[ READ BOOK ] ♞ Nightwood ♅ MOBI eBook or Kindle ePUB free

You know what man really desires inquired the doctor, grinning into the immobile face of the Baron One of two things to find someone who is so stupid that he can lie to her, or to love someone so much that she can lie to him Baron Felix is a man of pretenses He is not really a baron at all, but his father had perpetrated the deception his whole life so Felix s filial legacy is to carry on the social duplicityHe kept a valet and a cook the one because he looked like Louis the Fourteenth and the other because she resembled Queen Victoria, Victoria in another cheaper material, cut to the poor man s purseNotice there is no mention about how good a valet he is or how good a cook she is It is all about how they look and, when looked upon, what value they convey to the people whom the Baron needs to impress I am left wondering if his Victoria is the young Victoria,in the vein of Jenna Coleman from Masterpiece, or the older Victoria, as portrayed by Judi Dench in Mrs Brown Louis the Fourteenth, we can only hope, looks as dashing as George Blagden from the Ovation show Versailles The theatrical production of the Baron s life is maintained by his own performances, but also by the supporting cast with which he chooses to surround himself Baron Felix becomes enad with a beautiful American named Robin Vote It is best that, if your life is a sham, you do not allow yourself the indulgence of love, exploitation yes, but lovenever If Felix were observingcarefully and not blinded by the aurora borealis of infatuation, he may have noticed that Robin is not really interested in anything but having a good time Raising children, being a supportive wife, or being faithful to a husband are, by definition, selfless acts, and she is incapable of performing any of those roles with any level of believability Felix needs to make a new casting call Robin bounces from Felix s bed into the arms of Nora Flood, who wants to take care of Robin, but Robin wants the world collectively to take care of Robin Jenny Petherbridge, a woman incapable of creating her own happiness, has made a life of looting other s happiness She soon has Robin, at least temporarily, under her control Robin leaves in her wake not a satisfied audience, no tears brimming at the corners of their eyes, fond memories, or even brilliant soliloquies to explain her behavior She follows the brightest star until it dims in comparison to another We could generalize that everyone in this novel is horrid to everyone else Jenny stealing Robin from Nora could be seen as inducing unhappiness in another, but frankly can any of us steal someone from someone else Doesn t a foot, an elbow, quite possibly a heart already have to be out the door before a lover can be absconded with Baron Felix is a charlatan who makes a living out of contrived theatrics It is hard to feel sympathy for him, but at the same time he is left nearly shattered by Robin leaving him It isn t even so much that Robin leaves, but she just seems to drift away Robin is the truly destructive force in the novel, whose beauty is asort of fluid blue under skin, as if the hide of time had been stripped from her, and with it, all transactions with knowledgeShe could be a stand in for any of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse That might be a job she could stick with And who is there to pick up the pieces of each of these fractured relationships The doctor, Matthew O Connor, a man uncomfortable in his own skin, but who seems to somehow induce trust in those around himWhy do they all tell me everything then expect it to lie hushed in me, like a rabbit gone home to dieOne character refers to the doctor as avaluable liar,but he does seem to be the most honest with himself of anyone in the novel He has desires he can only indulge in private, but he doesn t deny any revelations about himself He is, almost universally, the most liked person in the novel Even T S Eliot, in the forward, feels the novel drags until the appearance of the doctor I admit there is no tale of any relevance without the doctor, but there are some fascinating passages in the early pages that, despite how discombobulated I felt with the plot, are still rife with intricate sentences I enjoyed reading and reading again Djuna Barnes has a discerning eye and a flair for bold sentences Some critics have said that only poets can truly enjoy Nightwood I think that what is required of the reader is some patience If you are confused, it might be that Barnes has you right where she wants you Read on do not let her scare you away You will experience some descriptions or thoughts that you have never read before Do not indulge in cannabis or go beyond a two drink minimum while reading this book You will need your wits about you maybe this book is better served with a cuppa and a piece of dark comforting