I have read, these last weeks, Friday Nights by Edward Garnett which contains a long essay on him. But little is said & what is said doesn't much matter. For instance, Garnett seems greatly impressed by the importance of T's scientific training as a doctor, not the indirect importance (I could understand that) but the direct. He quotes as a proof The Party & T's letter in which he says "the ladies say I am quite right in all my symptoms when I describe the confinement." But in spite of T's letter that story didn't need a doctor to write it. There's not a thing any sensitive writer could not have discovered without a medical degree. The truth of that "importance" is far more subtle.  [To William Gerhardi, 10 July1922.]

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11 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

But after this long parenthesis let me come back to ‘Futility' one moment. Shall I tell you what I think you may have to guard against? You have a very keen, very delightful sense of humour. Just on one or two occasions (par exemple when you took Nina into a corner & slapped her hand to the amusement of the others) I think you give it too full a rein. I wonder if you feel what I mean? To me, that remark trembles towards - - a kind of smartness - a something too easy to be worth doing. I hope one day, we shall have a talk about this book. Let me once more wish it & you every possible success.
   Now for your photograph. Its so kind of you to have sent it to me. I am very happy to have it. When I possess a room with a mantelpiece again on the mantelpiece you will stand. Judging by it you look as though you were very musical. Are you? [To William Gerhardi, 10 July1922.]

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10 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

I am in the middle of a very long story written in the same style - horrible expression! - as The Daughters of the Late Colonel. I enjoy writing it so much that even after I am asleep - I go on. The scene is the South of France in early Spring. There is a real love story in it, too, and rain, buds, frogs, a thunderstorm, pink spotted chinese dragons. There is no happiness greater than this leading a double life. But its mysterious, too. How is it possible to be here in this remote, deserted hotel and at the same time to be leaning out of the window of the Villa Martin listening to the rain thrumming so gently on the leaves and smelling the night-scented stocks with Milly? (I shall be awfully disappointed if you don't like Milly.)
   Have you read Bunin's stories. They are published in English by the Hogarth Press. The Gentleman from San Fransisco is good, but I dont care much for the others. He tries too hard. He's too determined you shall not miss the cucumbers and the dyed whiskers. And the last story called Son I can't for the life of me understand. I met Bunin in Paris and because he ad known Tchekhov I wanted to talk of him. But alas! Bunin said "Tchekhov? Ah - Ah - oui, j'ai connu Tchekhov. Mais il y a longtemps, longtemps." And then a pause. And then, graciously, "ll a écrit des belles choses." And that was the end of Tchekhov. [To William Gerhardi, 10 July 1922.]

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10 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Don't change, Mr Gerhardi. Go on writing like that. I mean with that freshness and warmth and suppleness, with that warm emotional tone and not that dreadful glaze of ‘intellectuality' which is like a curse upon so many English writers . . .And there's another thing. You sound so free in your writing . Perhaps that is as important as anything. I don't know why so many of our poor authors should be in chains, but there it is - a dreadful clanking sounds through their books, and they never can run away, never take a leap, never risk anything. . . In fact its high time we took up our pens and struck a blow for freedom. To begin with - what about Walpole? He is a ripe, fat victim. I agree with every word you say about him, his smugness is unbearable, his "Oh my Friends let us have Adventures" is simply the worst possible pretence. You see the truth is he hasn't a word to say. It is a tremendous adventure to him if the dog gets into the kitchen & licks a saucepan. Perhaps it is the Biggest Adventure of all to breathe ‘Good Night, dear Lady' as the Daughter of the County hands him his solid silver bedroom candlestick. All is show, all is made up, all is rooted in vanity. I am ashamed of going to the same school with him - but there you are. And he's Top Boy with over £7000 a year and America bowing to the earth to him. . . Its very painful. [To William Gerhardi, 10 July1922.]

