Volume VII, Number 2, Fall 2011

"Tropes of Intersubjectivity: Metalepsis and Rhizome in the Novels of H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)" by Enikő Bollobás

Enikő Bollobás is Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies at Eötvös Lóránd University. She has published four books: They Aren’t, Until I Call Them: Performing the Subject in American Literature (2010), Az amerikai irodalom története [A History of American Literature] (2005), Charles Olson (1992), and Tradition and Innovation in American Free Verse (1986). Her numerous essays have appeared in international and Hungarian scholarly journals, including Paideuma, American Quarterly, Journal of Pragmatics, Language and Style, Word and Image, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, AMERICANA, Jelenkor, Holmi, Pompeji, Helikon, Műút, A Dunánál, Nagyvilág, Magyar Napló. Email:

Patricia Waugh, in her by now classic Feminine Fictions, identifies a “collective concept” of the subject in the works of women writers: “Much women’s writing can, in fact, be seen not as an attempt to define an isolated individual ego but to discover a collective concept of subjectivity which foregrounds the construction of identity in relationship” (10). This idea of the construction of the relational subject appears, Waugh claims, well before postmodernism, notably in women modernists such as Woolf, Richardson, Mansfield, and Stein. In The Waves, for example, Woolf seems to have “accepted and fictionally embodied the recognition that differentiation is not necessarily separateness, distance, and alienation from others, but a form of connection to others” (11). This understanding of identity and selfhood is very different, Waugh insists, from the way male modernists perceived the construction of the self through impersonality and separation and by emphasizing the “virtues of distance, separateness, objectivity, independence” (19). Not feeling comfortable with this dominant aesthetics of impersonality, women writers “have sought alternative conceptions of subjectivity, expressing a definition of self in relationship which does not make identity dependent axiomatically upon the boundaries and distance, nor upon the subjugation of others” (22).

Waugh connects this alternative idea of female subjectivation with Jessica Benjamin’s feminist psychoanalytic theory of domination and intersubjectivity, as well as Nancy J. Chodorow’s psychoanalytic social theory. Critical of Margaret Mahler’s separation-individuation theory overemphasizing separation and limiting it to separation from oneness, Benjamin posits the possibility of a subject-subject relationship (instead of a subject-object relationship), and stresses the importance of active engagement with others in the development of the self. This “intersubjective view” maintains that “the individual grows in and through the relationship to other subjects,” Benjamin writes, and reorients “the conception of the psychic world from a subject’s relations to its object toward a subject meeting another subject” (Bonds of Love 19-20). Aware of the dangers that women’s relational self might become one of those “American tropes” which fix feminine identity within the binary system and “reinstall hierarchical gender categories as if they were simply pre-given” (Shadow of the Other 36). Benjamin posits the possibility of symmetry in the intersubjective paradigm. Breaking with the “logic of only one subject” (42), which necessarily implies the Other as object, for whom subjectivation is only possible by reversal, she insists on an “inclusive subjectivity that can assume multiple positions and encompass the other within” (85). This is what she calls a “psychic subjectivity,” allowing for “multiple, non-identical” subject positions (87). Chodorow’s theory is rooted in the “object-relations theory” of Alice and Michael Balint, Melanie Klein, and others and is based on “a search for meaningful subjectivity and intersubjectivity” (Chodorow 145). This theory also emphasizes the “historically situated engagement” of people with others (148) and “the relational construction of the self (149). This theory, then, is capable of incorporating intersubjectivity and accommodating the interrelations between the individual and the community.

In this paper I will read five prose texts by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) through this alternative model of female subjectivation and intersubjectivity, claiming not only that H.D.’s novels are about the relational, alliance-based self, but that here plot is generated by the narrativity of two recurring tropes, metalepsis and rhizome (itself created by metalepses). I will discuss the two romans à clef, Asphodel (wr. 1921-22; publ. 1992) and HERmione (wr. 1927; publ. 1981); the two pieces of autobiographical fiction, Palimpsest (wr. 1923-24; publ. 1926) and The Gift (wr. 1941-44; publ. 1982); and her therapy notes, Tribute to Freud (wr. 1944; publ. 1984). What is common in these texts is that the selves, of which there seem to be always two or more, easily cross between the narrative levels, establishing a multiplicity of relations to be formed in.

