Tribute to Freud Essay - Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series Tribute to Freud Analysis

Hilda Doolittle

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Tribute to Freud Analysis

Memory is at the heart of any psychoanalysis, and hence memory and the problems that it brings with it—the problems of the past in the present, the influence of the past on the future—are major themes in H. D.’s account of her own analysis. “The years went forward, then backward,” she writes. “The shuttle of the years ran a thread that wove my pattern into the Professor’s.”

Specific memories provided the occasions for H. D. and Freud to explore together the peculiarly defensive, allusive, and finally creative character of memory itself, and so of a life’s story—H. D.’s own—constantly rewritten. The visions in “Writing on the Wall” constitute one such memory, leading back into others from H. D.’s own life and also into that great reserve of memory that is world culture. Another was the memory of a strange visionary shipboard romance in 1920 with one Peter Van Eck (Rodeck) who was or was not physically present, was or was not somehow her father, was or was not somehow D. H. Lawrence, too—this last discovery being made only after her analysis had ended, her book written. It is the allusiveness of her tone that captures this shuttling of years backward and forward, of memory into analysis and so back into life and forward into the written word.

Yet H. D. is not only an analysand but also woman and poet. Therefore specifically feminine concerns are also thematic in the work, though largely subsumed in her search for an authentic voice and vision. “I do not like to be the mother in transference,” Freud tells H. D. He sees her bisexuality and constant recourse to ancient mythologies as resulting from her desire to return to the mother: more specifically to the mother of her early years, before gender complicated her life with its identification of her as a girl, while she could still be the boy-god of one of her analytic dreams. While...

(The entire section is 777 words.)