chocolate If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at Passing in ParisTo Pass verb, intransitive to be accepted as being something that you are not, esp something better orattractive Marion looks so young she could pass for 30Do this jacket and skirt match well enough to pass as a suitCambridge English DictionaryLove, that terrible thing ,says one of Barnes s characters Terrible because the demand of love is the voluntary loss of oneself To make oneself lovable it is necessary to strive toward some other identity Maintaining the identity of the beloved is always hard work But the task is made harder when the love itself must be kept secret.Thus it is with Felix, the pseudo Baron, who loves what he takes to be European culture he must deny his lineage fromthat race which has the sanction of the Lord and the disapproval of the peopleSo thatHe became for a little while a part of their splendid and reeking falsificationHe passes, well sometimes.And also with his young wife, Robin, a somewhat needy person who cannot understand the bargain that love is even when it is laid out plainly to her Felix is bemused becausethough he said it calmly, I am deceiving you And he wondered what he meant, and why she did not hearShe passes, briefly, as wife and, evenbriefly, as mother.The Irish American Catholic doctor is yet another He knows how love often works with hate, especially between Christians and Jews As he says to Felix, ignorant of his heritage,The Christian traffic in retribution has made the Jew s history a commodity it is the medium through which he receives, at the necessary moment, the serum of his own past that he may offer it again as his bloodOf course, the doctor is not licensed to practice he is an abortionist and a transvestite But he also passes as a counselor to the love lorn as well as a bombast.Then there is Nora, by temperamentan early Christian she believed the wordShe falls in love desperately with Robin, who understands less about love with women than with men Nora, however knows the drillShe defiled the very meaning of personality in her passion to be a personShe exists only to the extent that she exists for Robin Poor dear Until she sees the doc s penchant for feminine attire and then she realizes thatHe dresses to lie beside himself, who is so constructed that love, for him, can be only something specialChanging identity to love oneself is a novel but rational solution Nora passes, but it is unclear as what.And Jenny, she who steals the affection of Robin from Nora without much effort Jenny has an identity which depends only on contextJenny with the burning interest of a person who is led to believe herself a part of the harmony of a concert to which she is listening, appropriating in some measure its identity, emitted short exclamatory ejaculationsWhat she passes as is somewhat variable but she passes as lesbian, as paedophile, as beast turning human These love sick protagonists are supplemented by a cast of various actors, artists, poets and assorted hangers on in the Europe of the 20 s, all of whom are sacrificing whatever identity remaining to them in the search for love, or at least temporary, if unsatisfactory, affection It is Parisian Bohemia on the make and not for employment The doctor is the sage who tries to advise on the reality of love s demandsThe reason the doctor knows everything is because he s been everywhere at the wrong time and has now become anonymous,he contends to Nora Not having an identity to sacrifice is the philosophy of his transvestismI have divorced myself,he says But even this is not a solution The secrecy, other people s as well as his own, is debilitatingI talk too much because I have been made so miserable by what you are keeping hushed Love in any form is a bargain with the devil He writes the contract and we who sign it have no idea about its arcane clauses Barnes had it figured rather eloquently All these peopleare our answer to what our grandmothers were told love was, and what it never came to be they, the living lie of our centuriesThe devil also passes as God. Rating 1.75 of fiveThe Publisher Says Nightwood, Djuna Barnes strange and sinuous tour de force, belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch TLS That time is the period between the two World Wars, and Barnes novel unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe s great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction there is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self proclaimed baron Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night and there is Dr Matthew Mighty Grain of Salt Dante O Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions Barnes depiction of these characters and their relationships Nora says, A man is another person a woman is yourself, caught as you turn in panic on her mouth you kiss your own has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature