Analyzing Freud : letters of H.D., Bryher, and their circle /
edited by Susan Stanford Friedman.
New York : New Directions, c2002.
lii, 615 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0811214990 (alk. paper)
More Details
New York : New Directions, c2002.
0811214990 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 579-594) and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter



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, and whimsical, 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.


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.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-05-01:
Friedman's superbly edited volume includes 307 letters written in 1933-34, during which time Hilda Doolittle, at the urging of her companion Bryher, was twice an analysand of Sigmund Freud. Admonished by Freud to discontinue her journal writing, H.D. nevertheless wrote daily letters to Bryher and others, letters that permit a glimpse into both the powerful sessions and prewar tensions and life in Vienna. The volume also includes letters from Bryher and Freud himself, many published here for the first time. Author of previous books on H.D., including Penelope's Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.'s Fiction (CH, Nov'91), Friedman (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) organizes the letters dramatically. "Act I" covers March 1 through June 15, 1933 (H.D.'s first encounter with Freud); "Act II" October 29 through December 22, 1934; a "prologue," "interlude," and "epilogue" contain earlier and later relevant letters. All are carefully annotated. Under "Cast of Characters" Friedman explains nicknames and abbreviations; short narratives place the letter groupings in historical context. Biographical notes and index are excellent. A fine companion to H.D.'s Analyzing Freud (1974), this volume will be of special interest to students of gender studies and historians of psychoanalysis. It is one of the best editions of letters this reviewer has seen. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. J. C. Kohl emerita, Dutchess Community College
This item was reviewed in:
New York Times Book Review, December 2002
Choice, May 2003
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Publisher Fact Sheet
A fully annotated w/index and photographs landmark book in the studies of Freud, H.D., modernism, gender, and sexuality.
Unpaid Annotation
Freud was old, and fragile. H.D. was forty-six and despairing of her writing life, which seemed to have reached a dead end, for all her success. Her sessions with Freud proved to be the point of transition, the funnel into which were 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 (1884-1983), the daughter of a wealthy British shipping magnate. Freud welcomed H.D. as a creative spirit whose work he respected, but he did ask her not to prepare for their sessions, write about them in her journal, or talk about them with her friends, especially Bryher, who remained home in England. H.D.'s letters from Vienna filled the gap. Breezy, informal, irreverent, vibrant with detail, they revolve around her hours with Freud, making her correspondence unique in the spectrum of reminiscences, journals, memoirs, and biographies swirling around the legacy of the "Professor" and the movement he founded.The volume includes H.D. and Bryher's letters, as well as letters by Freud to H.D. and Bryher, most of them published for the first time. In addition, the book includes H.D. and Bryher's letters to and from Havelock Ellis, Kenneth MacPherson, Robert McAlmon, Ezra Pound, and Anna Freud, among others.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Editorial Statementp. xxxix
Acknowledgmentsp. xlv
Overview of Letters in Volumep. xlviii
Cast of Characters: Pet Names and Frequent Abbreviationsp. 1
Prologue: Selected Letters, 1932-1933p. 1
Analysis with Freud, March 1-June 15, 1933p. 29
Between the Acts: Selected Letters, June 1933-October 1934p. 353
Return to Vienna: October 29-December 2, 1934p. 431
Epilogue: Selected Letters, December 1934-February 1937p. 511
A Codap. 535
Selected Letters of H.D. to George Plank, 1935p. 540
Biographical Notesp. 546
Referencesp. 579
Indexp. 595
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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