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Nightwood Paperback – 5 Apr 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 16 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: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Djuna Barnes little book Nightwood starts off I think rather sumptuously giving the background on Felix's ( a sort of pretend Baron who is the at the centre of this tale) mother and father in some very original prose. However cue the second chapter when Felix is grown up and at a party, the thing dissolves into a sort of disconnected riot, the action centering around a doctor who is randomly holding forth on all sorts of things - its just a big confusion and that made me stop reading it. all in all I would avoid it, quite pretentious
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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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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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Format: Paperback
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. There was a good story in there, but the prose just emasculated it. There were even many great lines but they didn't tesselate. It largely reminded me of anodyne sessions of appalling poetry and prattle. I encountered a reading-induced fit of nausea at page 72 and chapter seven has possibly the worst ever dialogue between two characters in living memory. This is like Dawson's Creek from the 1930's. It doesn't work as parody, and as earnest literature is completely insufferable.
I doubt highly I've misread it either, as I read it twice just to make sure. If I could say anything good about it: I enjoyed pages 26, 57 and 60.
There's one character who can't utter a single sentence unless it's an aphorism: 'Sorrow fiddles the ribs and no man should put his hand on anything...the foetus of symmetry nourishes itself on cross purposes, this is its wonderful unhappiness...oh Lord, why do women have partridge blood and set out to beat up trouble?' Relentless verse posing as dialogue.
Mind you, there is an inane line later in the novel where a character says: 'there's no last reckoning for those who have loved too long so for me there is no end. I can't live forever,' she said frantically. 'I can't live without my heart!'I suppose if you pick the odd good sentence and enjoy marvelling at the awfulness of the others, this might just be a good way to spend some time. For everyone else: watch some telly instead.
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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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