By (author) Djuna Barnes , Introduction by T. S. Eliot

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Djuna Barnes' novel documents the lives of Americans and Europeans in Paris in the decadent roaring twenties.

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  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 104 x 176 x 16mm | 99.79g
  • 09 Apr 2001
  • London
  • English
  • Export ed
  • 0571209289
  • 9780571209286
  • 45,673

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Author Information

Djuna Barnes was born in 1892 in Cornwall-on-Hudson in New York State. In 1912 she enrolled as a student at Pratt Institute and then at the Art Students' League, and while she was there she started to work as a reporter and illustrator for the Brooklyn Eagle. In 1921 she moved to Paris, where she lived for almost twenty years and wrote for such publications as Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. Nightwood, written in 1936, was her second novel. It is now considered a masterpiece, praised by T. S. Eliot for its 'great achievement of a style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliance of wit and characterization, and a quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy'. Her other works include A Book, a collection of short stories, poems and one-act plays; a satirical novel, Ladies Almanack; and a verse play, The Antiphon. She died in New York in 1982.

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Review text

As the editor of this new version of Bames's 1936 erotic classic avers, "the story of Nightwood's composition and coming to print is an extraordinary story." Unfortunately, Plumb (English/Pennsylvania State) is not the one to tell it. Her apparatus-heavy edition, while definitive for scholars, will only confuse readers looking for a reliable text of what Barnes wrote. Despite all the lists of emendations, textual notes, hyphenations, and historical collations, it's never very clear exactly what was taken out from Barnes's version by her friend Emily Coleman and her editor, T.S. Eliot. While Coleman, an early and steadfast advocate of a book rejected by countless publishers, was motivated by aesthetic concerns, Eliot feared the censor. Barnes, for her part, was willing to do almost anything to get her poetic narrative into print. That she herself never restored it to this version during her lifetime suggests she may well have been satisfied with the later editions. In any case, the reproductions of surviving early manuscript pages will satisfy scholars who might otherwise be insulted by the elementary "explanatory annotations" (for "Goethe," "Uffizi," "Voltaire," "Morpheus," and so on). (Kirkus Reviews)

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