Collected Poems: with Notes Toward the Memoirs of Djuna Barnes

Collected Poems: with Notes Toward the Memoirs of Djuna Barnes

by Djuna Barnes
     
 
Barnes published only seven poems and a play in her last 40 years, leading critics to assume her novel Nightwood would be her primary work. However, the papers and notes found in her apartment upon her death reveal she was a working writer throughout her life, capable of biting wit, cold elegance and dramatic flair while revealing the core of herself and her creations

Overview

Barnes published only seven poems and a play in her last 40 years, leading critics to assume her novel Nightwood would be her primary work. However, the papers and notes found in her apartment upon her death reveal she was a working writer throughout her life, capable of biting wit, cold elegance and dramatic flair while revealing the core of herself and her creations. This is the first such collection of her secret work to be published, and it is stunning in its revelations; to use the poet's own words, many of the pieces are as "bone to bone" as the lovers in her verse. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Famous for her grim lesbian novel Nightwood (1936) and for her life as a fabulous expatriate in Paris between WWI and WWII, Barnes (1892- 1982) has never enjoyed a reputation as a poet, partly because almost none of her post-Nightwood verse saw print. This diligent and exhaustive edition both restores her hard-to-find magazine verse of the 1910s and 1920s and makes available her dense, sardonic late poems. The early poems are conventional in form, but extreme in emotion. Some focus on same-sex desire; others perform a self-conscious wildness, with disturbing or deadly tableaux-a lady's "profile like a dagger lain/ Between the hair," a "snail that marks the girth of night with slime." The later poetry, as the editors write, "challenges us to savor lines that appear to be English, but... elude us," condensing almost to unintelligibility a gothic-sarcastic sensibility derived from T.S. Eliot, and from the 17th-century dramatists Barnes, like Eliot, admired. She casts herself as a neo-medieval scourge of hypocrisy named Dan Corbeau ("Lord Crow"), attacks authority of all sorts, or invokes "Lucifer, the salmon of the air,/ The kiss killing man," who "Breeds himself by falling from the air." Often the editors print multiple drafts of a single unfinished poem. Of more general interest, perhaps, are the pages from Barnes's unfinished prose memoir of Paris: despite their repetitive, fragmentary state, they contain witty remarks and observations on Joyce, Stein, Jean Cocteau and other luminaries, among them her own mentor T.S. Eliot, whom she admired and resented to the end. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“From Djuna Barnes’s known and unknown literary output found amidst chaos of revisions and paper fragments, Phillip Herring and Osías Stutman have skillfully created the first collection of the span of Barnes’s poetry, providing evidence that the author was indeed productive during the last forty years of her life far beyond the few known poems and play.”— Jeris Cassel, Rutgers University librarian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299212346
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
11/22/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Herring is professor emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and now lives in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the biography Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes. Osías Stutman, poet, immunologist, and professor emeritus at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has published a Spanish translation of Barnes’s poetry, which was on the bestseller list in Spain, where he now lives. His poems have been published in a variety of books and magazines.

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