Spring 1946 • Vol. VIII No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1946 |

Pained Sex: Elizabethan Style

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes. New Classics Series. New Directions. $1.00. Pained sex is a phenomenon so common to our times, exploited as are its "victims" by psychiatric clinics, that it is not surprising that Miss Djuna Barnes's Nightwood which, in parody of T. S. Eliot,1 might be termed the "Elizabethan" version of pained sex, should have acquired (putting it tactfully) "a wide subterranean reputation." I quote these words from the jacket blurb of the new edition, arrived, after nine years of esoteric incubation, at the status of a "new classic." Mr. Eliot's original introduction, piously retained, was distinguished by one of those wary philistinisms which he is in the habit of embedding in his amberine prose. Of the characters which Joseph Frank has recently advised us not to consider as "flesh-and-blood human beings," Mr. Eliot says: "To regard this group of people as a horrid sideshow of freaks is not only to miss the point, but to confirm our wills and harden our hearts in t

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