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Barnes, Djuna.

Passion Play, A., in OTHERS.


A Very Early Djuna Barnes Appearance,
Barnes, Djuna. A Passion Play. In Others, February 1918. Chicago: William Saphier, (1918).
8vo.; small closed tear to a few leaves; printed wrappers, stapled and reinforced with tape; soiled, with heavy edgewear.       
A special theatre issue of Others magazine, containing the first appearance of Barnes's biblically-inspired drama "A Passion Play." Also prints "The Kitchen Absurd" by William Saphier (the issue's editor and publisher) and Maxwell Bodenheim: Messerli 99. A presentation copy, inscribed in pencil on the front cover: To Rita & Sidney with love & gratitude from Djuna. The inscription, written in a young, stylized hand, is surely one of Barnes's earliest.
Barnes, who early in life fancied a career in the theatre, was an active member of the original Provincetown Players, who produced three of her plays during the 1919-1920 season. We have been unable to determine whether "A Passion Play" was one of those performed. The peculiar sketch consists of Barnes's own rendering of a situation only loosely inspired by the Bible-in Barnes's version, the two main characters, both prostitutes, are Theolivia, "a and heavily abandoned" and Sarah, "a thin, small Jewess with tiny breasts, dark and curling hair, nose aquiline...A perverse woman, whose knees move beneath her dress like spheres ascending and descending." Characters in this hardly sacred drama utter typically Barnesian lines like: "There's something healthy about a man who has the malady of sin upon him. It tastes well beneath the tongue and sits easily upon the hips" (14). An interesting early Barnes effort, and one that stylistically foreshadows much of her later work.

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