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Circulating Genius

John Middleton Murry, Katherine Mansfield and D. H. Lawrence

Sydney Janet Kaplan

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The relationship between the personal lives of writers and the works they produce is at the heart of this intriguing new study. In particular, it reconsiders the place of John Middleton Murry (1889-1957) in the development of literary modernism in Britain. Drawing on Murry's unpublished journals and long-forgotten novels, Circulating Genius examines his significance as a 'circulator' of ideas, reputations and critical positions in his roles of editor, literary critic, novelist, friend and lover and complicates the arguments of earlier biographers and critics about his relationships - both personal and professional - with Katherine Mansfield and D. H. Lawrence.

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1. 'My Blundering Way of Learning': Murry's Still Life
2. Still Life and Women in Love
3. From Still Life to 'Bliss'
4. 'A Furious Bliss'
5. 'With Cannonballs for Eyes'
6. 'The Coming Man and Woman'
7. The Things We Are
8. Circulating Mansfield
9. Circulating Lawrence
10.Circulating Murry

About the Author

Sydney Janet Kaplan is Professor of English at the University of Washington. She is the author of Katherine Mansfield and the Origins of Modernist Fiction (Cornell University Press, 1991) and Feminine Consciousness in the Modern British Novel (University of Illinois Press, 1975).


'A significant contribution to modernist studies, Professor Kaplan's timely investigation of the Mansfield-Murry-Lawrence triangle illuminates their previously under-researched creative relationships. Her ability to convey the humour and drama of her subject and her fine scholarship are equally engaging.'
Delia da Sousa Correa, Editor, Katherine Mansfield Studies

'We may have thought that pretty much everything had been garnered about that tangled triangle of D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, and Middleton Murry. Not so. After Kaplan, one is looking freshly, more deeply, at how these extraordinary personalities circled and feinted, landed their punches and reconciled. Most surprisingly, she makes her case for restoring Murry to his rightful place in that trio, free from the condescension that has obscured him for generations. Mansfield and Lawrence too emerge in a new light. What Kaplan does is to present a key moment in British Modernism as a vivid, living, personal exchange.'
Vincent O'Sullivan, Victoria University, Wellington and co-editor of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield

In Kaplan's capable hands much can be learnt about all three writers, including valuable insight into their complex relationships with each other.
- Gerri Kimber, Virginia Woolf Bulletin

Intensely researched and absorbing to read, Kaplan’s excellent book illuminates the mutual influence of these key figures within modernism and, in so doing, why they, and the period they lived in, remain so fascinating to us today.

- Alice Kelly, University of Cambridge, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2