Myth: Anaïs Nin made her first return to France since 1939 in 1955, as The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 5, 1947-1955 says.
Fact: In Nin’s personal calendar, she states on April 9, 1958 “first return to Paris (not in 1955 as in Vol. 5).” This is confirmed in her original handwritten diary of 1958. The question one would naturally ask is, “Why would Diary 5 place the return three years earlier?” No one today could truly know the answer because both Nin and her co-editor Gunther Stuhlmann are no longer with us. But I have a theory. Although Diary 5 covers an eight-year period, it is only 262 pages long, by far the shortest of all the published diaries. Why is this? Because she could not publish the major events of that period—her affair with Rupert Pole and all the time and energy it took to maintain it. So, the publisher could have pressured Nin and Stuhlmann to come up with some more (and interesting) material to round out the volume. The return to Paris takes up eight pages and is indeed interesting…so this is very possible.
This is not the first time that events were presented out of sequence in the published diaries. In his 1969 interview with Nin, scholar Duane Schneider noted that material from a 1938 letter from Henry Miller about his childhood wound up in the typeset of Diary 1 that covered 1931. Nin responded, “I wanted to give the background of Henry’s childhood, and I felt that he had done it better than I did…”
Nin’s original descriptions of her return to Paris will be featured in the upcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947-1955, as well as everything that was removed for the publication of Diary 5.