Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle

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"The poet H. D. (1886-1961) underwent psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna during the spring of 1933 and again in the fall of 1934. She visited his famed study at 19 Berggasse daily, while outside Nazi thugs bullied their way through the streets - an early foretaste of the catastrophe of coming war. Freud was old, fragile, and often ill. H. D. was forty-six and despairing of her writing life, which, for all her success, seemed to her to have reached a dead end. Her sessions with Freud proved to be the point of transition, the funnel into
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Overview

"The poet H. D. (1886-1961) underwent psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna during the spring of 1933 and again in the fall of 1934. She visited his famed study at 19 Berggasse daily, while outside Nazi thugs bullied their way through the streets - an early foretaste of the catastrophe of coming war. Freud was old, fragile, and often ill. H. D. was forty-six and despairing of her writing life, which, for all her success, seemed to her to have reached a dead end. Her sessions with Freud proved to be the point of transition, the funnel into which she poured her memories of the past and associations in the present, and from which she emerged reborn." "H. D. came to Freud at the urging of her companion, the novelist Bryher (1894-1983), the daughter of a wealthy British shipping magnate and long a supporter of the internationl psychoanalytical movement." Although H. D.'s letters to Bryher are at the core of Analyzing Freud, the volume includes a generous selection of Bryher's side of the exchange, as well as sixteen letters by Freud to H. D. and a dozen more to Bryher, most of them published for the first time. In addition, reflecting a larger literary and personal web of associations, the book includes H. D.'s and Bryher's letters to and from Havelock Ellis, Kenneth MacPherson, Robert McAlmon, Ezra Pound, and Anna Freud, among others. Taken together, the 306 letters in Analyzing Freud, introduced and fully annotated by Susan Stanford Friedman, comprise a compelling portrait of a psychoanalysis that amplifies and expands upon H. D.'s formal Tribute to Freud (1974).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811214995
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/25/2002
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.94 (d)

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ANALYZING FREUD

LETTERS OF H.D., BRYHER, AND THEIR CIRCLE

A NEW DIRECTIONS BOOK

Copyright © 2002 The Estate of Perdita Schaffner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0811214990


Chapter One

ACT 1

ANALYSIS WITH FREUD, MARCH 1 - JUNE 15, 1933

Bryher arranged with Freud for H.D.'s analysis to last approximately three months, with six sessions a week. Miraculously to H.D., Freud selected her favorite hour of the day-after tea, from 5:00 to 6:00, when she was accustomed to retreat into reverie, reflection, or reading. The analysis actually lasted about fifteen weeks, when it was interrupted by a bomb scare on June 13th. H.D., Bryher, and Freud agreed that she should leave Vienna immediately, with perhaps a return for more analysis in the fall.

H.D.'s complete letters to Bryher during her stay in Vienna are included without any deletions, arranged in chronological clusters based on the weeks of her analysis. Both women had a sense of the importance of these sessions and the historical significance of H.D.'s letters about Freud. H.D. clearly intended to write in detail about her sessions to an intensely curious and partially envious Bryher. But a juxtaposition of her letters with her reflections in Tribute to Freud and Advent shows that she by no means told Bryher everything. Bryher in turn knew that her own letters would be a much-needed emotional support for H.D., with bits of gossip, news of home, andwhimsical, irreverent portraits of people and events. There is a hiatus in their letters during Bryher's two visits to Vienna, first from March 28th to April 17th and then from June 3rd until they both left on June 17th. The first few weeks of their correspondence (March 1-28) has been printed in full, without deletion, so that the delicate nuance and rhythm of their epistolary communication can be enjoyed. Bryher's letters from April 17th through June 3rd have been selected and excerpted for reasons of space. On the whole, I have deleted sections from Bryher's letters about travel plans, household affairs, gardening, difficulty with her parents, and neighbors. I have retained all references to psychoanalysis, H.D.'s revelations, the dynamics of their immediate ménage, well-known people, sexuality, and the political situation.

