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Summary Asphodel

Ione through the frustrations of a literary world dominated by men the failures of an attempted lesbian relationship and a marriage riddled with infidelity the birth of an illegitimate child and finally happiness with a female companion Asphodel describes with moving lyricism and striking candor the emergence of a young and gifted woman from her self exileEditor Robert Spoo's introduction carefully places Asphodel in the context of HD's life and work In an appendix featuring capsule biographies of the real figures behind the novel's fictional characters Spoo provides keys to this roman à clef. modernism

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DESTROY HD had pencilled across the title page of this autobiographical novel Although the manuscript survived it has remained unpublished since its completion in the 1920s Regarded by many as one of the major poets of the modernist period HD created in Asphodel a remarkable and readable experimental prose text which in its manipulation of techniue and voice can stand with the works of Joyce Woolf and Stein; in its frank exploration of lesbian desire pregnancy and motherhood artistic independence for women and female experience during wartime HD's novel stands aloneA seuel to the author's HERm. Reading this book felt like walking through a dream The style is stream of consciousn

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Ione Asphodel takes the reader into the bohemian drawing rooms of pre World War I London and Paris a milieu populated by such thinly disguised versions of Ezra Pound Richard Aldington May Sinclair Brigit Pat and Margaret Cravens; on the other side of what HD calls the chasm the novel documents the war's devastating effect on the men and women who considered themselves guardians of beauty Against this riven backdrop Asphodel plays out the story of Hermione Gart a young American newly arrived in Europe and testing for the first time the limits of her sexual and artistic identities Following Herm. This story is as raw as they come It is very much a coming of age tale told from an e

  • Hardcover
  • 240
  • Asphodel
  • H.D.
  • English
  • 27 January 2019
  • 9780822312406

About the Author: H.D.

An innovative modernist writer Hilda Doolittle 1886–1961 wrote under her initials in a career that stretched from 1909 to 1961 Although she is most well known for her poetry lyric and epic HD also wrote novels memoirs short stories essays reviews a children’s book and translations An American woman who lived her adult life abroad HD was engaged in the formalist experimentation

10 thoughts on “Asphodel

  1. says:

    Written in 1921 22 and not published until after HD's death this is a shockingly experimental work for its time and an important text to be added to our understanding of Modernism We move between POV in mid sentence fracture and condense thought and experience and explore issues of female subjectivity and homosocialhomosexual desire It is a difficult work as speech is often not indicated nor are speakers and we move within streams of consciousness without warning But as readers of the PostModern we should be fine with such things right? Its structure is complex and one could read the text as almost random as following disparate trains of thought but to do so would be to neglect the subtle echoing of key words and phrases as well as the locking of certain key events into different moments of perspective There is a use of repetition clearly influenced by Stein as in other of HD's prose works but she makes it her own A little melodramatic too though the interior life of a young artistic person often is However it is in the second part of the book when we leap over the great chasm of the First World War that it all slots together most impressively the way she explores the loss the sense of otherness and of an altered universe is fascinating I think it an important and interesting work and one that deserves a wider readership HD is well known as a poetic genius which she certainly was but her prose remains under read and under acknowledged ”Layers of life are going on all the time only sometimes we know it and most times we don’t know it Layers and layers of life like some transparent onion like globe that has fine transparent layer on layer interpenetrating like water layer on layer circle on circle Plato’s spheres Sometimes for a moment we realize a layer out of ourselves in another sphere of consciousness sometimes one layer falls and life itself the very reality of tables and chairs becomes imbued with a uality of long past an epic uality so that the chair you sit in may be the very chair you drew forward when as Cambyses you consulted over the execution of your faithless servitors”“Drugged and drunk she said she had forgotten Drugged with the hibiscus colour with the odd tremors that that clock made striking striking Clocks were always striking and the colour of the mist was different She was sure that each vibration of each clock sent shivers tremors through the mist Little paths of light The bells of Saint Clement’s Lemons Not lemon light silver rather those high bell notes Notes bellswho is it in me what is it in me hears bells notes? Morse codeGart formulaWalter could you tell me? Bells made forms notes pictures were notes and bells made pictures Walter said so that he could play when she made a picture he said with the two candles against the grey grey of the Clichy studio wallssuppressed something suppressed that sees the very ring and uiver of the clock notes make a strange pattern O I am so happy Georgeand people came in after supper and the candles make exuisite daffodils in the great brown studio One had even understood Katherine Farr in that light Katherine Maybe someone someone somewhere called her Katy when she was little Katy did Katy didn’t She was rather like a Katy did small and compact some little busy insect chirping scraping musing out of its legs not bird music not from music even but music of a sort everybody’s music of a sort understanding other people Yes Katherine did understand was not surprised when she had come back found Her crouched low before the fire Nothing mattered Her had done nothing to matter After all George’s hibiscus red did make a warm coal glow somewhere in her heart She had a heart A red heart Someone everyone who was it? said she wasn’t like Undine as she had no heart “

