I first picked up Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood in 2003. I did so on some kind of personal challenge: I’d read in some article or another that readers thought the novel perplexing, disorienting, even unreadable. And it was. Lord, it was.
I found that I couldn’t read it without heavy annotation. I would read a chapter, then I would go back through it highlighting, circling, and writing. I researched Barnes’s references to history, literature, popular culture, contemporary medical/psychological theories, and so on. I drew on all of these notes for my dissertation on Barnes and T. S. Eliot, and now I’m thinking about developing those notes to create some form of guide to the novel. I’d then place those materials online to help readers new to (or revisiting) Nightwood and its opaque glories.
I’ve posted some quick polls about this on Twitter etc.; depending on the response (if it looks as though my materials can be of use), I’ll start the project in the next few weeks. If you’d like to chip in your thoughts, please do so!