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Barnes, Djuna

characters nightwood love robin

(US, 1892–1982)

Djuna Barnes was born into an extraordinary family which championed both free love and spiritualism. This may partly account for her characters' obsessions with sexuality and identity, explored in a writing style as remarkable for its poise and beauty as its eccentricity. Her major novel is Nightwood (1936) which was acclaimed on publication by T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and William Faulkner among others. Nightwood concerns a group of bizarre characters and their sexual dilemmas: Dr O'Connor is a transvestite gynaecologist, Baron Felix Volkbein is a womanizer who thinks he has found love with the novel's other main protagonist, Robin Vote. But Robin herself is in the middle of a search for redemption in a lesbian affair with Nora Flood. Other works, such as Ladies' Almanack (1928), also experiment with the transgression of sexual and artistic boundaries.

Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, Colette  LM

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