Insisting on the symmetry of human relations, H.D. breaks with the logic of subject-object relations, and presents, instead, subjectivities that are capable of entering into subject-subject relationships with others as much as with their own selves. In these texts coded by early feminism and early psychoanalysis, the characters seem to move freely between the multiple levels of fiction and memory, thereby constructing the relational, alliance-based self of the woman as well as an acentered system of the unconscious.

How do the tropes figure in the construction of this relational self? I will start with metalepsis. A trope clearly overrepresented in H.D.’s fiction, metalepsis allows narrators as well as fabula actors to leap across the various frames and embedded structures with ease and playfulness, while the trope also gains a plot-potential in the sense that the narrativity of the trope develops into a plot. Moreover, metalepsis can be linked in H.D.’s case to two dominant discourses of modernity, psychoanalysis and feminism—which both, as Maggie Humm claims, “use a model of repression” (56), as well as, one might add, a model of the return of the repressed. If, indeed, fabula is the “execution of a program,” as Mieke Bal claims (204), then this program has somehow to do with modernism itself, in particular its programs of feminism and psychoanalysis, both as much endorsed as subverted in these texts.

Given the multiple levels, layers, and frames of the genres of the autobiography, autobiographical fiction, and roman à clef, metalepsis acts as a Foucauldian “shifter” in the sense that not only does the author develop “second selves” but rather a “plurality of egos”(1631), where subjects of one level might turn up in relationships in the other. H.D.’s texts perform the narrative bravura of opening up between the extratextual, extradiegetic, diegetic, and hypodiegetic levels of the narrative, thereby extending the fabula beyond the events. Moreover, given the constative-performative (or representational-ontological) aporia at work in all autobiographies and autobiographical fiction, it is equally undecidable whether real or fictional-imagined events are being narrated—whether, in other words, the narrator narrates or constructs herself. Because while always insisting on her chronicling events that have happened in the spatial-temporal reality of her life when pulling in diverse fictional threads and structures, the narrator leaves contradictory signals in the texts, suggesting two parallel intentions: that of reporting (at the level of the frame narrative) and that of self-construction (at the level of the embedded narrative).

This toying with the borders between fiction and reality—as well as frame and embedded narrative, and the described and the performed—is most obvious in the two romans à clef, Asphodel and HERmione. The novels are linked at the level of the plot too: HERmione gives an account of the events occurring before those narrated in Asphodel, the novel written earlier. In HERmione, the protagonist, Her, after two unsuccessful relationships, finds her voice by using her body: “Her feet were pencils tracing a path through a forest” (223). “Now the creator was Her’s feet, narrow black crayon across the winter whiteness” (223). Then in Asphodel she finds true love, whose presence also allows her creativity to flourish. As a way of acknowledging what she received from this woman—that her gift of writing could take form—Hermione makes a very particular gesture of intersubjectivity: she offers her own daughter as a gift to her lover, thereby proclaiming the child as the token of their alliance.1

Through both texts, Hermione exists in two distinct worlds: that of the novel and that of language. “[T]hey call her Her short for Hermione” (Asphodel 41). As is suggested by the privileged narrative position of the title, Hermione easily and continually crosses these boundaries between fiction and language, moving freely between the diegetic world and grammar. Indeed, as homonym of a subject’s proper name and the accusative/dative declension form of the third person personal pronoun, Her is at once grammatical subject and object, folding, as it were, in itself a relational selfhood capable of acting as both agent and patient. However, with the pronoun constantly distanced and alienated into proper name, and with the coincidence of the accusative/dative and subjective forms foregrounding Her’s relationality, the woman is all relationality, uncertain of either her diegetic or grammatical self.

Asphodel and HERmione can both be read as quest narratives coded by the discourses of modernity, with a protagonist who is seeking the fulfillment of female creativity and sexuality. Having appropriated the ethos of modernity, she does not doubt the existence of hidden dimensions; indeed, she senses a Chinese box structure of connected worlds, where every box contains another: “It appears,” she muses, “there is a world within a world” (Asphodel 38). Her certainty extends to imagining the visible and audible physical world as controlled by the layers of culture and sexuality, as well as layers of the unconscious. For the female experimental modernist, these layers form either hierarchical metaphoric structures or non-hierarchical metonymical narrative spaces, and in both cases it is metalepsis that grants passageways across the structures and spaces.

