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‘The Freedom of the City’: Mansfield and Woolf

Nick Hubble

‘The fascination of life in London is essentially its freedom.’
— Ford Madox Ford, The Soul of London (Ford 69)

‘But pray consider how rare is it to find some one with the same passion for writing that you have, who desires to be scrupulously truthful with you –- and to give you the freedom of the city without any reserves at all.’
— Katherine Mansfield to Virginia Woolf, 24 June 1917 (Lee 388)

As Hermione Lee argues, Katherine Mansfield was a significant influence on the way that Virginia Woolf ‘developed her writing in the early 1920s’ (Lee 385) – a development which resulted in the series of modernist classics for which she is celebrated today. In this respect, and particularly in the case of Mrs Dalloway (1925), Mansfield gave Woolf the freedom of the city –- specifically, the freedom of London –- but it was a double-edged gift as Mansfield’s own stories repeatedly show. For example, in ‘A Cup of Tea’ (1922), Rosemary Fell undergoes a transformation equivalent to gaining such a freedom. In a London antiques shop, she is shown an ‘exquisite little enamel box’ but on finding the price to be twenty-eight guineas asks the shop assistant to keep it for her. Outside on the street, she is accosted by a young woman for the price of a cup of tea. Rather than hurry away or simply ignore the injunction, Rosemary is moved to treat the encounter as an ‘adventure’:

It was like something out of a novel by Dostoyevsky, this meeting in the dusk. Supposing she took the girl home? Supposing she did do one of those things she was always reading about or seeing on the stage, what would happen? It would be thrilling. And she heard herself saying afterwards to the amazement of her friends: “I simply took her home with me,” as she stepped forward and said to that dim person beside her: “Come home to tea with me” (Mansfield 401).

However, of course, things don’t work out entirely as anticipated. Far from proving that ‘rich people had hearts, and that women were sisters’ (402), Rosemary ends up symbolically reducing the young woman –- who is apparently, judging from Rosemary’s husband’s throwaway remark about The Milliner’s Gazette, an out-of-work shop girl –- to the level of a prostitute: amusing herself with her in her bedroom before paying her and sending her on her way. As in other Mansfield stories such as ‘Bliss’, the upper-middle-class protagonist is made simultaneously aware of her own desire and how it functions as part of a wider economy of desire which precludes its ever being met –- a point brought home as the story closes with Rosemary’s husband pulling her onto his knee and promising to buy her the enamel box for twenty-eight guineas even as she realises that this is not in fact what she wants.

On one level, it is tempting to read ‘A Cup of Tea’ as Mansfield’s comment on the relationship between herself and Woolf. By representing herself as a shop girl, one of the representative figures of the modern mass society that had sprung up in London over the preceding decades, she could show how shabbily she felt she was treated by Woolf, figured as Rosemary, even as she revealed to her the inability of Edwardian conformity to satisfy her desires: never again would a work like Night and Day see the light of day after Mansfield’s influence.[1] However, it is also instructive to follow David Trotter’s reading of the story as a case study of how modernist writers link linguistic norms with symbolic ones, before disrupting the linguistic norms in order to explodes the symbolic ones. Trotter’s analysis focuses on the sentence, ‘The discreet door shut with a click’ (Trotter 71; Mansfield 400). This is the door of the antiques shop closing behind Rosemary as she walks into the street just prior to her encounter with the young woman. By the end of the story, we will know this to have been a symbolic threshold –- the door closing on the old Edwardian and Victorian respectability, as the freedom of the city opens up before the protagonist –- but, as Trotter argues, if the sentence simply read, ‘The door shut with a discreet click’, it would not register with the reader as such a threshold on first reading. As it is, the reader is forced to pause momentarily after reading about ‘the discreet door’ to process all the ways in which a door might be discreet:

… the sentence draws attention to itself. Its semantic ordering flouts the conventions of normal discourse, conventions which the story has hitherto adhered to. In Relevance Theory terms, it guarantees an increase in contextual effect, but only at the cost of an increase in the effort required to process it. In my terms, it constitutes a threshold. By withholding the kind of relevance we might have expected –- a straightforward cumulative ‘filling in’ of a not unfamiliar fictional world –- it invites us to exercise our powers of inference: to access more remote contexts in search of other kinds of relevance. Modernism is another name for that invitation (Trotter 74).

