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Journal of Katherine Mansfield

Prophetic words

Prophetic words.

Page 9. Why did she accept the ear-rings from a man she had never seen? She was not greedy for jewels. She had plenty, and she was extremely particular in her conduct towards other men. Is that a kind of Russian custom? To accept the ear-rings as a kind of recognition of her beauty?

Pages 26, 27. The Portrait: “Dark and deep, passionate and disdainful.”

Page 33. “Her face is cheerful, but she has passed through terrible suffering, hasn't she? … It's a proud face, awfully proud, but I don't know whether she is good hearted. Ah! If she were! That would redeem it all.”

Page 37. The Story of Nastasya. That change in her when she appears in Petersburg—her knowledge, almost ‘technical’, of how things page 62 are done in the world, is not at all impossible. With such women it seems to be a kind of instinct. (Maata was just the same. She simply knew these things from nowhere.) Her action, that Dostoevsky says is ‘from spite,’ is to shew her power, and that when he has jerked out the weapon with which he wounded her she feels the dreadful smart.

Having read the whole of “The Idiot” through again, and fairly carefully, I feel slightly more bewildered than I did before as regards Nastasya Filipovna's character. She is really not well done. She is badly done. And there grows up as one reads on a kind of irritation, a balked fascination, which almost succeeds finally in blotting out those first and really marvellous ‘impressions’ of her. What was Dostoevsky really aiming at?