15.1.14

Dylan Thomas reads Djuna Barnes' Nightwood

Excerpt from a series of 1950s recordings

From Cathryn Setz:
From Dylan Thomas's Caedmon Collection, produced as LPs in the early 1950s. With his sultry molasses-and-mahogany voice, the Welsh poet took very well to performances like this--though mainly of his own works.

Here he reads an extended (slightly abridged) passage from the 'Watchman, what of the night?' chapter of Djuna Barnes's modernist novel, Nightwood (1936). The Doctor is a central narrator character, verbose yet inscrutable, and Nora is visiting him in the dead of night. She is trying to ask him how to cope with her broken heart. This, his reply, is far from comforting.

Nightwood is a novel Thomas himself referred to as "one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman." William S. Burroughs called it "one of the great books of the twentieth century." T. S. Eliot's introduction even employed some inadvertent reverse psychology, telling readers "not" to approach the novel as a sideshow of freaks.

Yet the novel is not well known. Hear some of its melody and strangeness, and the poet's great and Thespian delivery. Then go and read the book. [Read More]

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