Anneloek Scholten & Max Casey | “The Singular Falls Continually”: Queer Bodies out of Time in Nightwood

Written by on January 10th, 2020 // Filed under 32.2 Feminist Bodies

Abstract

This article argues that Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood (1936), despite partly subscribing to a Freudian model of homosexuality based on inversion, simultaneously demonstrates a concept of sexuality and identity that gestures outwards. Nightwood’s characters display excesses of meaning and are located outside of—rather than arrested in—linear heteronormative time. The novel’s sexual and identarian incoherencies create a sense of temporal dislocation and, in Barnes’ dense stylistics, characters that verge on linguistic illegibility. This article analyses the dynamics of (sexual) identity in the novel, and in doing so, attempts to highlight the potentialities of Nightwood for contemporary feminist and queer discourses.