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Djuna Barnes, ca. 1921 [author is unknown; grabbed from Wikipedia]
Although Djuna Barnes was a New Yorker who spent much of her long life in Greenwich Village, where she died a virtual recluse in 1982, she resided for extended periods of time in France and England. Her writings are representative modernist works in that they seem to transcend all national boundaries to take place in a land peculiarly her own. Deeply influenced by the French symbolists of the late nineteenth century and by the surrealists of the 1930s, she also wrote as a liberated woman, whose unconventional way of life is reflected in the uncompromising individuality of her literary style. Barnes's dreamlike and haunted writings have never found a wide popular audience, but they have strongly influenced such writers as Rebecca West, Nelson Algren, Dahlberg, Lowry, Miller, and especially Nin, in whose works a semifictional character named Djuna sometimes appears. In 1915 Barnes anonymously published The Book of Repulsive Women. Not long after she moved to Paris and became associated with the colony of writers and artists who made that city the international center of culture during the 1920s and early 1930s. Her Ladies Almanack was privately printed in Paris in 1928, the same year that Liveright in the United States published Ryder, her first novel. The book on which Barnes's fame largely rests is Nightwood (1936), a surrealistic story set in Paris and the United States, dealing with the complex relationships among a group of strangely obsessed characters, most of them homosexuals and lesbians. Barnes wrote little after Nightwood. In 1952, she professed to Malcolm Lowry that the experience of writing that searing work so frightened her that she was unable to write anything after it. Fortunately, her literary talents revived with The Antiphon, a verse-drama originally published in 1958, which is now available in Selected Works (1962). (Bowker Author Biography) — biografia da Bosco di notte… (altro)
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Djuna Barnes was born near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. Her parents' household was eccentric; it included her father's mistress and children, though Djuna's negligent father did not adequately support them all. As the second oldest of eight children, Djuna spent much of her childhood helping to care for siblings and half-siblings. She received her early education at home, mostly from her father and grandmother. At 16 she was raped, possibly by a neighbor or by her father. She referred to the event in several of her works. She left home for New York City, where she studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Art Student's League. She got work as a magazine journalist and illustrator with The Brooklyn Eagle and McCall's Magazine before embarking on a literary career, producing short stories and plays, and articles for a variety of publications. In 1921, she made her first trip to Paris, the center of modernism in art and literature of the day, on assignment for McCall's. There she befriended many expatriate writers and artists and became a key figure in Bohemian circles of the Left Bank; her black cloak and acerbic wit are recalled in many memoirs of the time. Even before her first novel, the bestselling Ryder, was published in 1928, her literary reputation was already high, based on her short story "A Night Among the Horses," first published in The Little Review and reprinted in her 1923 collection A Book. She became part of the coterie surrounding the influential writer and salonnière Natalie Clifford Barney. Djuna set up housekeeping with artist Thelma Wood in a flat purchased with the proceeds of her successful novel. In 1928, she published Ladies Almanack, a controversial comic novel about a predominantly lesbian social circle, a thinly-disguised version of Natalie Barney's group. During the 1930s, Djuna was chronically ill and drank heavily; in February 1939 she attempted suicide. Peggy Guggenheim, her patron, sent her back to New York, where her family entered her into a sanatorium. She then moved to an apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village, where she would spend the last 42 years of her life. Her best-known later work was the play The Antiphon (1958). Djuana Barnes also achieved acclaim as an artist, and her paintings and drawings were exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery in Manhattan. She is considered one of the most important avant-garde writers and artists of the 20th century as well as a precursor of the "New Journalism" of the 1960s.