Most striking of all is Barnes unparalleled stylistic innovation, which led T S Eliot to proclaim the book so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it Now with a new preface by Jeanette Winterson, Nightwood still crackles with the same electric charge it had on its first publication in 1936 My Review Serial adultress and all around malcontent Robin leaves her too, too unendurable husband Baron Felix after presenting him with the desired heironly the child is crippledand takes up with Nora, a whiny dishrag of a nothing much who represents Robin s desire for dreary domesticity Needless to say, Robin can t stand too much of that and leaves Nora at home so she can cavort and disport herself with all and sundry While so doing, Robin meets Jenny, a serial widow why does no one wonder how this dry, juiceless woman LOST FOUR HUSBANDS and a sociopath whose sole pleasure in life is making others unhappy Bye bye Nora, hello Jenny, and ultimately Robin seeks the help of Dr O Connor, a male transvestite and fraudulent medico, with predictable results The ending of the book is one of the weirdest I ve ever read, involving Nora, Robin, a dog, and a truly weird accident in a church.Queer Ulysses Famous for raunchy sex descriptions,most of which would not raise a Baptist preacher s eyebrows in this day and time Dreadful, sesquipedalian sentences recounting unpleasant peoples doings in endlessly recursive and curiously directionless arabesques.Do not read this after the age of twenty four It will cause your nose hairs to ignite and your T zone to break out in painful cysts Seriouslydon t. From the start, an overwhelming sense of dread and despair pervades Nightwood Barnes alternates between entrancing readers with the novel s ethereal prose and jerking them awake with moments of unspeakable torment In spite of the pain that structures the novel, though, the character of the fake Doctor provides much needed comic relief in each of Nightwood s eight short sections. [ READ BOOK ] ♵ Nightwood ⚖ Nightwood, Djuna Barnes Strange And Sinuous Tour De Force, Belongs To That Small Class Of Books That Somehow Reflect A Time Or An Epoch TLS That Time Is The Period Between The Two World Wars, And Barnes Novel Unfolds In The Decadent Shadows Of Europe S Great Cities, Paris, Berlin, And Vienna A World In Which The Boundaries Of Class, Religion, And Sexuality Are Bold But Surprisingly Porous The Outsized Characters Who Inhabit This World Are Some Of The Most Memorable In All Of Fiction There Is Guido Volkbein, The Wandering Jew And Son Of A Self Proclaimed Baron Robin Vote, The American Expatriate Who Marries Him And Then Engages In A Series Of Affairs, First With Nora Flood And Then With Jenny Petherbridge, Driving All Of Her Lovers To Distraction With Her Passion For Wandering Alone In The Night And There Is Dr Matthew Mighty Grain Of Salt Dante O Connor, A Transvestite And Ostensible Gynecologist, Whose Digressive Speeches Brim With Fury, Keen Insights, And Surprising Allusions Barnes Depiction Of These Characters And Their Relationships Nora Says, A Man Is Another Person A Woman Is Yourself, Caught As You Turn In Panic On Her Mouth You Kiss Your Own Has Made The Novel A Landmark Of Feminist And Lesbian Literature Most Striking Of All Is Barnes Unparalleled Stylistic Innovation, Which Led T S Eliot To Proclaim The Book So Good A Novel That Only Sensibilities Trained On Poetry Can Wholly Appreciate It Now With A New Preface By Jeanette Winterson, Nightwood Still Crackles With The Same Electric Charge It Had On Its First Publication In LO STUPORE DELLA NOTTEFoto di Maurice Brange Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes a Paris, 1922.Come ha fatto Djuna Barnes, che si autodefin la pi celebre sconosciuta al mondo , ad attraversare il secolo breve quasi per intero, vivendo fino a novant anni 1892 20 giugno 1982 , subendo uno stupro a 16 anni, forse da parte dello stesso padre o forse invece da parte di un vicino, e poi l anno dopo con il consenso del padre, teorico praticante della poligamia, il quale la diede in comodato , a Percy Faulkner, cinquantaduenne fratello della sua seconda moglie Probabilmente con questa semplice ricetta che lei stessa descrive Le sole armi che mi concedo di usare il silenzio, l esilio e l astuzia.Foto di Berenice Abbott Djuna Barnes Io non ho conflitti sono estranea alla vita, sono perduta in un acqua ferma.Appare molto bella nel celebre ritratto fotografico che realizz Berenice Abbott, sua amante Tra le tante Uomini e donne, ma soprattutto donne, furono donne i suoi grandi amori, le sue passioni.Trascorse vent anni a Parigi tra le due guerre, anni frenetici e densi sia per quella citt che per lei conobbe tutti, amica di tanti, amante di molti, fu ammirata Gli ultimi quarant anni della sua vita furono invece completo isolamento, scelta quasi da stilita.Disse Essere una