It wasn’t long after discovering Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller some 20 years ago that I developed a hunger to follow in their footsteps in Paris. I recall writing down some of the addresses of Nin’s and Miller’s haunts and homes, names of famous Montparnassian cafés, and in particular the fabled house in Louveciennes. Back then, I had only Michelin maps and travel guides (the names of which I patched together as “Fodommerbaum”) to help me piece together some sort of plan. Nothing, though, prepared me for the actual act of walking the streets to seek out the remnants and echoes of what once existed.
The very first site I wanted to see was the quai where Nin moored her houseboat, La Belle Aurore. I only had old photographs to help me figure out exactly where it was. I stood holding the photo on Pont Royal, straining to match the 60 year old image with the current scene, and I had to guess. I stood at my declared spot and tried to feel the magic of knowing that once upon a time, an old, leaky barge sat in these waters, that Nin and her lover Gonzalo walked down the same staircase I did to board it. Was I right? Was this the spot?
I was only able to discover this past week that I was indeed pretty close, and I was able to do so sitting in front of my computer screen, thanks to today’s GPS technology. While editing and formatting Britt Arenander’s Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, I began to toy with the idea of making what was mainly a photo-book with a nice, concise synopsis of Nin’s and Miller’s Paris years into something more: an interactive travel guide using GPS technology, something than can not only be read, but used. Once I began seeking out the more than 40 specific locations listed in the book on Google Maps, I began to see that not only can one visit these locations virtually, but one can also navigate between them and create virtual walking tours. Had I had access to something like this twenty years ago, my first Paris visit would have been very different. For example, one of Henry Miller’s apartments was on Avenue Anatole France in Clichy, and it was the setting for the famous battle between Miller and his wife June over the fact that Miller and Nin were lovers, a final cataclysmic explosion that resulted in divorce. How could any self-described aficionado not visit this place and reconstruct that scene? The sad fact is that I spent half a precious day trying to find the place only to come up empty. How was I to know that there are two Avenues Anatole France, one in Paris and one in Clichy, to the north? It is only now that I can walk that street and look up at the art-deco building where emotions ran amok that day in 1932, thanks to Google’s “street view” option. In fact, I decided one day to do what Miller himself did on a regular basis: walk from his favorite restaurant at Place Clicy, the Wepler, to his apartment, simply by using the navigation tools. The same was true in Montparnasse and all the other locations.
So, what I did was to mark each location and then to present some background of its significance, using facts from Arenander’s book and vintage photographs. (There are other options as well, such as including links that allows the viewer to delve further into its history, including sound and video clips, and this is something I aim on enhancing the map with often. To see an example, go to our intactive sample map and click on La Gare chemin de fer de petite ceinture.) I thought that if one were planning a trip to Paris and wanted to “practice” identifying historic locations beforehand, one could do so easily. Also, since many travelers bring smart devices along on their trips, one could use an iPad, say, or an iPhone to map out their walks as they were actually doing them. What a remarkable way to enhance a trip, especially when time is at a premium. And if one is unable to make such a trip, it is still possible to revisit the traces of the past at home. After all, I was finally able to use the street view navigation to scope out Nin’s houseboat location and finally pinpoint the spot by comparing it with the old photos. Not only that, but I discovered the old iron rings that once moored the houseboats are still affixed to the walls! (Go to the sample interactive map by clicking here and you can visit quai de Tuileries yourself.)
I have created a short walking tour which is based on an event that took place in March of 1932, chronicled in Anaïs Nin’s Lost World. Henry Miller had met Anaïs at Chez les Vikings and had a passionate conversation with her. After she left, he wrote his first love letter to her, saying, “I tell you what you already know—I love you.” After writing that letter, he walked home to Hôtel Central, where he and Nin had their first sexual encounter a few days later. Now, we can virtually walk that same path, just for the hell of it.
To take the walking tour, click here.
To order Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.
In 1948, when Anaïs Nin first began writing her novel The Four-Chambered Heart, she described it as her “last act of love” for Gonzalo Moré, the Peruvian radical and bohemian with whom she’d been locked in a torturous, doomed relationship for more than a decade. “It is the monument that he will not be able to destroy as he destroyed our life,” she says in her unpublished diary.
In the novel, the character Djuna falls in love with Rango and becomes entangled in his chaotic life. She is introduced to Zora, Rango’s wife, a former dancer who has fallen into a morass of hypochondria and self-centered manipulation. These characters, of course, are modeled after Nin, Moré, and his wife Helba Huara.
When Nin first met Gonzalo in Paris in 1936, she astutely recognized him as a “tiger who dreams. A tiger without claws.” Helba was “the woman whose dance without arms inspired the dancer in House of Incest” (Fire243). Henry Miller, during his first visit to Nin in Louveciennes in 1931, said he’d seen Helba dance, but that “her husband is the interesting one.” Indeed, Gonzalo knew and was the intellectual equal of literary figures such as Antonin Artaud, Pablo Neruda, and César Vallejo. In 1931, Nin had “walked out of Helba’s first small recital, disgusted with her grotesque exaggerations, and Gonzalo was on the stage as accompanist and I did not see him—five years before we met.” But years later, Nin “saw the monstrous quality of the demon in Helba and was interested—not repulsed” (unpublished diary). Indeed, for a time during the 1920s and early 1930s, Helba was acclaimed as an exotic dancer embodying Incan culture who performed all over Europe and on Broadway.
