Marguerite Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Anais Nin’s diary

Marguerite Young with the manuscript of Miss MacIntosh
Marguerite Young with the manuscript of Miss MacIntosh

Marguerite Young, author of Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, a book that Anaïs Nin championed, lived a few blocks away from the apartment on Washington Square in New York that Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler inhabited. Nin describes her first impressions of Young, recorded in the fall of 1959:

Her smile and her talk are enchanting. They are a continuation of her writing, an accompaniment to it. There is an extraordinary force of her imagination and language there… Her hair hangs absolutely straight on each side of her face. She monologues, without pauses… Everyone in her eyes is beautiful. She endows all her friends with beauty; but her own charm lies in the kaleidoscopic variations of her imagination, her power of storytelling, her human warmth. (The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 6)

As the friendship between Nin and Young grew, Nin and Guiler often recorded their phone conversations with Young. On November 15, 1964, more than a year before Anaïs Nin’s Diary 1 was published, Young called Guiler to give her reactions to the manuscript, which Guiler apparently had lent her.

This conversation captures Young’s prophetic predictions about the impact Diary 1 would have—money, fame, a youthful following—most of which came to pass after the diary’s release in 1966, ending Nin’s long history of obscurity.

Guiler, when he could get a word in (Young, as Nin noted, was a monologist), also expresses the uniqueness of the writing (an enthusiastic response in spite of the fact he elected to not be included in any of the diaries).

The conversation turns to Nin and Guiler’s “New York dog,” Chico, who was ill, revealing the compassionate natures of Guiler and Young.

To hear the 11 minute conversation between Young and Guiler, click here.

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  1. Wow! This is just too precious for words! It is very funny how Hugh doesn’t get a word in edgewise until he starts in about the dog’s constipation!

  2. On a more serious note: Marguerite’s intuitive nature did allow her to be prophetic when it came to people and their destiny. When she visited Montana she told the futures of each of the students that she met – and so many came true. It is so lovely to hear her voice again as it was in natural conversation, not reading from her book, just talking…These recordings are real treasures, and part of the history of American literature. Thank you for making them available.

  3. I’m curious to know if Hugh was closer to Marguerite than Nin was and was recording conversations a habit they made with many of their friends? Thank you for bringing us more and more avenues into Nin’s life.

  4. Stephanie, since Hugh is absent from the diary, it’s unclear if he was closer to Marguerite than Anais, and that will require some research. Wayne might actually know, since he knew all of them. As for whose conversations were recorded, it was chiefly Marguerite, very few others.

  5. This is a walk down memory lane for me: I had the good fortune to know each of them. It was amusing to hear Marguerite over-talk the very gracious Hugo. I am in the midst of reading WRITING AN ICON by Anita Jarczok and was prompted by that reading to visit the Cafe and revive memories of my own.

    To answer the question posed by Stephanie above, I would say , Marguerite was equally close to both. In the mid- mid 70’s on through the 80’s I recall joining Marguerite and others in the evening for coffee and dessert at the Pennyfeather, a cafe in the West Village not far from where she lived. Marguerite spoke of both with great fondness and love. In part due to the proximity of Hugo, w ho also lived close by, she probably had more face time with him than she did with Anais especially AFTER the publication of the first diary (which she had clearly just finished reading when this conversation takes place). After Nin’s death, Marguerite was quite close to Hugo and offered him deep solace.

    To bring it back to my own personal experience, I always found myself at a loss for words when I was in Marguerite’s company: yes, was she a (delightful) monologuist and lived in many (imaginative) worlds at once. She mesmerized me with her free association talks I remember one incident in particular, she was riffing on Walt Whitman and I was so caught up in the presentness of her story, I found myself asking – so Marguerite were you and Whitman close friends. She smiled amusedly and gently admonished me saying, “well, I am not quite that old, my dear”.

    One day Marguerite called me after a long absence. I said, “oh, Marguerite, it’s been so long since we spoke”. “No, no, my dear” she said “we speak often – in the astral”. Goddess bless her beautiful soul.

    I would love to hear more of these conversations.

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