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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Sydney Janet Kaplan
Affiliation:
University of Washington
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Summary

There must be a certain perversity in writing a book centred on John Middleton Murry (1889–1957), the editor and critic who was once called ‘the best-hated man of letters’ (L: 213). After all, didn't Virginia Woolf name him ‘the one vile man I have ever known’ (LVW 4: 312)? And wasn't he supposed to be the infamous editor Burlap in Aldous Huxley's Point Counter Point? And didn't D. H. Lawrence once call him ‘an obscene bug sucking my life away’ (RDHL: 79)? There was something about Murry that alienated people and even his supporters have prefaced their remarks (as I do here), with qualifications. I must admit that I used to go along with the general critical opinion and even contributed my share to his bad reputation in Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction (1991), by objecting to his behaviour as her husband and literary executor. Like most Mansfield critics, I found it easy to use Murry as her negative counterpoint.

For years I had been so absorbed in Katherine Mansfield's writing that I had not interrogated her reactions to Murry sufficiently. I had pored over her letters; read biographies, critical studies and memoirs by friends and acquaintances; and travelled to New Zealand to study her notebooks at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. As it happened, Murry's letters to Mansfield, which had not yet been published, were also housed at the Turnbull Library.

Type
Chapter
Information
Circulating Genius
John Middleton Murry Katherine Mansfield and D. H. Lawrence
, pp. 1 - 12
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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