Monday, 13 September 2010

Life's Mysteries

I have always considered any sort of literary analysis a kind of detective work. If you are analysing a poem, the meaning is hidden and you have to 'investigate' to be able to uncover its mysteries. For me, this makes this kind of work addictive. I have done with studying for a while (until I am brave enough to actually say aloud that I want to do a Phd) but I have a mystery to solve for a conference paper: my latest detective investigation.

The mystery surrounds a woman named Beatrice Hastings. She was part of Katherine Mansfield's 'set' (which, incidentally, was pretty large by all accounts) as co-editor of The New Age, in which Mansfield's stories were published. Their 'friendship' was brief but what I am investigating is whether the relationship was a symbiotic one. Did they influence each other's work? Hastings' writing (of which not much remains, except that published in The New Age) is caustic and malicious; Mansfield's less 'politically embattled' as one critic put it. Nevertheless, there are common themes. This could be simply that they examined similar key issues of the time, but my instinct tells me there was more than that.

It isn't clear whether their relationship was a sexual one. So, in the spirit of investigative literary analysis I have ordered a pornographic novel entitled 'Beatrice' from abebooks. It is purportedly about Beatrice Hastings, and one of her biographers has suggested that she wrote it herself. Of course, I shan't enjoy reading it one bit, but one must always suffer for one's art!

Needless to say, in my capacity as literary detective, I have arranged for my salary to be paid directly to, in anticipation of the number of books I am going to have to buy. I will report progress of the investigation here, so watch this space.

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