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Barnes, Djuna.



Barnes's Copy: Handcolored, Uncensored,
Restoring The Prohibited Text
Together With
The Salesman's Sample Copy
Barnes, Djuna. Ryder. With Illustrations by the Author. New York: Horace Liveright, 1928.
8vo.; frontispiece and seven other illustrations by Barnes, all but one hand-colored by her; blue cloth stamped in red and gilt; lightly worn and stained; pale pink and blue illustrated dust-jacket, spine darkened, edges frayed, some soiling.
Boxed together with:
Barnes, Djuna. Ryder. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1928.
Small 8vo.; blue cloth, stamped in red and gilt; spine slightly faded; lightly browned.
A rare salesman's sample copy with a first edition of Barnes's first novel; 3000 copies: Messerli 4. One of Barnes's retained copies, signed: Djuna Barnes 1928; Barnes has colored six of the seven illustrations by hand, and has made emendations to six pages. Lacking the illustration opposite page 302 (Dr. Matthew O'Connor falling from heaven-O'Connor, of course, would reemerge as a pivotal character in Nightwood), which Barnes excised for unknown reasons; throughout her life Barnes liberally bestowed her artwork on friends, and possibly the image was presented as a gift. From the library of the Southern poet George Marion O'Donnell, with his signature on the front endpaper. Rare; the only copy in commerce we can trace.
A semi-autobiographical family history, Ryder is Barnes's first mature work, preceded by the 1915 chapbook The Book of Repulsive Women; A Book, a collection of short stories issued in 1923 (also by Liveright); and Ladies Almanack, the privately published send-up of the lesbian-feminist expatriate Paris community in which she played a central role, published by Edward Titus's Black Mannikin Press in 1928. The salesman's sample copy of Ryder consists of the title page, dedication page, table of contents, foreword, introduction, and part of the prepublication text of chapter one. The textual variations between this copy and the published first edition attest to the pre-publication status of the salesman's sample and provides a view of the book prior to the editorial reorganization demanded by a queasy Liveright.
Contemporary readers of Ryder were puzzled by Barnes's ambitious parodic style (blending elements of both Chaucer and the Bible) and her highly charged poetic prose; they were also shocked by her liberal use of distinctly unfeminine bawdy language. Profanity also distressed her publisher, Horace Liveright, whose financially unstable firm had just contested a costly obscenity charge brought against it for publishing Maxwell Bodenheim's novel Replenishing Jessica. Liveright agreed to publish Ryder only if extensive cuts were made:
[Barnes] and Charles Friede, an editor from Liveright, had to work over the manuscript together...deleting passages (and several pictures) relating for the most part to bodily fluids. She was furious and insisted that the deleted portions be clearly indicated [by asterisks] in the printed text, which they were...( Djuna: The Life and Times of Djuna Barnes, by Andrew Field, New York: Putnam's, 1983, p. 127)
Liveright did agree, however, to print an angry foreword, in which Barnes denounced the censorship to which Ryder had been subjected. Despite the attention the novel received (it briefly made it onto a best-seller list), Liveright reprinted Ryder only once, after which it faded into obscurity and remained out of print until 1979, when St. Martin's published a near-facsimile of the first edition, including several illustrations previously omitted. In 1990 the Dalkey Archive Press issued a third edition, also based on the unexpurgated text; they added five more of the previously censored illustrations.
In our copy Barnes has restored a number of the most painful excisions she was forced to make in 1928. For instance, on page 253 she has emended Molly Dance's line "Now I lay me down to wet me, will the Lord for this forget me?" to "Now I lay me down to piss, will the Lord take fire at this?" Her other notes correct grammatical and typographical errors and restore censored language. The emendations appear to have been made at various times (some are in pencil, others in pen; some in script, others in block letters), suggesting multiple read-throughs.
Even expurgated, Ryder was considered scandalous: copies were confiscated as obscene when Liveright tried to import the book to Paris, Barnes's home and a logical market-a market which had welcomed Joyce's Ulysses several years earlier-and in late 1928 Liveright warned Barnes that the novel faced suppression even with her tempered language. When seeing the 1979 St. Martin's edition through press, Barnes, inexplicably, chose not to restore the censored passages which, as in the Liveright edition, were indicated with asterisks. And Paul West introduces the 1990 Dalkey Archive Press reprint with the following note: "The text is taken from the first is an unexpurgated text, but the only one available: the original manuscript was destroyed [after Barnes placed it in storage] during the Second World War. ("A Note on the Text and Illustrations," by Paul West, in Ryder, Elmwood Park, Il.: Dalkey Archive Press, 1990, viii)
(#4415 / #2041)

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