Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) was a pioneering female journalist, experimental novelist, playwright, and poet whose influence on literary modernism was profound and whose writings anticipated many of the preoccupations of poststructuralist and feminist thought. In her new book, Diane Warren argues that Barnes' writings made significant contributions to gender and aesthetic debates in their immediate early twentieth-century context, and that they continue to contribute to present-day debates on identity. In particular, Warren traces the works' close engagement with the effects of cultural boundaries on the individual, showing how the journalism, Ryder, Ladies Almanack, and the early chapters of Nightwood energetically and playfully subvert such boundaries. In this reading, Nightwood is contextualised as a pivotal text which poses questions about the limits of subversion, thereby positioning The Antiphon (1958) as an analysis of why such boundaries are sometimes necessary. Djuna Barnes' Consuming Fictions shows that from the irreverent and carnivalesque iconoclasm of Barnes' early works, to the bleak assessment that conflict lies at the root of culture, seen from the close of Nightwood, Barnes' oeuvre offers a profound analysis of the relationship between culture, the individual and textual expression.
Contents: Introduction: 'realism is no food for a child'; The critical context; Travels with the pen performer; 'Everything is true that is honoured'; 'Gleanings from the shores of Mytilene': parody pastiche and the Almanack; Dying to be an individual; 'Only the scorned and the ridiculous make good stories'; 'The fadged up ends of discontent'; Conclusion; Select bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Diane Warren is a Principal Lecturer in English at the University of Portsmouth, UK.
Reviews: ‘The strength of Warren's book is in close reading of textual and intertextual detail and exploration of how each text works out its internal problematic.’ Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
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