But what does it mean if this invitation is being made from Katherine Mansfield to Virginia Woolf, from the symbolic shop girl to the symbolic Edwardian lady? If these ‘other kinds of relevance’ are to be found in the streets –- if they are, in fact, a necessary consequence of the freedom of the city -– what does it tell us about modernism? One way to think about this question is to look back to Mansfield’s first short story, ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’, written in 1908 but only published posthumously in 1924. In this story, another shop girl, Rosabel, spends an evening kneeling before the window in her lodging-house room recalling the day in the Milliner’s shop where she works. In particular, she remembers a young well-dressed upper-class couple who came in:

“What is it exactly that I want, Harry?” she had said, as Rosabel took the pins out of her hat, untied her veil, and gave her a hand-mirror.
“You must have a black hat,” he had answered, “a black hat with a feather that goes right round it and then round your neck and ties in a bow under your chin, and the ends tuck into your belt –- a decent-sized feather.”
The girl glanced at Rosabel laughingly. “Have you any hats like that?” (Mansfield 515).

The change in tense obviously signals a temporal shift, but this appears not to be a direct flashback so much as the entry into a day dream in which Rosabel is simultaneously inside and outside of the day’s events. It rapidly transpires that none of the shop’s hats will satisfy the couple until Rosabel remembers ‘the big, untouched box upstairs’ (ibid). Similarly to the enamel box in ‘A Cup of Tea’, the hat box is symbolically connected with desire. Indeed, in this case, it functions analogously to Pandora’s Box of legend; once opened, desire is unleashed. Of course, the couple are instantly captivated but, then, the girl, unexpectedly, hands the hat to Rosabel and asks to see it on her:

Rosabel turned to the mirror and placed it on her brown head, then faced them.
“Oh, Harry, isn’t it adorable,” the girl cried, “I must have that!” She smiled again at Rosabel. “It suits you beautifully.”
A sudden, ridiculous feeling of anger had seized Rosabel. She longed to throw the lovely perishable thing in the girl’s face, and bent over the hat, flushing (Mansfield 516).

The anger at the time had been at being brought into an economy of desire in which the only possible role for her was the one made clear by the man when he leaned over her and asked “Ever been painted?” (ibid.). But in her day-dream world, Rosabel ignores this insolent familiarity and concentrates on the implicit promise of the exchange of hats: ‘Suppose they changed places’ (ibid.). She becomes the one who drives off with Harry, stopping only to have her maid fasten her new hat, before moving on to lunch. This trip through London extends itself through Gerard’s, the Carlton, an afternoon matinee, tea at the ‘Cottage’, the ball that night and right on up until:

Harry came across the room and caught her in his arms –- “Rosabel, Rosabel, Rosabel ….” Oh, the haven of those arms, and she was very tired.
(The real Rosabel, the girl crouched on the floor in the dark, laughed aloud, and put her hand up to her hot mouth.) (Mansfield 518).

The fact that this reference to the ‘real Rosabel’ is parenthetical is significant. It confirms the earlier impression that her ‘real’ self is somehow inside the day dream. However, it can also be read as further implying that her ‘real’ self can only exist in such a day dream. To reference Slavoj Žižek, the lesson of Rosabel’s day dreaming is not the apparent error of confusing fiction for reality but the exact opposite: ‘we should not mistake reality for fiction -– we should be able to discern, in what we experience as fiction, the hard kernel of the Real which we are able to sustain only if we fictionalise it’ (Žižek, Desert 19). Rosabel is ‘real’ at precisely this moment because she is aware of her essential non-identity: the difference between her conscious and unconscious identities. However, even when not actively maintaining this awareness by fictionalising her experience in this manner, her non-identity is never far from the surface as a consequence of her historical class position. The sudden emergence in the late nineteenth century of mass modernity as the cumulative product of unprecedented urban immigration represented an intense psychological liberation from rural stasis to the freedom of the city. The anxiety inherent to this uprooted position, combined with the uncertain social positions of the new forms of employment in shop and clerical work, militated against the easy formation of any fixed identity.