H.D. seems to present all the varieties of narrative metalepsis as described by Gérard Genette (Narrative Discourse 234-37). Some belong to the classical type, where an extradiegetic or even extratextual character intrudes into the diegetic world (this is the “Virgil has Dido die” type in Genette). “Her thoughts were not her thoughts. They came from outside,” claims the narrator of Asphodel (125). You have real people move into books, and a friend literally “drops in,” into, The Afternoon of a Faun.

It was all a book. They have wandered out of a world into a book. They were dream people and they were wandering in the pages of a book. (5)

She had asked Dalborough to drop in and he dropped in the middle of the Après Midi d’un Faune. (44)

Inverse metalepsis (or antimetalepsis) appears even more frequently, where a diegetic character crosses over into the extradiegetic or extratextual world. Here we have multiple frames broken, since the extradiegetic—in fact the diegetic world for us readers—will be presented as having fiction intrude into it too. Indeed, what Hermione understands as her own extradiegetic life—diegetic for us—will be fully controlled by the mythological character Hermione, who is fictional for Her Gart as well. The narrator, however, hardly distinguishes between the extradiegetic and the diegetic: appropriating the fictional as well as the real, she claims both of these to belong to her own narrative. Repeatedly crossing over into the various diegetic levels—her own lived extradiegetic world and the intradiegetic world of her narrated fiction—she will have the textual and the autobiographical coexist in the same space.

I know Shakespeare is real. I’d count myself a king of infinite space and that other thing—I can’t remember—things like sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes. Those things are real. The child in Trois Contes dancing in tight drawers for the head of John the Baptist is somehow real, even Aphrodite. (53)

Shakespeare’s “real” is, of course the reality of his texts, the authorial name “Shakespeare” serving as a synecdoche for the plays. And the claim that “Shakespeare is real” will be justified by the smooth incorporation—without the distancing quotations marks—of the material text, the textual body, into the body of the novel.

Inverse metalepsis seems to have a very particular effect here: raising doubt in the reality of the extratextual level, it surrenders the outside world to uncertainty. Unmaking or undermining the category of both the real and the fictional, metalepsis disrupts ontological as well as narrative hierarchies (the hierarchy of extratextual-extradiegetic-diegetic-hypodiegetic) in that on the one hand it deprives extratextual characters of their existence in spatial-temporal reality, while on the other it assigns ontological status to fictional characters. It is of this type of narrative rupture that Genette wrote,

Le plus troublant de la métalepse est bien dans cette hypothèse inacceptable et insistante, que l’extradiégétique est peut-être toujours déjà diégétique, et que le narrateur et ses narrataires, c’est-à-dire vous et moi, appartenons peut-être encore à quelque récit. (Figures, essais III, 245)2

With the diegetic boundaries becoming porous and permeable, worlds previously assumed separate will now merge, the outer becomes inner, and the inner outer, and the hierarchies between them get broken. And among all these levels, frames, boxes, and worlds, it is metalepsis that allows free transit for the self constantly in motion, seeking relations.

Given the fact that, as the narrator of Asphodel claims, “[t]hings existed on different planes” (88), Hermione will serve as the meeting point of all the words and (mythological) figures that might be associated with her name:

Hermione, Helen and Harmonia. Hymen and Heliodora. . . .
Hellas, Hermione, herons, hypaticas . . . did names make people? (168)

The signifier does not describe but rather brings about the signified, itself a signifier, together with all its (textual) features, character traits, and possible fates. For example, the winged Hermes resides within Hermione’s body, while also stepping out of it some times; but whenever she leaves Her’s body, she returns thereafter: “Conscientiously she had crawled back to her body, after she had winged out, gold, gold gauze of wings” (144). She is in Paris, Shanghai, New Orleans, or Rotterdam at the same time; or in Plato’s spheres, which will allow her to enter the deep levels of the unconscious.