leggenda infinitamente pi facile che vivere quello che necessario per diventarlo.All inizio della sua attivit Djuna Barnes fu giornalista, per cos dire, d assalto, che sperimentava in prima persona le storie che raccontava eccola sottoporsi a nutrizione forzata per l articolo How It Feels To Be Forcibly Fed uscito il 6 settembre 1914 sul New York World Magazine.L edizione Adelphi descrive cos la trama di questo libro Al centro della Foresta della Notte dorme la Bella Schizofrenica, in un letto dell H tel R camier Robin Intorno a lei vediamo disporsi gli altri personaggi del romanzo Nora, che cela nel suo cuore il fossile di Robin , quasi una memoria ancestrale la rapace Jenny il falso Barone Volkbein, pateticamente devoto a una nobilt fantomatica Ma su tutti torreggia il dottor Matthew O Connor, ciarlatano mistico, Guardiano della Notte, il cui sontuoso e corrusco blaterare si contrappone alle rare e monche parole di Robin Il dottor O Connor ci viene incontro come un cliente pittoresco del Caf de la Mairie du VI e sentiamo, per cos dire, la sua voce echeggiare da tutti i bar perduti degli Anni Venti Ma nella sua apparizione riconosciamo anche una voce perenne, penetrante, ossessiva, che continuer a parlare finch la furia della notte non avr fatto marcire fino in fondo il proprio fuoco una figura indelebile, un dottore non della malattia, piuttosto del male universale quel male che non guarisce, ma vuole disperatamente chiamarsi per nome e quel nome la letteratura.Ed ecco qui la Barnes che si fa salvare da un pompiere per la terza volta esperienza diretta per scrivere l articolo poi pubblicato col titolo My Adventures Being Rescued.El mire Zolla, invece, la riassume cos Una giovane ebete con possibile sospetto di possessione diabolica viene contesa tra donne allucinate che paiono tutte guidate insensibilmente da un orrido, obeso, cinguettante, saggio, ermafroditico medico irlandese il quale annega ogni avvenimento nella sua eloquenza da personaggio shakespeariano, nel suo appello costante a entrare nella foresta della notte.Il personaggio in questione, il dottor O Connor credo sia il primo transgender della letteratura, impegnato a far nascere e far abortire, che si lancia in interminabili monologhi da ubriaco molesto.Peggy Guggenheim 1898 1979 fu grande amica della Barnes e la sostenne economicamente con generosit negli ultimi quarant anni di vita ritirata e solitaria della scrittrice.Quanto precede mi pare evidenzi quanto poco conti la trama di quest opera, sorella dell Ulysses joyciano peraltro, ottimo amico della Barnes Intreccio evanescente al limite dell inconsistenza, che se davvero esiste, non racconta nulla O, se qualcosa racconta, io me la sono persa A dire il vero, mi sono proprio perso fra queste pagine Sono rimasto sommerso da domande, perso in una foresta di punti interrogativi, di giorno e di notte Leggerle stata un esperienza Come per me spesso leggere la poesia non capire, e godere, non sapere che dice, ma sentire una musica che mi parla, o forse anche meno di una musica, puro suono, un flusso sonoro.Gertrude Stein tenta di sfruttare tutti gli effetti della ripetizione, nella forma in cui si trova di frequente nella parlata comune, Cerca di sottolinearne la qualit ipnotica e di pervenire per suo tramite a effetti surrealistici e astratti Musica pura Il suono d l idea di buio notturno, di veleno, e di notte e di foresta, ed duro, nel senso di corposo, semplice eppure singolare cos definiva la scelta del titolo la Barnes in una lettera a un amica amante.Poi, certo, se si vuole anche un manifesto LGBT, uno dei romanzi pi sperimentali della storia, o uno dei primi Leggerlo come arrampicarsi su una corda sospesa nel buio, le parole scorticano le mani di chi le pronuncia Ogni personaggio parla a s per s , i dialoghi si sovrappongono, nessuno ascolta, tutti cercano a e identit La scultrice americana Thelma Wood 1901 1970 , un grande a della Barnes. 4.9999 5It is wise of me to mention that from here on out, I have no idea what I m talking about Which, admittedly, is the usual truth of the matter concerning these reviews, but this book in particular makes me give a damn about how much knowledge did not or has not yet trickled down and damned up in my mind Not enough to get mad over, or perhaps rather not the right type No, this is a shaft of light breaking into countless beams that my eye has populated itself with multitudes in hopes of catching only a few, a strain of music too high and soft for my bumbling ears to quiver along with, all the sensory inputs that my body has not yet found the means of registering, fine tuning, appreciating However, it must be said that the evolution of the reader is far faster than that of physical form And what does come through, despite all that, is an aurora borealis.Books like these utterly spoil me For example, after finishing up another section somewhere in the middle, I attempted