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This review is taken from PN Review 45, Volume 12 Number 1, September - October 1985.

DISCOVERING IDENTITY H.D., Her (Virago) £3.50 pb.
H.D., Bid Me To Live (Virago) £3.50 pb.
H.D., The Gift (Virago) £3.50 pb.

1984 will prove to be a major year in the revival of interest in Hilda Doolittle. It has already seen Carcanet Press's Collected Poems and Barbara Guest's biography Herself Defined, and now sees the first British publication of these three autobiographical works. While they stand or fall in their own right, they take their bearings from distinct periods of H.D.'s life. Her (published in America as HERmione) draws on H.D.'s relationship and ambiguous engagement to Ezra Pound shortly before she came to Europe with Frances Glegg in 1911. Bid Me To Live grows out of the last critical stage of H.D.'s marriage to Richard Aldington in 1917-18, when she finally left him and went to live in Cornwall with the musicologist Cecil Gray. The Gift covers a broader time-span, dealing with H.D.'s youth in Pennsylvania and her family ancestry. In a notebook of 1919 H.D. wrote: 'aim of men and women of highest development in equilibrium', and in their different ways these works enact a search for equilibrium; an arduous struggle out of crisis towards self-definition.

Written in the 1920s when H.D. was living with the novelist Bryher in Switzerland, Her uses imagistic detail to articulate the protagonist's ('Her' is short for Hermione) struggle out of a limbo of flux into a stable sense of her self. Her eponymous nickname neatly encapsulates this initial lack of identity by suggesting subject and object, possession, and even (given her Pennsylvania German ancestor) sexual ambiguity. The novel opens with her ...


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