It is not just that Rosabel’s lack of fixed identity makes her acceptable to the upper-class girl as a model for her hat –- which, is to say, makes her acceptable to the upper-class girl as a stand-in for herself –- in a way that a domestic servant would not be acceptable, but also that it makes Rosabel attractive because she represents a freedom which the upper-class girl doesn’t have. The freedom of the city doesn’t lie in the upper-class condition of being physically present at all the society spots of London, but in simultaneously being and not being in those places. This facility of being able to fade in and fade out at the right moments coincides with Rosabel’s ‘tiredness’. When her reverie resumes, jumping straight to riding in the park next morning and a sequence involving engagement and wedding, it fades out at the point of her wedding night as she becomes ‘tired’ once more. At one level, her ‘tiredness’ clearly functions to evade the overtly sexual moments but this is not from reticence or timidity so much as the unconscious knowledge that any such moment would actually break the magic of the day-dream world. But, more fundamentally, what Rosabel is tired of is her own desire being caught up in a wider economy of desire that will never permit it to be satisfied, when it can be satisfied much more intimately by sustaining herself as ‘real’ in the manner described above.

Therefore, one of Mansfield’s achievements in this story, writing only a few years after the original publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, is to anticipate the key Lacanian concept of ‘traversing the phantasy’. As Richard Boothby notes:

‘Traversing the phantasy’ … does not mean that the subject somehow abandons its involvement with fanciful caprices and accommodates itself to a pragmatic ‘reality,’ but precisely the opposite: the subject is submitted to that effect of the symbolic lack that reveals the limit of everyday reality. To traverse the phantasy in the Lacanian sense is to be more profoundly claimed by the phantasy than ever, in the sense of being brought into an ever more intimate relation with that real core of the phantasy that transcends imaging (cited in Žižek, Desert 18).

By fully identifying with her fantasy day-dream world, Rosabel is continually exposed to the lack of meaning in her everyday life and, therefore, made increasingly aware of the mismatch between her conscious and unconscious identities –- an awareness that is the nearest human subjectivity can get to an apprehension of what Žižek would call the Real, which ‘is not the hardcore which persists as the Same, but the hard bone of contention which pulverises the sameness into the multitude of appearances’ (Žižek, Parallax 26). The story demonstrates perfectly how a circle is established in which the more Rosabel apprehends the Real, the further she is drawn into her fantasy. However, even this ‘real Rosabel’ eventually has to get into her coarse, calico night dress and go to sleep:

And the night passed. Presently the cold fingers of dawn closed over her uncovered hand; grey light flooded the dull room. Rosabel shivered, drew a little grasping breath, sat up. And because her heritage was that tragic optimism, which is all too often the only inheritance of youth, still half asleep, she smiled, with a little nervous tremor round her mouth (Mansfield 519).

This ‘tragic optimism’ is not a value judgement by Mansfield, but an attempt to portray faithfully Rosabel’s kernel of the Real, her essential non-identity, which can be compared with the approach that Ford Madox Ford advocated to himself only three years earlier in his attempt to portray faithfully the London of that time:

[The author] must not only sniff at the ‘suburbs’ as a place of small houses and dreary lives; he must remember that in each of these houses dwells a strongly individualised human being with romantic hopes, romantic fears, and at the end, an always tragic death (Ford 5).