  2. says:

    Reading this book felt like walking through a dream The style is stream of consciousness which honestly usually annoys me to no end Here though it's compelling and beautiful and readable and it drew me in Flowers and Greek mythology abound in this book And the colors so many colorsThis is an autobiographical story by HD of her time living in Europe before during and after WWI She was contemporaries with artists and writers of the time and some of them feature in her story I was very conscious of reading a true story because despite the dream like feeling of the writing it feels very real The substance of the story may fade with time but feeling of it will stick with me Food a meal of edible flowers Vibrant perfumed sometimes bitter like nothing you've ever eaten and not soon to be forgotten

  3. says:

    Amerikalı yazar Hilda Dolittle 1912 ile 1919 yılları arasındaki yaşamını 1921 22 yılları arasında geçen yaşamını kurgulaştırır ancak el yazması metinin üstüne destroyed yok edin uyarısı koyar Arkadaşları ölümünden sonra basarlar bu yazmaları bu otobiyografik roman dönemin modernizminden etkisinde deneysel edebiyat olarak yazılmıştır Roman kahramanı Hermione Hilda Dolittle Amerikadan Avrupa'ya gelir İngiltere Fransa İtalya'da bulunur ki dönem dünya savaşına doğru ilerleyen sonrasında da savaşın ortasında kalan bir dönemde Hermione bir grup bohem denilebilecek sanatçı içinde geçen yaşamını gözler önüne serer Aşklarını gerek heteroseksüel gerek gerek lezbiyen aşkları gizlemeden açık net aktarır Evliliği evliliğinde ihanetleri falan son derece karmaşık ilişkiler ağına çeker okuru James Joyce ve Virginia Woolfvari bilinç akışı şeklinde yazılmış deneysel bir yapıt bu sanırım bu yüzden fena halde yorucu Zaman zaman da keyifsiz Dönemim toplumsal cinsiyet ve cinsellik sorgulamalarını anlamak açısından iyi bir okuma olabilir ama dediğim gibi beni çok yordu gereksiz yere keyif almadım pek bu okumadan

  4. says:

    HD's fictionalisation of her life from about 1912 1920 continuing with the same cast of masked figures introduced in “HERmione” but now augmented with further characters from London and Paris Most important to remember about this text is that it was not intended for wide circulation at least not in this form; the surviving manuscript was marked “DESTROY” and its author was not available when it was finally edited for publication What we have is like a personal diary or meditation on experience All action is submerged under the waters of a reflective consciousness which becomes uite turbid under the stresses of war and the cultural dislocations introduced There are passages of social observation of Europeans but this work is open to ideas than its predecessor psychoanalysis metaphysics problems of “the self” and the possibilities of religion orthodox and esoteric The strangest resonances here are of the vibrations in the parallel life of Claude Cahun another gifted rich girl on the edges of official cultural history

  5. says:

    Not an easy novel to read today This a modernist feast HD intended this novel or draft of a novel to be destroyed Only part of it was revised Nonetheless this novel delves into the issues of facing the catastrophe of war during the first uarter of the twentieth century and patriarchy at the same time Of course one relies on the other Both are oppressive and destructive but only the second is constant and determines the present and future without too much agency HD’s world encompasses the past the Greek the Egyptian and the Classical influenced by Christianity into a cacophony In the drama Hermione deals with set of constrains in relationship with her sexuality and wife of a man She is not Penelope But trying to be Casandra results the main struggle The writing follows the models of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce while standing on its own as particularly original as a raw material

