la storia di una vita – dalla Nuova Zelanda all’Inghilterra

One name dominates the beginning of the century in New Zealand literature,  Catherine Mansfield, (1888-1923) pseudonym of Kathleen Murry, original name Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp. 

She remained a New Zealander at heart though she moved to London when she was 19.

C. Mansfield was born in Wellington, New Zealand, into a middle-class colonial family and lived for six years in the rural village of Karori. She published her first text at nine then,  as a first step to her rebellion against her background, she left for London in 1903 and studied at Queen’s College. Back in New Zealandin 1906, she started studying the cello. In 1908 she studied typing and bookkeeping (= contabilità) at WellingtonTechnicalCollege. Her lifelong friend (= amica per tutta la vita) Ida Baker – called L.M., Leslie Moore in her diary and correspondence –  persuaded Mansfield‘s father to allow Katherine to move back to England, with an allowance (= un appannaggio) of £100 a year. There she devoted (= si dedicò)  herself to writing and  never visited New Zealand again.

After an unhappy marriage in 1909 to George Brown,  left a few days after the wedding, Mansfieldtoured around Europe for a while. In Bavaria, where she spent some time, she wrote satirical sketches of German characters, which were published in 1911 under the title In a German Pension

In 1911 Mansfieldmet John Middleton Murray, a Socialist and ex- literary critic, who was first a renter(= affittuario) in her flat, then her lover. During the war she travelled restlessly (= senza sosta) between England and France. In 1915 she met her brother “Chummie” who soon  died in World War I. From then on Mansfield focused her writing on New Zealand and her family. In 1918 Mansfielddivorced her first husband and married John Murray. In the same year she was found to have tuberculosis.

Mansfied and Murray made friendship with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. In her last years Mansfieldlived much of her time in southern Franceand in Switzerland, in search of relief (= in cerca di sollievo) from tuberculosis. In 1922 Mansfieldhad to be treated at an institute near Fontainebleau, in France. There, without the company of her literary friends, family, or her husband, she wrote much about her own roots (= radici) and her childhood. Mansfield died of a pulmonary hemorrhage on January 9, 1923, and her  last words were: “I love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face.”

Her stories are striking for their witty (= sagacia) and penetrating satirical attacks on society and for their experimentation with narrative technique. Her works may also have contributed to the popularity of the short story in New Zealand. 

Garden Party(1922) is considered her best work. It is about an extravagant garden-party  on a beautiful day. Laura, the daughter of the party’s hostess (= ospite), hears of the accidental death of a young neighborhood, a working-class man, Mr. Scott. Laura wants to cancel the party, but her mother refuses  so she  goes to see the dead man in the bedroom where he is lying with a basket (= cesto) full of sweets and cakes from the party.