Introduction
H.D.'s Asphodel is a work with a strangely disembodied reputation, a
sort of phantom novel that makes frequent appearances in the crit-
icism on H.D. yet, until now, has had no public, practical existence.
Although it has occasioned important exegesis, lAsphodel itself has
remained unpublished since its completion in the 1920S, a modernist
text akin in its experimental form and spirit to Woolf's Jacob's Room,
Stein's The Making
of
Americans, and Richardson's Pilgrimage. Its
absence from the canon has created a significant historical and aes-
thetic lacuna, impeding a full appreciation of H.D.'s life and work.
Although most serious students of H.D. can outline the plot of
Asphodel, only those who have read the manuscript at Yale University
know more of the actual text than the fragments reproduced in the
criticism. It might have intrigued H.D. to learn that this novel of
lesbian and heterosexual love would one day have a status curiously
similar to that of the poems of her beloved Sappho.
Along with Paint It To-Day (written in 1921), Asphodel represents
one of the earliest surviving examples of the sustained experiments in
autobiographical fiction that H.D. began in an effort to free herself
from "an old tangle"2 of troubled thinking about the events of her
past-in particular those of World War I -and to move beyond the
"H.D. Imagiste" role which seemed to tighten about her after the
publication of her first volume of poetry, Sea Garden, in 1916. As-
phodel is in many ways the aesthetic antithesis of the crystalline
imagist poem: quirky and nebulous rather than tightly focused and
exquisitely controlled; repetitious and recursive instead of immediate
in its effect; intensely personal and psychological rather than "objec-
tive" in its dramatization of the perceiving mind. Like H.D.'s later
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