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This review is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

POLARITIES H.D., Hedylus (Carcanet) £4.95

The classical world of H.D.'s novel centres on the Aegean island of Samos. It is a mid-point between Athens and Alexandria, an Athens destroyed by Philip of Macedon, an Alexandria created by Alexander the Great. This background is arranged to shadow the concrete foreground: the relationship between son, mother and muse, Hedylus, Hedyle and Irene. The son is the centre. Mother and muse are the extremes. Hedylus, who is alive, yet dead and unborn, is at a mid-point, with Hedyle, who is alive, yet dead, on one side, with Irene, who is alive, yet unborn, on the other. Throughout the novel, H.D. is concerned with the breaking and forming of bonds: the rites of illumination, of redemption, of living. General change is observed in the particular and particular change is glimpsed in the general. Hedylus takes as its subjects, the whole, the part, mankind and man.

Hedylus's initiation occurs midway in the novel. On a forgotten sea-shelf, by moonlight, he offers a poetic hymn to Helios and is presented suddenly with a mysterious stranger, Demion of Olympia, man and god. Helios seems to have answered his invocation by appearing in person. The transcendental which radiates through their relationship brings vision and freedom. Hedylus leaves his 'half-state' and the Samians, accompanying Demion into India. This specific episode gains importance when set against the general background, where gods and oracles are rejected, for it shows the presence of deity in an atheistic world and spirituality in a secular. Much ...


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