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The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings

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Originally published in the chap book series by Bruno of Greenwich Village in 1915, this renowned volume of poetry presented portraits of women of the period -a mother, prostitute, cabaret dancer, and others-which were wildly radical in their day dominated as it was by Victorian mores. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up Originally published in the chap book series by Bruno of Greenwich Village in 1915, this renowned volume of poetry presented portraits of women of the period -a mother, prostitute, cabaret dancer, and others-which were wildly radical in their day dominated as it was by Victorian mores. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up into a delicious sense of perversity by Barnes's art. On the evidence of Barnes's numerous other works, most of which included art that was interleaved with her writing, Messerli has restored the drawings-which in the Bruno edition appeared in the back, after the poem's-to the front of the book so that they can create an interplay with the texts.


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Originally published in the chap book series by Bruno of Greenwich Village in 1915, this renowned volume of poetry presented portraits of women of the period -a mother, prostitute, cabaret dancer, and others-which were wildly radical in their day dominated as it was by Victorian mores. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up Originally published in the chap book series by Bruno of Greenwich Village in 1915, this renowned volume of poetry presented portraits of women of the period -a mother, prostitute, cabaret dancer, and others-which were wildly radical in their day dominated as it was by Victorian mores. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up into a delicious sense of perversity by Barnes's art. On the evidence of Barnes's numerous other works, most of which included art that was interleaved with her writing, Messerli has restored the drawings-which in the Bruno edition appeared in the back, after the poem's-to the front of the book so that they can create an interplay with the texts.

30 review for The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    can be read online here - http://greeninteger.com/pdfs/barnes-b... can be read online here - http://greeninteger.com/pdfs/barnes-b...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Scarpin

    Twilight of the Illicit You, with your long blank udders And your calms, Your spotted linen and your Slack’ning arms. With satiated fingers dragging At your palms. Your keens set far apart like Heavy spheres; With discs upon your eyes like Husks of tears; And great ghastly loops of gold Snared in your ears. Your dying hair hand-beaten ‘Round your head. Lips, long lengthened by wise words Unsaid. And in your living all grimaces Of the dead. One sees you sitting in the sun Asleep; With the sweeter gifts you had And did Twilight of the Illicit You, with your long blank udders And your calms, Your spotted linen and your Slack’ning arms. With satiated fingers dragging At your palms. Your keens set far apart like Heavy spheres; With discs upon your eyes like Husks of tears; And great ghastly loops of gold Snared in your ears. Your dying hair hand-beaten ‘Round your head. Lips, long lengthened by wise words Unsaid. And in your living all grimaces Of the dead. One sees you sitting in the sun Asleep; With the sweeter gifts you had And didn’t keep, One grieves that the alters of Your vice lie deep. You, the twilight powder of A fire—wet dawn; You, the massive mother of Illicit spawn; While the others shrink in virtue You have borne. We’ll see you staring in the sun A few more years, With discs upon your eyes like Husks of tears; And great ghastly loops of gold Snared in your ears.

  3. 5 out of 5

    George

    A chapbook of early 20th-century poetry by a cult figure who, according to the brief biography at the end, was close friends with Joyce, among other expatriates who lived in 1920s Paris. This small collection, which could be considered juvenalia, put me in mind of Plath's early poems (but perhaps I don't know enough poets). The rhyming didn't bother me all that much (as it did in, for example, Lyrical Ballads). There is a gothic feel to them, a barely passive venom. Yet, with a title that sounds A chapbook of early 20th-century poetry by a cult figure who, according to the brief biography at the end, was close friends with Joyce, among other expatriates who lived in 1920s Paris. This small collection, which could be considered juvenalia, put me in mind of Plath's early poems (but perhaps I don't know enough poets). The rhyming didn't bother me all that much (as it did in, for example, Lyrical Ballads). There is a gothic feel to them, a barely passive venom. Yet, with a title that sounds like the counterpoint to DFW's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, I didn't see clear-enough reasons to be repulsed by these women. Then again, the reasons would be fairly clear if my brain was bogged down by Victorian 'morality.' The poems are accompanied by the author's strange and unique illustrations, vaguely reminiscent of Gustav Klimt. This is my first Barnes, but not my last, and I will make an attempt to read Nightwood sooner rather than later. P.S. Does anyone know how to pronounce her name? Is the 'D' silent, like Django?

