Kora and Ka

Robert Spee, Author, Hilda Doolittle, Author, Robert Spee, Introduction by New Directions Publishing Corporation $7 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1317-2
In recent years, Hilda Doolittle (Helen in Egypt) has gained attention as much for her unconventional life as for her poems. Finally, fans of this important American imagist have the chance to read the two exquisite stories in this tiny volume and to judge more of her work on its merits and, probably, on certain parallels to her life. This is the first readily available edition of Kora & Ka; 100 copies were printed for the author's friends in 1934, and a 1978 edition by a small poetry press was also limited, to 600 copies. Publication is long overdue. A thorough introduction by Spoo provides helpful background--and also helps fill some 11 of the 112 pages. The first story, ""Kora and Ka,"" uses images of duality to present a man's mental breakdown. He feels possessed by his Ka (an Egyptian ""shadow"" spirit), talks of himself in the first and third person, confesses his love for both men and women, and explains his predicament in terms of division: ""There are two things that mitigate against me, one is my mind, one is the lack of it."" The second story, ""Mira-Mare,"" also portrays a troubled soul, here a woman at the seashore. She feels as happy as a child though, as she muses, ""then, she had not been too happy. A child is not too happy."" In fact, ""happiness was a new garment... It was snug, fitted her like her paint-box blue rubber beach shoes."" In both tales, as in her poems, H.D.'s writing is suffused with images of nature, of the ancient world and of colors. On one page alone, various things are described as ""coral-hued,"" ""chimney sweep-black,"" ""smoke-blue"" and ""near-bronze."" This is not one of H.D.'s masterworks, and both stories are more mood pieces than anything else, but as a piece of ""lost"" writing and as a work in its own right, Kora & Ka certainly deserves more than the few hundred readers it once had. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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