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Nightwoodby Djuna Barnes
Synopses & Reviews
'\"A novel of extraordinary and appalling force...a kind of symbol of sinister magnificence.\"\'\"The New York Times
\"One of the greatest books of the twentieth century.\"\'\"William S. Burroughs
Nightwood, Djuna Barnes\'s strange and sinuous tour de force, has become a classic of modernist and lesbian literature since its first publication in 1936. Set in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna during the decadent period between the two World Wars, Nightwood\"belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch\" (Times Literary Supplement).
It is the story of Robin Vote and those she destroys\'\"her husband the \"Baron,\" their child Guido, and the two women, Nora and Jenny, who love her; the whole is illuminated by the fantastic monologues of the renegade doctor Matthew O\'Connor. Most striking of all is Barnes\'s unparalleled stylistic innovation, which led T. S. Eliot to proclaim the book \"so good that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it,\" and The New York Times Book Reviewto assert: \"Admired by Joyce, Nightwoodis as important to the history of the 20th-century novel as Finnegans Wake\'\"and more readable.\"
\"Nightwoodis itself. It is its own created world, exotic and strange, and reading it is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass. You have taken in more than you know, and it will go on doing its work. From now on a part of your is pearl-lined.\"\'\"from the Preface by Jeanette Winterson
\"What I would leave the reader prepared to find is the great achievement of of a style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliant of wit and characterization and a quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy.\"\'\"from the Introduction by T. S. Eliot'
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, Nightwoodstill crackles with the same electric charge it had on its first publication in 1936.
About the Author
'Djuna Barnes(1892-1982) was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, and worked as a journalist in New York before leaving the country to spend many years in Paris and London. She returned to New York in 1941, and lived in Greenwich Village until her death.Jeanette Wintersonis the author of nine novels, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit(which won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel), Lighthousekeeping, Sexing the Cherry, and Weight.'
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