Monday, January 11, 2010

Hope Mirrlees on the Web


I just ran across Erin Kissane's website Hope Mirrlees on the Web.  A very handsome site and a most welcome one as well.  There was a time not long ago when if you wanted to find out anything about Mirrlees, the only reliable source was . . . well, me, because I'd written a short biography of her.  (It's called Hope-in-the-Mist, and this is not a plug, because Temporary Culture has already sold all the copies printed.)  But as more and more people become interested in Mirrlees, I'm beginning to fade into the background, and that's good news for all fans of the woman who made herself one of the most important fantasists of the Twentieth Century with one single novel, Lud-in-the-Mist.

Ms Kissane does not appear to update the site very often, which is perfectly understandable once one realizes that she is currently a grad student, with all the lack of free time that implies.  But her posts are intelligent and lucid and in one she has even managed to find joy in Mirrlees's first novel, Madeleine: One of Love's Jansenists, something which neither Virginia Woolf nor I were capable of doing.

She has also put the entire text of Madeleine online, which makes an all-but-unfindable book available to scholars and the curious.  I'm not sure that Ms Mirrlees would approve (she quietly dropped the book from her biography and in her will stipulated that it not be reprinted until either twenty or fifty years after her death -- I've misplaced the reference, I'm afraid -- so its extreme obscurity was not unwelcome to her), but it allows those who are passionately interested in her work to make up their own minds about its merits.

You can find the site here.

Above: Arthur David Waley, Lytton Strachey, Hope Mirrlees, and Georges Cattaui.  Photo by Lady Ottoline Morrell.  From the National Portrait Gallery.  The British one, not the American.


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