Layers of life are going on all the time only sometimes we know it and most times we don’t know it. Layers and layers of life like some transparent onion-like globe that has fine, transparent layer on layer (interpenetrating like water) layer on layer, circle on circle. Plato’s spheres. Sometimes for a moment we realize a layer out of ourselves, in another sphere of consciousness, sometimes one layer falls and life itself, the very reality of tables and chairs becomes imbued with a quality of long-past, an epic quality so that the chair you sit in may be the very chair you drew forward when as Cambyses you consulted over the execution of your faithless servitors. (152)

So the narrating-I and the narrated-I move simultaneously on and between several layers. Levels of the real get multiplied for two reasons. One, given the genre of the roman à clef, some characters retain their real (extradiegetic) name, while others are given fictional names to be unlocked with the help of the key attached to the novel. Two, the narrating/narrated-I imagines the events on several discursive levels at the same time. Her Gart, being well aware of the fact that everything she does is culturally motivated, is not the least surprised when she understands that she lives the life of Astraea, while her partner, Fayne Rabb, the life of the sister of Charmides (147). As such, every (diegetic) moment of her lived life turns into the interpretive (metadiegetic) narration of this life.

This goes on in the form of endless interior monologues, the narrative mode where living one’s life and narrating it coincide. The events played out at the diegetic and metadiegetic levels will then come together in a textual tapestry, a multi-dimensional one, if you will, while the truth of the fictional will have the power to turn narrated events into events that really happen—such that, as we read in the novel, “never could have happened, but [it] was true” (8). Finally, when a line from W.S. Landor is evoked in the title of the novel (“There are no fields of asphodel this side of the grave”), metalepsis will extend into the realms of life and death, with their own permeable borders, and the novel (purportedly a flower from the fields of the underworld) is offered as nourishment to long-dead actors.

I would like to bring into my discussion the other trope now, rhizome, which is, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari claim, “an acentered, nonhierarchical, non-signifying system” (23). In H.D.’s novels the rhizome comes about, I want to suggest, as metalepses connect the different narrative layers, forming what Deleuze and Guattari call “plateaus.” Rhizomatic space allows for the coexistence of many worlds, where the actors and actants may come together in endless permutations to form the open matrix of the centerless rhizome, where no connection is privileged over any other. The rhizome is the “assemblage” (9) connecting any one point to any other point, whereby “the multiple [is] made” (7), whose fabric “is the conjunction, ‘and . . . and . . . and . . .’” (27; ellipses in original). It is not an “arborescent systems,” that is, a “hierarchical systems with centers of significance and subjectification” (18); rather, the rhizome is a map: “open and connectable in all its dimensions” (13), with “multiple entryways” (14). This is the map of thought, short-term memory, and the unconscious, “always under conditions of discontinuity, rupture and multiplicity” (17).

Indeed, in Asphodel rhizome develops into a map permeating the whole novel, granting connections between layers considered discrete and separate in the dualist thinking of High Modernism. Here mythology, dream world, and the unconscious all connect through their rhizomatic plateaus punctuating the extradiegetic and diegetic world of the novel.

You can stand on the field and you can watch the mark your foot makes, you can see your foot ringed with blue thyme, or with cyclamen. . . . and you may stoop down and gather the broken cyclamen where your foot stepped and lay them at the feet of the marble Nereid. . . . The room of the Nereids where Darrington had sought her. . . . the London mist had woven a garment, a veil, the veil of Aphrodite. (136)

In this passage, blue thyme and cyclamen—as the vehicles of metalepsis—will connect in two directions: to the foot of the real person and of the museum statue, marking the two plateaus of the rhizome. Similarly, the veil and mist connect both towards London and Aphrodite. In this process all that was performed in myths, dreams, and the unconscious will—as culturally coded performative constructions—metaleptically enter into the diegetic real. Elsewhere, the protagonist’s unconscious is mapped by the plateaus occupied by the Druids, sacrificial stones, Dionysius, and the body of Christ:

Classic images here blend with Druidical surroundings, the round stones placed in their circle of seven . . . the body (obviously) of some God. Dionysius. Druid priests. Ivy. The crown of the sacrificed. . . . Classic images here blend with the images of Christian beauty. (153-54)