to read through summaries of future tomes that I had not yet decided to set my sights on Horrors The words were simply there, jettisoning their meaning this way and that without care of interpretation or context, screaming out simplicity Get your simple definitions, your clear cut cultures of conciseness, your straight to the point and no nonsense daily dose of saying what you mean and meaning what you say No, I said, and spent the next twenty minutes huddled over my coffee and staring at nothing in particular I don t want boxes of commercial goods I want to fly.For that is the talent trapped within these pages, and if you forced me at gunpoint to encompass it with a single word, I would say metaphor If you shot a single bullet past my head and brought the red hot funnel agonizingly close to my forehead and demanded that I do better, I would say Pynchonian Fortunately for all, there is no gunperson of staggering menace, and I can afford to not commit the crime that I decried early on, that of lazy linguistics For Pynchonian is easy, easy easy easy, andlikely to get omnipresent nods of approval than any sort of comprehension.It would be better to say that Pynchon is in fact Barnesian, although I do like the feel of Djunian better despite all calls for lexiographical order, so I will most likely stick with it until someone manages to convince me otherwise without resorting to offended spittles I cannot stand offended spittles Regardless, I suppose we should return to Pynchon, who if he had lived a little earlier and gone into liberal arts rather than the sciences and did some amount of experimenting, he may have come quite close to the lady of whom he is most certainly a bastard child through some sort of decrepit lineage that invested heavily in the idea of said lineage Or rather, history, society, ideology, and the rest of that decaying mass circling around our craniums and swooping in every so often for a quick bite, shit, and piss The worst of it is the words that we think we know and therefore treat as fact when really, metaphor Linguistic joy, convivence between the reality and the abstract at its finest, the very structure of our civilized existence that has fossilized meaning into packages anyone can use but not everyone can utilize For it takes a boundless amount of seductive metaphor to draw us in and keep us there until we can come out into the sun and see that in the place of the old crumbling same old same old, there is something else A little fragile, perhaps, a little heartbreaking in the effort it makes to grip the wisps of its self together, with all the world and its ponderous assumptions of the truth against it But oh, so beautiful.The monotone of sexuality, the binary of gender, and the question of love and its many, many sorrows That s all that I will say on it, for Djuna does much, much better, and I d rather you went and saw for yourself the wonder Don t trust the summary It tells the story as well as a web of diaphanous rainbow copes with bricks thrown through its core Djuna is the writer, the doctor is her character, and we are her audience Djuna is the god, the doctor is her prophet, and we are at the base of Mount Sinai in defiance of the morals to be decreed and the history of persecution to come That is a lie in respect to the culture with a true hold on the story I have made use of, but it is also a metaphor, and I use it with full respect For we are prophesied to by the doctor from Djuna in ways strange and unfamiliar, for the meaning is too large for simple statement Or rather, it is too small, and would be quickly overwhelmed with biases and prejudices that fuel the tragedy felt along the lines of script, amongst the pages of lines If Djuna let it be so But she doesn t, and so the doctor rants and raves his saving and his solutions, for everyone ill comes to him but not everyone knows the extent of their illness Self Society Yes, but no,Night in all its unconscious yearnings unbound in full Day that must carry the night and keep the skeleton of it bound within its paper skin Yes, but no Closer Life and all its disparate yearnings on the backs of all these unfed nights, all these costumed days Death and the end of every need for a word to explain the life to itself, and to others Perhaps Remember, I have no idea what I m talking about I do know, though, that I m talking. The novel that almost ended my book club We d previously read work by Robert Coover, Anne Carson, and Ben Marcus Cormac McCarthy s Suttree and The Story of O But it was Nightwood that most of the usually intrepid group didn t bother to finish, a few unwilling to even venture past the first chapter Bitter complaints of overly baroque language, old fashioned concerns with ancestry, and a story where nothing happened Folks were pissed To be honest, I m still mystified While it took me far longer to read this 180 page novel