Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield

Poor Miss Brill! She's stuck inside the confines of a Katherine Mansfield story, leading the frustrated, unfulfilled life of a Mansfield woman. Even attending a public concert can bring Miss Brill no lasting joy--and people will talk behind one's back so! Read by Denise Donnelly.

Biographical sketches of Katherine Mansfield invariably must point out how she was born and raised in New Zealand, sought the writing life in England, trysted with John Middleton Murray, and died painfully young and not quite fulfilled. This sketch will be no different. But we do want to remind everyone what an achingly beautiful writer of short stories she was, how she expressed even fleeting joy better than the best can express lasting sorrow, and how through it all she was able to keep one hand to the pen and one to her mouth, just barely stifling the grin that often flickered there.

This is Denise Donnelly's second contribution to these pages, and we wish to thank her for her patience and generosity. We hope that now you will search her name at your local bookstore.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I have just read Miss Brill for an English assignment and I must say that this poor, disillusioned woman (who is possibly goigng senile) is just aching for company and purpose.

She unpacked her ermine necklet like a teenaged girls favourite courtship season accessory, lovingly dubbing it her 'Little Rogue', to give it the mistique of cheekiness, which in those days was very risque.

How can this poor lonely old woman hope to find happiness as she lives, vicariously, through the conversations of others in 'the play'?

This poor old bat really grates on my nerves, but you still can't help but feel that twinge of sympathy. I believe that this was a well-written character, if not a deeply moving or likeable one.