Compelled by historical as well as personal crises, the poet worked with Freud during 1933-34. The streets of Vienna were littered with tokens dropped like confetti on the city, stating "Hitler gives work." "Hitler gives bread." Having endured World War I, she was now gathering her resources to face the second cataclysm she knew was approaching. In analysis, Hilda Doolittle explored her Pennsylvania childhood, her relationship with Ezra Pound (inventory of her nom de plume H.D.), Havelock Ellis, D.H. Lawrence, her ex-husband Richard Aldington, and subsequent companion Winifred Ellerman ("Bryher"), as well as her own creative processes.
Freud, regarding H.D. as a student as well as a patient, wads hardly the detached presence one might imagine. Revealed here in the poet's words and in his own letters, which comprise an appendix, is the considerate friend, the charming Viennese gentleman—art collector, dog lover, wit—and the pioneer, always revising his ideas and possessed of an insight that could be terrifying in its force.
This revision of biblical history--in the tradition of D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died and Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ--is not just a novel; but part of the ongoing dialogue about the feminine and divine. Pilate's Wife was written by H.D. in 1929, revised in 1934, and is now finally published by New Directions, edited with an introduction by H.D. scholar Joan Burke. It is a testament to Alicia Ostriker's claim that, among the women poets and novelists of this century, "H.D. is the most profoundly religious, the most seriously engaged in spiritual quest."