Ford opens up the wider context of this paradox of ‘tragic optimism’. What might always turn out to be tragic at an individual level – as she gets older, Rosabel may not always be able to identify with her fantasy and, thus, sustain the ‘real Rosabel’ –- is also viewed from a collective perspective by him. Ford’s concern in The Soul of London –- the first volume of what would become the trilogy on England and the English –- is with the ‘Future’ and specifically how it depends on individualism being preserved within the newly emergent mass society that he sees is rapidly becoming dominant. In particular, he sees the possibility of any such future as dependent on the relationship between the fantasy lives of clerks and shop girls, like Rosabel, and the upper-class leisure society: ‘whilst there is emulation there is hope’ (Ford 73). The lifestyle of the leisured class acts as a utopian vision –- ‘a sort of Islands of the Blessed, glamorous in the haze above Park Lane and Mayfair’ (ibid.) –- which is symbolically linked by him with an Edenic idyll of the ‘Country’ (Ford 113). As I have argued elsewhere:

Ford’s achievement was to show how the spiritual homelessness or alienation inherent to modern mass society could be resisted by identification with a fantasy –- almost parodic –- vision of the ‘Country’ …. For Ford, it is precisely the pursuit of such utopia which complements the metropolitan pursuit of leisure and by maintaining individualism in mass society holds alive the possibility of the ‘Future’ (Hubble, ‘Beyond Mimetic Englishness’ 151).

Ultimately, Ford shows the Londoner like Rosabel, with her fantasy day-dream world and related freedom of the city, to be the archetypal figure of the Modern. This demonstration has consequences for how we understand Modernist identity, which can no longer be understood as some form of active presence in distinction to the passive imitative tendencies of the masses. I have suggested elsewhere, that Kristin Bluemel’s concept of ‘intermodernism’ provides a better model than conventional accounts of modernism for understanding this relationship and that Ford can be seen as a precursor of the 1930s writers –- Mulk Raj Anand, Inez Holden, George Orwell, Stevie Smith –- that Bluemel labels intermodern (see Hubble, ‘The Origins of Intermodernism’). The same holds true of Mansfield’s ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’, which functions structurally like the subsequent work of Holden by simultaneously celebrating ‘the imaginative lives of readers and the interests of the workers themselves’ (Bluemel 133).

This celebration is evident in the opening passage of ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’, as Rosabel travels home from work on the bus. It’s raining, her feet and the bottom of her skirt are wet and muddy, and she is aware of her individuality merging into the undifferentiated mass of her fellow workers: ‘There was a sickening smell of warm humanity — it seemed to be oozing out of everybody in the bus — and everybody had the same expression, sitting so still, staring in front of them’ (Mansfield 513). Yet this is not simply a vision of commuting hell because the merging of smells, bodies and identities is also exciting and sexually charged. Rosabel is drawn inexorably into the mass-produced fantasy being consumed by the girl sitting next to her:

She glanced at the book which the girl read so earnestly, mouthing the words in a way that Rosabel detested, licking her first finger and thumb each time that she turned the page. She could not see very clearly; it was something about a hot, voluptuous night, a band playing, and a girl with lovely, white shoulders. Oh, Heavens! Rosabel stirred suddenly and unfastened the two top buttons of her coat … (Mansfield 513-4).

This moment is the precursor of the fantasy which she later traverses, but we are clearly shown that it is a shared moment, generated by the shared culture of mass modernity, and that Rosabel is ultimately allowed to become aware of her real self precisely because she identifies with the masses rather than defining herself against them. Although, arguably Mansfield’s use of the term ‘voluptuous night’ is as much a disruption of linguistic norms as ‘the discreet door’ in ‘A Cup of Tea’, it is clear here that a normative style is not simply established to enable a modernist eruption: the sudden moment of being, which will become one of the key signifiers of modernist writing, is here inextricably linked with the mundane details of everyday life established through realist description. This is not to imply that the relationship is somehow organic but that it is inextricable in the asymmetric manner ascribed by Žižek to parallax shifts: ‘One of the two levels appears to be able to stand on its own, while the other stands for the shift as such … In other words, … Two stands for the very move/shift from One to Two’ (Žižek, Parallax 42). Modernism and social realism are asymmetrically linked in the same way: modernism is not in fact a separate entity to social realism but the very move/shift from social realism to modernism. Despite this readily recoverable relationship, however, modernism has come to be privileged over social realism as a separate entity and it is for this reason that the terms of the debate have to be widened: ‘The advantage of the term ‘intermodernism’ is that it explicitly acknowledges these interconnections [between modernism and social realism]’ (Hubble, ‘The Origins of Intermodernism’ 170).

