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To Bryher by Foot
sovay mentioned the writer Bryher the other day, and now she's turned up again, this time in her insular aspect. I've always felt an interest in both Bryhers, not least I suppose because we who are named after islands enjoy a natural kithship; also because she published the most expensive book I ever bought (not for myself), a copy of Mary Butts's Last Stories, which was meant to have been pulped after the author's death in 1937 but a few of which escaped the shredder. Also, now I think about it, Bryher is linked in my mind with Hope Mirrlees and Alice B. Toklas, all being in some sense the talented but junior partners in their respective relationships with other women, at a time when it was largely necessary to design and build that ship as you were sailing it. Probably this is a facile comparison - but the association is there, for better or worse.

Anyway, this entry is mostly to recommend people who share my liking for accounts of low-tide walks and of drowned lands to listen to today's Open Country, which documents a walk across the once-inhabited landscape between Tresco and Bryher, now usually hidden by the estranging sea but revealed at spring low tide. I like to think that both Bryher and HD - that most archaeological of poets - would have enjoyed it.
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sovay

2014-04-24 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Also, now I think about it, Bryher is linked in my mind with Hope Mirrlees and Alice B. Toklas, all being in some sense the talented but junior partners in their respective relationships with other women, at a time when it was largely necessary to design and build that ship as you were sailing it.

Bryher in her lifetime with H.D. seems to have been well-known and well-regarded, but she's definitely the shadowy secondary by now. I don't think any of her novels are currently in print—I only read Visa for Avalon because I found a ten-year-old reprint in a used book store—and her poetry is sufficiently out of copyright to appear on the internet, which on the one hand makes it very easy to point people toward and on the other makes me worry I'll never find a hard copy of Arrow Music unless I print it out myself or have a lot of cash to spare. And her poetry is amazing. Visa for Avalon is like the secret source text of a certain strain of fantasy. Her two early semi-autobiographies Development (1920) and Two Selves (1923) are beautifully written, simultaneously evocative and analytical (selecting at random—that's exactly how reading works as a child). I realize I'm evangelizing where you don't need it, so I think I will just agree that Bryher should not be as obscure as she is—as a novelist, as a poet, as a filmmaker and critic, as a woman with a complex gender identity that she wrote about—and I'd love to see a serious effort made to bring her work back into view; it deserves it.

I have a very difficult time seeing Hope Mirrlees as junior to anyone, but I read Lud-in-the-Mist before Prolegomena.

Anyway, this entry is mostly to recommend people who share my liking for accounts of low-tide walks and of drowned lands to listen to today's Open Country, which documents a walk across the once-inhabited landscape between Tresco and Bryher, now usually hidden by the estranging sea but revealed at spring low tide.

If it stays streamable until I get home tonight, I will!

Edited at 2014-04-24 05:23 pm (UTC)

karinmollberg

2014-04-24 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you both for pointing me in this direction though I won´t wander literally in that sense but, I can´t remember if she and Anais Nin met. Do you know?

steepholm

2014-04-24 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not off the top of my head, I'm afraid.

steepholm

2014-04-24 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

I've seen very little of her poetry - will chase.

I have a very difficult time seeing Hope Mirrlees as junior to anyone

I know what you mean! But there was 37 years between her and Jane Ellen Harrison - and Lud-in-the-Mist came out only two years before the latter's death, Harrison was always the senpai, I think.

All R4 programmes are streamable for a week, at least - sometimes indefinitely.

nineweaving

2014-04-24 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Harrison was always the senpai, I think

Yes, so do I. And after her death, Mirrlees did not take up her mantle (I don't think T. S. Eliot as paying guest counts as a protégé). Indeed, she seems to have broken her staff and drowned her book when her Great Bear died. Some problem with figure and ground.

Nine

sheldrake

2014-04-24 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for the link, I do like those things! I've just finished reading about the Broomway in Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways.

steepholm

2014-04-24 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

I love that book! And the Broomway chapter is possibly my favourite.

sheldrake

2014-04-25 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

I loved it too! I really enjoyed all the stuff in that chapter about Doggerland, and about the eroding East Anglian coast (which is a slight personal obsession of mine). Also the bit where he talks about swimming over the drowned streets at Dunwich, and realising that as you swim further out to sea, you're also going back in time...

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