Synopses & Reviews
She was a familiar figure in Greenwich Village and Left Bank literary and lesbian circles during the teens, twenties, and thirties. Admired by her contemporaries for her wickedly incisive wit as well as for her great beauty and style, Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) consorted with the likes of Berenice Abbott, Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, Natalie Barney, Mina Loy, James Joyce, Peggy Guggenheim, Kay Boyle, Emily Coleman, Ezra Pound and Dag Hammarskjold. T.S. Eliot, who was among her greatest admirers, sponsored the publication of Barnes's most famous work, the novel Nightwood
. Yet even in her lifetime Djuna Barnes's fanatic privacy made her the most elusive of modern writers. At last, Joyce scholar Phillip Herring has written a sensitive and lively in-depth portrait of the woman Dylan Thomas considered one of our greatest female novelists.
Barnes's fiction, poems, and playsfilled with a vengeful creative rage which staved off alcoholism and suicideare hardly more compelling and bizarre than her life, which began with a crass and lecherous father, a bawdy suffragist spiritualist grandmother, and a violent sexual "initiation"; progressed through passionate affairs with both men and women; and climaxed in her supreme love for the artist Thelma Wood, whose betrayal engendered the tragic, wickedly satirical Nightwood. Written with insight and flair, Djuna illuminates all the parts of the life and personality of the woman who, as Antonia White once said, "has genius if anyone I know has genius."
Includes bibliographical references (p. 365-369) and index.