The Paris Review

H.D. Notebook, Part 2

Headnote: Part 1 of this piece appeared here (on The Paris Review Daily), on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Mr. Madrid originally intended to publish part 2 in June, but lost track of time. You needn’t read part 1 to understand part 2. There is no part 3.


❧ 1
Poetry readers who spend a lot of time in used bookstores will have seen some of H.D.’s novels from time to time. They stand out because their titles are unfamiliar, and because they are recently printed books. One does not find old-looking hardcovers.

Asphodel. What is that. HERmione. What is that. Majic Ring. The White Rose and the Red. Friends of modernism say: “Why have I never heard of these?”

Before my H.D. project, my assumption was that these books must have been previously judged unfit for publication on the grounds of their containing explicit scenes of girl love. Wrong. None of them have explicit scenes of any kind of love. The only hot-sex bit in any of the H.D. prose I’ve read actually was printed in her lifetime. Privately printed, but printed. It’s in her novella Nights, and it’s woefully hetero. (It’s her and that musician guy, father of her only kid.)

My next was private but whose poetry was invariably intended for the public. Most people are just the opposite, but that doesn’t matter, ’cuz she  intend to publish these novels and memoirs—the ones she finished anyway, with maybe like one exception. She sent ’em around or allowed Norman Pearson to send ’em around for her. They just never found takers.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review9 min read
Emeric Pressburger’s Lost Nazi Novel
In her monthly column, Re-Covered, Lucy Scholes exhumes the out-of-print and forgotten books that shouldn’t be. Today, the words “written, produced, and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger” are considered a stamp of genius. The mid-twe
The Paris Review2 min read
Nick Tosches in a Trench Coat
Nick Tosches, music writer and biographer, died at the age of sixty-nine on Sunday. I spent an awful lot of time around Nick Tosches in the late seventies. We’d wind up in the same places, we were published in the same crummy magazines, and we’d stu
The Paris Review5 min read
Women Who Enjoy Pleasure
Novelist Lucy Ellmann’s perennial and revolutionary subtext is that women should enjoy pleasure. Lucy Ellmann’s great theme is the grim impossibility of proportion: emotional, moral, cosmic. Her 1998 novel Man or Mango? begins with a disbelieving la