White Women Writing White: H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Whiteness

By Renée R. Curry | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

H.D. presumes a whiteness equivalent to and inseparable from a positively masterful existence. The poet recognizes, interrogates, and struggles with this presumption only to succumb to its invincible allure each time she confronts it. H.D.'s "white" often signifies perfection, in particular, the perfection, power, and dominance of white people. Paradoxically, the poetry also intimates the unspeakable Afroasiatic heritage, including the black bodiliness, fixed in white Western civilization.


NOTES
1.
Friedman argues "The Moravians were able to live with the Indians in peace because they were themselves persecuted exiles, 'political and religious refugees' whose history went back at least to a Greek church in 9th-century Constantinople. . . . The Moravians who founded Bethlehem [ Pennsylvania] came from all over Europe, brought a love for learning and music with them, and looked even to the cultures of Asia, Africa, and Arabia, as well as the Native Americans" ( Exile 46).
2.
A palimpsest is a paper which has been written upon more than once, both the surface writing and fragments of the erasure(s) are visible.
3.
The "writing-on-the-wall" experience, also referred to as the Corfu vision, occurred to H.D. in April 1920 while she was with Bryher on the island of Corfu. The images that H.D. saw took shape on the wall between the foot of her bed and her wash stand. They were outlined in light. They formed sequentially a profile of a head, a chalice, a ladder, and an angel named Victory or Nike. These images seemed to her to have been projected cinematically onto the wall.
4.
Hermetic Books is a written collection dating from the first century A.D. to the fourth century A.D. of Thoth's (the Egyptian god of wisdom) revelations.

-74-

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White Women Writing White: H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Whiteness
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction: "A Poetics of Presumption" 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 2 "Minute Granules on a White Thread": H.D. and a Masterful Whiteness 21
  • Notes 74
  • Chapter 3 "A Sort of Inheritance; White": Elizabeth Bishop and Selective Self-Reflection on Whiteness 75
  • Notes 122
  • Chapter 4 "White: It is a Complexion of the Mind" 123
  • Conclusion 169
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 179
  • About the Author *
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