Anaïs Nin’s Cities of the Interior: a history

For the first time, a digital edition of Anaïs Nin’s Cities of the Interior is being made available. To get an idea of the history of this collection of five novels written over a dozen year period, read Nin’s preface, written for the Swallow print edition of the book in 1974:

 

CitiesCoverFINAL

Cover of ebook edition. Engraving by Ian Hugo.

 

When Ladders to Fire was accepted by E. P. Dutton, I explained that it was part of a larger design, and that other novels would follow and round out the characters. The editors were aghast. They said the American public would never read a novel which threatened to continue, a “roman fleuve” as it is called in France. In 1947 the book was published as an independent novel, and nothing was said about development and continuity. For that reason, I did not develop a method of linking the various narratives.

 

I began the next novel, Children of the Albatross, as if it were a new story. Though the same characters appeared, the theme was altogether different. Dutton’s nervousness was dissipated. Children of the Albatross was published a year after Ladders to Fire, but the link had to be made by the reader (or the critics), and naturally it was not.

 

Then Dutton planned to wait four years before publishing the third novel, The Four-Chambered Heart, and I feared the continuity would be lost in the waiting, so I gave it to Duell, Sloan and Pearce. But it was still to take three years after Children of the Albatross appeared before The Four-Chambered Heart was published. Much was lost by never stressing the continuity and interrelatedness of the novels. Unlike Durrell’s Quartet, which was openly described as a unity, my novels (in a much earlier period) appeared without explanation. Duell, Sloan and Pearce turned down the fourth book, A Spy in the House of Love. It was finally done by British Book Centre four years after The Four-Chambered Heart saw print. The continuity was totally erased by then.

 

Finally, I published Solar Barque myself, making it a small book with interesting drawings by Peter Loomer, age 11. It focused on an episode of Lillian’s life. At the time I thought it contained all I wished to say, but like a piece of music which continues to haunt one, the theme continued to develop in my head; and I took it up again and carried it to completion. Now there was a problem for my new and loyal publisher, Alan Swallow. Should we reprint Solar Barque with the new material? No one would notice then that it had been added to, and the reviewers would not review the same title twice. Swallow decided to make a new book with a new title: Seduction of the Minotaur. Some reviewers complained bitterly because they had already read the first part. Generosity was not exactly rampant, and again I could not come forward to explain how I worked. It might have compounded the difficulties. When all the novels went out of print, and people wrote me asking for them, I published them together under the title Cities of the Interior (1959), and for the first time the continuity was established.

 

Now that the links between the novels are made clear, I hope the journey through the Cities of the Interior will be deeper and less difficult.

 

Anaïs Nin, Los Angeles, 1974

 

You may order Cities of the Interior by clicking here.

 

You may also order the individual novels from the collection below:

Ladders to Fire
Children of the Albatross
The Four-Chambered Heart
A Spy in the House of Love
Seduction of the Minotaur

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