NIGHTWOOD by Djuna Barnes


The Original Version and Related Drafts
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 As the editor of this new version of Barnes's 1936 erotic classic avers, ``the story of Nightwood's composition and coming to print is an extraordinary story.'' Unfortunately, Plumb (English/Pennsylvania State) is not the one to tell it. Her apparatus-heavy edition, while definitive for scholars, will only confuse readers looking for a reliable text of what Barnes wrote. Despite all the lists of emendations, textual notes, hyphenations, and historical collations, it's never very clear exactly what was taken out from Barnes's version by her friend Emily Coleman and her editor, T.S. Eliot. While Coleman, an early and steadfast advocate of a book rejected by countless publishers, was motivated by aesthetic concerns, Eliot feared the censor. Barnes, for her part, was willing to do almost anything to get her poetic narrative into print. That she herself never restored it to this version during her lifetime suggests she may well have been satisfied with the later editions. In any case, the reproductions of surviving early manuscript pages will satisfy scholars who might otherwise be insulted by the elementary ``explanatory annotations'' (for ``Goethe,'' ``Uffizi,'' ``Voltaire,'' ``Morpheus,'' and so on).

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56478-080-5
Page count: 319pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1995