Contribution to Books
Steven Yao has called H.D.'s Ion her 'most ambitious feat of translation' (2002a: 83). Two contexts are relevant for thinking about H.D.'s work on this project. One is psychoanalysis, and the other is the scholarship which interprets myth as a narrative reflection of ritual practice. Both contexts are significantly tied to H.D.'s personal life and writing career. Matte Robinson even claims that one of the major characters in the play, Kreousa, 'becomes an extension of H.D.' (2013: 270). This claim may be overstated, but Kreousa's quest for recognition from Apollo does resemble H.D's effort to supply her daughter, Perdita, with a patronym in order to secure the girl's legal standing. Richard Aldington refused to allow H.D. to register him as Perdita's father, though she did so anyway (Robinson 1982: 179-80; Guest 1984: 111). Aldington did not publicly contest H.D.'s action, even when he sought a divorce from H.D. in 1937, the year she published her translation of the Ion (Zilboorg 2003: 239-40). However, H.D. told Ezra Pound that he did threaten 'to use Perdita to divorce me and to have me locked up if I registered her as legitimate' (Friedman 2002: 466). This threat was the source of anxiety for H.D. and it kept her and her daughter in a precarious legal position until Bryher and Kenneth Macpherson legally adopted Perdita in 1928 (Friedman 2002: 467).
This document was originally published in The Classics in Modernist Translation by Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright restrictions may apply. www.bloomsbury.com
Westover, Jeff. (2019). "Repression, Renewal and 'The Race of Women' in H.D.'s Ion". The Classics in Modernist Translation, 77-90.