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Ladies Almanack

Ladies Almanack

djuna barnes
with an introduction by susan sniader lanser
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 138
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  • Book Info
    Ladies Almanack
    Book Description:

    "Lesbianism, its flories and sorows, is the subject and quest of this marvelously erverse sentimental journey by Nightwood's author... A striking lesbian mainfesto and a deft parody."-Library Journal

    Blending fiction, myth, and revisionary parody and accompanied by the author's delightful illustrations,Ladies Almanacis also a brilliant modernist composition and arguably the most audacious lesbian text of its time. While the book pokes fun at the wealthy expatriates who were Barnes' literary contemporaries and remains controversial today, it seems to have delighted its cast of characters, which was also the first audience. Barney herself subsidized its private publication in 1928. Fifty of the 1050 copies of the first edition were hand colored by the author, who was identified only as a lady of Fashion: on the title page.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-3936-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Karla Jay

    Despite the efforts of lesbian and feminist publishing houses and a few university presses, the bulk of the most important lesbian works has traditionally been available only from rare book dealers, in a few university libraries, or in gay and lesbian archives. This series intends, in the first place, to make representative examples of this neglected and insufficiently known literature available to a broader audience by reissuing selected classics and by putting into print for the first time lesbian novels, diaries, letters, and memoirs that have special interest and significance, hut which have moldered in libraries and private collections for...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-lii)
    Susan Sniader Lanser

    If Djuna Barnes were still among us, it is not certain that a new edition ofLadies Almanackwould he seeing print. She claimed to have written it “in an idle hour,” as a “jollity” for a “very special audience.” Its first publication in 1928 was a private affair financed by friends, including the book’s own mock-heroine; when its distributor Edward Titus backed out at the last moment, it was hawked by Barnes and her cohorts on Paris streets. Forty years later, when Farrar, Straus issued herSelected Works, Barnes did not offer themLadies Almanack. To Natalie Clifford Barney,...

  5. Ladies Almanack

    • Foreword
      (pp. 3-5)
      Djuna Barnes

      This slight satiric wigging, thisLadies Almanack,anonymously written (in an idle hour), fearfully punctuated, and privately printed (in the twenties) by Darantière at Dijon; illustrated, with apologies to ancient chapbooks, broadsheets, andImages Populaires; sometimes coloured by the mudlark of the bankside andgamineof thequai; hawked about thefaubourgand the temple, and sold, for a penny, to the people, cherisbed by de Gaulle as “the indolent and terrible.”

      That cbronicle is now set before the compound public eye.

      Neap-tide to the Proustian chronicle, gleanings from the shores of Mytilene, glimpses of its novitiates, its rising “saints”...

      (pp. 6-9)

      Now this be a Tale of as fine a Wench as ever wet Bed, she who was called Evangeline Musset and who was in her Heart one Grand Red Cross for the Pursuance, the Relief and the Distraction, of such Girls as in their Hinder Parts, and their Fore Parts, and in whatsoever Parts did suffer them most, lament Cruelly, be it Itch of Palm, or Quarters most horribly burning, which do oft occur in the Spring of the Year, or at those Times when they do sit upon warm and cozy Material, such as Fur, or thick and Oriental...

    • JANUARY hath 31 days
      (pp. 10-13)

      This be the first Month of our Christian calendar, when the Earth is bound and the Seas in the grip of Terror. When the Birds give no Evidence of themselves, and are in the Memory alone recorded, when the Sap lies sleeping and the Tree knows nothing of it, when the bright Herbage and flourishing green things are only hope, when the Plough is put away with the Harrow, and the Fields give their Surface to a Harvest of Snow, which no Sickle garners, and for which no Grange languishes, and which never weighs the home-going Cart of the Farmer,...

    • FEBRUARY hath 29 days
      (pp. 14-17)

      This be a Love Letter for a Present, and when she is Catched, what shall I do with her ? God knows ! For ’tis safe to say I do not, and what we know not, is our only proof of Him !

      My Love she is an Old Girl, out of Fashion, Bugles at the Bosom, and theredown a much Thumbed Mystery and a Maze. She doth jangle with last Year’s attentions, she is melted with Death’s Fire ! Then what shall I for her that hath never been accomplished ? It is a very Parcel of Perplexities !...

    • MARCH hath 31 days
      (pp. 18-26)

      Among such Dames of which we write, were two British Women. One was called Lady Buck-and-Balk, and the other plain Tilly-Tweed-In-Blood. Lady Buck-and-Balk sported a Monocle and believed in Spirits. Tilly-Tweed-In-Blood sported a Stetson, and believed in Marriage. They came to the Temple of the Good Dame Musset, and they sat to Tea, and this is what they said :

      “Just because woman falls, in this Age, to Woman, does that mean that we are not to recognize Morals ? What has England done to legalize these Passions ? Nothing ! Should she not be brought to Task, that never...

    • APRIL hath 30 days
      (pp. 27-29)

      Acute Melancholy is noticeable in those who have gone a long Way into this Matter, whereas a light giggling, dancing Fancy seems to support those in the very first Stages ; brief of Thought ; cut of Concentration; a Tendency to hop, skip and jump, and to misplace the Eye at every single or several Manifestation of Girl in like Distemper.