  6. says:

    This story is as raw as they come It is very much a coming of age tale told from an early expatriate and her journey navigating womanhood in the 1910s early 20s She uses beautifully poetic language to make parallels to the trauma she is personally facing and the devastation of World War 1 but it isn’t a book I would be begging to pick up again or recommend based on its rawness It is an unedited text and was meant to be destroyed by Hilda but one of the people who had a copy sent it to be published after her death I can understand why she’d want it destroyed in that it’s incredibly transparent in her finding herself and the devastating things personally happening to her But as a scholar I can see the necessity of wanting to read this book

  7. says:

    Reading over the blurb for this novel I'm not sure that the writer really had a good think about what the term readable means To me it means something that runs along and is kind of average difficulty wise I'm not saying I'm totally disagreeing with the term readable in the case of this book because it is exactly that readable It at least makes sense half the time This isn't a book to be casually picked up and put down This book demands attention it demands time and it demands a whole lot of brain power It lingers on the borderline of making absolutely no sense at all in parts likely because it's not known how much editing HD had done to this text as part of the evolutionary process it went through to become Bid Me to Live It makes this a really hard book to review because I'm not even sure if I understood a lot of it or even that it is meant to be understood The prose is utterly stunning in this beautiful long drawn out paragraphs of gorgeous writing that makes you want to simultaneously weep and smile It feels like you're in her dream wandering around as it twists and turns around you staring over her shoulder as she goes through her life Sometimes the dream is a nightmare Sometimes it is warm and cosy Was it two in the morning? Odd white mist rising from a silver river far and far and rather cold stars Stars in France are rather cold taking on a sort of artificial glamour like diamond stars on king's breasts I loved seeing the creative process at work There are many passages that are mirrors of some in Bid Me to Live others that are extremely similar Much of the book is not the same as it deals with a slightly earlier time period and with a cast of different characters but there are some overlaps The most obvious constant is the figure of Richard Aldington who is Jerrold Darrington here and Rafe Ashton in Bid Me to Live Here he comes across as a much harsher and potentially dangerous man particularly after he returns from the war DH Lawrence is noticeably absent in Asphodel but Cecil Grey as Cyril Vane again is here as the man she ultimately leaves Aldington for This iteration also deals with her lesbian relationships with Frances Gregg and Bryher which the later version did notThis is not honestly a book I can say I liked per say It was a book I wrestled with and found absolutely daunting extremely hard going but very very rewarding For a book that was marked for destruction by it's author it is very good I don't think it is as good as Bid Me to Live though I liked how she dealt with her lesbianism here I think time and hindsight might have resolved some of the confusion and anger she was feeling in the early 1920's when she was writing this I'd absolutely love to talk to her and find out what the process she went through with writing the Madrigals and whether it truly was part of the healing process for her to get over this era in her life I wouldn't recommend this to the casual reader not really If it interests you and you really want to then do go for it I would recommend Bid Me to Live over Asphodel but this is a very very beautiful work of art It's almost art than literature in some ways

  8. says:


  9. says:

    I am struggling to actually write what Asphodel is about Honestly though it feels like doing that is a useless exercise There is a plot but this is a ‘textured’ novel Anyway here goes Hermione is an American who is now living in Paris Us readers get an insight to her views of European culture and relationships with both men and women then the same thing happens again except in LondonThe thing is Asphodel is about sights and sound being brought out repetition of certain words certain spelling and twisted viewpoints The prose is very rhythmic and after a few pages you get used to itHowever there’s a lot of different styles chucked at you dialogue mashed up with ‘formal’ text so the book shifts narrator wise although not as bad as Jachym Topol’s City Sister Silver I did get a bit frustrated while reading the novelI am trying my hardest to like this narrative form but it honestly is something that just irritates me I’m hoping that there will be one book which helps me change this silly attitude of mine

  10. says:

    To have or to have not an alternative non normative sexualartistic space Is it possible to separate sexual dominancedominatingmaleEzra Pound and artistic relationships at the turn of the century? What to do about pregnancy when you're a female artist? No answers here; only uestions

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