Behind the Fictions
Like Huxley's Point Counter Point (1928) and Lawrence's Aaron's Rod (1922),
Asphodel is in the tradition of the roman
clef, originally an aristocratic
subgenre that invited the reader to open aesthetically locked doors with the
keys of privileged knowledge and to savor the piquant tension between the
invented and the real. H.D.'s circle of friends was especially given to writing
in this form, an extension perhaps of their personal politics and intrigues.
Aaron's Rod, for example, contains an unflattering portrait of H.D. as the
self-absorbed Julia Cunningham, and other characters in that novel repre-
sent Aldington, Cecil Gray, and Dorothy Yorke. In 1926, H.D.'s friend John
Cournos published Miranda Masters, a novel about the H.D.-Aldington
marriage and the lives that intersected with it; and Frances Gregg and her
husband Louis Wilkinson coauthored The Buffoon (1916), a lampoon of
John Cowper Powys and other literary figures, including H.D. who is
maliciously caricatured as the American Eunice Dinwiddie.
bearing in mind that at the very time H.D. was creating Her and Asphodel
with a cast of characters derived from present and former friends, several of
those people were likewise busy fictionalizing her.
The following is a list of the characters of Asphodel arranged in alphabeti-
cal order; the name of each character is given along with a chapter number
indicating his or her first appearance or mention in the novel ("I.I" means
part I, chapter I). This in turn is followed by a brief biography of the person
upon whom the fictional character is based. The list also includes signifi-
cant figures alluded to or discussed in the novel. These biographical cap-
sules are designed to provide dates, facts, and contexts that will help orient
the reader and encourage independent research. I have allowed the events
of Asphodel and H.D.'s pre-192o biography to dictate the kind and amount
of information in each entry, telescoping the data accordingly. There is a
minimum of overlap among the entries, which are designed to interlock
with and illuminate each other.