Katherine Mansfield

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Alfred Richard Orage

When Katherine first sat in front of Orage in 1910, surrounded by office equipment, manuscripts and the paraphernalia of publishing, did she see in him an entree into a world of literary acclaim? Did he, editor of the New Age and well known as a radical champion of little known writers, see a young woman poised to step into her place in the literary limelight? Across the desk they recognised in each other a common spirit, but the major significance of this meeting for the trajectory of Katherine's life was, as yet, unknown to both of them.

This promising start was cut short by the arrival of John Middleton Murry, and Katherine's defection to his rival literary review Rhythm as joint editor. For some time, exchanges between them were distant at best and sharply critical at worst.  

Then a decade after their first meeting, in the shadow of her illness, Katherine wrote to him: "Dear Orage ... I want to tell you how sensible I am of your wonderful, unfailing kindness to me in the 'old days'. And to thank you for all you let me learn from you...". Subsequent conversations with Orage in the garden at Hampstead in 1922 were no longer just about literary matters. Poignantly, at the same time as her physical body was failing, she felt an urgent call to life in her inner, spiritual world. It was again Orage who acted as initiator: as the link to Piotr Ouspensky, a leading exponent of the Gurdjieff teaching, and directly to Gurdjieff himself.

Thou grievest for those that should not be grieved for

The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead

Never at any time was I not nor thou nor these princes of men

Nor shall we ever cease to be hereafter

The unreal has no being

The real never ceases to be

 

Inscribed on Orage's gravestone at Hampstead Churchyard

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