than I d anticipated the prose demanded an attentive slowness as key moments often passed within a short phrase I felt rewarded every time I stopped to parse out a particularly knotty section or unpack an ambiguous aphorism There s a level of psychological insight into the characters here that s astounding coupled with Barnes setting an almost unknowable anti heroine at the dead center of the story, serving as a sort of swirling black hole While at first the book seems to play like a series of portraits, the cohesive structure slowly reveals itself This is a book that s reticent to shine a light on its secrets Even the very last scene seems to suggest a new meaning for everything that came before It forces you to reconsider where you ve been placing the dramatic emphasis and empathy It s a story where little might happen on the surface, but there s simultaneously too much to take in on one reading The doctor s monologues ricochet around the page like indoor fireworks and it s hard to know whether to enjoy the explosions or duck for cover Under the restrained veneer of the descriptions, Barnes documents a world of transexuals, cruising, defrocked priests, drunken mothers who abandon their infants, feral encounters with animals, etc It s often incredibly debauched without being the least bit judgmental of its characters And of course it s a love story It s about a love for oblivion, that oblivion you can sometimes find in other people. I am a fan of experimental literature since first experiencing the fun rides I got from Postmodernist novels of Barth, Vonnegut, and Pynchon in my college days in the early 70s I recently set out to give myself a dose of ten radical novels ranging from Woolf s first exploration of Modernist forms in The Voyage Out 1915 to a recent example of the new weird , Nell Zink s The Wallcreeper 2014 Among the set I chose, the most challenging to read and digest in my soul was the one on my plate here.Barnes short novel, published in 1936, precedes by a few years the work of Flan O Brien which many scholars credit as a clear precursor to Postmodernism According to the fascinating Wikipedia entry on the subject, the boundary with Modernism involves a recognition by writers that the failure of reality to conform to rational, orderly principles is not a subject for existential crisis, but a doorway to the freeing of imagination and play From this perspective, Barne s dark and brooding novel is still Modernist However, the ways her characters minds work is so freakish in their twisted flight between the gutters and the clouds, I was totally blown away and made ready to believe in an alternate reality invisible to me up to now.Our anti hero is this American bird Robin who is so alluring she makes a series of people do the Icarus dance First in line is the Austrian businessman Felix Volkbein, a closet Jew and fake Baron, whom she marries and bears a son by in Paris The free spirit he loves cannot be caged in domesticity, and he cannot deny her need to wander away to frolic with others Nora Flood, a bohemian socialite and former circus performer is the next to be swept away by Robin The happy household they form in free spirited Paris of the 20s does not last as soon the greedy and homely American Jenny Petherbridge, rich from a sinister line of four dead husbands, gets Robin in her talons and sweeps her off the U.S We spend a lot of time commiserating with Felix and Nora in the wreckage left behind As a chorus in this tragedy, we also spend a good chunk of the book in the company of a friend of them both, one Matthew O Conner, a cynical, cross dressing ex pat from the U.S living as a fake obstetrician He has the last say in everything You never know if anything he says is true, but he is the closest to wisdom we can find in this cockeyed tale.That is only the skeleton of this book The divine ferment of its living flesh lies in the polarities that garland almost every thought and every sentence in the narrative What do I mean by polarity You know, like those maxims such as pleasure always being relative to pain, life forever embodying death and decay, or rewards being proportional to risk Songs can often capture paradoxes that ring true, such as freedom s just another word for nothing left to lose The richness and textures of the polarities in the book often soar close enough to the sun to melt the wax of my wings or to remind me as Leonard Cohen sang even damnation was poisoned by rainbows Nothing I ve said is enough to tempt a prospective reader of the brilliance to be found here without some adequate examples When Felix first encounters Robin as a patient of the doctor, he is drawn to how her eyes remind him of a wild animal Get this as a strange place for the mind to travel Sometimes one meets a woman who is beast turning human Such a person s every movement will reduce to an image of a forgotten experience