I’m in the midst of my final days in Oxford for this year, and busy writing my thesis or extended essay or whatever it ought to be called. We do three of these, and one slightly longer one, so ‘essay’ seems too diminuitive a label, and ‘dissertation’ too grand. Extended essay is probably all the lauding it needs, and at 7000 words it is neither a trifle nor a mountain. But it is taking up most of my time, hence not having finished a book for a while – I have a feeling December will be a record low for the year, though I am currently enjoying The War Workers by EM Delafield, Harriet Hume by Rebecca West, and Every Eye by Isobel English. Slowly.
My essay title is:
‘I – I only want to leave–‘:
The Imperial Visitor in Olive Schreiner and Katherine Mansfield
Yes. I’m a fan of using incongruous quotations for titles – this one comes from my favourite Katherine Mansfield story, ‘The Garden Party’. (This was my favourite story when I read the Folio Collected Short Stories of KM, and only afterwards did I discover that it’s her most renowned – which proves that it is deservedly renowned!) Laura is at the impoverished family’s house, and is saying that she wishes to leave the basket she brought – but in missing out the word ‘basket’, reveals also her desire to leave the house. I think I called this ‘partial zeugma’. Oh, indeed.
Sometimes I get a bit wordy. I’ve already used the expressions ‘anthropomorphised mercantilism’ and ‘Bonaparte’s credentials are essentially fiscal’. Not to mention ‘cannibalises’; ‘intial corporeal dislocation’, and, most profoundly, ‘Time is a crucial as space’.
It’s fun to be back at it. The Carbon Copy said he tried to read my undergraduate thesis on Virginia Woolf and Clothing the other, but stopped after two pages because it was, quote, ‘boring’. Aah, with friends like these. To be fair to him, I don’t think I’d last two pages on the Reimann Hypothesis. It always amazes me the subjectivity of the word ‘interesting’ – this blog bubble sometimes makes me forget that some people (I’m looking at you, Mr. Tim Henman) think reading is ‘boring’ – whereas I imagine there are leagues of sports fans and map readers and geologists who would be astonished at my lack of interest in their field… I bet none of *them* have ever said ‘anthropomorphised mercantilism’. And, at the end of the day, is there any better method of judging success?
In all seriousness, anyone interested in Katherine Mansfield or Olive Schreiner, if my wordiness has whetted your appetite, I’d be happy to email you my essay afterwards – and be even more happy to hear your thoughts on the concept of visiting in their works.