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Birthday Lecture 2019


Saturday 12 October, 2pm

Bedford Room, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet St, London

Professor Emerita Angela Smith (University of Stirling) gave a talk entitled

"‘We are all sailors, bending over a great map’: Katherine Mansfield’s Travellers"

Katherine Mansfield was a restless traveller, quickly discontented and planning the next journey as soon as she arrived at her destination. Focusing on stories and enigmatic journal entries about ships and trains, including ‘The Wind Blows’, ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ and ‘The Stranger’, I will explore Mansfield’s search for a form that maps the tireless hunt for the secret self and depicts the insecure liminal state of being in between countries, relationships, and possibilities. V. S. Pritchett wrote that ‘Mansfield liquefied the short story. She destroyed many of its formal conventions’, omitting explanations and cutting to a pivotal moment. I will show some paintings by Mansfield’s contemporary, the English Futurist painter C. R. W. Nevinson who also omitted an explanatory context in his work. I have no evidence that she knew his pictures but his radical formal experiments attempting to express simultaneity provide an intriguing comparison with her own avant-garde fiction.

Booklets of Angela Smith's talk are available to purchase in our online shop.