Slovakia - a literary landscape
Ruzomberok is surrounded by hills and forests and is a ski resort in the winter. It has a lovely collection of art deco buildings lining colourful streets. There's not much money here and it was quite interesting browsing the fashion shops - not a Benetton in sight!
The bars are very colourful too! Being a Leo I couldn’t resist this one. The beer is cheaper than anywhere else in Europe.
At the Katherine Mansfield Conference there were some very enjoyable talks. It’s called ‘Katherine Mansfield and Continental Europe’ and focuses on her European context. KM lived in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France at various times, had a love affair with a Pole, and even began to learn his language in order to translate his literary idols. One of her best friends, Samuel Koteliansky was a Russian and she collaborated on translations of Russian writers with him.
|Elizabeth von Arnim (Countess Russell)|
KM’s cousin was the Countess Elizabeth von Arnim, best selling author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’, and a novel still available called 'Enchanted April'. We had an interesting talk by Jennifer Walker, who’s writing a new biography. Elizabeth later become the Countess Russell, Bertrand Russell’s sister-in-law and was at the centre of literary life in Europe. She and Katherine had an uneasy relationship.
That’s the wonderful thing about events like this, discovering the links between writers, the subtle cross-referencing and borrowing we all indulge in. An interesting talk by American scholar Sydney Janet Kaplan, proposed links between a KM story ‘The Escape’ and TS Eliot’s first wife Vivienne. TSE may even have borrowed his title ‘The Hollow Man’ from Katherine’s story. Her portrayal of his neurotic wife may well have caused the rift between them - causing TSE to refer to KM as ‘a dangerous woman’.
|One of the beautiful churches here|
We finished the day in front of the world cup on TV - a great antidote to too much thinking! Tomorrow we're being taken to a spectacular castle. I'm exhausted and excited at the same time.