Two Novels: Development And Two Selves
Publication Year: 2000
Bryher (born Annie Winifred Ellerman) is perhaps best known today as the lifelong partner of the poet H.D. She was, however, a central figure in modernist and avant-garde cultural experimentation in the early twentieth century; a prolific producer of poetry, novels, autobiography, and criticism; and an intimate and patron of such modernist artists as Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Dorothy Richardson. Bryher’s own path-breaking writing has remained largely neglected, long out of print, and inaccessible to those interested in her oeuvre. Now, for the first time since their original publication in the early 1920s, two of Bryher's pioneering works of fictionalized autobiography, titled Development and Two Selves, are reprinted in one volume for a new audience of readers, scholars, and critics.
Blending poetry, prose, and autobiographical details, Development and Two Selves together constitute a compelling bildungsroman that is among the first ever to follow a young woman's process of coming out. Through the fictionalized character Nancy, the novels trace Bryher’s life through her childhood and young adulthood, giving the reader an account of the development of a unique lesbian, feminist, and modernist consciousness. Development and Two Selves recover significant work by one of the first experimenters of the modernist movement and are a welcome reintroduction of the enigmatic Bryher.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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BOTH Development and Two Selves have been absent from the literary landscape since the period of their first publication during the early 1920s. This is a result partly of the larger marginalization of the texts written by the women of the modernist...
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THIS is a singular book; in many ways, a remarkable book. To any one interested in the reasons why of personality (as I confess myself to be), it cannot fail to provoke attention. The autobiographic novel has an illustrious ancestry, the autobiography masquerading as novel is almost as numerous...
CHAPTER I. THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
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ADVENTURE and the salt edges of the sea beat against the window clamorous through the rain. Nancy was sitting in a box at the edge of the nursery table, listening to the Swiss Family Robinson being read to her aloud. The box was really a boat, and by the exercise of some imagination...
CHAPTER II. HISTORY
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“I HATE Michel Angelo.” The custodian looked shocked, a passing visitor smiled. Nancy stared at the head of the faun with more than a little fear she would surrender to some compelling power in the rough marble, gazing up at her with such inscrutable eyes, but she was tired of Michel Angelo, the name followed them everywhere, besides nobody could explain to her what a faun was. Outside
CHAPTER III. HIEROGLYPHICS
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HURRIED days in Naples, a sudden decision, watching for the ship in the rifts of sea between the crimson roses, going on board, coming up the first morning to see Stromboli volcanic blue within the distance; storm, leaning on the rail to watch an Arab in scarlet fez spring on deck, first hint of Egypt, these and a confused impression of hieroglyphics, Bedouins, Thotmes, and the desert merged in a vague expectancy as the train left Alexandria. Nancy was bitterly ashamed of herself. She had...
CHAPTER IV. TRUANT WITH ADVENTURE
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THE brown ears of Nancy’s mule twitched in a slow rhythm. She was jolted upwards at an aggravatingly even pace, ahead, as usual, by some hundred yards. Light was regal about the fretted ridges, the luminous air lived; morning, jocund and defiant, leapt on the snowy...
CHAPTER V. ALMOND-BLOSSOM
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A DELICATE foam of almond-blossom shimmered the naked earth, fell lightly on Nancy’s hair, was blown, with what wind there was, to make of ruined Naxos a newer city of living petals. A herd of brown and shaggy goats passed under a geranium hedge, a spear’s length high. A sea of lazuli beat...
CHAPTER VI. APRIL
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“WHAT is a pterodactyl?” The family sighed. Unexpected questions in an imperious voice were ever an ominous sign. Nancy’s habit of reading anything from a time-table to a dictionary was responsible for a great deal of miscellaneous knowledge, but nobody knew where her interest would lead her next. A visitor,...
CHAPTER I. TRAGIC REALITY
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SATURDAY morning. May, in mockery, painted the skies her most radiant blue, the sun set the bees humming in the ivy, and all along the garden path golden-hearted tulips lifted their exultant scarlet heads—but nothing might comfort her. She walked out silently, though inwardly she raged like a caged animal, shaken with that wild anger which only children feel, suddenly deprived of their freedom for some reason they cannot understand. At nine o’clock she was...
CHAPTER II. A CAPTIVE YEAR
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WASTE. The dreary voice of a mistress made the French she read a mockery. Eyes, dulled and unquestioning, followed unnecessary explanations on the blackboard; scribbled notes, copied rules, to which they would never refer. Not a girl was idle, joyfully idle; not a mind was interested; not a thought was alert. The class was heavy...
CHAPTER I. MIRAGE
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NANCY leaned on the rail, watching the horizon, eager for Syracuse. It was too late for almond-blossom, but there was snow on Etna and the South itself to welcome her—the South, after six years. The past few months...
