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Nightwood Paperback – 5 Apr 2007

10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057123528X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571235285
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Djuna Barnes is a writer of wild and original gifts. . . .To her name there is always to be attached the splendor of Nightwood, a lasting achievement of her great gifts and eccentricities---her passionate prose and, in this case, a genuineness of human passions.--Elizabeth Hardwick

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By PhilipStirups on 10 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes is perhaps the strangest book I read during my 4 years of studying English. Not only in a thematic and literary sense, but also in its narrative, which seems to glide between these characters who are desperate to escape the confines of societal norms.
For all of its brevity, Nightwood is a hard-going and challenging read. At the end, I was not overly convinced by it- not to say, I disliked it, but I didn't really rate it either.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By melanie strong on 4 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
I just adored this. This was beautiful and sad and wonderful. The prose was gorgeous. The characters were easy to identify with. I got this from the library but will definitely be buying my own copy as it's something I will want to read again.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
... is T. S. Eliot's description of Djuana Barnes novel. It is that, and much more. I first read this novel almost 40 years ago; felt I understood very little of it. In the intervening time I have walked past, and patronized the Café de la Mairie, a backdrop for much of the action, on the north side of the square in front of St. Sulpice numerous times. Unquestionable a radically different café in the `30's, certainly not surrounded by the very chic shops of today. The Café "nagged" me into giving it a second try.

I am truly grateful that it was not a school assignment. I imagined a Professor expecting effusive praise, and that my report on the book would have to be filled with ramblings on "transgender identification," "anomie," "angst," "symbolism," "codependence," "transcendent wisdom" and of course, "stream of consciousness." And with a bit of luck, I might get a B -.

But when your main motivation is a pleasant café, and a "does-your-perspective-improve-with-age" attitude, then what? No question the prose is rich and dense, with wonderful insights, coupled with sheer and utter nonsense. Consider some of the wonderful passages: "Love is the first lie; wisdom the last." or "We give death to a child when we give it a doll--it's the effigy and the shroud; when a woman gives it to a woman, it is the life they cannot have, it is their child, sacred and profane:..." There is a wonderful analogy for love in the ducks in Golden Gate park so heavy on overfeeding that they cannot fly. But regrettably these oscillate with the utter nonsense of: "He had a turban cocked over his eye and a moaning in his left ventricle which was meant to be the whine of Tophet, and a loin-cloth as big as a tent and protecting about as much.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr Setz on 17 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The work requires something from you that most people give up on in the first instance. Fair enough, sometimes we want a page-turner, a flow of pleasure rather than exquisite pain. When I first read it I was baffled. I felt the vexation, the disorienting murmur of incomprehensibility. But I re-read it. I saw the power and thrust of Barnes's strange sentences. I stopped and read them over, and started to see shades of humour, of drollery previously hidden. I thought about the Semitic thread; I thought about the way it blocks black and white interpretation. I ached for Nora and felt compelled by the same strange love for Robin as the characters feel. I saw it conjuring a language yet to exist. I filled in blanks, then realised I was tampering. I went at it again, slower. I read her other works. All I can say is that with perseverance, Nightwood is a jewel lost in the ocean, and Djuna Barnes a genius.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr M J King on 25 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...but I'm glad it was accomplished. We all *know* a novel when we see one, but rarely do we come up with a testable and workable definition of one. We may define a novel by length, and were that the case then we would certainly consider "The Count of Monte Cristo" a novel, bulging on our bookshelves at 1312 pages, were we elaborate enough to purchase the Penguin edition. "Ulysses", likewise catches our scansion of people's bookshelves at 1296 pages (again, with the Penguin edition, this time with annotations). "Anna Karenina": 992; "Don Quixote": 1056. Despite these behemoths, "Nightwood" stands proudly alongside them at a mere 153. As any physicist will tell you, a novel's density is not solely dependent on its volume. It has to have mass, and "Nightwood's" gravitas is made all the more salient for being able to weave such power, beauty, and tragedy into its small volume. Saturn, with a large enough bath, would float despite its size; Nightwood would pierce through the heavens and pull all things towards it, such is its density and terrible beauty.

But what of other factors that would comprise a novel? We may consider theme or character, and "Nightwood" has them in abundance. Barnes' facility with prose justifies its poetic attribution, and she twists her words into a tapestry nothing short of gorgeous, giving us the memorable Matthew O'Connor, "the greatest liar this side of the moon"; the Baron Felix Volkbein, and the principal women of this theatrical cast; Robin Vote, a woman with the body of a boy, Jenny Petherbridge, and Nora Flood. This hymn to forsaken love gives us a novel that is operatic, sung in a Baudelairian mode in 1920s Paris. The Beloved, the Night, the swell of hearts so misfit that they must surely belong if only for an instant, are what we encounter through the unique voices of our anti heroes.

I will say no more. "Nightwood" is a novel and a poem, and is a work not to be missed.
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