Dear Tiny Heart: The Letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds

Dear Tiny Heart: The Letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds

Dear Tiny Heart: The Letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds

Dear Tiny Heart: The Letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds

Synopsis

Writer, artist, Manhattan gallery owner, and co-editor of the Little Review, Jane Heap was one of the most dynamic figures of the international avant garde, creating a life that defined the "modernist experience" as a syncretic one. Deliberately seeking a low profile throughout her life, Heap has frustrated many scholars interested in her personal life and the extraordinarily vital period in which she lived. Through her correspondence, Heap here reveals her intimate self as well as her more public, creative relationships with some of the legends of modern art, literature, and spirituality. Focusing primarily on the voluminous letters written by Heap to Florence Reynolds, the correspondence included in this volume spans the years from 1908-1949, incorporating additional illuminating letters to Reynolds from other significant figures in Heap's life.

Heap's letters reveal the radical transformation of a dreamy, young Midwestern woman into a forceful, sophisticated arbiter of international modernism and provide rare insight into the struggle for lesbian identity and community during the inter-war period. They detail her eventual abandonment of art in the search for the transcendent in the seductive and esoteric mysticism of George Gurdjieff. Holly Baggett's accompanying essay further highlights the boldness of Jane Heap's aesthetics and life.

Excerpt

Jane Heap in appearance was as formidable as her literary reputa
tion—a handsome heavy-set American with dark cropped hair,
that revealed the size and sculpture of a remarkable cranium. Her
warm brown eyes softened the austerity of her masculine counte
nance, as well as the bright lipstick she wore on her generous
mouth. Her personal magnetism was almost visible.

—Katherine Hulme, Undiscovered Country

Jane Heap and Mina Loy were both talking brilliantly … Jane her
breezy, travelling-salesman-of the world tosh which was impossible
to recall later. But neither of these ladies needed to make sense. Con
versation is an art with them, something entirely unrelated to sense
or reality or logic.

—Robert McAlmon, Being Geniuses Together

There is no one in the modern world whose conversation I haven’t
sampled, I believe, except Picasso’s. So I can’t say it isn’t better
than Jane Heap’s. But I doubt it in spite of his reputation.

—Margaret Anderson, My Thirty Years War

Jane was her name and Jane her station and Jane her nation and
Jane her situation. Thank you for thinking of how do you do how
do you like your two percent. Thank you for thinking how do you
do thank you Jane thank you too thank you for thinking thank you
for thank you. Thank you how do you. Thank you Jane thank you
how do you do.

—Gertrude Stein, “An Appreciation of Jane,”
Little Review, 1929

The letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds, dating from 1908 to 1945, illuminate a brief love affair and lifelong friendship between two women whose bond demonstrates the nexus of sexuality, art, and spirituality for members of the international bohemia during the interwar period.

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