Kenneth Macpherson hovers occasionally and ambiguously as a third presence-both as writer and reader-in the letters of H.D. and Bryher. When at Kenwin, he often adds notes to H.D. on Bryher's letters; and H.D. sometimes adds messages for him or addresses him directly in her letters to Bryher. At times, H.D. clearly invites his reading, not quite sure, however, that he will be interested or approve. But at other times, she clearly directs her letters to Bryher, sometimes even instructing her to keep a letter, part of a letter, or certain information completely private. Macpherson left for London shortly after the analysis began and was clearly "out of the loop," at least until his return to Kenwin on March 21st. H.D. instructs Bryher to fill him in about her analysis, but Bryher's letters to Macpherson rarely comply with H.D.'s request. Then in May, he remained at Kenwin while Bryher was in London taking care of her ailing father and was once again clearly not included in the correspondence between the women.

By 1933, Macpherson had already begun his withdrawal from the ménage. His shadowy, marginal presence in the letters between the women inscribes his changing place in their emotional lives and the new directions of his own desire, which was increasingly directed toward his new lover, David Wickham (BN), a youth from Barbados they all called the Black Borzoi, after the wolfhound that was Macpherson's animal totem. In January, Macpherson had temporarily placed the tubercular Wickham in a hospital in London before heading for Switzerland. In March, he returned to London to bring Wickham back to a sanitorium near Kenwin, where he could visit frequently and oversee his care.

Selected letters from H.D. and Bryher to their friends have also been included. These letters present a significant counterbalance to the representations they make in their letters to each other. Macpherson is the most frequent recipient of such letters, and in particular, Bryher's letters to him while she was in Vienna help fill the gap in the correspondence with H.D.

THE FIRST WEEK-March 1-5, 1933

H.D.'s analysis began dramatically, with confrontations, a contest of wills, and tears. Her first letter home should be read alongside the portrait of her first meeting with Freud in the final section of Tribute to Freud (95-99). Here she recalls how she greeted his legendary collection of antiquities before she looked at him and how she defied his warning that she not touch his dog-"`Do not touch her-she snaps-she is very difficult with strangers.'" Sensing that she was no stranger to Freud in the deepest sense, she reached out to the chow, who nuzzled her head against H.D.'s shoulder "in delicate sympathy." "My intuition challenges the Professor, though not in words," she recalls in Tribute to Freud (99), a "wordless challenge" that is also evident in her report to Bryher on how she and Freud compared their heights-she clearly taller at nearly six feet.

Freud's chows, his companions in the last years of his life, were nearly as legendary as his collection of antiquities. Dorothy Burlingham, the American child analyst and close family friend, had given him his first chow, Lun Yu, in the late 1920s. After her death, Yofi (also spelled Jo-fi) became his favorite, remaining at his side until her death seven years later in 1937. In his memoir of his father, Glory Reflected, Martin Freud remembers Yofi lay in the study all day, signaling the end of each hour by getting up to yawn. Everyone who visited was judged by his or her reception from the chows, who were very "selective, even judicious." "When the dogs," especially Yofi, "condescended to be stroked, the visitor enjoyed the best possible introduction" (190-91). With Yofi's immediate acceptance, H.D. made a splendid beginning, and the chows continued to play a central role in her analysis.

The first short week of analysis-from Wednesday through Saturday-covered critically important psychic territory. Tribute to Freud and Advent expand at length "the Moses dream" to which H.D. briefly alludes in her letter to Bryher. Called her "Princess dream" in Tribute to Freud, H.D. had dreamed of a beautiful Egyptian princess descending the stairs to find a baby in a basket, like the Gustav Dore illustration that both Freud and H.D. admired. The question was: who was Moses? Was it Freud, or did she, as Freud surmised, picture herself as the baby, wanting to be the "founder of a new religion" (TF 36-39; A 118-20).

