Synopses & Reviews
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 Review to assert: "Admired by Joyce, Nightwood is as important to the history of the 20th-century novel as Finnegan's Wake "and more readable."
"Nightwood is 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
"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
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 Winterson is 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.