Did Gore Vidal lie about his relationship with Anaïs Nin?

Did Gore Vidal lie about his relationship with Anaïs Nin?

According to Kim Krizan’s article in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Volume 10, the answer is yes. Is this speculation, theory, mere speculation, or fact substantiated with proof?

Anyone who has read The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4 (1944-47) knows that Nin had a close friendship with the young budding novelist, but since her sex life and even love affairs of the heart were all but completely edited out, the reader is left to guess about the true nature of the relationship with Vidal.

Anais Nin and Gore Vidal, ca. 1946

We do know that Vidal publicly lashed out at Nin with a scathing review of volume 4 of the diary, which made the claim that she invented most of the passages concerning him; he also satirized Nin brutally in his novels, perhaps most notably Myra Breckinridge. His campaign of character assassination continued in his Palimpsest: A Memoir, in which he said that Nin’s biographer (Deirdre Bair) falsely claimed that Vidal proposed marriage to Nin, who was 23 years older than he: “Needless to say, I never wanted to marry anyone, certainly not someone who was to me, in my ageist youth, a very old woman.”

Bair got her much of her information from the unpublished 1940s diary of Anaïs Nin, which provides the details of Nin’s erotic life that was cut from the published diary. In it, Nin clearly states that on more than one occasion, Vidal did propose a marriage in which each would be free to pursue sexual encounters on the outside. While Nin had hoped Vidal’s homosexuality could be “cured” with analysis and maturity (a common notion in the 1940s), Vidal told her, as quoted in the diary, “You see, if I could have loved a woman, it would be you. Now I know my homosexuality is incurable.”

But all this is Nin’s side of the story. Vidal’s side is already clear: Nin was a fabricator, an inventor, a liar.

So, how does Kim Krizan prove that it was Vidal who was the actual fabricator? By going to the UCLA special collections department which houses the Nin papers. In this vast mountain of documents, she unearthed a blockbuster letter from Vidal to Nin written in 1947. In it, he states that he would “never have a satisfying homosexual relationship,” and that while he was “attracted to youth, to beauty,” he was, separately, attracted “unphysically” to Nin and enjoyed the “spiritual emotional rapport” they had. “I need that more than the other.” He goes on to propose selling his house in Guatemala, and then “we can get a small place near Antibes or wherever there are interesting people and cheap living.” He envisions a “tranquil if not complete” life with Nin, one in which she would be “free of America, Hugo (her husband), all the mess.”

But there was one big obstacle to this proposal, and that was Rupert Pole.

Read the entire article in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 10, either in print or digitally.


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  1. It’s very possible that they may have fantasized about marriage, although I very much doubt that Anais would have seriously divorced Hugh, her meal ticket, unless Vidal was in the position to support her to the life she had become accustomed to. Gore Vidal was friends in the 40s with the Bowles, the literary couple who were very much in vogue at the time. Both were homosexuals who had married to maintain a facade of heterosexuality as they were very ambitious within the NY art scene of the 40s. Eventually, tired of the charade they both relocated to Tangier, Morrocco and became sex tourists where they could pay for same sex relations. Lesbian Jane Bowles was worshipped by many gay male writers, Paul Bowles, her husband; Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, William Burroughs, Alfred Chester who may have wished that they had a similar arrangement with a woman.

  2. Gore Vidal could have supported Anais–he was the son of a very wealthy man (founder of Eastern Airlines), and his novels were selling well. The reason Anais chose not to follow through with this was twofold: First, she couldn’t envision a marriage without sex. Second, she eventually met Rupert Pole and all bets were off when that happened.

  3. Also, Hugh Guiler was more than a mere “meal ticket” for Anais Nin. Her raw diaries reveal that her feelings for him were complicated, because while her romantic feelings for him may have died, she continued to love and trust him — and could not bring herself to leave him. Even after she met Rupert Pole, for whom she did have strong romantic feelings, she could not “abandon” Hugo.

  4. The photograph from 1946 is so interesting. Her face is animated and open and Ms. Nin is focused on her companion. Mr. Vidal plays to the camera and his face is challenging with his clenched fist in the foreground. She explored her “damage” in detail through writing. He explored his “damage” in detail through his life and not through his writing. This is the crucial difference between them.

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