Unfair dismissal 2

January 29, 2009

Jeffrey Meyers' review limits itself to glib biographical generalisation, dismissal of the worth of the edition on the basis of occasional errors and omissions and a final dismissal of Katherine Mansfield by comparison with Virginia Woolf.

For Mansfield readers and scholars, the appearance of the long-awaited final volume of her correspondence is grounds for celebration. The Katherine Mansfield Society looks forward to the new work that the publication of these letters will facilitate and hopes that this receives more thoughtful consideration than is on display here.

It is, of course, reasonable to point out errors of fact, spelling and punctuation in any edition, but this is a very limited response to the scholarship under review and some of Meyers' criticisms are unfounded (not providing translations is the policy of Clarendon Press).

It is a shame that Meyers cites none of the letters from Mansfield's final months that shed light on her as a writer. Mansfield remained the one writer whom Woolf envied; for Elizabeth Bowen, she was, in 1957, "our missing contemporary". Perhaps neither of these great writers was as confident that they had "overtaken" her, as Meyers feels qualified to assert.

Delia da Sousa Correa and Gerri Kimber

The Katherine Mansfield Society.

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