Collected Stories

Overview

Distinguished Djuna Barnes biographer Phillip Herring (Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes [Viking]) has here gathered all the short stories of Djuna Barnes, including several that have never been published previously. Beginning in 1914, Djuna Barnes contributed regularly to numerous magazines and newspapers works of fiction, poetry, essay, and drama. Unlike some works in other genres in which she wrote, Barnes held her stories in particularly high regard, revising several of the stories collected in A Book ...
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Overview

Distinguished Djuna Barnes biographer Phillip Herring (Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes [Viking]) has here gathered all the short stories of Djuna Barnes, including several that have never been published previously. Beginning in 1914, Djuna Barnes contributed regularly to numerous magazines and newspapers works of fiction, poetry, essay, and drama. Unlike some works in other genres in which she wrote, Barnes held her stories in particularly high regard, revising several of the stories collected in A Book (1923; reprinted as A Night Among the Horses in 1929) late in her life. These stories from Spillway, her other early tales, and other stories never before published are collected in this volume. What they reveal is the breadth and consistency of Barnes's story writing, and should help establish her as one of the most interesting and vital storytellers of the great period of American literary output after World War I. Barnes is recognized internationally for her masterwork Nightwood and for other works of fiction, including Ryder and Ladies Almanack. She also wrote plays, most notably The Antiphon - which will he republished by Sun & Moon Press next year - and shorter works collected in At the Roots of the Stars: The Short Plays. Her early poetic work, The Book of Repulsive Women, has increasingly gained readers over the past few years. A selection of her drawings, which often accompanied her literary writing, has just been published by Sun & Moon Press as Poe's Mother.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A cult writer whose melodramatically unhappy life brought her into the Left Bank orbit of expatriate authors ranging from James Joyce to Gertrude Stein, Barnes employed an elliptical, sometimes surrealistic style as an elaborate screen for the autobiographical sources and raw pain that lie behind much of her work. Unfortunately, many of the 41 tales collected here-her entire short-story output- highlight her weaknesses as a writer rather than her strengths. Barnes was not a particularly adept shaper of plot, and often the deeper roots of her characters' grief and erratic behavior are too obscure to discern. In many of her stories, such as "The Rabbit," characters exhibit an intensity of feeling that seems to go way beyond the story's initial context, making them appear merely pathological. While her best tales-"A Night Among the Horses," "Oscar," "The Doctors," "Saturnalia" and, most prominently, "Spillway"-are fit company for her classic novel Nightwood, most of the fiction here will be of interest chiefly to scholars. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Barnes biographer Philip Herring introduces this comprehensive collection—every tale known to have been written by Barnes—which will be of great interest to scholars and devotees.

Others, however, might be confused by the inadequately annotated gathering, since the 41 stories are not dated, nor are the original places of publication noted. Most of the early fiction (written for weekly magazines) is identifiable by its melodramatic naturalism: slangy stories of urban romance that emphasize class distinctions and the harsher realities of city life, featuring bohemians in Greenwich Village, dance-hall girls, and immigrant workers. Then, after roughly a hundred pages, the high priestess of modernism emerges in dark lyrical tales of disaffection and alienation. With their cosmopolitan settings and points of view, Barnes's mature work displays all the ambiguity, world weariness, and cynicism that distinguish Nightwood (1936), her dense, elusive modern masterpiece. There are several stories about dying aristocrats, beset by age, indifferent to their past. "The Terrorists" is a scathing view of la vie bohémienne (cafe revolutionaries preach destruction while indulging their appetite for the good life), and the particular horrors of modern life are on view in stories like "Oscar," with its intimations of incest, madness, and murder. Mismatched lovers are common in Barnes's work: older women entertain young men in hopes of staving off decay; a mother falls in love with her daughter's suitor; a doctor's wife randomly beds a salesman to debase herself; a wealthy woman wants to marry her footman; and two coquettish sisters tantalize Parisian gentlemen. At the center of many of these mordant tales are relations that lead to spiritual death, if not actual destruction. "Dusie," a portrait of bohemian lesbians in Paris, recalls the pervasive smolder of decay and decadence in Nightwood.

The best were already available in other collections, but it's always worthwhile to see an author complete. Unfortunately, you'll need a bibliography to locate many of these pieces in Barnes's unusual career.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557133557
  • Publisher: Sun & Moon Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: Sun and Moon Classics Series, #110
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.02 (w) x 7.51 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 7
A Note on the Texts 25
The Terrible Peacock 31
Paprika Johnson 42
What Do You See, Madam? 56
Who Is This Tom Scarlett? 64
The Jest of Jests 75
Prize Ticket 177 85
A Sprinkle of Comedy 98
The Earth 110
The Head of Babylon 121
No-Man's-Mare 133
Smoke 143
The Coward 155
Monsieur Ampee 171
The Terrorists 184
The Rabbit 197
Indian Summer 209
A Night in the Woods 221
Finale 232
Renunciation 234
A Night Among the Horses 247
The Valet 256
Spillway 266
Oscar 279
Mother 301
The Robin's House 308
The Doctors 319
The Diary of a Dangerous Child 327
The Diary of a Small Boy 336
A Boy Asks a Question 344
The Nigger 351
Madame Grows Older: A Journal at the Dangerous Age 356
Aller et Retour 362
The Passion 374
Cassation 382
The Grande Malade 393
Dusie 404
A Duel Without Seconds 412
The Letter That Was Never Mailed 420
The First of April 428
The Perfect Murder 436
Behind the Heart 446
Saturnalia 455
The Hatmaker 468
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