Myth #11: Anaïs Nin deceived her readers by not including her husband in the original published diaries.
Fact: During the years after the publication of The Diary of Anaïs Nin, there were those, particularly amongst the feminists, who charged that Nin deceived her reading public by implying that she was able to live on her own as an artist and make her way in the world during a time when few women did. Instead, they said, she had the safety net of a businessman husband who financed her life and work. While they were correct in the assertion that such a husband did exist, they were wrong in their accusation that Nin kept this a secret.
Perhaps they should have read the introduction to Volume One of The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1931-1934.
It was made clear that Anaïs Nin was married and that her husband chose to not be included in the text. On page xi of introduction, Gunther Stuhlmann states:
In preparing this volume for publication, Miss Nin, and the editor, still faced certain personal and legal considerations inherent in the nature of the diary. Several persons, when faced with the question of whether they wanted to remain in the diary “as is”—since Miss Nin did not want to change the essential nature of her presentation—chose to be deleted altogether from the manuscript (including her husband and some members of her family)… Miss Nin’s truth, as we have seen, is psychological.
So, because of Hugh Guiler’s wish to not be included, Nin obviously could not bring attention in the diary itself to his presence, and in the promotion of the diaries, she also was obligated to not mention him for the same reason. This was mistaken for deception.
During a rainy period in June of 1916, Anaïs Nin, then 13 years of age, recorded the following in her diary (translated from the French in Linotte):
Thursday, June 8, 1916
It has rained without stopping all day today. Since I couldn’t go for a walk, I studied all my lessons, and then I began to look out the window. The rain kept falling and the drops fell ceaselessly with little “floc floc” sounds. Floc! Floc! the rain continued and this time I looked at the sky. The sky was full of clouds and that made me feel a little sad because it seemed to me those clouds were made expressly for me, as if to announce the clouds in my future life. Then I put those thoughts aside and left the window.
Sunday, June 11, 1916
Yesterday and today it has rained all day and we didn’t go to Riverside as we usually do. Saturday I spent the day sewing, reading, writing and thinking…
After Mass [this morning], I came home to breakfast and I spent the morning helping Maman. Then we had lunch and Maman took us to the cinema. After seeing 3 very nice films, we came home; it was 6. We had a little cold supper of sandwiches, cake and milk. That is how we spent Sunday.
Now I am thinking of tomorrow, Monday, and with sadness I see the school doors opening just enough to let us in, then closing on our dear freedom. Next come serious lessons, punishments, long stern faces, and above all the big blackboard with little chalk marks that dance before my eyes like little demons that are there just to torture the brain and tire the eyes. Then all that disappears and I sit here sadly, looking at the clock. 10 ½ hours separate me from the studies that I like but fear because of the teachers who scold and are so hard to please. (Linotte, pp. 129, 130-131)
To help her escape from the mundane and sometimes menacing daily life, young Anaïs absorbed herself in a monthly “magazine” entitled Le Compagnon de L’oublie. In her June 1916 “issue,” one of her works was a poem entitled “La Tempête” (“The Storm”), perhaps inspired by the long melancholy period of rain she wrote about in her diary. A translation appears below:
In the country, the trees bend
Under the weight of the rain
That is falling in huge drops, under the name cheater,
For it brings a second night.
The sky clears, illuminating the earth for a second,
And then frightens the sleeping birds
With a great clap of thunder, and like bitter tears
The drops of rain become noisily mixed with those already fallen.
Nature, frightened, hides under the rustling leaves,
The flowers close under this brutal dew
And the soaked earth boasts of bearing this squall alone.
The birds, flapping their wings, lift themselves up
And murmur softly, “The Storm.”
On the sea, the holy anger becomes rage,
The waves beat furiously,
Sharing the sky’s fury.
The gloomy wind blows and beats the sails with a clamor,
While the ocean, in a supreme effort,
Hesitating and becoming one great wave,
A new voice conjuring,
In its sad and plaintive timbre,
A new force among the other cries,
And while the terrified seabirds seek a hiding place
In the depths of the few rocks along the coast,
The seamen in their crumbling boats
Shake their heads, saying, “Here is The Storm.”
