T H I S W E E K
January 6 2023
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T H E T I M E S L I T E R A R Y S U P P L E M E N T
Sara Wheeler Travel writing and the female gaze | Richard Lea Mars attacks! Ian Buruma Portraits of beery burghers | Paul Muldoon ‘By the Time You Read This’
‘I write with acid’ Kirsty Gunn on Katherine Mansfield’s claim to greatness
Drawing of Katherine Mansfield from the frontispiece of Bliss (digitally altered). © Alamy; TLS
In this issue
In the final TLS of last year our puckish back-page columnist expressed his scepticism about literary anniversaries, and the essay-writing opportunities they might afford to today’s version of George Orwell’s “regular reviewer” – “the thirtysomething hack who is saving up for a better class of dressing gown”. The TLS, however, regards these occasions as an invitation to a more serious piece of writing: to take an expert look back at an author’s life and work; to examine the contexts from which they emerged, and against which they had to struggle; to trace how their reputation has fared through the years; to discover what they mean to us now.
This week marks the centenary of the death, at the age of thirty-four, of the modernist writer Katherine Mansfield, and sees the publication of a new biography of Mansfield by Claire Harman. Assessing for us both this new Life and Mansfield’s continuing literary significance is the writer Kirsty Gunn, who brings to the task expertise and affinity. Gunn, like Mansfield, was born in New Zealand but left when young, and she has explored what she calls their “sense of split self ” in her long essay My Katherine Mansfield Project (2015). She is also editing Mansfield’s letters.
Gunn reintroduces us to a figure whose oftenacknowledged talent has equally often been downgraded or sidelined: the brevity of her chosen genre, the short story, and of the life, taken at a lick, “on the move constantly”, has left her overshadowed by the other major modernists and, as Harman puts it, “on the margins of both English society and every artistic group she ever had contact with”. Gunn pays tribute to the sundry figures who have maintained Mansfield’s reputation – many of them, like Harman and Gerri Kimber, stalwarts of the TLS – and reminds us why writers such as Virginia Woolf so envied and admired what Mansfield achieved.
In this first week of 2023, perhaps re-reading Mansfield might be one of our new year’s resolutions? Our very own “Katherine Mansfield project”? Ian Sansom, in this week’s Afterthoughts column, offers a more jaundiced account of such ambitions, admitting that “I always start out with good intentions, but by February my resolve has collapsed and I am reading in as disorganized and haphazard a fashion as always – the reach, the grasp exceeded, just the stuff that takes my fancy”.
Here at the TLS, we hope that your 2023 is full of bookish pleasures, however organized or disorganized, and we look forward to accompanying you through them. Happy New Year.
ROBERT POTTS Deputy Editor
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KIRSTY GUNN IAN BURUMA
All Sorts of Lives – Katherine Mansfield and the art of risking everything Claire Harman The Portraitist – Frans Hals and his world Steven Nadler
6 LETTERS TO THE
By the Time You Read This
George Orwell in Burma, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marvelous Marvin, etc
Celestial Aspirations – Classical impulses in British poetry and art Philip Hardie
8 SCIENCE & LITERATURE RICHARD LEA
FRANK LAWTON JONATHAN DORE SARA WHEELER
The Book of Mars – An anthology of fact and fiction Stuart Clark
Do Let’s Have Another Drink – The singular wit and double measures of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Gareth Russell
The Ship Beneath the Ice – The discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance Mensun Bound May We Be Spared to Meet on Earth – Letters of the lost Franklin Arctic expedition Russell A. Potter et al, editors Travels into Spain Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baronne d’Aulnoy; Edited and translated by Gabrielle M. Verdier
24 IN BRIEF
MICHAEL CAINES LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN As You Like It William Shakespeare (@sohoplace, London) Making Modernism – Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz,
Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin (Royal Academy of Arts)
JAMES CAHILL KEITH MILLER POLLY JONES EMILY BARTON
The New Life Tom Crewe Through the Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping Derek Jarman Kilometer 101 Maxim Osipov; Translated by Boris Dralyuk et al Is Mother Dead Vigdis Hjorth; Translated by Charlotte Barslund
WARHOLCAPOTE – A non-fiction invention Rob Roth
Power Failure – The rise and fall of General Electric William D. Cohan
Confidence Man – The making of Donald Trump and the breaking of America Maggie Haberman
Give Me Liberty – Oswaldo Payá and the struggle to free Cuba David E. Hoffman
Imperial Wine – How the British Empire made wine’s new world Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre. The Uncollected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick Alex Andriesse, editor. Wilder Jemma Borg. Thirteen Ways To Smell a Tree – A celebration of our connection with trees David George Haskell. Incomparable Realms – Spain During the Golden Age, 1500–1700 Jeremy Robbins. Hotel Splendide Ludwig Bemelmans. Why Governments Get It Wrong – And how they can get it right Dennis C. Grube
All the Knowledge in the World – The extraordinary history of the encyclopaedia Simon Garfield
Resolutions of a skunk – Another unimprovable year awaits
Book trade blues, RIP the Hardy Tree, Nicolas Barker at ninety, Frailty from Hurlingham Books
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JANUARY 6, 2023
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