Poles Apart? Eileen Duggan and Katherine Mansfield


  • Peter Whiteford




At first glance, there might seem to be few connections between Katherine Mansfield and her younger contemporary, Eileen Duggan, despite occasional critical efforts to link them within a tradition of women’s writing in New Zealand. The differences between the two women, in their lives and in their writing, are striking. In spite of those marked differences, Duggan wrote about Mansfield on a number of occasions and with considerable sympathy. One interesting connection between the two can be found in their youthful responses to two remote and controversial Polish figures – the writer Stanislaw Wyspianski and the Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In this article, I consider Mansfield’s “To Stanislaw Wyspianski” and Duggan’s “Rosa Luxemburg”, noting the very different circumstances of their composition, and suggesting what might have appealed to each of the poets in the subjects they chose to write about.


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