იდენტობის პრობლემა ჯუნა ბარნსის რომანში „ქალთა ალმანახი“

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Date
2019
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უნივერსალი
Abstract
The search for identity was an imperative in modernist literature of 1920s, culminating in the cult classic works of American writer Djuna Barnes. Barnes’ modernist presence is founded most strongly on her novel Nightwood (1936) but the achievement of that work continues to overshadow her other work, like “Ladies Almanack” that was written in 1928. “Ladies Almanack” describes life of elite women and lesbian atmosphere in Natalie C. Barney's salon in Paris. In “Almanack” Barnes imitates writings of English literature of Restoration period and it is a parody of the traditional almanac form. Based on my long term experience in Barnes studies and particularly from this research Barnes’ modernist literary and cultural practice is fundamentally heterogeneous and discontinuous. In this article I am seeking to launch new ways of considering her work, particularly “Ladies Almanack”. In Georgia no critical attention has been paid to the American writer. My master’s research was the first Georgian-language research focused on Barnes. Barnes and her works have never been considered together in a single study, or even an article. In the article I discuss reinventing of womanhood and quest for female identity. I am seeking not simply to situate quest for female identity in a lesbian or gender studies context, because Barnes’ characters’ search for identity goes far beyond the sexual orientation and results in search of core essence of the personality. In this study I am engaged in investigating the representations of identity bifurcation, the subconscious and internal conflict with two distinct sexes plays a significant role in the quest for female identity and how it led us to allusions to mythic Tiresias. This article is focus on Barnes’s social and literary interventions in matters of sexuality. However, I provide discussions of sexuality of “Ladies Lamanack’s” characters only when it is especially pertinent to the scope of this study. In this study I offer a different and much needed perspective on problem of womanhood and quest for female identity in Barnes’s writings. My approach to writing and thinking about identity problem involves an acknowledgment of fact that development of sexual identity (gay, lesbian, or bisexual) is a complex and often difficult process. Paper puts forth the somewhat controversial position that “Almanack” can be described as a lesbian literature. From my point of view, it is inadmissible to analyze this novel from only lesbian perspective. “Almanack” is not just lesbian-themed novel but is famous with its difficulty of contents and structure. While modernist scholars have assumed the task of recovering female authors like Djuna Barnes, from my point of view there is much work still to do, especially in light of how Barnes’s in “Almanack” experienced and treated through experimental forms and embodied language to reflect difficult process of identity bifurcation, that led us to the collapse of the identity. The recent turn in “modernist studies” is much more theoretically and culturally open. From the perspective of Georgian scholar I think that we must test explorations of Barnes’ writings in wider cultural context of modernism, not only in context of lesbian or gender studies. Theorists like Jacques Derrida and his significant concepts have guided my thinking about this article and informed the theoretical framework. I frame my theoretical understanding of reinventing of womanhood and quest for female identity in “Ladies Almanack” primarily using methods of deconstruction and close reading. In particular I find Derrida’s approaches applicable to an investigation of representations of identity bifurcation, the subconscious and internal conflict of Barnes’ characters. His concepts have influenced my understanding of deconstruction and, more broadly, in context of feminist, gender and lesbian studies theory in relation to this article. Research showed factors that led Barnes’s characters to identity bifurcation, human alienation and resulted in collapse of the identity: The great disappointment, emotional devastation caused by the First World War that led to meaningless relationships; the major theories of psychology and attempt of modernist writers which were using archetypes in order to woke up the forgotten inborn feelings and instincts from the depths of human existence. Barnes had marginal positions in mainstream society because of her sexual orientation. In that sense, lesbian theme-oriented “Ladies Almanack” is a perfect piece and Barnes herself is a perfect writer for representations of trauma, female identity, sexual identity and embodiment, all of which are marginalized and dismissed in canonical pre-modernist literature. Research led me to the conclusion that the way Barnes arises identity problem, using parody and multiform modernist discourse, assume certain view of personal identity. In particular, we cannot put people in one specific identity frame and that there is not only one sexual identity.
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Keywords
Identity, Djuna Barnes, Ladies Almanack
Citation
III International Symposium for Young Scholars in the Humanities (Symposium proceedings)
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