Joan Burke

cover image of the book Pilate’s Wife

Pilate’s Wife

by Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)

Translated by Joan Burke

With a contribution by Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)

Veronica, Pontius Pilate’s wife, is beautiful, brilliant, and weary of her worldly life. One day she disguises herself as a servant in order to visit a fortune-teller, and when the seer, Mnevis, tells her of a Jew, a “love-god,” Veronica suddenly feels alive, experiencing “sudden pre-visions of inner splendor.” Jesus arouses the artist, the dreamer in her––this prophet who believes women have an important place in the spiritual hierarchy. What follows is a chain of events in which Veronica commits the one genuine act of her life, daringly offering Jesus a “way out” of his crucifixion. 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; it is part of the ongoing dialogue about the feminine and divine. Pilate’s Wife was written by H.D. in 1929 and revised in 1934, and is now finally in print, edited with an introduction by H.D. scholar Joan A. Burke. It is without question a testament to Alicia Ostriker’s claim that, among the women writers of this century, “H.D. is the most profoundly religious, the most seriously engaged in spiritual quest.”

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