Nightwood, Djuna Barnes's strange and sinuous tour de force 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's depiction of these characters and their relationships has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature.
Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) was an American writer and artist known for her novel Nightwood, a cult classic of lesbian fiction and an important work of modernist literature. She played a significant part in the development of twentieth-century English-language modernist writing and was one of the key figures in 1920s and 1930s bohemian Paris after filling a similar role in the Greenwich Village of the teens.