The Druids, the sacrificial stones, Dionysius, and the body of Christ seem to form an assemblage where no grouping or privileging is established either to foreground one item or to exclude another. No order is established for their connecting either; each is connectible with any other, and in any permutation. Or, to take yet another example:

And the field will trigger a whole set of rhizomatic associations: Kisses held Morgan le Fay and she was Circe, Calypso to those kisses. . . . Kisses brought back people, pictures, a honey-colored Correggio nymph, the wide wings of the marble Nike . . . Ivory of small winged Erotes. Some Dionysius with a head band. The Nereids—“Do you remember those violets that you used to get me?” (195)

Here different mythological figures interact in the psyche of Morgan le Fay: Circe, Calypso, a Correggio nymph, Nike, Erotes, Dionysius, the Nereids—all of them together articulating her (diegetic) relationship with Darrington, elevating it from the unconscious to the conscious levels of understanding. While the woman establishes her multiple intersubjective connections, the unconscious is given form and language.3

Palimpsest is similarly organized by metalepsis and rhizome: in this case it is what Dorrit Cohn calls internal metalepsis, the one built upon multiple embeddings (125, 126), and forming rhizomatic connections. Events take place on different temporal planes in this classroom example of intertextuality, yet still simultaneously (with the superimposition of times and spaces), thereby breaking the linearity of historical time. Violating all binary and hierarchical categories associated with patriarchal thinking, H.D. turns metalepsis into narrative technique, as she brings together the three female questing heroes, living in three different times and places. Hipparchia in Rome in 75, B.C.; Raymonde in post-WWI London; and Helen in Egypt in 1925. The various levels get further multiplied, as the several time planes and layers of consciousness keep hiding and emerging in these interlocking palimpsests.

Behind the Boticelli, there was another Boticelli, behind London there was another London, behind Raymonde Ransome there was (odd and slightly crude but somehow ‘taking’ nom-de-guerre) Ray Bart. There was Ray Bart always waiting as there was behind the autumn drift and dream anodyne of mist, another London. A London of terror and unpremeditated beauty. A London of peril and of famine and of intolerable loveliness. (104)

With earlier writings continually written over in these metonymically connected palimpsests, the rhizomatic connections are only multiplied. The metaleptic-rhizomatic palimpsest structure derives from another circumstance as well: the protagonist of each section is engaged in the writing of texts, which they inherited and which now enter into a dialogue with earlier texts: Hipparchia is engaged in finishing her dead uncle’s book on botanics; the poet Raymonde hears the words of her poetic alter ego Ray Bart when writing; while Helen, who works as a “high-class secretary” to a famous archeologist, is busy transcribing the traces of a forgotten past that is being literally unearthed by the master. Very much aware of the existence of predecessors buried into the deep layers of history, consciousness, and the text, Raymonde and Helen are determined to bring to the surface these hidden, buried, suppressed pre-images of their individual and collective lives.

She wanted to dive deep, deep, courageously down into some unexploited region of the consciousness, into some common deep sea of unrecorded knowledge and bring, triumphant, to the surface some treasure buried, lost, forgotten. (179)

These actants are certain that their lives take place in parallel worlds and texts; and so is the extradiegetic narrating-I of H.D.’s overtly autobiographical therapy notes, Tribute to Freud. The sessions with Freud in Vienna only strengthened her conviction that she lived in the past, present, and future simultaneously; participated in myths as much as in the physical spatial-temporal world, and enjoyed the rhizomatic assemblage whereby any point, moment, or character of any layer of consciousness could connect to any other point. It is by what Monika Fludernik calls “retrospective scene shifts” (390) that she brings forth mythology and the past, demanding that they explain the events of the present (this is what C.G. Jung and C. Kerényi, citing Thomas Mann’s essay on Freud, called a “quotation-like life” [4]). At some places these metaleptic leaps seem to come gracefully, for example, when associating Freud with the doctor figure in the Rembrandt once hanging in her father’s Pennsylvania study (Tribute to Freud 34-35), or when Freud helps her to identify in his own collection that small statue H.D. once saw in a house in Cornwall (172). At other times she is afraid that metalepsis would be final and one-directional only, preventing her return to the world where her beloved ones live. This is what happens in a returning dream: she wakes up to find herself in a hotel other than where her mother and Bryher stay; moreover, she is sent away from the hotel—as well as world—where she had accidentally found herself at the start (162-63). Metalepsis structures—much like the Freudian operation of condensation—unconscious desires and memories, while also displacing them onto other levels.