This intermodern shift is rendered visible when Rosabel gets off the bus in Westbourne Grove –- a location which is specifically identified by Ford as one of the key London sites of emulation of the upper-class leisure society by the new society of clerks and shop girls: ‘In Westbourne Grove the young shop assistant raises his bowler, drawls “How are you, Miss?” for all the world as they do in Rotten Row’ (Ford 85). The whole shift from realism to modernism is represented in Mansfield’s transformation of Westbourne Grove into the locus of all possibilities –- cultural, sexual and magical:

Westbourne Grove looked as she had always imagined Venice to look at night, mysterious, dark, even the hansoms were like gondolas dodging up and down, and the lights trailing luridly—tongues of flame licking the wet street—magic fish swimming in the Grand Canal. (Mansfield 514)

Returning to Trotter’s argument that ‘modernism’ is another name for that invitation to access more remote contexts than the straightforwardly familiar; and to the subsequent question, raised above, of what does it mean if this invitation is being made from Katherine Mansfield to Virginia Woolf: the answer is that ‘intermodernism’ is yet another, perhaps better, name for that invitation. As suggested at the beginning of this essay, the place to look in order to see how this invitation was received is Mrs Dalloway. Lee notes how Woolf’s thoughts in October 1924, as recorded in her diary, switch immediately from the writing of the last words of the novel –- ‘For there she was’ (Woolf 165) -– to Mansfield, who had died the previous year: ‘Yes, if she’d lived, she’d have written on, & people would have seen that I was the more gifted –- that wd. only have become more & more apparent’ (cited in Lee, 400). Placed in context, this is a more gracious statement than it sounds because what it really acknowledges is Woolf’s acceptance of Mansfield’s gift of the freedom of the city and use of it to generate a sustained work of fiction big enough to deal with London as a whole.

This change of scale allows for possibilities of the freedom of the city to be investigated in a much wider context encompassing a much fuller investigation of the social, cultural and political consequences than ever appears in Mansfield. For example, in a passage quoted by Rachel Bowlby in which Mrs Dalloway’s daughter, Elizabeth, rides through the centre of London on top of a bus, Rosabel’s day-dreamy passive freedom is transformed into a fantasy of agency:

Oh she would like to go a little further. Another penny, was it, to the Strand? Here was another penny, then. She would go up the Strand.
She liked people who were ill. And every profession is open to the women of your generation, said Miss Kilman. So she might be a doctor. She might be a farmer. … It was quite different here from Westminster, she thought, getting off at Chancery Lane. It was so serious; it was so busy. In short, she would be like to have a profession. She would become a doctor, a farmer, possibly go into Parliament if she found it necessary, all because of the Strand (cited in Bowlby, 82-3 [Woolf 115-6]).

Bowlby argues that while ‘Elizabeth’s imaginative venture could be taken as a positive sign of a woman’s progress’, the novel as a whole still seems to leave her a sharp choice between participating in masculine power structures ‘and what appears as an ignominious succumbing to a “trivial” femininity as the object of male admiration’ (Bowlby 83, 87). However, she goes on to imply that Elizabeth’s only route out of her unquestioning internalisation of the binary gender associations of masculine seriousness and feminine triviality, is precisely this bus journey down the Strand, with its opportunity for full identification with the fantasy of becoming professional and, therefore, the possibility of sustaining a real Elizabeth on a permanent basis (see Bowlby 97-8). This reading, with its promise of arrival at a feminist destination through the combination of fantasy and professional career, is derived only by contrasting Elizabeth’s experiences with those of her mother, Clarissa, whose own youthful bus ride is described further on in the novel:

