Nightwood [El bosque de la noche]

Djuna Barnes | Nightwood [El bosque de la noche]

Nightwood, Djuna Barnes’ strange and sinuous tour de force, “belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch” (TLS). That time is the period between the two World Wars, and Barnes’ novel unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe’s great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna—a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous. The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction—there is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self-proclaimed baron; Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night; and there is Dr. Matthew-Mighty-Grain-of-Salt-Dante-O’Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions. Barnes’ depiction of these characters and their relationships (Nora says, “A man is another person—a woman is yourself, caught as you turn in panic; on her mouth you kiss your own”) has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature. Most striking of all is Barnes’ unparalleled stylistic innovation, which led T. S. Eliot to proclaim the book “so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.” Now with a new preface by Jeanette Winterson, Nightwood still crackles with the same electric charge it had on its first publication in 1936.


 

Prólogo de T.S. Eliot . El bosque de la noche es la obra maestra de Djuna Barnes y una de las grandes novelas de la literatura contemporánea. París, 1927. En un ambiente que fluctúa entre la aristocracia, la bohemia y el mundo del circo, se encarna el enigma esencial de la condición humana en la figura del joven Robin Vote, fascinada por la atracción del abismo, y en las tres personas que se disputan su amor: el falso barón judío vienés Felix Volkbein, la leal Nora Flood y la ávida Jenny Pehterbridge. Testigo de la historia, y confidente de Felix y Nora, el extravagante doctor Matthew O’Connor. Incapaz de encontrar editor para la versión inicial y más explícita de El bosque de la noche , Djuna Barnes accedió a que su amiga Emily Coleman y su editor, T. S. Eliot , cortaran fragmentos -desde una palabra hasta pasajes de tres páginas- para dar con la versión «publicable» que vio la luz en 1936. La especialista Cheryl J. Plumb ha estudiado y publicado la novela restituyendo el material eliminado y la redacción y puntuación original, ofreciendo al lector en español por vez primera la versión íntegra de este gran clásico del siglo XX.

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