“Although she died in 1982, at the age of ninety, Djuna Barnes seems to have recorded her voice on only a few occasions. The tape below was made in her Patchin Place home in 1971. Barnes is best known for Nightwood, her modernist classic, but she had a long and thriving career as a journalist…”
Rafia Zakaria (The Guardian) asks why the progressive French writer seems to have been left in the margins
The explicitly sexual tell-all memoir, with its eager flirtations with the pornographic and dislocations of heterosexuality, has blossomed in the US and France in recent years. But Violette Leduc, who did it all and said it all more than 50 years ago, is a ghostly presence in its genealogy.
It is a mysterious marginalisation: Simone de Beauvoir, who took on Leduc as a protege, remains a feminist icon. Leduc’s contemporary Jean Genet, also wrote sexually explicit, homosexual texts and is widely read and venerated as a pioneer in French avant-garde writing. Not so Leduc. Her first book, the autobiographical novel L’Asphyxie, has still not been translated into English. Her novel Thérèse and Isabelle, written in 1955, was not published uncensored in France until 2000 and was only translated and published in English by the Feminist Press last year. [Read More]
Jill Dawson (The Guardian) on the influences and inspirations behind Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt
Patricia Highsmith was in love many times and with many women – “more times than rats have orgasms”, to use one of her own more disquieting similes. She plundered these objects of her desire extravagantly in her 22 novels and hundreds of short stories. Not one glance, not one feminine gesture or foible of any one of her many girlfriends was ever wasted, but only once – and spectacularly – did she write openly about lesbianism. This was her second novel, Carol, first published as The Price of Salt in 1952, with Highsmith using the pseudonym Claire Morgan, and now adapted into a Todd Haynes film starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and just about to premiere at Cannes.
As human rights rise in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s so too does the work of thinkers (many of them French philosophers or theorists of language—structuralist, post-structuralist, postmodern) dedicated to deconstructing or critically historicizing the idea of “humanity.” How do we account for the exponential popularity of human rights as a political and legal medium in the same period as the increasing prominence of these post-humanist styles of thought that seemingly pull the humanist rug out from under the feet of the human rights movement?
Some exciting news from Megan Milks over at Weird Sister
[Djuna] Barnes’s Ladies Almanack, first published in 1928 (full title: Ladies Almanack: showing their Signs and their Tides; their Moons and their Changes; the Seasons as it is with them; their Eclipses and Equinoxes; as well as a full Record of diurnal and nocturnal Distempers, written & illustrated by a lady of fashion), is a sly roman à clef chronicling Barnes’s (mostly lesbian) circle of friends and lovers, and their HQ in Natalie Clifford Barney’s long-running Parisian salon. In reinventing it as a film, [Daviel] Shy is creating a hybrid Chicago-Paris setting and what she calls a “triple time” zone where three distinct periods collide. The film follows characters based not only on Barney (played by Brie Roland) and other thinly veiled figures in the book, including Mina Loy (Brenna Kail) and Radclyffe Hall (Deborah Bright), anchored by narration from French feminists of a later time: Luce Irigaray (Elesa Rosasco), Monique Wittig (Eileen Myles), and Hélène Cixous (as herself). All of these characters blur into the present as they find form in the bodies of contemporary artists and writers. I spoke with Shy about the genesis of the project, her relationship to the book and the community to which it pays homage, and what it was like to work with the great Cixous. [Read the full interview with Daviel Shy]