Unsolved Anaïs Nin Mysteries

Mystery #1: What is the source of one Anaïs Nin’s most popular quotes: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”?

Clues: In Nin’s novel Children of the Albatross (1947) which is incorporated into Cities of the Interior, there is a scene in which the character Djuna (based on Nin), having just made love to Paul (based on the seventeen-year-old Bill Pinckard), sees a vase of closed tulips on a table:

She looked at the tulips so hermetically closed, like secret poems, like the secrets of the flesh. Her hands took each tulip, the ordinary tulip of everyday living and she slowly opened them, petal by petal, opened them tenderly.

They were changed from plain to exotic flowers, from closed secrets to open flowering.

Then she heard Paul say: “Don’t do that!”

There was a great anxiety in his voice. He repeated: “Don’t do that!”

She felt a great stab of anxiety. Why was he so disturbed?

She looked at the flowers. She looked at Paul’s face lying on the pillow, clouded with anxiety, and she was struck with fear. Too soon. She had opened him to love too soon! She had forced time, as she had forced the flowers to change from the ordinary to the extraordinary. He was not ready! (Cities of the Interior 180-1)

Was the quote drawn from this passage? Nowhere in Nin’s fiction am I, or anyone else I know, able to find the verbatim quote, which seems to be a distillation of the above. I have seen it cited on the internet as a “poem” entitled “Risk,” but nowhere in Nin’s bibliography (as far as I know) can such a poem be found. Was the “poem” even written by Nin, or was someone else involved? No one seems to definitively answer this question.

A couple more clues: William Pinckard appears in Diary 4 under the pseudonym of “Leonard.” Also, there is a passage in the unpublished diary of 1946 that closely resembles the passage from The Children of the Albatross.

Perhaps you can help unlock this mystery. If you have any information or ideas, please leave a comment. We will follow all reasonable leads.

PLEASE NOTE: Have we solved the mystery? Click HERE to see.

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  1. In the days since this posting and hundreds of views, there is as of yet no one who can locate this quote in a book or any other medium by Anais Nin. I have contacted several Nin scholars, some renowned in their field, and still nothing. So at this time, the mystery remains UNSOLVED.

  2. Wow, still several years on and this is the sole reference I’ve found that discusses a possible source for this widely used pseudo-quote. It’s a sign of the internet era that people just keep repeating these vapid truisms with nary a care for the veracity of either the ‘quote’ or the source. Maybe it’s time this went to Snopes, as yet another internet hoax.

    Your possible source is so lovely and “Risk” so insipidly North American pop-psych, the comparison proves the fakery I believe. But if it’s indeed a real ‘quote’, perhaps the original first met an impoverished translator, so the author’s dignity may yet be redeemed.

    Thanks for trying to clear it up!

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