  4. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    An endlessly fascinating person in her own right and a great novelist, Djuna Barnes is not a very good poet. This collection is one of those ones that much was made of at the time of their publication in a collection, heralded as "Lesser-known gems". Always be wary of the term "lesser-known gems", for it often means, "shit for the OCD completist" and this is definitely the case here. Barnes' has a nice grip on language, but her themes are banal and she's a sonance-rhyming poet, which I can't stan An endlessly fascinating person in her own right and a great novelist, Djuna Barnes is not a very good poet. This collection is one of those ones that much was made of at the time of their publication in a collection, heralded as "Lesser-known gems". Always be wary of the term "lesser-known gems", for it often means, "shit for the OCD completist" and this is definitely the case here. Barnes' has a nice grip on language, but her themes are banal and she's a sonance-rhyming poet, which I can't stand usually.

  5. 5 out of 5

    andreea.

    Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth— They bloom vivid and repulsive As the truth. Even vases in the making Are uncouth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Her first book. She has not expanded, here, into the galaxy she will become. The seed is here, but it is small. Some of the weird, stunning, evil precision---unequaled in English since Shakespeare, I say without blinking---is here, but hardly, tinily. These are ditties. Where is the mind-twisting surgical acidity? The arch, brokenhearted, wicked truth? The grotesque delirium and hilarity? Almost. Getting dressed. Coming!: "Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth— They bloom vivid and repulsi Her first book. She has not expanded, here, into the galaxy she will become. The seed is here, but it is small. Some of the weird, stunning, evil precision---unequaled in English since Shakespeare, I say without blinking---is here, but hardly, tinily. These are ditties. Where is the mind-twisting surgical acidity? The arch, brokenhearted, wicked truth? The grotesque delirium and hilarity? Almost. Getting dressed. Coming!: "Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth— They bloom vivid and repulsive As the truth. Even vases in the making Are uncouth."

  7. 5 out of 5

    abigail

    I really enjoyed this collection! I found I could appreciate Barnes without being too overwhelmed (as I feel with her prose) some favourites: solitude, this much and more, from third avenue on, seen from the ‘l’, suicide, the last toast, lines to a lady, to the hands of a beloved, the flowering corpse, lullaby

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    8 pithy little verses. Quite affecting despite the archaic use of rhyme. Slightly more guardedly acidic than, say, Dorothy Parker, but also more artsy and taking itself more seriously therefore vulnerable as such cynicism usually is not. I guess a first effort from the unique novelist, playwright, and poet Barnes. Worth the time certainly--not sure if worth the cover price.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    My first foray into the biting sensuality of Djuna Barnes. There is so much sex and revolution packed in layers into this book of poetry and illustration. It would be considered progressive feminism today, 97 years after it was written. Which is a testament both to Barnes's literary importance and our present society's seeming inability to come to terms with female sexual liberation. It's a hell of a read. It's daring, sensual, polemic, but never accusatory or uncomfortable to read. And Barnes d My first foray into the biting sensuality of Djuna Barnes. There is so much sex and revolution packed in layers into this book of poetry and illustration. It would be considered progressive feminism today, 97 years after it was written. Which is a testament both to Barnes's literary importance and our present society's seeming inability to come to terms with female sexual liberation. It's a hell of a read. It's daring, sensual, polemic, but never accusatory or uncomfortable to read. And Barnes displays an absolute mastery of form and meter. "And all the subtle symphonies of her / A twilight rune." That is Djuna Barnes. And it's a favor to yourself to give this a read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    SUICIDE Corpse A THEY brought her in, a shattered small Cocoon, With a little bruised body like A startled moon; And all the subtle symphonies of her A twilight rune. Corpse B THEY gave her hurried shoves this way And that. Her body shock-abbreviated As a city cat. She lay out listlessly like some small mug Of beer gone flat.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Layla Elqutami

    it’s funny that barnes’ masterpiece /nightwood/ is hailed as a poet’s novel / a novel of poetic prose (& i would agree), yet her actual poetry is so .. shockingly …… middling. the drawings are something else though——nightmarish & erotic

