Hermione

Hermione

Hermione

Hermione

Synopsis

This autobiographical novel, an interior self-portrait of the poet H. D. (1886-1961) is what can best be described as a "find,' a posthumous treasure. In writing HERmione, H.D. returned to a year in her life that was "peculiarly blighted." She was in her early twenties--"a disappointment to her father, an odd duckling to her mother, an importunate, overgrown, unincarnated entity that had no place... Waves to fight against, to fight against alone...'I am Hermione Gart, a failure'--she cried in her dementia, 'l am Her, Her, Her."' She had failed at Bryn Mawr, she felt hemmed in by her family, she did not yet know what she was going to do with her life. The return from Europe of the wild-haired George Lowndes (Ezra Pound) expanded her horizons but threatened her sense of self. An intense new friendship with Fayne Rabb (Frances Josepha Gregg), an odd girl who was, if not lesbian, then certainly of bisexual bent, brought an atmosphere that made her hold on everyday reality more tenuous. This stormy course led to mental breakdown, then to a turning point and a new beginning as her own true self, as "Her"--the poet H.D. Perdita Schaffner, H.D.'s daughter, who can remember back to the time in 1927 when her mother was barricaded with her typewriter behind a locked door, working on this very novel, has provided a charming and telling introduction.

Excerpt

Her Gart went round in circles. "I am Her," she said to herself; she repeated, "Her, Her, Her." Her Gart tried to hold on to something; drowning she grasped, she caught at a smooth surface, her fingers slipped, she cried in her dementia, "I am Her, Her, Her." Her Gart had no word for her dementia, it was predictable by star, by star-sign, by year.

But Her Gart was then no prophet. She could not predict later common usage of uncommon syllogisms; "failure complex," "compensation reflex," and that conniving phrase "arrested development" had opened no door to her. Her development, forced along slippery lines of exact definition, marked supernorm, marked subnorm on some sort of chart or soul-barometer. She could not distinguish the supernorm, dragging her up from the subnorm, letting her down. She could not see the way out of marsh and bog. She said, "I am Hermione Gart precisely."

She said, "I am Hermione Gart," but Her Gart was not that. She was nebulous, gazing into branches of liriodendron, into network of oak and deflowered dogwood. She looked up into larch that was now dark, its moss-flame already one colour with the deciduous oak leaves. The green that, each spring, renewed her sort of ecstasy, this year had let Her down. She knew that this year was peculiarly blighted. She could not predict the future but she could statistically accept the present. Her mind had been too early sharpened.

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