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Walking backward

Robert Taubman

21 August 1980
Selected Works of Djuna​ Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... Not long after Ezra Pound, the precocious DjunaBarnes arrived in Paris already equipped with a style derived from the Jacobean dramatists and French post-symbolist poets, and so with as good a claim as any to be counted among the founders of Modernism ...
4 July 1996
Djuna​ Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... dark hair pulled back into a bun, eyes like soft triangles, sweeping cheekbones, it is a sculpted head, a lukewarm, intelligent face. She might be an actress, a spy, a photographer. The woman is DjunaBarnes. What I am looking for, and can’t see, is the grotesque, the decadent, the rotten; the slop, the left-over, the bilious. Where did she store it all? Where did that live? DjunaBarnes was ...

Pig Cupid’s Rosy Snout

Jane Eldridge Miller

19 June 1997
Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy 
by Carolyn Burke.
Farrar, Straus, 494 pp., $35, July 1996, 0 374 10964 8
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The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems 
by Mina Loy, selected and edited by Roger Conover.
Farrar, Straus, 236 pp., $22, July 1996, 0 314 25872 8
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... the infant Fabi behind with Joella and Giles). It was a difficult but productive period for her, during which her poems were published in the Little Review and the Dial. Her close friendship with DjunaBarnes dates from this time. But after she received news that Haweis had taken Giles, who was 12, to live with him in the Caribbean, Loy returned to Florence. Deciding that Joella, now a teenager ...

Enough is enough

Patricia Beer

26 September 1991
by Antonia White, edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 320 pp., £19.95, September 1991, 0 09 470650 6
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... been wonderfully ad hoc in their approach to liaisons. Compatability, gender, availability, none of these considerations seemed to have anything to do with it; not even species, if we are to believe DjunaBarnes, quoted in the notes: when asked if she was a lesbian she replied, ‘If a horse loved me I might be that.’ It is quite a point of view. When it comes to the other two themes, religion and ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White

19 July 2012
Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... from outsiders to the suburban everyman. It’s not enough to say that the modernist canon is well stocked with homosexuals; between Proust, Mann, Gide, Genet, Forster, Woolf, Stein, Langston Hughes, DjunaBarnes and Henry James, it may be more accurate to say that the modernist novel is a queer invention with a smattering of heterosexual imitators, many of them notably preoccupied with queer concerns ...

Love-of-One’s-Life Department

Terry Castle: The lesbian scarcity economy

21 October 2004
Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks 
by Diana Souhami.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 9780297643869
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... of the 20th century – will no doubt be familiar. Sapphic Paris, after all, like Lesbos itself, has long been a cultic site in the lesbian imagination. Stein and Toklas, Barney, Romaine Brooks, DjunaBarnes, Sylvia Beach, Dolly Wilde, Janet Flanner, H.D. – we’ve been hearing about them for ages and the line-up never changes. If anything, thanks to influential (and romanticising) books like ...


Stephen Fender

23 June 1988
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... life.’ The reaction started with the publication of Death in the Afternoon in 1932, the hero of which, as Kenneth Lynn cogently expresses it, is not ‘a haunted Nick Adams, or a crippled Jake Barnes, or a hollowed-out Frederic Henry, but an overbearing know-it-all named Ernest Hemingway’. Max Eastman said Hemingway had false hair on his chest. Gertrude Stein, in The Autobiography of Alice B ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe

27 September 2012
All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Abbott; modernist designer Eileen Gray; Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson, editors of the avant-garde literary magazine the Little Review; not to mention Colette, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, DjunaBarnes, Romaine Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Janet Flanner, Vita Sackville-West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Ivy Compton-Burnett, the gallery owner Betty Parsons – even the kooky, spooky, more-than-a ...
31 August 1989
Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... As a writer, she thinks that ‘Mazo’s experiences and gender confusion were so unconventional that a very innovative form was necessary to express them.’ She should, like Gertrude Stein and DjunaBarnes, have experimented with form and language. I am not sure that this is so. The wild excesses of the novels flourish while, in the background, day-to-day realism plods on. That is their strength ...
21 March 1991
Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... been dismissed by or excluded from celebrations of Modernism. Recently, however, there has been a surge of interest in ‘Modernist women’: H.D., Bryher, Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Richardson, DjunaBarnes, Harriet Monroe and many others. These women experimented not only in their writing, but also in their lives, by rejecting conventional sexual roles and by establishing networks of support and ...

Vampiric Words

Ruth Bernard Yeazell

26 May 1994
The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing and Imprisonment 
by Maud Ellmann.
Virago, 136 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 675 2
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... single apostrophe to Nature as a mental leech hardly suffices as a phenomenology of writing. As for the arresting identification of eating and force-feeding, it is the climax to a brief discussion of DjunaBarnes and another woman, who deliberately permitted themselves to be imprisoned and force-fed in order to identify with the experience of the suffragettes. Ellmann writes: It is hard to silence the ...

Into the Future

David Trotter: The Novel

22 March 2007
The Novel: Vol. I: History, Geography and Culture 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 916 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04947 5
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The Novel: Vol. II: Forms and Themes 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 950 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04948 3
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... story. Bal’s style of argument is abstract and dense (all turning-point and no filler). But it does illuminate, brilliantly at times, the passages that concern her, from Flaubert, Zola, Proust and DjunaBarnes. If there is a problem, here, it has to do with the generality of the claim that description in all its forms ‘inherently generates both the world in which events take place and subsequently ...

Vampire to Victim

Nina Auerbach: The Cult of Zelda

19 June 2003
Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 492 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7195 5466 7
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... loved him, but of course it wore out like a love affair. The fairies have spoiled all that’). But Zelda’s undefined association with the lesbian community of Romaine Brooks, Natalie Barney and DjunaBarnes, her insistence during her first breakdown that she was in love with Barney, and also with her ballet teacher Lubov Egorova, are new to me. The obsessed Fitzgeralds, flayed with a terror of ...


Evan Kindley: Modernist Magazines

23 January 2014
The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 976 pp., £35, May 2013, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II: North America 1894-1960 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 1088 pp., £140, July 2012, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 
edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker and Christian Weikop.
Oxford, 1471690 pp., £145, March 2013, 978 0 19 965958 6
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... newspaper expertise to the launch of the Yellow Book, and ‘slick’ magazines like Vanity Fair and Esquire regularly published modernist writers like Cocteau, Hemingway, Lawrence, Dos Passos and DjunaBarnes. (The New Yorker, founded in 1925, was considerably less daring: the fiction editor, Katharine White, rejected work by Gertrude Stein because ‘she was not allowed to buy anything her boss ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings

8 October 2014
E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... unembarrassed by his own large intelligence. After the war he wound up in Greenwich Village, mixing with the likes of Williams, Hart Crane, Marianne Moore, Edna St Vincent Millay, Allen Tate and DjunaBarnes, who also lived on Patchin Place, as Theodore Dreiser once had and Marlon Brando later would. He had become well regarded as an experimental poet, but he hadn’t yet become famous. Then, in ...

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