Thorvald Nin: Anais Nin’s brother

Anaïs Nin valued writer Marguerite Young’s opinions about her as-of-yet unpublished Diary 1, which begins in 1931, just before the 28 year old Nin met Henry Miller. While Young understood why Nin and her editor/agent Gunther Stuhlmann decided to begin the first published diary at that stage of Nin’s life (because it was arguably the most interesting period), she still expressed a desire to know more about Nin’s early years and her family members, all of whom are briefly mentioned in the diary for the sake of background.

In this revealing conversation, Young gets Nin to open up about her feelings towards her brother Thorvald, her mother, and her father. Nin explains how, as a child, she knew everything about her father’s infidelity and that when he left the family at Arcachon in 1913 he would never return.

She reveals why she felt Thorvald had estranged himself from the family, and Young offers her own rather surprising opinion, as you shall hear.

In response to her Aunt Anaïs’s remarks, Thorvald’s daughter, Gayle Nin Rosenkrantz, says, “I must respond to the theory about my Dad’s going into the business world. My poor Dad had no choice in the matter. His mother made him turn down a four year engineering scholarship at Cornell and told him he had to get a job to help support the family. He was obedient. He went into business because that is all an 18 year old boy could do. Get a ‘go-fer’ job in a bank and hope it leads to something. Believe me, he was broken hearted.”

Thorvald Nin, ca. 1950 (click to enlarge)

Thorvald Nin, ca. 1950

She adds that Thorvald “was never ‘estranged’ from his family. He always remained loving towards his mother and [his brother] Joaquín. He helped support his mother throughout her life. He was not a great letter writer, that is for sure, but ‘estranged’ is not the right word. When I was growing up we never lived in the States so we never saw my grandmother or Uncle Joaquín or Aunt Anaïs except during the brief times we spent in New York in between living in one Latin American country or other. When we were there we did spend time with both Anaïs and Hugo and Grandmother and Joaquín, and I remember in particular how warm and caring Hugo was with us. In the late 40s and early 50s Anaïs and sometimes both Anaïs and Hugo would come to Mexico and spend time with my Dad and his second wife Kay quite often. When Kay and Dad retired and moved to Florida, Anaïs and Hugo visited them off and on. Now my Dad was critical of Anaïs, no doubt about that. He did not think she was a ‘good’ writer and thought her novels were impossible to understand. He also knew that she was not living a straight and narrow domestic life, and because he cared for and admired Hugo, he disapproved of her infidelities. He talked about this to me when I was much older and long after Anaïs died. When I was growing up, Dad never discussed Anaïs in a hostile manner.

“My Dad loved music so even though he himself was not a professional musician, he did appreciate the arts. He always remained close to Joaquín.

“When Anaïs started publishing her diaries, in the 1960s, my Dad very clearly requested that she not include anything about him. She ignored that, and he was furious. The last time they saw each other was in San Francisco in 1971 for the Mass of Dedication of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary. Joaquín had been commissioned to compose the music for the Mass so Dad and Kay flew in from Florida and Anaïs came up from Los Angeles. [My husband] David and I took everyone out for dinner that evening and the exchange between Dad and his sister was not pleasant for the rest of us. So, yes, my Dad became estranged from his sister, but not from the rest of his family.”

To listen to the 16 minute conversation between Anaïs Nin and Marguerite Young, click here.

Other related posts

For more on Nin’s parents, click here.

To hear Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Nin’s diary, click here.

To listen to Nin read “Under a Glass Bell,” click here.

To listen to Nin reading about her fictional characters Lillian, Djuna, and Sabina, click here

To see all Nin titles available as e-books, visit our e-bookstore.

To purchase books from Anaïs Nin’s Silver Lake collection, click here.