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9 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest, would it be all the same to you if I fixed our rendezvous in Paris for August 23rd? If that is agreeable to you, I shall regard it as a definite arrangement, and shall be there, D.V., by the Wednesday morning, August 23rd. If, on the other hand, you prefer the former date, of course I shall keep to that. You may rely upon me not to make another change, or to suggest another. But the latter date would give me another week to finish up my work here - always supposing it suits you equally well.
   This morning I received two reviews from America, where my book was published recently by Knopf of New York. They may amuse you. So I send them along. I am glad the Americans appear to be taking to it.
   I have just finished a story with a canary for the hero, and almost feel I have lived in a cage and pecked a piece of chick weed myself. What a bother! [To Harold Beauchamp, 9 July1922.]

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8 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Sierre is only 1700 feet high, which makes a great difference to my heart, too. If one had no work to do it would be a dull little place, for apart from the hotel there is nothing much to be said for it. But another great point in its favour is there is a farm attached, where the faithful old Swiss gardeners allow me to explore. This is all complete with cows, turkeys, poultry and a big rambling orchard that smells already of apples. The damson trees are the first I remember seeing since those at Karori. After all, a country life is hard to beat. It has more solid joys than any other that I can imagine. I thank heaven and my papa that I was not born a town child.
   l was much interested in the photograph of yourself taken with Andrew and John. It is not good enough of you, really. But it is a delightful record of your visit. John's likeness to Vera at that age is remarkable. He looks a very taking little chap - very sensitive. I should think Andrew was like Mack. They are both "getting big boys now, Eliza". Vera must be very proud of them.
   Yes, indeed, I too wish that I were taking a trip home with you. It would be a marvellous experience. The very look of a "steamer trunk" rouses the oId war horse in me. I feel inclined to paw the ground and smell the briny. But perhaps in ten years time, if I manage to keep above ground, I may be able to think seriously of such a treat. [To Harold Beauchamp, 9 July1922.]

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7 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

My dearest Father,
   I was greatly delighted and relieved to hear that your doctor reported favourably on your health. Thank you for letting me know so soon. I am sorry that my letter re Sorapure came too late. But should you ever feel inclined to consult another opinion I hope you will give him a trial. Cousin Sinner thought extremely high of him. And that is rare in doctors in that quarter of London. He is a Big Wig without the manners of one. Very much like dear little Frank Payne in that, whose appearance always reminded me of the man in Cole's Book Arcade Annual (do you remember it?) of whom it was said that "the birds of the air made a nest in his hair".
   What awfully bad luck you have had as regards weather! One can, at a pinch, put up with the English winter in the winter time, but in July it is a most horrid infliction. So disappointing for the girls too, and their garden. I do feel for them after the way they had looked forward to showing it to you in all its perfection.
   I found mountain conditions plus cold, mist and rain too much for me once more. And shifted to this small town, which is in the valley. Here I shall stay until I return to Paris. Jack has, however, remained up aloft and only comes down for week-ends.  [To Harold Beauchamp, 9 July1922.]

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6 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest,
   With one eye on the future - if you can possibly manage to write a short note to my Da it would I think be a good idea. He has seen a doctor who finds him "in fairly decent shape" - so you'd only have to say you were glad to hear that the Doctor reported favourably & hoped he'd be well in England . . . This is extremely boring. My pen won't write any more of it. If I didn't so wish for a chimley stack I'd never suggest it.
   Was yesterday nice, I wonder? Brett is very very chastening. God has sent her to me as a Trial. I shall fail. It serves him right. There are the most darling swallows here - little forked tails & wings like gold fins. And someone calls drowsily from a window "Fraulein Wirkel?" Then the soft sound of the gardener raking the paths . . . Summer.
               A bientot
                          Tig
Many thanks for the papers. I hate the N. & A. [Nation & Athenaeum] worse than ever. I despise it. The Lit. Sup. was bad too. There seems to be a positive blight on English writing. Really really nothing to say. Their review of Garnett made me realise again how first chop your criticism is.  [To J. M. Murry, 5 July 1922.]