H.D. attached prime significance to the dualisms that surrounded her. All the major players of her life seemed to have come in twos: she had two brothers and two half-brothers; two younger sisters (both dead); two mother figures (with the two marriages of the father), and two sets of maternal grandparents. What is more important: all the real players of her life seemed to have their fictional or mythological counterparts. Sometimes the figures of these pairs change places and continue their lives in the world of their counterparts.4 Based purely on the pun which their initials provoked, H.D. viewed D.H. Lawrence her intellectual twin brother (Tribute 141), while also counting twins among the Greek mythological figures, who often seemed to live each others’ lives (Pallas Athené and Niké [69]). From this perspective the primary duty of the narrating-I was to balance the twin worlds from which the pairs were taken, who constantly wanted to move into those other, parallel, worlds.

Like a juggler, she considered two regions, two shining and slippery worlds, to be balanced carefully, lest one, lest the other topple her over; she must keep suspended, she must hold balanced, two exactly shaped, exactly weighted, yet mysteriously exactly antagonistic worlds. She must keep, miraculously, by very cautious manipulation, her own balance meanwhile. (Palimpsest 176)

Twins, pairs, doubles, and other forms of twos establish, in H.D.’s fiction a relation, as Mary Jacobus claims in a different context (with reference to Freud’s essay, Delusions and Dreams, on Jensen’s novella, Gradiva), with the uncanny (92). If Shoshana Felman is right in interpreting the uncanny (or unheimlich) as “the anxiety provoked through the encounter with something which, paradoxically, is experienced as at once foreign and familiar, distant and close, totally estranged, unknown, and at the same time strangely recognizable and known” (33), then H.D.’s doubles—presenting, through metalepsis, the Same as the Other, and the Other as the Same—surely belong to the realm of the uncanny. The feeling of unheimlich comes from the unpredictable connections bringing together, often in a rather random manner, players taken from different fictional worlds. Indeed, the rhizome disregards sections and levels, making for and/and connections only.

Originally she called on Freud in Vienna in 1933 because she had this choking-suffocating feeling of being trapped by the advancing war: she felt locked into a single reality, a single text. She was afraid that the nervous breakdown which World War I had brought about earlier would hit her again. She was afraid that wars had also come in pairs, and felt that she would not live through another war. She willingly entered analysis even though she knew that the “Professor” would want to dig down to the deepest layers, and the analysis which Freud refers to as when he “struck oil” (Tribute 93)would take her back to the years between 1914 and 1919, and make her live through her “actual personal war-shock” (93). Her “constant pre-vision of disaster” will become stronger every day; finally—after learning about the anti-Semitic incidents when a “the death-head swastika [was] chalked on the pavement, leading to the Professor’s very door” (94)—they both decide not to continue with her analysis. “It is better to have an unsuccessful or ‘delayed’ analysis than to bring my actual terror of the lurking Nazi menace into the open” (139), she writes.

The war appears as a force which makes metaleptic-rhizomatic connections impossible: there is no way out; the voices of the unconscious, womanhood, and sexuality that had earlier been heard and been able to move about are now mute, locked into their respective worlds. Silencing both the analysand (who had so painstakingly and uncannily found metaleptic transfers between herself and other rhizomatic planes) and the female subject (who had found her voice through Freud’s talking cure), the war will prevent all forms of relatedness. “The war,” she writes, “its cause and effect, with its inevitable aftermath of neurotic breakdown and related nerve disorders, was driven deeper” (94).

