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Barnes, Djuna.



Barnes' Seminal Work,
Inscribed "With All My Love" To Natalie Barney
Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. London: Faber and Faber Ltd., (1936).
8vo.; preliminaries lightly foxed; plum cloth, stamped in gilt; grey dust-jacket price-clipped but otherwise intact. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
First edition of Barnes' masterwork; number of copies unknown: Messerli 6. A magical presentation copy, linking Natalie Barney, Djuna Barnes's longtime love and most faithful patron, with Nightwood, Barnes's most enduring work. Inscribed in the month of publication: Darling-with all my love Djuna. London. Oct. 31 '36.
With the publication of Nightwood, Barnes secured a permanent place in the modernist canon. The novel, a moody and sardonic exploration of an obsessive lesbian love affair played out against a backdrop of European Fascism, proved a conundrum of sorts for male critics: T.S. Eliot pointed readers to "the great achievement of style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliance of wit and characterization, and [the] quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy"; Dylan Thomas characterized Nightwood as "one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman"; and the poet Edwin Muir offered similarly gender-qualified praise, declaring that "Miss Barnes's prose is the only prose by a living writer which can be compared with that of Joyce, and in one point it is superior to his." (New Directions edition, 1937).

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