The Faber Book Club

Our online book club is run by Faber Members but is open to all. Each month, Faber staff from across the company select key works, from current releases to classic texts, and create a monthly set of suggested questions around titles selected, as well as hold events three times a year for further discussion.

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

Nightwood is itself. It is its own created world, exotic and strange, and reading it is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass . . . From now on, a part of you is pearl-lined.’ Jeanette Winterson

Nightwood tells the stories of the love lives of a group of American expats and Europeans in Paris in the 1920s – an exotic, night-time underworld, eccentric, seedy and beautiful. A modernist masterpiece, and one of the earliest novels to explicitly portray homosexuality, the influence of Djuna Barnes’s novel remains exceptional.

‘The great achievement of a style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliance of wit and characterisation, and a quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy.’ T. S. Eliot



Suggested questions on Nightwood:

  1. How do the themes of language, identity and sexuality interact within the novel?
  2. What do you think the circus is a motif for? What effect does it have on you as a reader?
  3. How is motherhood represented in the novel and why?
  4. There are many references to plant life and nature – what do you think are the purpose of these and how do they play into the book’s other themes?
  5. Why do you think that Djuna Barnes is less well-known than other great modernist writers?
  6. Do you think it’s important that Nightwood is semi-autobiographical? Why?
  7. How crucial to the novel are its gender politics?
  8. How is the subject of loss portrayed in the book?
  9. The character Dr Matthew Dante O’Connor says, ‘There is more in sickness than in the name of that sickness’ – what does he mean by this?
  10. Nightwood has been read as a reinterpretation of Genesis – how does that fit with your understanding of the book?
Buy the Book
Djuna Barnes

Lose yourself in the tortured love lives of expats in 1920s Paris in this iconic cult classic. Nightwood was issued into the launch list of Faber Modern Classics.