animal imagery and death symbolism,nand is packed witii bizarre supportingncharacters borrowed from the NathanaelnWest Repertory Company, includingnone Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-nDante O’Connor, whose ramblingnmonologues on religion and ethnologynand hygiene and God knows what elsengo on for pages and pages and pages.nField thinks Dr. O’Connor is “of Shakespeariannstature and certainly one of thenmost memorable characters in our century.”nHe describes Ntghtwood as “onenof the artistic keystones of its time.” Andnhe points out that he is not alone in hisnadmiration. T. S. Eliot, he reminds us,npraised Nightwood’s “beauty of phrasing”nand its “quality of horror and doomnvery nearly related to that of Elizabethanntragedy.” Dylan Thomas, Field claims,nthought Nightwood—in Field’s wordsn—^”one of the three great prose booksnever written by a woman.” This, putnsimply, is hyperbole. Ntghtwood is betternwritten than Ryder, certainly; but itsnGothic feverishness and frequent Swinbumiannheavy-handedness will forever,nlimit its audience to assistant professori^nand to those who are nostalgic for thenfin-de-siecle—^those whose idea oia goodnrainy-day read is Baudelafre’s LesPleursndu Mai or Huysmans’s A Rebours.nAnd what of the logorrheic Dr.nO’Connor? Well, his real-life model wasnan expatriate American and unabashednhomosexual named Dan Mahoney.nWhen not performing back-alley abortions,nMahoney killed time by boozilynspeechifying in the chic bars and cafesnthat Djuna Barnes frequented. InDjuna,nField admits that John Glassco—authornof the delightful Memoirs ofMontparnasse—oncendescribed Mahoney asn”the sort of fellow who was very interestingnto talk to for about five minutes,nand then was a bit of a bore.” Enoughnsaid.nAft er the publication of Nightwood,nBarnes published nothing extensivenuntil 1958, when her years-in-the-makingn”closet drama,” Antiphon, appeared.nRarely have labor and zeal been morenabsurdly wasted. For this highly autobiographicalnrendering of an eccentricnfamily’s horrific reunion in a decayingnEnglish manor was enthusiastically receivednby only a handful of Barnes devotees—mostnnotably by Edwin Muirnand Dag Hammarskjold—and has sincenthen probably never been read straightnthrough by more than a dozen determinednsouls. Indeed, this peculiar collectionnof loosely connected images andnprivate mutterings has got to be one ofnthree most tedious verse dramas evernwritten by a woman—or man. Even thencharitable Field likens it to “an unfemiliarnopera sung in a strange language.”nInDjuna, as in his controversial 1977nbiography of Vladimir Nabokov, Fieldnwrites colloquially, in the first person.nToo, he employs a narrative structurenthat is nonchronological, kaleidoscopi-ncally episodic. He proceeds intelligentlynand judiciously for the most part, thoughnat times so digressively—so oflQiandedlyn—that things do get a tad muddled. Andnof course he’s quite wrong about Barnes.nHe wants us to consider her “a majornwriter of our time.” Certainly, some ofnDjuna Barnes’s early stories—^like “Allernet Retour” and “The Jest of Jests”—^arencleanly, deftly constructed and are, inntheir bleak sort of way, compelling. Andnas Eliot noted, there are some lovelyn”musical patterns” to be found in Barnes’snwriting, even in Antiphon. But if thenidiosyncratic Barnes must be rankednamong her contemporaries, then shenmust be placed in the company of thenlikes of Anna Wickham, James BranchnCabell, and Carl Van Vechten. She maynhave been James Joyce’s friend, but shenwas hardly his equal. DnOf Belief and the BourgeoisienNicholas Rzhevsky: Russian Literaturenand Ideology: Herzen, Dostoevsky,nLeontiev, Tolstoy, Fadeyev; Universitynof Illinois Press; Chicago.nby Bryce Christensenn1 he English novel, critics commonlynaver, is a bourgeois literary form. Its historicnorigins seem to corroborate this,nsince the two men responsible for its inception,nDaniel Defoe and SamuelnRichardson, were both thoroughlynmiddle-class. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoen(1719) is written from the perspectivenof a small merchant; Richardson’s Pame/fln(1740 ) shows how a yeoman’s daughterncan marry her well-placed boss if she isnindustrious, attractive, and hard to get.nThe creation of art was not a deep concernnof either of these authors, nor wasnit among most of their successors, whonmade the novel a fixture of middle-classnlife. Nonetheless, without thinking toonMr. Christensen is assistant editor ofnthe Chronicles.nnnmuch about their role as artists, twoncenturies of British and American novelistsndid manage to produce an inestimablentreasury of art. But many who arenconscious of artistic criteria believe thatnthe novel is now in serious trouble. Evennif the genre is not actually dead, mostncontemporary representations—popularnand academic—do justify the response:n”No man alive could write such tripe.”nThe pathology left-leaning scholarsnoften advance to explain the novel’s demisenis that the form has suflbcated withinnits bourgeois parameters. The themes ofnadventure, money, hetferosexual romance,nand social advancement, as wellnas the equally bourgeois stylistic conventionsnhave become effete, they maintain.nEven a cursory examination of thenracks of popular fiction would appear tonconfirm this diagnosis: the front coversnare provocative and the back coversnadulatory, but the pages between invariablyndeliver just another stale manipulationnof stilted bravado, shallow, boringnsolipsism, and lust. Even if a few newnpermutations of the plot-setting-heron^^•^13nMarch 1984n