Archive for Djuna Barnes

The curve of joy…

Posted in Writers with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by Mj Rains


The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy.
Our bones ache only while the flesh is on them.

– Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
Image: Djuna Barnes


I talk too much…

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2014 by Mj Rains


I talk too much because I have been made so miserable by what you are keeping hushed. – from Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

Vintage Photo of the Week

Posted in "Wit"icisms", Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by Mj Rains

Solita Solano und Djuna Barnes in Paris
c. 1922
Maurice Brange, Au Cafe, 1922
source: and on Wikipedia page

Ah, Paris in the ’20s. I think I must have spent another life there…

Love, love the fashion style, the hats, the shoes, the guilt-free wearing of fur…What is Solita writing down?…What is Djuna saying?…

Avant-Garde Djuna Barnes

Posted in Writers with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2009 by Mj Rains


We still need to know more about Djuna Barnes to grasp her unique style, her radical fusion, her ideology.  Djuna was born in New York State in 1892 to an artistic, eccentric, strong-willed family.  Barnes became a stylish, self-created, self-supporting New Woman.  She lived in New York from 1913 to 1919, creating a bohemian bi-sexual life-style.  Red-haired, she was a vital presence and a vivid wit, sometimes using the psuedonym, “Lydia Steptoe”.  And she stepped on toes earning her own living and helping to support her family as a journalist and illustrator.  She also wrote stories and plays. 

Brange-Solano and Djuna Barnes Au Cafe, Photo by Maurice Brange of Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922.

During the 20s and 30s Djuna moved to Europe, finding a home in Paris, Berlin, and England.  Once again, her free-lance writing and her avant-garde lifestyle brought her into the artists groups and the lesbian circles.  She became friends with the celebrated lesbian leader of Paris Natalie Barney.  Her best known novel, Nightwood (1936) is a profound study of women relationships and encompasses her long affair with Thelma Wood, a sculptor. 

Others she associated with respected her work and her vision.  Some of these names included: James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, Samuel Beckett. 

Later, after WWII, returned to the United States, moving to Greenwich Village.  Here, she had such friends and admirers as Marianne Moore and Dag Hammarskjold {just love that name!} who was the Secretary General of the United Nations at the time.  She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Once a heavy drinker, she eventually gave up alcohol, but her famous red hair whitened with age and her brave wit seemed to turn vicious  and prejudiced nearing the end of her life.  She wrote, but rarely published, and died in 1982, sick of being old and alone.  (which is what this Wit sometimes worries about for some people that she knows.) 

Source:  The Heath Anthology of American Literature

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