Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #8
Myth #8: Henry and June is exactly as Anaïs Nin wrote it.
Fact: Anaïs Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June, which came out some nine years after her death in 1977, was as heavily edited as her original Diary 1 (1966). Nin did most of the editing of Diary 1, which mainly concerned cutting the sexual affair with Henry Miller and her erotic longing for his wife June. The material in Henry and June (i.e. the Miller/June entanglement), according to Nin’s wishes, was not to be published until after the death of her husband, Hugh Guiler, who died in 1985. The task of editing was given to Harcourt’s John Ferrone, who edited Delta of Venus, Nin’s only bona fide bestseller. Ferrone described himself as a “hard-nosed editor” with little use for material not on topic, repetitious, or muddled. His goal was for Henry and June to read smoothly, as a novel would, and to not stray from its premise—the Anaïs-Henry-June triangle. Rupert Pole, Nin’s “California husband” and Trustee of the Anaïs Nin Trust, however, did not take well to Ferrone’s extensive cuts and rewording of Nin’s text and let him know about it in his letters. Ferrone found himself defending his editorial decisions while Pole often made demands that certain passages be left in, or left alone. This led to a rather contentious working relationship between the two, who otherwise were very fond of each other.
Pole had put his foot down and demanded: “as the trustee of the Anaïs Nin Trust I must insist that you restore the following passages:” (and he listed no less than nine). (A Café in Space 4 16)
Ferrone summed up his deletions and changes by saying, in a letter to Pole: “I took my cue from Anaïs’s own editing of Diary I. She rewrote passages that were unclear and, believe me, she deleted things that were excessive, not because they related to Henry but because, from the vantage point of maturity, she knew they were a mistake.” (A Café in Space 4 18)
One of the most contested passages was the final one. Ferrone didn’t want to use what Pole suggested at all, but finally agreed to use an edited form of it. About this, he said:
“I know you will pooh-pooh all of this, but the ending is too important to leave as it is. This is how I would like to edit it:
‘Last night I wept, because the process by which I have become woman has been painful, because I am no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes are opened to reality, to Henry’s selfishness, to June’s need of power. Yet I can still love passionately, humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and am not yet accustomed to its absence.’” (A Café in Space 4 14-15)
Pole responded with:
“Anaïs’ ending must be preserved as she wrote it. The repetition of ‘I wept’ is the essence of Anaïs’ poetic prose style.
‘…my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe.’ This is the essence of Anaïs’ philosophy which she maintained throughout her life. ‘I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. That means my imagination has ceased to embellish desperately—so that there is no more danger of delusion for me. I wept because there was no more danger and I had lost my faith in Christmas.’ This was her belief (in Linotte) that her father would join them at Christmas.” (A Café in Space 4 17)
“I throw up my hands and restore the passages you insist upon, but I do not agree with you. You lack objectivity.” (A Café in Space 4 17)
However, the published version of Henry and June ends with:
“Last night I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become a woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality—to Henry’s selfishness, June’s love of power, my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.
“So Henry is coming this afternoon, and tomorrow I am going out with June.” (Henry and June 274)
The ending was not exactly how Pole envisioned it, nor what Ferrone wanted, nor what Anaïs Nin wrote verbatim in her diary.
In short, both of these well-intentioned men wanted the best of Anaïs Nin to shine through Henry and June, just as they believed Nin herself wanted. The verdict is the readers’ to make.
The complete exchange of letters between Rupert Pole and John Ferrone can be found in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 4, 2007.
Anais Nin, Henry Miller, June Miller, Hugh Guiler, Rupert Pole, John Ferrone, Henry and June