A Café in Space, Vol. 2 (2004): Anaïs Nin’s Haitian connection

A Café in Space,Vol. 2, which has just been published on Kindle, contains a substantial excerpt from Anaïs Nin’s 1943 diary, which describes her relationships within a circle of Haitian friends. Because Nin was disillusioned with the New York literary and social atmosphere, which she found “soulless,” she was easily attracted to the Haitian way of life. In it, she discovered master storytellers, wild music and dancing, and a cultural richness with which she identified. One young Haitian artist, Albert Mangones, unwittingly swept Nin off her feet with his soft sensuality. One could view the ensuing affair as just one of the many that Nin engaged in during the 1940s, but it was more significant than most. First of all, it was one of the first times Nin found herself as an unabashed aggressor, as she mentions in the following passage:

In the sun and warmth of summer, yesterday we went with Albert to Jacques Lipchitz’s studio with his statue of a drummer, to hear a criticism. I heard Albert talk luminously, responding to the cosmic vision of Lipchitz. His intelligence not like ours, monstrously over-developed like a morbid growth, not reaching the point of dissolution, dissection, separation, but fused, integrated, direct, pure. If Albert were older, not the shy young son…if he dared. But now I am faced by a new difficulty: I am the intimidating one, the one one does not dare to reach for!

My impulse is to run to him and kiss him. And [psychoanalyst Martha] Jaeger stands guard, the mythological mother, saying: “Do not run towards pain, do not run into pain, do not destroy yourself again, do not follow the mirages of love! He is the Son—he is too young—he is too yielding. Wait for the man…”

Neg Mawon in Haiti, by Albert Mangones

Neg Mawon in Haiti, by Albert Mangones

Neither Jaeger’s warning nor obstacles such as the fact that Mangones not only had a girlfriend in New York, but a fiancée in Haiti, inhibited Nin in her pursuit, which resulted in a fiery sexual union and, of course, subsequent suffering. Nin’s account includes not only descriptions of Mangones, but also of the Premice family, one of whom, Josephine, would go on to because a singing sensation. Mangones, after returning to Haiti, established himself as a master architect and sculptor. His Neg Mawon (Unknown Slave), sculpted in 1968, became the symbol of Haiti, prominently placed before the Presidential Palace. Today it still stands, above the ravages of the earthquake. (To see a biography and film excerpt on Mangones–in French–click here. To see a short memoir on Mangones–in English–click here.)

Other articles in Volume 2 include an excerpt from a new translation of Anton Chekhov’s sister, Maria, which gives us a glimpse into his chaotic world; snippets from Tristine Rainer’s diary regarding Nin’s final illness; a study of Nin and Henry Miller by Karl Orend; and a collection of articles by French authors, including Nin translator Béatrice Commengé, who takes us on a journey through Paris to revisit the hotels Henry Miller inhabited.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 2, click here.

To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 2, click here.

Volume 2 joins Volume 1, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

To see all available digital titlesby Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.

Anais Nin reads “Under a Glass Bell”: an audio recording

Anais Nin circa 1970

Anais Nin circa 1970

By the time Anaïs Nin returned to New York in late 1939, driven from Paris by the war, she had already begun writing a series of short stories that would be collected under the title of Under a Glass Bell. According to Benjamin Franklin V’s Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts, Nin self-published (Gemor Press) the original collection in 1944, which contained the following stories: “Birth,” “House Boat,” “Je Suis le Plus Malade Des Surrealistes Antonin Artaud,” “The Labyrinth,” “The Mohican,” “The Mouse,” “Rag Time,” and “Under a Glass Bell.” For the 1948 Dutton edition, Nin added the titles “The Child Born out of the Fog,” “The Eye’s Journey,” “Hejda,” and “Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth.”

Before Nin released her now-famous diaries in 1966, she spent decades promoting her fiction, sometimes by reading passages or entire stories during lectures—in this case it is the title story “Under a Glass Bell.” It is very possible that this audio recording was made not long after Swallow Press re-released the collection in the early 1960s.

The story, as Nin reads it, is reminiscent of the incestuous isolation that is the theme of her first fictional work House of Incest or Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles. Nin’s delivery gives the story a dimension that may otherwise be undetectable. It is advised to empty your mind and let Nin’s words take it on a short but fascinating journey.

To listen to the 18 minute sound clip, click here. (Courtesy of The Anaïs Nin Trust; all rights reserved)

To listen to Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Nin’s diary, click here.

For more information on Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To order the digital version of Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To order the print version of Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our e-bookstore.
To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit The Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.