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Nightwood (Faber Fiction Classics) [Paperback]

Djuna Barnes , T.S. Eliot
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 April 2001 Faber Fiction Classics
Djuna Barnes' novel documents the lives of Americans and Europeans in Paris in the decadent roaring twenties.

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Nightwood (Faber Fiction Classics) + Maurice (Penguin Classics) + Giovanni's Room (Penguin Great Loves)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Export ed edition (9 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571209289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571209286
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.2 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 591,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Djuna Barnes' extraordinary novel, Nightwood, documents the lives of Americans and Europeans in Paris in the decadent roaring twenties. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Early in 1880, in spite of a well-founded suspicion as to the advisability of perpetuating that race which has the sanction of the Lord and the disapproval of the people, Hedvig Volkbein-a Viennese woman of great strength and military beauty, lying upon a canopied bed of a rich spectacular crimson, the valance stamped with the bifurcated wings of the House of Hapsburg, the feather coverlet an envelope of satin on which, in massive and tarnished gold threads, stood the Volkbein arms-gave birth, at the age of forty-five, to an only child, a son, seven days after her physician predicted that she would be taken. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the strangest book I have ever read. 10 May 2011
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 7 Nov 2008
Having just finished it, I completely loved Nightwood, being the type of reader that goes heavily for imagery and metaphor, and found it one of the most exciting, fascinating books I've ever read, like the warped love-child of Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Brontė. Challenging, yes, but I found it much more accessible than, say, Ulysses, which I never could get on with. I just let it wash over me. Vital, visual, unique; can only say that I found it breathtaking. I have read modernist writers before, so might be accustomed to oddities, but do not be scared off; it's writing that's alive and wild, and good grief, it's brilliant. I liked the way it takes the imagination into new and strange places, with such energy. This is what I read for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sad and wonderful 4 Sep 2013
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 23 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable read, for so many reasons; the language, the characters and the journey. Yes it is about three women and their sexual and emotional relationships and the men that circle around them, but about a deal more. The narrator of sorts is the Dr, happy as he is a charlatan of his own creation provides telling insights and amazing turns of phrase. Definetly one to make you think and want to re-read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A prose poem... 10 Jan 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
... 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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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama Queens on Parade 30 Jan 2001
By A Customer
In Nightwood there is a purposeful distortion of biographical facts. The past is based on self-deception and self-forgetfulness. The characters speak about their identity as if it were something they are trying to lose by constantly forgetting and reformulating who they are. Felix begins the novel with a past that is admitted to be one based upon deceit. Instead of trying to clarify it, he is compelled to associate with men and women of the theatre who have assumed titles that are equally false. By absorbing himself in this community of carnival freaks, he is able to relieve himself of the need to technically defend the presentation of his identity and he is able to more fully believe in the illusion himself. It is apparent that his assumed identity is no less true than the one that has been given to him through inheritance. An implied assertion is made through his actions that an understanding of identity cannot be achieved by either historical or self-evaluative means. The reaction, then, is to cast the notion of one's own identity out away from oneself as something to be created externally. This effect is illuminated upon in Dr. O'Connor's speech about the continual process of the night: Let a man lay himself down in the Great Bed and his ' identity' is no longer his own, his 'trust' is not with him, and his 'willingness' is turned over and is of another permission. His distress is wild and anonymous. He sleeps in a Town of Darkness, member of a secret brotherhood. He neither knows himself nor his outriders; he berserks a fearful dimension and dismounts, miraculously, in bed! By giving oneself over to the "Night", you dispel with the responsibility for your own identity. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
did not grip me
Published 8 days ago by Penny Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Adrift, but found
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. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dr Setz
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't know how she does it...
...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. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2012 by Mr M J King
2.0 out of 5 stars Only read it if you like modernist writing
Seriously, don't bother with this unless you like modernist writing. If you do, this book is for you. Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2012 by Holly
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightwood
This is the most precious book I've ever had. It will need re-reading to get its
dark message. T.S. Elliot reviewed it some time ago. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2010 by Mrs. C. Burns
2.0 out of 5 stars A book that is not meant to entertain, but be studied.
I read Nightwood as part of a course in modernism at University. I came to conclusion that the book is so reliant on symbolism that it doesn't stand as a whole. Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2010 by Whyareyouonyourowntonight
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong Information
There is no foreword by Jeanette Winterson in the edition shown -both the foreword and the introduction are by T.S. Eliot. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2007 by Your Pen Name
2.0 out of 5 stars A minefield of aphorisms
Unless you enjoy being beaten over the head with aphorism after aphorism, avoid this novel. I thought the quotes on the cover proclaiming it as a classic were pernicious lies. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2002 by MR SIETEL S GILL
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