Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Bid me to live (H.D.) 158
Happy New Year! One of my New Year's resolutions is to get the VVV back on track, which has been sporadic over the last few months, and aim to read at least 1 VMC a week AND write it up (I still have two un-blogged titles from last year to do).
So, without further ado, I have spent the second day of 2011 (how strange it feels to type that) reading Bid me to live by H.D. My fiance immediately asked what H.D. stood for, so I need to begin by explaining that it was the pen name for the poet Hilda Doolittle.
This book needs setting in context, because as the blurb on the back, the introduction, and afterword by her daughter explain, the book is profoundly autobiographical, to the extent that it is only the names which have been changed.
The book tells the story of Julia Ashton, who is H.D., who in 1917 lives in London. Her husband Rafe is involved in the war and is a transient character coming and going in the narrative. She has just lost her baby. Julia is involved with the Bloomsbury world, and other "characters" in the novel include the DH Lawrences, Cecil Grey, Ezra Pound). Eventually she escapes London for Cornwall.
I struggled through this; the synopsis appealed to me - wartime setting, interesting characters/background, my beloved Cornwall, but I just found it disjointed and difficult to read and never really got to grips with Julia.
H.D. has written one other VMC - Her - which I picked up in Oxfam on the 31st and which was what prompted me to read Bid me to live. According to her page on wikipedia though, she was far more prolific than her VMC output might suggest with a number of collections of poetry and prose.
This one has just been published once by Virago, in an original green edition.