Perhaps he singled out his favorite statue-a tiny bronze of Pallas Athena-to show her as answer. "`She is perfect,'" he told her, "`only she has lost her spear'" (TF 69). Freud's delicate allusion to his theory of women's penis envy goes unmentioned in H.D.'s letter, but she writes at length about it in "The Master," a poem about her analysis that she refused to publish. "I was angry with the old man/ with his talk of the man-strength," she writes; "I argued till day-break/ [...] / woman is perfect" (CP 455). Freud had begun his collection of antiquities a few months after his father's death in 1896, and some 2,000 precious objects lined his desk, waiting room, and study. The tiny 4 1/8 inch bronze Athena-a 1st or 2nd century A.D. Roman copy of a lost 5th century B.C. Greek original-had pride of place in the center of his desk. He later selected this as the sole object to smuggle out of Austria in 1938, before Marie Bonaparte managed to transport the whole collection. She presented the statue to him in Paris as the family fled from Austria to London, putting them, as he writes her in thanks, "under the protection of Athena."

More indirect exploration of the issues raised by the spearless Athena must have come up in their discussions of her birthplace, Bethlehem, and the Moravian custom of holding lighted candles during the Christmas Eve service. "`The girls as well as the boys had candles?'" Freud asked. "It seemed odd that he should ask this," H.D. reflects in Advent (124). But she was pleased when he concluded: "`If every child had a lighted candle given, as you say they were given at your grandfather's Christmas Eve service, by the grace of God, we would have no more problems.... That is the true heart of all religion'" (124).

By the end of the first week, H.D. reassures Bryher, she had told Freud all about the "H.D.-Bryher saga." He had learned about her pregnancy in 1919, the fatherless child, Bryher's saving promise of the trip to Greece, and the idyllic month they spent in the Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall in July of 1919. Here H.D. had the first of the psychic experiences that she wrote about in Notes on Thought and Vision and discussed with Freud: the "`jelly-fish' experience," as Bryher named it. In Advent, she writes that a "bell-jar or half-globe as of transparent glass spread over my head like a diving-bell and another manifested from my feet, so enclosed I was [...] immunized or insulated from the war disaster" (116). She suggested that it must be "some form of pre-natal fantasy." "`Yes, obviously,'" Freud replied; "`you have found the answer, good-good'" (A 168).

The intensities of analysis were balanced by H.D.'s great pleasure in the "student life" of Vienna's coffeehouses. Her joy in being taken for an American "arzstudenten" should be read in the context of her father's plan for his favorite daughter to become a new Marie Curie and her failure at Bryn Mawr College. She withdrew from college, ill and broken, in 1906, after a semester and a half, having done poorly in English, Latin, and math. She had wanted to go to art school, she later writes, but her father had forbidden it (HN 2:26-27).

* * *

18: H.D. to Bryher and Kenneth Macpherson

[Hotel Regina, Vienna] March 1. [1933] Wed. after dinner.

I wrote Alice, and will see her, at her convenience, to-morrow or day after.

