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Modernist Novel “Nightwood” by Djuna Barnes

Nightwood is a well-known novel by Djuna Barnes, who had to spend time in Paris in the 1930s living with lesbians to develop the novel’s content. Nightwood was published in 1936, but it took a long time to be regarded as her literary masterpiece. Her book has been considered one of the most influential modernist works (Mann 200). Even though the book was published in the mid-nineteenth century, the book had outshined many other modernist authors’ works. Djuna Barnes’ writing is more precise as she spends much of her time in lesbian social circles, which gives her a unique stand and relevance in the topic.

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Djuna Barnes’s experimental novel explores characters, lives, and the love story of five eccentric people and their unique attributes; her book was the first one with transgender participants. Her understanding of transgender provided her with solid and accurate content to write concerning such topic. Despite the subject becoming more prominent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, her book still contains essential information that is still relevant today. Nightwood, a novel by Djuna Barnes, entrusted her writings to T.S. Elliot for editing (Mann 200). T.S. Elliot maintained continuity and corrected any errors that may have hampered the book’s success. Barnes’ mid-forties heartbreak with her lover Thelma Wood was already too much for her. Those people who were following the novel were intrigued by the two ladies’ obsessive love affair; the story made Barnes nicknamed a lesbian evangelist. Despite her life being parallel, Barnes had to deny the label that rec to her.

As previously reviewed, Miss Barnes’ novel in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1937 March. The book was rare at the time. It could be easily underestimated and be overrated by others. The novel introductory praise by T.S. Elliot that he made to attract serious readers gave the book such an introduction that some people contradict his opinion (Mann 200). Using Mr. Elliot’s advice was the best way to ensure that people get to understand a perplexing book. Mr. Elliot claiming that he had to read the book several times to have an understanding made the readers have a clear picture of what to expect from the book. If they read once or twice without really understanding the novel, they will have to read it more times. Mr. Elliot’s comment made most people more confident about taking their time to understand Djuna Barnes’s writing on Nightwood.

After the book has been reread twice or even thrice, it becomes more interesting. Every time the reader finds the book to be more impressive. Many continued readings on the novel increase the reader’s admiration even more. When Mr. Elliot made his claims, he had a better view because he had read the book many times (Mann 200). He provided a sounder judgment of the book as compared with someone who was less initiated. Mr. Elliot seems to like books that would make a massive appeal in his life; Nightwood appealed to Mr. Elliot. Thus, causing him to have a strong argument about the book.

Miss Barnes’s writings were so distinct from other writer’s work; her writings are full of virtuosity. She had highly developed in how she did write her unique and exotic limitation. Her writing talent in Nightwood novel has been well displayed has made more opportunities come her way. Her book is based on a specific period that is the postwar years and focused on a particular writing school (Mann 200). Miss Barnes is an American and residing in Paris; her traits are the same for those familiar and extraordinary. Those individuals that hunt the café’s then stroll in bizarre costumes via the Luxemburg Gardens, and they are all bounding together in place St. Sulpice like a religious order. Her outstanding personality facilitated her unique writings that are distinct from other writers. Residing together with lesbians made her aware of how they live with each other and how they love, giving her an upper hand on writing the topic. Her trait has made her writing to be enjoyable for other writers.

Furtherly, Miss Barnes shows how the world is small and eccentric, the world varnishing and merging to forming new and different forms. Miss Bernice tries to reconstruct by using power and concision, thus losing herself in the past. Her novel creates her perspective, being tethered and constricted in the record of a generation that is being explicitly absorbed with an individual’s unique experiences that cannot be communicated fully (Ng 84). For the above reason, one has to reread Miss Barnes repeatedly writing to understand better what she is trying to pass through. It is also difficult for people to critique her novel as her writing is unique and takes time for the script to be understood. Her writings have an epigram quality, where they are suspiciously neat and yet truthful.

Merely, Nightwood is remarkable and immensely interesting. Miss Berne’s writing skills are rarely found, where she knows what she exactly would like to do and knows ho0w she can accomplish it. Her novel brings back the memory of Henry James geometrics submitted to his publisher (Ng 84). Her book arrangement is incredible, where each chapter follows a chapter with a trolling precision, as every word that she has written counts. Her portraying the use of simple language is so fascinating, where her tongue remains fresh and straightforward. She as well maintains rhetorical effects in some passages. She shows mastery as compared to Joyce. Miss Berne’s book is not an imitation; the reason is to grow from the same conditions and expresses a specific sarcastic state of mind and desolate.

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Mr. Elliot’s use has summarized the novel’s outstanding elegance, phrasing beauty, humor and characterization genius, and consistency of horror and doom greatly resembling two Elizabethan tragedies. The book leads to kinship and, in a way, Elizabethan tragedy, the content is rare and has a valuable saying, and Miss Bernes are not enough to place her as a first-rank writer. However, her writings are not arguably intelligent (Ng 84). The novel depicts a spiritual life between her and the doctor, in which she is consistently and disconcertingly effective. The actors were magnifying reality as she spoke. Though we can say that Miss Bernes took advantage of her characters for her emotional satisfaction, the characters painted a clear picture of her writing.

From Mr. Elliot’s experience, he can emphasize the importance of getting the best out of the book and making it essential to the readers. His statement made the book prioritized in its advertisement and showed people how reading the book is critical. Also, Miss Bernes uses characters that can be termed as abnormal (Bozhkova 96). Their sexuality has been inverted—made readers interested in finding out how their affairs are and if they can be distinguished from ordinary people. For that content, it propelled the novel to be read by straight people, transgender, and lesbians, without a limiting barrier.

The novel going against society’s morals had to be defended by Mr. Elliot, where he shows a bishop a tone. He states regarding a group of people how they have a horrid sideshow to confirm people’s will. Thus, hardening others’ hearts as a habitual pride sin, his statement helped paint a picture of human misery and bondage (Bozhkova 96). The book had to be embraced and appreciated in society by providing a solution to the end of grief.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from the novel Nightwood, written by an American expatriate, and a creative writing student will benefit greatly from it. The writing industry is dominated by straight white men who have been on the list for a long time. Miss Berne’s ability to tell a story that draws on her personal life and influences creative writing demonstrates her writing intelligence. Writers should take notes from her work about changing the language to suit a personal essay’s intent. A writer should use different ways in expressing their inner life in their writing to become more outer, achieving an alchemical moment.

In conclusion, Miss Berne’s novel on the Nightwood has been cut along everywhere. And it has been grown to be appreciated in society. Her argument based on the life and love story of five lesbians portrays a picture of what the current community has embraced. Her writing has been read with time and has become very popular; her outstanding personality has been described in her writing (Bozhkova 96). Comparing with other writers, her use of language is the more neat and precise use of simple English. Although one has to read her novel more than one’s, every time one reads it becomes more impressive, this is a book which one can repeat reading about modernist without being bored.

Works Cited

Bozhkova, Yasna. “’The Second Person Singular’: the (Impossible) ‘Being-With’ in Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood.” L’Atelier, vol. 12, no. 1, 2020, pp. 90-111.

Mann, Molly. “Queer Hunger: Human and Animal Bodies in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood.” Veg (start) an Arguments in Culture, History, and Practice, edited by Cristina Hanganu-Bresch and Kristin Kondrlik, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020, pp. 195-212.

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Ng, Zhao. “Of Beasts Blond and Damned: Fascist and Hysterical Bodies and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood.” Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 66, no. 1, 2020, pp. 79-102.

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