And God contemplates His work,
A smile appearing in his white beard,
Seeing the fear,
In his black columns, becoming white,
And while the weather continues shuddering,
God says to Himself softly,
“Poor Man! He cannot see
Anything in my greatness.
Blind, undisciplined! Poor Man!
It’s a storm!”
Copyright The Anais Nin Trust; translation copyright Sky Blue Press. All rights reserved.
A brief history of The Winter of Artifice: After years of incubation, Anaïs Nin fictionalized three major events in her life: 1) her affair with Henry Miller and the subsequent infatuation with his wife, June; 2) the reunion with her father after a twenty year absence, which resulted in a series of incestuous encounters; 3) the analysis (and affairs) she experienced with pyschoanalytical pioneers René Allendy and Otto Rank. These events resulted in the following novellas, respectively: “Djuna,” “Lilith,” and “The Voice.”
Only weeks after Anaïs Nin held a copy of her new book in her hands, two events occurred that were to redirect its future—war broke out, and the editor of Obelisk Press, Jack Kahane, died. Because of the war, Nin fled Paris for New York with a few copies of her book, and once in America, she realized that The Winter of Artifice would never survive the censors because of its explicit nature, especially that of “Djuna.” A few copies of Paris edition ended up in the hands of Nin’s friends and associates, but it was largely absent from the market in Europe and impossible to distribute in America or England.
These novellas comprised Nin’s second work of fiction, The Winter of Artifice, which was published by Obelisk Press in the summer of 1939 as part of the Villa Seurat Series—Miller’s Max and the White Phagocytes and Lawrence Durrell’s The Black Book made up the other titles. The series name came from the three authors’ unofficial headquarters, Miller’s apartment on Villa Seurat in Montparnasse.
Nin set about altering the contents of The Winter of Artifice for an American audience. She completely eliminated “Djuna” and cut out or drastically altered several passages in the remaining two stories. Her gutted prototype, made from an Obelisk Press copy, still exists. When Nin could not interest any American publishers in the book, she decided to publish it herself, buying an old printing press and setting up shop with her collaborator and lover, Gonzalo Moré. In 1942, the handset Winter of Artifice was finished, under the imprint Gemore Press, containing the two novellas, one untitled (formerly “Lilith”) and “The Voice.”
The book underwent further incarnations: In 1947, the untitled novella was revised and titled “Winter of Artifice,” and, along with the revised “The Voice,” was included in the 1947 English edition of Under a Glass Bell (Editions Poetry London). In the 1948 Dutton edition of Under a Glass Bell, the two revised novellas were included, but “Winter of Artifice” was renamed “Djuna,” not to be confused with the “Djuna” of the original edition. In 1961, Swallow published Winter of Artifice, which included facsimiles of the text the now-renamed “Winter of Artifice, “The Voice,” and Stella, taken from the 1946 book Ladders to Fire, “Stella.” The current Swallow edition is much the same.
The original “Djuna” ended up being heavily revised and incorporated into Ladders to Fire, with very little remaining of its erotic spirit. Later in life, Nin claimed that “Djuna” contained “bad writing,” but there is good evidence that she wanted to avoid public scrutiny of her affair with Miller, not to mention her changed attitude towards him after their break-up in the early 1940s. Miller, after all, was instrumental in the development of the prose contained in the story—for a detailed look at this, click here. His heavy influence in her writing was something she didn’t want publicized.
Many scholars are unaware of the original edition of The Winter of Artifice and the explicit representation of the Henry-June-Anaïs triangle in “Djuna.” Benjamin Franklin V, an important Nin scholar, recognized this gap in Nin scholarship and was the momentum behind a facsimile of the Paris edition of The Winter of Artifice being released in 2007. With this edition, Nin readers can finally experience Nin’s early foray into realistic prose—a turnaround from the heavily veiled The House of Incest (1936)—which was lost by circumstances and life-forces beyond anyone’s control. And now, with the new Kindle edition, Nin’s writing has finally entered the world of digital text, with other titles to follow.