      Chill succeeds, and Restlesness at Night, or unaccountable Tabulation of unimportant Objects, such as Flag-Stones (Busbys an she he in London !) Steeples, Mulberries in Baskets, Tabs to Dresses, Hooves to Horses, and Stars in the Sky.

      This gives...

    • MAY hath 31 days
      (pp. 30-38)

      Sweet May stood putting on her last venereal Touches while Patience Scalpel held forth in that divine and ethereal Voice for which she was noted, the Voice of one whose Ankles are nibbled by the Cherubs, while amid the Rugs Dame Musset brought Doll Furious to a certainty.

      “What”, said Patience Scalpal, “can you women see in each other ? Where is the Parting of the Ways and the Horseman that hunts ? Where”, she reflected, “there is Prostitution and Drunkeness, there is hound to be Immorality, or I do not count the Times, but what is this ?”


    • JUNE hath 30 days
      (pp. 39-41)

      When Infant Grundy rises like the Sickle

      The dying Grundy will her nothing stickle,

      But wane upon this World of Odds and Omen,

      The newer Prudy waxing for the Women,

      For to a Woman shall a Woman stoop

      When she had birched them well about the Coop,

      And nowhere else, as they have done ere this ;

      No Man shall nip them, and no Boy shall kiss,

      No Lad shall hoist them gaily Heels o’er Head

      Nor lay them ’twixt his Breast-bone and his Bed.

      Nor flay them with sweet Portent and with Sign.

      Nor reap their Image tiny in...

    • JULY hath 31 days
      (pp. 42-46)

      The Time has come, when, with unwilling Hand, I must set down what a woman says to a Woman and she be up to her Ears in Love’s Acre. Should we not like to think it, at least if not of poetic Value, then strophed to a Romanesque Fortitude, as clipped of Foliage as a British Hedge, or at least as fitting to the thing it covers as an Infant’s Cap, which even when frilled to the very frontal Bone, and taking into account the most pulsing Suture, is somewhat of a Head’s proportion, nor flows and drips away and...

    • AUGUST hath 31 days
      (pp. 47-54)

      What they have in their Heads, Hearts, Stomachs, Pockets, Flaps, Tabs and Plackets, have one and all been some and severally commented on, by way of hint or harsh Harangue, praised, blamed, epicked, poemed and pastoraled, pamphleted, prodded and pushed, made a Spring-board for every sort of Conjecture whatsoever, good, bad and indifferent.

      Some have it that they cannot do, have, be, think, act, get, give, go, come, right in anyway. Others that they cannot do, have, be, think, act, get, give, go, wrong in any way, others set them between two Stools saying that they can, yet cannot, that...

    • SEPTEMBER hath 30 days
      (pp. 55-60)

      The very Condition of Woman is so subject to Hazard, so complex, and so grievous, that to place her at one Moment is but to displace her at the next.

      In Youth she is comely, straight of Limb, fair of Eye, sweet back and front; tall or short, light or dark--somehow or somewhat to the Heart. Yet it is not twelve span before she sags, stretches, becomes distorted. Her Bones dry, her flesh melts, her Tongue is bitter, or runs an outlawed Honey. Her Mind is corrupt with the Cash of a pick-thank existence. Life has taught her Life. She...

    • OCTOBER hath 31 days
      (pp. 61-72)

      There was a time when still rhymed to the wild Rib that had made her, Woman was atune to every Adder, every Lion, every Tiger, every Wood thing, every Water-wight, every Sky-wanderer ; every Apple was to her a whole Superstition, and to quiet and to tame that Bone, she whispered “Lord ! Lord !”

      But yet a little while and she is most grisly impudent. As the Earth sucked down her Generations, Body for Body, became she less hollow for the Lord’s priming. Any prating Fellow with a Lute at bottom, a handful of Frills, a Knee turned out...

    • NOVEMBER hath 30 days
      (pp. 73-79)

      Can one say by what Path, under what Bush, beside what Ditch, beneath what Mountain, through what Manlabour and Slaveswork, Man came upon the Burrows of Wisdom, and sometimes upon the skin of her herself? No, it cannot he said, for some and most, spend their bright Youth seeking her, while Woman spends her bright Youth brighdy avoiding her. And at fifty what has a Man but his wisdom, and what has a Woman, but more suddenly, and therefore more pleasandy, that Wisdom also, for to Man it comes with the stealth of a deep Sleep, and in a Sleep...

    • DECEMBER hath 31 days
      (pp. 80-138)

      In this cold and chill December, the Month of the Year when the proof of God died, died Saint Musset, proof of Earth, for she had loosened and come uprooted in the Path of Love, where she had so long flourished. Nor yet with any alien Sickness came she to her Death, but as one who had a grave Commission and the ambassador recalled.

      She had blossomed on Sap’s need, and when need’s Sap found such easy flowing in the Year of our Lord 19—what more was there for her to do ? Yet though her Life was completed,...