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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

Conclusion: modernism and the fin de siècle


I began this book by thinking of Michael ‘Field’ as an experimental field. This image of mutually influencing forces captures the essence of the dynamic underpinning Michael Field's poetry. There are many different dramas of influence played out within the space of the Michael Field signature, but, as I argued in Chapter 1, ‘Michael Field’ might ultimately be read as an interpretation of Bradley and Cooper's lives that allows their story to be mediated and shaped as it progresses. This two-way interaction between the women and Michael Field allows their story to attain a coherence usually only managed in retrospect. For example, the conclusion of their story (in the return to the Church) seems to be embedded within their interpretive framework from the beginning. In the back, lining, page of the 1907 diary, is written the following: ‘Do you know what the name “Michael” means? “one who is like God”. & we may well believe he watches over those who have that name written in their hearts’. As Frederick Roden astutely observes, ‘Approaching their end, Katherine [sic] and Edith did not distinguish the events in their lives from the passion of Christ’ – and, further, it is as if this conflation was presented as an inevitable development of the story, contained as a seed from the moment they took the name ‘Michael’ several decades ago. There is no doubt that Michael Field enables Bradley and Cooper actually to live aesthetically as well as to write aesthetically.