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I've been meaning to read Djuna Barnes for years but have been terribly lazy about it. So when I learned she wrote a short poem/art book, I figured that would be the ideal (easy) way to start reading her. The Book of Repulsive Women - what a great title! I think it's something that would resonate with most women. At some point in all of our lives we've been told that we are repulsive, often for not acting as women are told we should. It's also an interesting title because of its relationships to I've been meaning to read Djuna Barnes for years but have been terribly lazy about it. So when I learned she wrote a short poem/art book, I figured that would be the ideal (easy) way to start reading her. The Book of Repulsive Women - what a great title! I think it's something that would resonate with most women. At some point in all of our lives we've been told that we are repulsive, often for not acting as women are told we should. It's also an interesting title because of its relationships to the poems or "rhythms" themselves. We can think of women Barnes describes as being supposedly repulsive, as well as the woman who is describing them and wanting them. It does a good job of evoking the struggle of being a woman sexually attracted to other women in a world that tells you it's not right, while never outright saying this. Although the rhythms are very basic in terms of their structure, I think they are very well written. There is something easy and playful about them, while at the same time they do that great thing poems do and tell you a lot more through their juxtaposition and images. They get better the more I read them. The drawings are strange and well-suited to the rhythms. Overall, it's a great little collection. I just wish it was longer.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily Joyce

    The first thing that struck me about reading Barnes's poetry was how it reminded me of my first favorite poet ever, Marianne Moore. The same Modernist tone and the use of Imagism - and of course I flipped over the book and Marianne Moore had written a byline. This collection is like a briefer, chattier, sexed up Moore- but it also lacked Moore's polish and breadth. It is interesting to consider that Barnes rejected this collection, and the only reason it is still in print is that it wasn't copyri The first thing that struck me about reading Barnes's poetry was how it reminded me of my first favorite poet ever, Marianne Moore. The same Modernist tone and the use of Imagism - and of course I flipped over the book and Marianne Moore had written a byline. This collection is like a briefer, chattier, sexed up Moore- but it also lacked Moore's polish and breadth. It is interesting to consider that Barnes rejected this collection, and the only reason it is still in print is that it wasn't copyrighted at publication. I almost feel bad to read something she didn't want to continue in circulation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kobita Banerjee

    This is the body talking, but the mouth is outside the body, or perhaps the eyes. The mind is in the frame, the mind is the frame. One is only left to wonder 'is this the poet's mind or mine?' 'And hear your short sharp modern Babylonic cries.' This is the body talking, but the mouth is outside the body, or perhaps the eyes. The mind is in the frame, the mind is the frame. One is only left to wonder 'is this the poet's mind or mine?' 'And hear your short sharp modern Babylonic cries.'

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Djuna Barnes was a writer and journalist in New York and Paris in the 1920's and 1930's. Repulsive Women is a short volume of poetry and illustrations. Now I need to read her novel, Nightwood. Djuna Barnes was a writer and journalist in New York and Paris in the 1920's and 1930's. Repulsive Women is a short volume of poetry and illustrations. Now I need to read her novel, Nightwood.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie Ross

    Received as a gift from my mentor and friend, this collection of poems is a fine, portable, and beautifully published book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Short collection of poems from a poet who really deserves to be read more widely. Seriously, she's fantastic. Short collection of poems from a poet who really deserves to be read more widely. Seriously, she's fantastic.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Nichols

    Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth - They bloom vivid and repulsive As the truth Even vases in the making Are uncouth.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    SOMEDAY beneath some hard Capricious star- Spreading its light a little Over far, We'll know you for the woman That you are. If one is looking for an introduction to Djuna Barnes this is not the place to start. The work consists of 8 short rhythms and 5 drawings and is one of Barnes' earliest published works (first appearing in 1915). Barnes, who would go on to write the brilliant and poetic novel Nightwood (a great achievement), would later try to distance herself from this early work, even suppr SOMEDAY beneath some hard Capricious star- Spreading its light a little Over far, We'll know you for the woman That you are. If one is looking for an introduction to Djuna Barnes this is not the place to start. The work consists of 8 short rhythms and 5 drawings and is one of Barnes' earliest published works (first appearing in 1915). Barnes, who would go on to write the brilliant and poetic novel Nightwood (a great achievement), would later try to distance herself from this early work, even suppressing publication of a later edition at one point. This is a work really best-suited for those who have already read Nightwood and maybe Ryder (with which this little work has more in common) and provides insight into Barnes' development as an artist. For those who do start here, though, don't think this is representative of her style. The poems and drawings contained here are fun and, as with Barnes' other writings, were very avant-garde at the time, but the best was yet to come.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Buchanan

    Anyone who has read Barnes's superb and dizzying "Nightwood" knows the alien spell that she is capable of casting over a reader. It is clear from this volume that Barnes's poems are no different. Earthy and fleshy, yet somehow also preserving a certain sense of removal that lets us glimpse the subjects as somewhat of a voyeur. This feeling causes both discomfort and fascination, an edge which this great writer of the Left Bank walks with the poise of no other. This version holds particularly fon Anyone who has read Barnes's superb and dizzying "Nightwood" knows the alien spell that she is capable of casting over a reader. It is clear from this volume that Barnes's poems are no different. Earthy and fleshy, yet somehow also preserving a certain sense of removal that lets us glimpse the subjects as somewhat of a voyeur. This feeling causes both discomfort and fascination, an edge which this great writer of the Left Bank walks with the poise of no other. This version holds particularly fond memories, as it was purchased from Shakespeare and Co. in Paris.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mina Widding

    Bitvis drömlik, en sån där text där man får acceptera att man inte kommer att kunna förstå med intellektet, utan ger sig ut på okänd mark och bara tar in, och även att om man skulle verkligen närläsa, så finns där tusen lager till, detta om de senare novellerna i boken. Död, att dö, dö för egen hand och att döda är starka teman, liksom inte klart uttalade relationer mellan människor. Barn vs gammal, att ta sitt liv i egna händer, att förställa sig eller vara hemlig, likaså. Starka symboler och b Bitvis drömlik, en sån där text där man får acceptera att man inte kommer att kunna förstå med intellektet, utan ger sig ut på okänd mark och bara tar in, och även att om man skulle verkligen närläsa, så finns där tusen lager till, detta om de senare novellerna i boken. Död, att dö, dö för egen hand och att döda är starka teman, liksom inte klart uttalade relationer mellan människor. Barn vs gammal, att ta sitt liv i egna händer, att förställa sig eller vara hemlig, likaså. Starka symboler och bilder, suggestivt.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Fairly uneven work. There were a few poems here that I read half a dozen times and never could find much meaning in. But there were also a few really fabulous poems I will want to read over and over because they are so full of meaning, "The Personal God" chief among them. Fairly uneven work. There were a few poems here that I read half a dozen times and never could find much meaning in. But there were also a few really fabulous poems I will want to read over and over because they are so full of meaning, "The Personal God" chief among them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara G

    "For when a woman lives in awful haste A woman dies." I had to read every poem several times to fully grasp all the intricate details of their imagery and their story. A truly wonderful and vivid little collection. "For when a woman lives in awful haste A woman dies." I had to read every poem several times to fully grasp all the intricate details of their imagery and their story. A truly wonderful and vivid little collection.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Originally published in 1915. Barnes is a Radical Woman of Herstory.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Göran

    https://boklaadan.wordpress.com/2019/... https://boklaadan.wordpress.com/2019/...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    this was good! didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. pulled it out of a cardboard box in my debate club’s rec room. first barnes in the books

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cillasi

    This book of poetry cost $0.15 and was not worth it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    nina

    Stunning chapbook. I read the original 1915 publication here: https://digital.lib.umd.edu/image?pid... Stunning chapbook. I read the original 1915 publication here: https://digital.lib.umd.edu/image?pid...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Acacia

    mm..

  30. 4 out of 5

    S

    Dark

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