Ladies Almanack: Showing Their Signs and Their Tides, Their Moons and Their Changes, the Seasons as it is with Them, Their Eclipses and Equinoxes, as Well as a Full Record of Diurnal and Nocturnal Distempers

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NYU Press, May 1, 1992 - Fiction - 84 pages
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"Lesbianism, its flories and sorows, is the subject and quest of this marvelously erverse sentimental journey by Nightwood's author... A striking lesbian mainfesto and a deft parody."
Library Journal

Blending fiction, myth, and revisionary parody and accompanied by the author's delightful illustrations, Ladies Almanac is also a brilliant modernist composition and arguably the most audacious lesbian text of its time. While the book pokes fun at the wealthy expatriates who were Barnes' literary contemporaries and remains controversial today, it seems to have delighted its cast of characters, which was also the first audience. Barney herself subsidized its private publication in 1928. Fifty of the 1050 copies of the first edition were hand colored by the author, who was identified only as a lady of Fashion: on the title page.

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About the author (1992)

Although Djuna Barnes was a New Yorker who spent much of her long life in Greenwich Village, where she died a virtual recluse in 1982, she resided for extended periods of time in France and England. Her writings are representative modernist works in that they seem to transcend all national boundaries to take place in a land peculiarly her own. Deeply influenced by the French symbolists of the late nineteenth century and by the surrealists of the 1930s, she also wrote as a liberated woman, whose unconventional way of life is reflected in the uncompromising individuality of her literary style. Barnes's dreamlike and haunted writings have never found a wide popular audience, but they have strongly influenced such writers as Rebecca West, Nelson Algren, Dahlberg, Lowry, Miller, and especially Nin, in whose works a semifictional character named Djuna sometimes appears. In 1915 Barnes anonymously published The Book of Repulsive Women. Not long after she moved to Paris and became associated with the colony of writers and artists who made that city the international center of culture during the 1920s and early 1930s. Her Ladies Almanack was privately printed in Paris in 1928, the same year that Liveright in the United States published Ryder, her first novel. The book on which Barnes's fame largely rests is Nightwood (1936), a surrealistic story set in Paris and the United States, dealing with the complex relationships among a group of strangely obsessed characters, most of them homosexuals and lesbians. Barnes wrote little after Nightwood. In 1952, she professed to Malcolm Lowry that the experience of writing that searing work so frightened her that she was unable to write anything after it. Fortunately, her literary talents revived with The Antiphon, a verse-drama originally published in 1958, which is now available in Selected Works (1962).

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