But she said, sitting on the bus going up Shaftesbury Avenue, she felt herself everywhere; not ‘here, here, here’; and she tapped the back of the seat; but everywhere. She waved her hand, going up Shaftesbury Avenue. She was all that. So that to know her, or any one, one must seek out the people who completed them; even the places. Odd affinities she had with people she had never spoken to, some women in the street, some man behind a counter –- even trees, or barns. It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places, after death (Woolf 129-130).

The idea of the freedom of the city here is clearly related to that found in Mansfield but the expression is clearly that of Woolf; indeed, the first part of this passage summarises the essential structure and ideas of the novel as a whole. While the last part resonates with aspects of Woolf’s experience, the transcendental aspects suggest Mansfield’s interest in the teachings of Gurdjieff. Which ever way this passage is unpacked, it demonstrates how Clarissa embodies both Woolf and Mansfield. As Lee argues, while Woolf clearly shows pity for Mansfield in her October 1924 diary entry ‘she also acknowledges what Katherine has meant to her, as, in the novel she has just finished, the living make sense of their life through their thoughts of the dead’ (Lee 400-401).

In Mrs Dalloway, it is Clarissa who makes sense of her life through the death of Septimus Warren Smith: ‘She felt somehow very like him -– the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away while they went on living’ (Woolf 158). William Empson -– whose mixture of critical, imaginative and universal thinking orientated towards the future can be construed as intermodern theory (see Hubble, ‘The Intermodern Assumption’) –- analysed this passage in his essay ‘Mrs Dalloway as a Political Satire’ (1932):

At the end, at the triumph of her party, her assertion of the same order of her tribe, she hears of the suicide of the man who thought of himself as Christ and scapegoat and feels that her sense that she might have done the same is a sort of proof that she is genuine; she feels outside her snobbery because she can understand him; he becomes indeed to her for a moment what it was his madness to think he was to everybody; he is the sacrificial hero and his tragedy reconciles her to the world (Empson, Argufying 451).

Empson wrote this essay at the same time as Some Versions of Pastoral (1935) and it is clear that he is also analysing Mrs Dalloway as pastoral. However, he is not treating it as a version of the ‘mock pastoral’ he valorises, in which the scapegoat figure effectively serves to satirise the Christian tradition, but as its mirror opposite, the empty allegorical form of pastoral which ‘describes the lives of “simple” low people to an audience of refined wealthy people, so as to make them think first “this is true about everyone” and then “this is specially true about us”’ (Empson, Pastoral 159; see also Hubble, ‘Intermodern Pastoral’). For Empson, the real irony of the passage in which Peter Walsh mentally celebrates the triumph of civilisation on hearing ‘the light high bell’ of an ambulance, which is in fact bearing away the dead body of Septimus (Woolf 128), is not a critical irony intended to make us see that Peter is wrong, but actually an ironic accommodation on the part of Woolf and her readership with that civilisation despite their awareness of its faults. Therefore, he concludes sharply that Mrs Dalloway is a ‘blank statement of conflict’ in which Woolf ‘shows she can feel on both sides … and takes that for an achievement, which indeed it is, but not a fertile one’ (Empson, Argufying 452). What he doesn’t take into account in this otherwise perceptive reading, is the double irony of the novel arising from the fact that both Septimus and Clarissa demonstrate correspondences with Mansfield. Clarissa’s gladness at the suicide of Septimus is really a form of identification with, and therefore traversal of, her own fantasy of suicide, which frees her from the tyranny of fixed identity. In this manner, Clarissa is actually functioning in accordance with Empson’s own account of how a character fully aware of the arguments of both side is ‘forced into isolation by sheer strength of mind, and so into a philosophy of Independence’ (Empson, Pastoral 171).

