Form and Content
In March of 1933, H.D. went to Vienna for the special purpose of beginning a series of psychoanalytic sessions with Sigmund Freud because, as she later noted, “there was something that was beating in my brain,” and she believed that Freud would help her “take stock of her modest possessions” and guide her in discovering “how best to steer her course” through her troubles.
H.D.’s sessions lasted until the middle of June. She returned for a five-week series in the autumn of 1934, and she saw Freud briefly four years later, after he moved to London to escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna. From London in 1944, during the conflict that was part of the troubles she had feared and that had brought her to Freud, H.D. described her psychoanalysis with Freud, her “whole translation of the Professor and our work together”; this short work she called “Writing on the Wall,” but it was published as Tribute to Freud.
H.D.’s memoir interweaves details from her sessions with idiosyncratic insights about psychoanalysis and personal feelings about Freud, whom she called the “Professor” or the “Master.” The eighty-five separate entries of “Writing on the Wall” vary from one paragraph to several pages. They provide as much of a profile of Freud as they do of H.D., as she reveals details about her ancestry, childhood, and imagination.
“Writing on the Wall” and “Advent,” the diary H.D. wrote while in Vienna during the first sessions, were published together in 1974 as an updated version of Tribute to Freud. Many editions since 1974 have included selected letters that Freud wrote to H.D. between 1932 and 1937. “Advent” comprises nineteen entries that H.D. made from March 2 to March 25, 1933. Freud sensed that she was writing these entries; by preparing for her daily sessions, she was inhibiting them, he thought, and so he insisted she stop writing the diary. H.D. made one final entry on June 12, after the sessions were over and she was preparing to leave Vienna.
Written a decade apart, “Advent” and...
(The entire section is 854 words.)