Nightwood Paperback – 5 Apr 2007
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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
Djuna Barnes' extraordinary novel, Nightwood, documents the lives of Americans and Europeans in Paris in the decadent roaring twenties.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I did not know that it was a lesbian novel, only hear about great books of twentieth century. But interesting reading.Published 5 months ago by Carina Moeller
Can't seem to get into this book, but will try again over the festive season. At first sight it feels rather precious but I might be wrong. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ellis
...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 morePublished on 25 Sept. 2012 by Mr M J King
Seriously, don't bother with this unless you like modernist writing. If you do, this book is for you. Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2012 by Holly
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