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

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.