‘Wanted, a New World’: the Athenaeum, 1919–20



Murry was offered the editorship of the Athenaeum1 in January 1919, and from April 1919 until December 1920 KM reviewed novels weekly for the paper. She took her job as a reviewer very seriously, and indeed reviewing seems to have taken over from fiction writing during this period of her life. She and Murry were intensely aware that in the Athenaeum they had the literary platform they had longed for, and they determined to use the opportunity offered them: they felt it was their duty, as it had been long ago in the ‘palmy’ Rhythm days, to stand up for ‘seriousness in art’, as opposed to the superficial ‘pastime’ art and literature which seemed acceptable to many. In this respect, KM’s critical stance can be read as having an ethical as well as an aesthetic dimension: the two were for her interdependent. Throughout her reviews, too, she stressed the relationship between — though not the identity of — ‘art and life’,2 writing, for example, in a review of Esther Waters,

And yet we would say without hesitation that Esther Waters is not a great novel, and never could be a great novel, because it has not, from first to last, the faintest stirring of the breath of life. It is dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.3


Short Story Happy Ending English Writer Young Writer Great Writer 
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  1. 40.
    Catherine Carswell (1870–1946), novelist and biographer, was one of D. H. Lawrence’ s most loyal friends, and was known to KM. See John Carswell, Lives and Letters (1978). In 1932 she published a biography of Lawrence, The Savage Pilgrimage, which was intended to be a response to Murry’s Son of Woman, and which contained a savage attack on Murry and his claims to be able to speak ‘for’ Lawrence.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of St. Paul and St. MaryCheltenhamUK

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