a mirage of an eternal wedding cast on the racial memory as insupportable a joy as would be the vision of an eland coming down an aisle of trees, chapleted with orange blossoms and bridal veil , a hoof raised in the economy of fear, stepping in the trepidation of flesh that will become myth as the unicorn is neither man nor beast deprived, but human hunger pressing its breast to its prey.Such a woman is the infected carrier of the past before her the structure of our head and jaws ache we feel we could eat her, she who is eaten death returning, for only then do we put our face close to the blood on the lips of our forefathers.In another scene Nora shares with the doctor how her lost love for Robin is driving her madEverything we can t bear in the world, someday we find in one person, and love it all at once A strong sense of identity gives a man the idea he can do no wrong too little accomplishes the same There s something evil in me that loves evil and degradation purity s black backside That loves honesty with a horrid love or why have I always gone seeking it at the liar s door Suppose your heart were five feet across in my place, would you break it for a heart no bigger than a mouse s mute Would you hurl yourself into any body of water, in the size you are now, for any woman you had to look for with a magnifying glass, or any boy if he was the height of the Eiffel Tower or did droppings like a fly No, we love in all sizes, yet we all cry out in tiny voices to the great booming God, the older we get Man, she said, her eyelids quivering, conditioning himself to fear, made God as the prehistoric, conditioning itself to hope, made man the cooling of the earth, the receding of the sea And I, who want power, chose a girl who resembles a boy Obviously, real people don t talk like this But realism is not the goal It feelslike the poetry of the figures stuck in Dante s Limbo due to their indecisiveness about God People who don t even make it to Hades or get a chance to travel with Virgil beyond to Purgatory on ascend to Paradise A brilliant and disturbing read that will remain etched on my consciousness Despite an early presentation of a bisexual character, there is little in this version that really delves into substantive issues of gender and sexuality Robin is a cipher no matter what I read that there was much in this novel that was taken out to make it acceptable for publication and that an edition of the Dalkey Archive Press contains as much as possible the version Barnes intended. Many of the reviews of Nightwood on this website seem to reflect the same sentiment, how do I even review this I often think this is a bit of a cop out review but in the case of Djuna Barnes Modernist novel from 1936, utter disorientation seems to be the most fitting response.A novel generally follows a basic plot with some semblance of a structure and often has one main character Nightwood begins the birth of Baron Felix We learn about his false patronage and we follow him in his attempt to produce an heir Then we move on The book forgets about him and Robin Vote becomes the main character Then Doctor Matthew becomes the main character Then Nora becomes the main character Then it ends Also over half of this book isn t even narrative It s just the transsexual Irish gynaecologist Doctor Matthew O Connor talking about essentially nothing There is no plot There is no structure There is no one main character And yet, Nightwood is totally immersive and highly readable.Within the genre of Modernist literature, Nightwood is a relatively easy read Barnes doesn t resort to the stream of conciousness style that many of her fellow Modernists adopted Instead she relies on transgression This novel was one of the first in Western literature to portray a lesbian relationship Also our pseudo narrator Dr Matthew is openly transsexual But these were the days before WWII, when the Weimar era was flourishing in Germany and the rest of Europe was following suit This novel is set in bohemian Paris during the rein of Gertrude Stein It presents an almost unbelievable oasis of decadence and liberality that genuinely did exist before Nazism ended it all That is the bittersweetness of reading the flamboyant novels of this era, we have the foresight of history and we know how it s all going to end eventually Nightwood is a fabulous little novel It is not hard to believe why Dylan Thomas, T.S Eliot and William S Burroughs all believed it to be one of the greatest novels ever written It also recently appeared on the list of Greta Gerwig s ten favourite books, which was the catalyst for my reading it as I bow down at the heels of Gerwig I would also suggest that this book would be a good starting place for those of you who want to dip your toes into the world of Modernist literature Believe me, it s a lot safer than my tragic attempt to read Woolf s The Waves unassisted.