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Some women in autobiographies tell all; others like noted novelist Bryher merely suggest, they shimmer with shadows. She was 5 in 1900; her parents were Protestant ""middle"", emphasis on character rather than caste; her childhood ranged from the Victorian Jubilee to travels abroad (San Marco on Christmas, Egyptian delights with dragoman and dervish, Zermat and the Rhone). She boarded at Queenswood, ""learning to lie""; in London she discovered Mallarme; Dorothy Richardson's Miriam became her prototype: she wanted to live her own myth, independence at all costs was the cry. Yet was Bryher really emancipated? She scorned ""unhealthy taboos"" but at a boite she refused successively a young man, a girl, hashish; she ""arranged"" one marriage, coolly lived out another. Bryher longed for danger, to explore the mind's inmost recesses; she believed Repression caused the 1914 War, but her remarks on Freud and Havelock Ellis, Gide and Norman Douglas, all of whom she met, are about as revealing as period- piece journals. Ezra Pound made a pass at her, Cocteau did a double take; the beautiful H.D. was her great friend; to be ""truly Greek"" was the thing. From the Imagists to Berlin and Pabst films, from Munich appeasement to refugees and the Resistance, her breathless background unfolds; the London Blitz begins, the autobiography ends- Bryher recalling only her days that mattered when she had given her heart to the goddess of the hunt. Women may be enchanted by such a ""heroine""- continually out-of-focus, full of sensory evocations, stylish sensibility and impressionistic tics; men won't.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1962
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World