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A Curious PerilH.D.'s Late Modernist Prose$
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Lara Vetter

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054568

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054568.001.0001

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Autobiography and Ghost Story

Autobiography and Ghost Story

(p.33) 1 Autobiography and Ghost Story
A Curious Peril

Lara Vetter

University Press of Florida

Chapter 1 examines the first half of The Sword Went Out to Sea, her first postwar novel, arguing that its construction relies upon two disparate genres, autobiography and ghost story, that exist in an inexorable tension, constantly interrogating one another. H.D. wrote throughout her career in autobiographical modes. In this novel, in an implicit critique of her own previous autobiographical novels, H.D.’s narrator, Delia Alton, is so obsessively self-focused that her psyche becomes unstable and the narrative explodes under the pressure of its repetitive autobiographical excess. Readers are offered a tediously transparent autobiographical story that simultaneously asks them to believe, impossibly, in the materiality of ghosts. They are thus confronted with central, unanswerable questions about truth and the nature of reality.

Keywords:   The Sword Went Out to Sea, genre, autobiography, ghost story

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