CHAPTER II. “VERS LIBRE”
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“I WANT to read Verhaeren.” Nancy was finishing a French lesson in a vain attempt to recapture the accent lost at school. To an enthusiastic admirer of the Elizabethans with their richness and their freedom, the perpetual Alexandrine was wearying...
CHAPTER III. BARRIERS
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HER book had come. Nancy turned the pages without excitement, almost without interest. Weary of having her ambitions treated as a passing whim, weary for friendship; she had arranged for the best of her verses to be published at her own expense. They had seemed so beautiful when...
CHAPTER IV. SALT WATER
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POEMS, breathed by the sun into material form, the Scillies rose from the summer depths of blue and iridescent marble. There was little of earth about the islands; even the hills had the curve of a wave; on the western rocks white sand rifted through the grass. The sleepiest July, stirring amid...
CHAPTER V. THE COLOUR OF WORDS
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EVER since Nancy could remember, all words, as she heard or read them, appeared to her as colour. It was as natural as breathing, so thoroughly an element of her mind that it was only by accident she discovered, at fifteen, they were printed symbols to the multitude, and to speak...
CHAPTER VI. VISUAL IMAGINATION
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THERE is existence. There is life. Existence is transient. Life is eternal. Existence begins with birth and ends with death. Life is immortality touched and tasted—the gift of a rare moment. Existence is earth. Life is the root and leaf—flower of dream opening from the calyx of reality. The aim of the artist is...
CHAPTER I. TWO SELVES
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TWO selves. Jammed against each other, disjointed and ill-fitting. An obedient Nancy with heavy plaits tied over two ears that answered “yes, no, yes, no,” according as the wind blew. A boy, a brain, that planned adventures and sought wisdom. Two personalities...
CHAPTER II. LEOPARD GOLD
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“BEHOLDING Joseph’s beauty, her knife cut the hand that held the pomegranate.” Professor Foster’s even voice read out the unfamiliar words, translating as he went from Arabic to English. “How very stupid of her,” commented Miss Leyton, the Egyptologist, leaning back against the arm of her chair. “Let us hope she was...
CHAPTER III. PATCHWORK
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“YOU’RE too early,” Miss Cape said as Nancy took down her fencing mask. “It will be another ten minutes before they finish.” The room shook with the stamp of feet overhead. Occasionally a word in French rang out above the clatter of the foils. Nancy shifted...
CHAPTER IV. CHERRY PIE
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“TO WIN freedom I must write a book.” Easy enough
to say but words were brittle playthings. And worse
than words were thoughts.
“Oh, why do the great winds Come whispering to me? My heart’s aboard a drifter That sails the swinging sea.”
CHAPTER V. BROKEN GLASS
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“IT MUST last three years. Don’t tell people so, Nancy, or they will laugh at you. But once a gigantic outbreak of this kind is set in motion it cannot stop suddenly. I’m afraid to think, if we could have peace to-morrow, of the re-organization necessary before normal conditions could be resumed. It has thrust civilization back for fifty years and...
CHAPTER VI. PEACH JAM
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THE Scillies were a saga come to life; tangle of sea thrift and ice plant floating on the current. Gulls flew up from the white flecked tide; drifters were anchored in the Sound. The water under the quay was dark as basalt or where the stones...
CHAPTER VII. ELEANOR
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“HULLO, Eleanor, what do you make of the war? It’s months since I’ve seen you.” Nancy flung over a rug (there was not enough coal to have a fire upstairs) and settled back in her chair under an eiderdown. “It’s smashing us out right enough,” Eleanor grumbled. “The men I know are killed or so broken that they are simply lethargic. And as...
CHAPTER VIII. SCARLET AND SILVER
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SEVEN years. Seven chapters for seven years. Strands of Elizabethan, French and American woven into a rope together. Cherry pie and Bellario, leather and rose leaves, tumble of canyon words, blurring and merging into a background of rain and scarlet as the oyster sky swallowed up bus and pillar box and London night drooped sadly...
CHAPTER IX. REBELLION
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IT WAS queer, the stillness. It crept over the room like a fog. The tension of waiting for a word to burst it, made it hard to bear. It soughed in waves and beyond them, thin, electric, came the rumble of wheels that linked hope up to life. When the wheels ceased the silence pricked needle points into bare flesh....
CHAPTER X. SNOW AND APPLE FLOWERS
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IT BURST like a flame, the South. In the midst of the snow with a pale primrose moon shivering over the crackling trees. Snowflakes pushed like buds out of the twigs. Branches bent like birds, shook themselves, sprang up free. She had to do something or die. Die mentally. Which meant gradual disintegration of all forces, intellectual, physical....
CHAPTER XI. MEETING
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“IF YOU’RE cold there’s a spare blanket at the bottom of the bed.” “Thanks but I’ll be all right. I’ve got on woolly pyjamas.” Nancy lay watching the stars set overhead like a thousand stamens in some purple daisy. The tall silver leaves of a eucalyptus tree fell over the parapet about the flat roof. She had...
Publication Year: 2000