In a different essay, ‘Virginia Woolf’ (1931), Empson criticises Woolf’s early stories such as ‘Kew Gardens’ for using the ‘vase of flowers’ method:

… things seen in the same mood are described together, and there they are; two lovers and a slug; so you stop … the range of interest (identifying oneself with all the characters and so forth) in the crudest melodramatic story is much greater than the range of interest (mainly contrast and correspondence) in a vase of flowers’ (Empson, Argufying 448).

However, as we have seen, Mansfield’s stories – there is no shortage of scope for identification in ‘A Cup of Tea’ or ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’ – demonstrate how a vase of flowers can be melodramatic. Likewise, Woolf blends identification with contrast to create an imaginary correspondence between clerks and shop girls on the one hand and her upper-middle-class protagonists on the other. It is this correspondence which enables Peter to sit in front of his hotel and share a mass moment of being –- ‘joy of a kind, cheap, tinselly, if you like, but all the same rapture’ (Woolf 137) –- with the crowds of young people passing in the street, released from their shops and offices, and on their way out to enjoy themselves on a summer evening in London. It is also this correspondence which underwrites the possibility of a bus ride down the Strand becoming a transformative experience for Elizabeth, in particular, and for women in general. The novel, as a whole, registers how the emergence of a modern mass society had transformed Britain utterly by the 1920s: a ‘shift in the whole pyramidal accumulation which in [Peter’s and Clarissa’s] youth had seemed immovable’ (ibid.). It can be seen that Woolf’s achievement is fertile by Empson’s standards and that Mrs Dalloway should be considered a version of intermodern pastoral. Peter’s questions at the end of the novel can be asked on behalf of all its readers: ‘What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?’ (Woolf 165).

It is the freedom of the city.


[1] In reviewing Woolf’s Night and Day, Mansfield wrote: ‘We had thought this world had vanished for ever … Yet here is Night and Day, fresh, new and exquisite, a novel in the tradition of the English novel. In the midst of our admiration it makes us feel old and chill. We had never thought to look upon its like again!’ (cited in Lee, 386).

Works Cited

Bluemel, Kristin. George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics: Intermodernism in Literary London. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Bowlby, Rachel. Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations. Oxford: Blackwell, 1988.

Empson, William. Some Versions of Pastoral. 1935. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1995.

——–. Argufying: Essays on Literature and Culture. Ed. John Haffenden. London: The Hogarth P, 1988.

Ford, Ford Madox. England and the English. Ed. Sara Haslam. Manchester: Carcanet, 2003.

Hubble, Nick. ‘Beyond Mimetic Englishness: Ford’s English Trilogy and The Good Soldier’. Ford Madox Ford and Englishness. Ed. Dennis Brown and Jenny Plastow, Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006. 147-162.

——–. ‘The Origins of Intermodernism in Ford Madox Ford’s Parallax View’. Ford Madox Ford and Cultural Transition. Ed. Andrzej Gasiorek and Daniel Moore. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2008. 167-188.

——–. ‘Intermodern Pastoral: William Empson and George Orwell.’ New Versions of Pastoral: Post-Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary Responses to the Tradition. Ed. David James and Philip Tew. Madison, Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/ London: Associated University Press, 2009 (forthcoming).

——–. ‘The Intermodern Assumption of the Future: William Empson, Charles Madge and Mass-Observation’. Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain. Ed Kristin Bluemel. Edinburgh: Edinburgh U.P., 2009 (forthcoming).

Lee, Hermione. Virginia Woolf. London: Vintage, 1997.

Mansfield, Katherine. The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.

Trotter, David. The English Novel in History 1895-1920. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs Dalloway. Ed. David Bradshaw. Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2000.

Žižek, Slavoj. Welcome to the Desert of the Real. London: Verso, 2002.

——–. The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2006.

To Cite This Article:

Nick Hubble, ‘‘The Freedom of the City’: Mansfield and Woolf’. Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, Volume 7 Number 1 (March 2009). Online at Accessed on [date of access]