When Djuna Barnes read the manuscript of Nightwood to her ex lover, Thelma Wood (who was depicted in it somewhat as the character Robin Vote), Wood expressed her criticism of the book by throwing a cup at Barnes and then landing a right and a left to her face. Apparently, she didn't like it. Since then, a lot of people haven't liked Nightwood for its decadence, obscurity, modernism, or whatever. Lately, I've been reading it and finding the reading slow, which is what Barnes, I think, intends. The danger of slow reading is that the reader will give up. What keeps one going is the truly amazing, even if maddening, prose, the sort of thing Edward Gibbon would have produced if he'd taken acid: it has the glazed, marmoreal finish of some imperial decline and fall while accelerating and decelerating to the barbarian clangor of to a quite non-Gibbonesque fever dream. Plus the famous, skewed aphorisms that stud the thing: "I tell you, Madame, if one gave birth to a heart on a plate, it would say "Love" and twitch like the lopped leg of a frog" - which is surely equal to Lautreamont.