H.D. : her struggle against imagism

Gregson, Ian

American studies
September 1980

Thesis or dissertation

© 1980 Ian Gregson. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The thesis firstly defines Imagism in theory and discusses it in practice. It then examines H.D.'s development from her most Imagist volume Sea Garden to her later, increasingly less Imagist volumes Trilogy, Helen in Egypt and Hermetic Definition. It indicates the particular form which H.D.'s Imagism takes and the reasons for her dissatisfaction with it as a technique. It shows that her continuing exploration of her inner world made the rigorously objective and definitive nature of Imagism increasingly inappropriate to her aims.

The thesis explores H.D.'s interests in magic, alchemy, the occult and various forms of religion and shows that she found justification for these interests in the theories of Freud and Jung. It suggests a connection here with the interests of Symbolist poets and stresses, in this way, the incompatibility between these interests and 'Imagism - which has an implicit view of experience of its own and one fundamentally opposed to that of Symbolism.

The thesis charts H.D.'s attempts to modify her Imagism, to make it more flexible, as the prerequisite to the expression of these mystical interests. It notes her failures and successes and indicates the considerable progress that she made in the direction of enlarged range. It notes the limits of this range - especially her lack of interest in human psychology in its social forms. It notes, also, that Imagism remained, even at the end of her life, a constituent part of her poetry, although Helen in Egypt and 'Hermetic Definition' show her using it more sparingly, and with much more consciousness of its particular usefulness .

Department of American Studies, The University of Hull
Moore, Geoffrey, 1920-1999
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