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October 07 , 2008

The Gift: Novel


The connections and interconnections of past and present––the realization that life is a whole continuously echoing back to the past and unfolding toward the future––were sources of the strength, renewal, and joy celebrated in H.D.'s Trilogy and, in a differing, but no less real way, in The Gift––her novelistic memoir of childhood. 

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In recapturing her memories of being a very little girl in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and later on a country place outside Philadelphia, H.D. "let the story tell itself or the child tell it." It is this voice or child's-eye view that lends The Gift its special charm as H.D. recreates the ordinary and extraordinary occasions of her early youth, the nightmares and delights. A road-company presentation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Christmas Eve with its particular family ritual, a family outing, a disturbing accident––the happenings and incidents, perceptions and misconceptions with which a child's life is crowded are the substance of this most winning book. As she did for the H.D. novel HERmione, H.D.'s daughter, Perdita Schaffner, provides a fine introduction.

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