The manly game of the war seems to lock persons into their non-connecting worlds, into the “separateness, distance, and alienation” which, as claimed in Waugh’s book cited at the beginning of this essay, some male psychologists and male modernists associated with the supposedly normal differentiation of the individual ego. Resisting, however, both the war and this understanding of psychological development, H.D. produced her therapy notes out of defiance in 1944, capturing a particular analytic situation, where the voices speaking in multiple subject positions can find meeting points with players from other texts. Not letting the war triumph in silencing the analysand, she made sure that multiplicity and metalepsis would instead triumph in her text. And by writing, she created, if only decades after her death, the possibility of multiple published copies of an experience, thereby guaranteeing that the chain of relation continue.

In all her novels discussed, the female subject narrativized as multiple will retain her subject positions in diverse alliances. Coded by the cultural discourses of modernity, psychoanalysis and feminism in particular, the tropes of metalepses and rhizome will grant an alternative construction of the alliance-based self. Metalepsis and rhizome will act as corner stones for a rhetoric of inclusive subjectivity, psychic subjectivity, or intersubjectivity.


Works Cited

  • Bal, Mieke. Narratology—Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. 2nd ed. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1997
  • Benjamin, Jessica. The Bonds of Love—Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988.
  • – – – . Shadow of the Other—Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge, 1998.
  • Chodorow, Nancy J. Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory. New Haven: Yale UP, 1989.
  • Cohn, Dorrit. “Métalepse et mise en abyme,” Métalepses. Entorses au pacte de la répresentation. Eds. JohnPier, Jean-Marie Schaeffer. Paris: EHESS, 2005. 121-130.
  • Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateau’s. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987.
  • Felman, Shoshana. “Rereading Femininity.” Yale French Studies, 62 [1981]. 19-44.
  • Foucault, Michel. “What Is an Author?” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. 1622-1636.
  • Fludernik, Monika. “Scene Shift, Metalepsis, and the Metaleptic Mode.” Style 37:4 (Winter 2003). 382-400.
  • Genette, Gérard. Figures, essais. Vol. 3. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1966.
  • – – – . Narrative Discourse—An Essay in Method. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca: Cornell, 1980.
  • H.D. [Hilda Doolittle]. Asphodel. Ed. Robert Spoo. Durham: Duke UP, 1992.
  • HERmione. New York: New Directions, 1981.
  • – – – . Palimpsest. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1968.
  • – – – . The Gift. New York: New Directions, 1982,
  • – – – . Tribute to Freud. New York: New Directions, 1984.
  • Humm, Maggie. Feminist Criticism—Women as Contemporary Critics. Brighton: The Harvester P, 1986.
  • Jacobus, Mary. Reading Woman—Essays in Feminist Literary Criticism. London: Methuen, 1986.
  • Jung, C.G., and C. Kerényi. Essays on a Science of Mythology. New York: Harper, 1963.
  • Morris, Adelaide. “A Relay of Power and of Peace: H.D. and the Spirit of Gift.” Signets—Reading H.D. Eds. Susan Stanford Friedman and Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1990. 52-82.
  • Nelson, Roy Jay. Causality and Narrative in French Fiction from Zola to Robbe-Grillet. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.
  • Waugh, Patricia. Feminine Fictions: Revisiting the Postmodern. London: Routledge, 1989.



1 On the topic of the gift, see Adelaide Morris.

2 English translation: “The most disturbing thing about metalepsis really lies in that unacceptable but insistent hypothesis, that the extradiegetic is maybe always already diegetic, and that the narrator and his narratees, that is to say you and I, are perhaps a part of some still other récit.” Trans. Nelson 122.

3 Let me add here that H.D. used the metaphor of the gift for female creativity: a gift one “inherits” from another level, another world (Gift, 66). She is convinced that she received her own gift of writing by visiting parallel worlds, and it is these worlds that she owes her inspiration, during which she produces her texts in a particular trance. “[T]he writing continues to write itself or be written” (Tribute to Freud, 51).

4 It is in this manner that in The Gift her own dog trades places with the Egyptian god Ammon-Ra (25), Moses occupies the grandfather’s life (27), or the twin stars of Castor and Pollux turn into the two alligators in a book (27, 40). Hilda and brother Gilbert are identified with Jack and Jill (39), while the box in the living room will turn into a veritable Pandora’s box (38-9).