Stella, a lesser-known work written by Anais Nin in 1945, is an examination of self-discovery and self-worth, a theme central to much of her fiction. The title character is loosely based on actress Luise Rainer, with whom Nin had a contentious friendship. Stella is faced with the contrast between her love affair with a public that adores her for her film roles and her personal inability to find human love. The men in Stella’s life include an ex-husband, a Don Juan lover, and a father who is not unlike Nin’s own.
It is ironic that Stella, like Rainer herself, is an orphan, since the novella itself is somewhat of a orphaned child. Nin experimented placing it in her 1946 Dutton edition of Ladders to Fire, and eventually in Swallow’s 1961 edition of Winter of Artifice, where remains today, as well as in Sky Blue Press’s 2010 anthology The Portable Anais Nin. Nin herself expressed the difficulty of finding Stella a home, so it only makes sense to offer it as a single title.
According to critic Oliver Evans, who compares Stella to D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, the novella “remains one of [Nin’s] most thoroughly realized performances. She has taken the timeworn theme of the possessive female and examined it through her microscopic lens from new and interesting angles.”
To see and/or purchase Stella at Amazon.com, click here. (The cover art is based on an engraving by Ian Hugo, aka Hugh Guiler, Nin’s husband.)
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