Nightwood

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New Directions Publishing, Aug 29, 2006 - Fiction - 182 pages
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Nightwood, Djuna Barnes' strange and sinuous tour de force, "belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch" (Times Literary Supplement). That time is the period between the two World Wars, and Barnes' novel unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe's great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna—a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous.

The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction—there is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self-proclaimed baron; Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night; and there is Dr. Matthew-Mighty-Grain-of-Salt-Dante-O'Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions. Barnes' depiction of these characters and their relationships (Nora says, "A man is another persona woman is yourself, caught as you turn in panic; on her mouth you kiss your own") has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature.

Most striking of all is Barnes' unparalleled stylistic innovation, which led T. S. Eliot to proclaim the book "so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it." Now with a new preface by Jeanette Winterson, Nightwood still crackles with the same electric charge it had on its first publication in 1936.
 

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Nightwood

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Barnes's 1946 novel has been called a classic of both modernist and lesbian literature. Set in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, the story follows Robin Vote and the family and friends whose lives she ... Read full review

Nightwood: the original version and related drafts

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The expatriate Barnes's 1936 novel was a breakthrough both as a work of modernist fiction and for its frank treatment of lesbianism. Although it no doubt raised an eyebrow or two, the original version ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

BOW DOWN
3
LA SOMNAMBULE
32
NIGHT WATCH
55
THE SQUATTER
71
WATCHMAN WHAT OF THE NIGHT?
84
WHERE THE TREE FALLS
114
GO DOWN MATTHEW
132
THE POSSESSED
176
Biographical Note
181
Copyright

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Bisexuality: A Critical Reader
Merl Storr
No preview available - 1999
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About the author (2006)

T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) was one of the fathers of modernism and a defining voice in English-language poetry. He is the author of some of the best known poems in the English language, including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," The Waste Land, "Ash Wednesday," and Four Quartets. The leading poet of the modernist avant-garde, Eliot radically reimagined the possibilities for literature in the twentieth century and beyond, and was also renowned as a playwright and as a literary and social critic. Eliot's books of criticism include The Sacred Wood, while his theatrical works include Murder in the Cathedral. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

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