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5 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Have you read Lawrence's new book? I should like to very much. He is the only writer living whom I really profoundly care for. It seems to me whatever he writes, no matter how much one may ‘disagree' is important. And after all even what one objects to is a sign of life in him. He is a living man. There has been published lately an extremely bad collection of short stories - Georgian short stories. And ‘The Shadow in the Rose Garden' by Lawrence is among them. This story is perhaps one of the weakest he ever wrote. But it is so utterly different from all the rest that one reads it with joy. When he mentions gooseberries these are real red, ripe gooseberries that the gardener is rolling on a tray. When he bites into an apple it is a sharp, sweet, fresh apple from the growing tree. Why has one this longing that people shall be rooted in life. Nearly all people swing in with the tide and out with the tide again like heavy sea weed. And they seem to take a kind of pride in denying Life. But why? I cannot understand.
   But writing letters is unsatisfactory. If you were here we would talk or be silent - it would not matter which. We shall meet one day, perhaps soon, perhaps some years must pass first. Who shall say. To know you are there is enough. This is not really contradictory. [To S.S. Koteliansky, 4 July 1922.]

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4 July 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Koteliansky
   I want to write to you before I begin work. I have been thinking of you ever since I woke up, thinking how much I should like to talk to you. Today for instance is such an opportunity. Brett is staying here for a week or so but she has gone up the mountains for the day. And I am the only guest left in this big, empty, dim hotel. It is awfully nice here, my dearest friend. It is full summer. The grasshoppers ring ring their tiny tambourines, and down below the gardener is raking the paths. Swallows are flying; two men with scythes over their shoulders are wading through the field opposite, lifting their knees as though they walked through a river. But above all it is solitary.
   I have been feeling lately a horrible sense of indifference; a very bad feeling. Neither hot nor cold; lukewarm, as the psalmist says. It is better to be dead than to feel like that; in fact it is a kind of death. And one is ashamed as a corpse would be ashamed to be unburied. I thought I would never write again. But now that I have come here and am living alone all seems so full of meaning again, and one longs only to be allowed to understand. [To S.S. Koteliansky, 4 July 1922.]

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3 July 1922

Hotel d'Angleterre, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Has Cooks told you the day & hour of your arrival? Be sure to let me know, won't you! Perhaps a wire would be safest. For we have to order the cart in advance. Now as M. can only hop and I can't fly it will be the Mountain who will meet you at Sierre. Lean hard on her! Shes an awfully good person for those occasions and so gentle and capable. The country is looking marvellous. They are just beginning to cut the hay. You will have your choice of about 30 bedrooms but I shall have one prepared next door to Ida so you can knock on her wall if you want anything. There's such good honey here - dark like dark amber. I have a camera (rhymes with amber) & I intend to take ravishing photographs of you under the trees and among the calves. We really must make a little book of photographs to remember ourselves by.
   Be careful of yourself on the journey. Its no good. Anxious about you I always shall be when you are en voyage. Thank God theres no sea & I must say Swiss railways are the nicest I know. I mean the porters are fearfully nice - a band of brothers. But I shan't really be happy until I see you.  [To Dorothy Brett, 25 June 1922.]

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2 July 1922

Hotel d'Angleterre, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

To return to your Russianization for a moment. It seems to me that when Russians think they go through a different process from what we do. As far as one can gather they arrive at feeling by a process of. . . spiritual recapitulation. I don't think we do. What I imagine is we have less words but they are more vital; we need less. So though one can accept this recapitulating process from Russian writers it sounds strange to me coming from your pen. For instance, in Going Home you get in five lines: "enthusiasm, doubtful, mistrust, acute terror, anxious, joy, sadness, pain, final dissolution, filth and degradation." Or (p.2) "the unhappiness, the misery and cruelty, all the squalor & abnormal spiritual anguish." Again, last page but one of The Sister " futility, monotony, suffocated, pettiness, sordidness, vulgar minuteness." When one writes like that in English its as though the nerve of the feeling were gone. Do you know what I mean?
   I realise its all very well to say these things - but how are we going to convey these overtones, halftones, quarter tones, these hesitations, doubts, beginnings, if we go at them directly? It is most devilishly difficult, but I do believe that there is a way of doing it and thats by trying to get as near to the exact truth as possible. It's the truth we are after, no less (which, by the way, makes it so exciting). [To Arnold Gibbons, 24 June 1922.]

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