Essay on H.D.: The Fusion of Classicism and Modernity

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H.D.: The Fusion of Classicism and Modernity With foundations rooted deeply in an appreciation for and understanding of classicism, H.D. fused ancient Grecian literature, thinking and mythology with modernistic feminism, bisexuality and psychoanalysis to establish for herself a prominent voice among her contemporaries. Born Hilda Doolittle in 1886 to Helen and Charles Doolittle, her education was fostered by the intellectual curiosity of her parents (an artist and an astronomer, respectively) and the proximity of The University of Pennsylvania. Closely associated with poet Ezra Pound, she spent much of her adult and professional life surrounded by literary contemporaries. Doolittle was a woman whose work was not limited…show more content…
Her most notable long work, Asphodel, is, as she described it, “an effort to free [herself] of the . . . ‘H.D. Imagiste’ role” that was established soon after the publication of her first poetic volume, Sea Garden (1916). (Spoo ix) The “valuable and intimate account of female expatriation,” Asphodel is “a portrait of young artists whose experiences are very different from those of their male counterparts” (xi). Asphodel is greatly the story of World War I and its social repercussions; it is a story Doolittle struggled to delineate throughout her career, completing several works of varying structures of which Asphodel is the earliest. It is written in two parts, its composition displaying the explicitly modern technique of strict structural control paired with “elusive, digressive” writing (xiii). In addition to the structure of the novel, the content of Asphodel is distinctively modern, as it is marked by digressions regarding lesbianism, the social destruction of the first World War and the plight to understand the self. As a result of her highly identifiable role in the imagist movement and among classicists and translators, the work of H.D. has been widely ignored and exerts little influence within the cannon of English literature (Poets). Of the author’s poems, Denise Levertov writes, “Beautiful though they were, they did not lead me to

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