I staggered down Berg Gasse, having timed it to take about ten slow minutes, or eight fast, this morning. The entrance was lovely with wide steps and a statue in a court-yard before a trellis and gave me time to powder, only a gent with an attaché case emerged and looked at me knowingly, and I thought, "ah-the Professor's last" and found the door still open from his exit, to let enter cat, who was moaned over by a tiny stage-maid who took off the gun-metal rubbers and said I should not wear my coat. I stuck to the coat, was ushered into waiting room, and before I could adjust before joyless-street mirror, a little white ghost emerged at my elbow and I nearly fainted, it said "enter fair madame" and I did and a small but furry chow got up in the other room, and came and stood at my feet. God. I think if the chow hadn't liked me, I would have left, I was so scared by Oedipus. I shook all over, he said I must take off my coat, I said I was cold, he led me around room and I admired bits of Pompeii in red, a bit of Egyptian cloth and some authentic coffin paintings. A sphynx faces the bed. I did not want to go to bed, the white "napkin for the head" was the only professional touch, there were dim lights, like an opium dive. I started to talk about Sachs and Chaddie [Mary Chadwick] and my experience with ps-a. He said he would prefer me to recline. He has a real fur rug, and I started to tell him how turtle had none, he seemed vaguely shocked, then remarked, "I see you are going to be very difficult. Now although it is against the rules, I will tell you something: YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED, AND YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED IN ME." I then let out a howl, and screamed, "but do you not realize you are everything, you are priest, you are magician." He said, "no. It is you who are poet and magician." I then cried so I could hardly utter and he said that I had looked at the pictures, preferring the mere dead shreds of antiquity to his living presence. I then yelled, "but you see your dog liked me, when your dog came, I knew it was all right, as it would not have liked me if you had not." He said, "ah, an English proverb but reversed, like me and you like my dog." I corrected him, "love me, love my dog" and he growled and purred with delight. He then gave me a long speech on how sad it was for a poet to listen to his bad English. I then howled some more and said he was not a person but a voice, and that in looking at antiquity, I was looking at him. He said I had got to the same place as he, we met, he in the childhood of humanity-antiquity-I in my own childhood. I cried some more and the hour was already more than half gone. It was terrible. I go now at five regularly. I could not tackle him about money but will try to-morrow. He is not there at all, is simply a ghost and I simply shake all over and cry. He kept asking me if I wanted the lights changed. He sat, not at, but on the pillow and hammered with his fist to point his remarks and mine. I am terrified of Oedipus Rex. What am I to do? He finally made me stand beside him and said though I was taller, he was nearly as tall. I had said maybe I was disappointed that he was not a giant, as being taller made me grown up; in my dreams now I was always a child. We compromised ... but he seemed to have won. Then I got as far as the door and the professor said "ah" and there, snug under the rug, were my bags (I had taken two small ones instead of a big one). So I did win after all, he saw then that I was not disappointed in him ... but it was all too awful, I shall never get over Oedipus and I go tomorrow and on and on. He is terrible, dope and dope and dope. We talked of race and the war, he said I was English from America and that was not difficult, "what am I?" I said, "well, a Jew-" he seemed to want me to make the statement. I then went on to say that that too was a religious bond as Jew was the only member of antiquity that still lived in the world. He said, "in fragments." O Lord ... you said he would not talk and he talked half the time and he would not let me lie and dream and made me talk; not with T. and Chaddie, I was never at a loss for a word, but this old Oedipus Rex has got me ... I told him so, sobbing, and said I had not cried in the other hours. O Lord, write me!

This is to you both ... I can't think of you separate as you both saw me off ... O Gawd!

Then I couldn't come back here as I was sobbing so. I found a most exquisite old, old wooden place where they serve white wine and apples, off a courtyard through snow. I asked some girls in a bake-shop for a restaurant for "ladies." They showed me this which is a real old old trouvaille, I doubt if even Alice knows it, O marvelous with old mellowed brown paintings on the wall and such apples. Well ... come. I will show you that "Wien and der Wein" still exists, so funny. How did it happen that I fell in on that? No film has ever done more ... it is the old stuff that people say is non-est. Come to Wien.... in lilac time.

This is silly, hysterical and mad. There was no returned wire, so I judged you had it, so did not send your pre-paid. If the return "not known" comes tomorrow, I will get them to call up the house.

Must stop, the dog [Yofi] is called yo-si or fi-yo or something Chinese. It came and sat in a chair at my feet ... but I suppose it is trained to give the analysands confidence. Anyhow.... long live Oedipus.

Love to all and sundry. I don't dare write in a frivolous and lightsome manner except to you two. Tell T. what it means to me, Dr. F. spoke of him and he knew of Chaddie but didn't want me to talk of them.

Love to old Puss, tell her about it and the Chow. It is faun and buff.

MOG.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from ANALYZING FREUD Copyright © 2002 by The Estate of Perdita Schaffner
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction
Editorial Statement
Acknowledgments
Overview of Letters in Volume
Cast of Characters: Pet Names and Frequent Abbreviations 1
Prologue: Selected Letters, 1932-1933 1
Act 1 Analysis with Freud, March 1-June 15, 1933 29
Between the Acts: Selected Letters, June 1933-October 1934 353
Act 2 Return to Vienna: October 29-December 2, 1934 431
Epilogue: Selected Letters, December 1934-February 1937 511
A Coda 535
App Selected Letters of H.D. to George Plank, 1935 540
Biographical Notes 546
References 579
Index 595
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