By 1936, however, Helba had become a self-created invalid, using imaginary illness to manipulate Gonzalo and anyone with whom they associated, and she and Gonzalo were impoverished, living in the squalor of a dungeon-like basement room.
Nin’s love affair with Gonzalo was unlike her concurrent affair with Henry Miller—waves of sexual fury and romance, violence followed by serenity, and above all a Latin emotional connectedness, which she lacked with Miller. The words Nin records in her diary reflect the passion she and Gonzalo shared, as he whispers to her while dancing: “Anaïs, Anaïs, you are so strong, so strong and so fragile, such strength. I fear you…the most beautiful music your father ever produced was your voice…you’re all sensitiveness…the perfume of all things, how unique you are, Anaïs.” She continues: “All this in Spanish. My blood hears Spanish…through dark subterranean channels” (Fire 247).
Acting on a dream she’d once had, Nin rented a houseboat on the Seine, which she and Gonzalo used as a setting for their explosive amorous rendezvous. The houseboat became a key symbol in Nin’s fiction, appearing in some of the stories from Under a Glass Bell, as well as The Four-Chambered Heart.
Because she truly loved Gonzalo, the revolutionary too lazy take up arms, the artist without creations, the worker without a clock, the intellectual mind dimmed by drugs and alcohol, Nin fought against impossible odds to rehabilitate him. She overlooked the obvious flaws and recognized his keen intelligence, charisma, fiery passion, and humor. However, the inertia of his personality, his uncontrolable jealousy, and Helba’s constant meddling slowly began to drag Nin into their hell.
After fleeing France for New York when the war began, Nin set up her own printing press and employed Gonzalo to work with her. She even named the business after him—Gemor Press—and felt she’d finally helped him develop a craft and a sense of self-worth. However, by the mid-1940s, she was the one doing most of the work, and anything left to Gonzalo was usually left unfinished or poorly done. Not only was she disillusioned by Gonzalo, she grew to hate Helba. In late 1943, she writes in her unpublished diary: “I meditated for two days how to kill Helba to save Gonzalo, to free him—calling it to myself a mercy killing. This is insanity.“
The relationship continued to wither until Nin collapsed under the ever-growing burden. By 1947, Nin asked herself “how I turned to this sick sick sick primitive for fire, and who had this useless, raging, blind, destructive fire in the center of his being…this fire leading nowhere, a wasted, destructive fire.“
Hugh Guiler, Nin’s husband, after years of knowingly (and often unknowingly) supporting Gonzalo financially, finally cut him off, but not before setting him up with Social Services, in order to give him time to find a job, which, characteristically, he never did.
Nin says in her 1948 diary: “The Gonzalo I loved is dead. The one I knew at the end, without illusion, I did not love. People create an illusion together and then it is disintegrated by reality.“
The relationship, after many cataclysms, was finished.
Nin sought to distill hundreds of diary pages into a highly concentrated document, to tell “the story of Gonzalo without its sordid, degrading end, for Gonzalo, like June [Miller], had the power to descend to the greatest vulgarities and I cannot even transcribe the slime into which our love dissolved.” What resulted is a book that truly does stand as a shrine to Anaïs Nin’s powerful love for Gonzalo Moré, and has been described by critics as comparable to the works of D.H. Lawrence and Carson McCullers. In the following passage, for example, Nin explains how an exterior force (Rango’s jealousy of Djuna’s former lover Paul) affects the interior, a familiar Lawrencian theme:
“[Rango] was driving the image of Paul into another chamber of her heart, an isolated chamber without communicating passage into the one inhabited by Rango. A place in some obscure recess, where flows eternal love, in a realm so different from the one inhabited by Rango that they would never meet or collide, in these vast cities of the interior.”
The Four-Chambered Heartwas published by Duell, Sloane and Pearce in 1950. It was later published by Swallow Press and then incorporated into Nin’s “roman fleuve,” Cities of the Interior.
Now, Sky Blue Press has published The Four-Chambered Heart on Amazon’s Kindle as an e-book for the first time. It joins several other Nin titles on Kindle: The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, with others to follow.
Sky Blue Press has released its latest Authoritative Edition, this time that of The Four-Chambered Heart, Anaïs Nin’s third installment in her Cities of the Interior series. This new edition contains an introduction from Anaïs Nin, character descriptions, the book’s publishing history, and a chronology of the author’s life and work. The book joins new editions of Ladders to Fire and Children of the Albatross.
Nin’s novel is set on a houseboat on the Seine, which is where the key characters, Djuna, Rango, and Zora congregate in a twisted ménage à trois, largely based on the relationship between Nin, her lover Gonzalo Moré, and his wife Helba Huara.
For more details on the story behind the novel, go here.
To preview and/or order a copy of The Four-Chambered Heart, click here.
In 1995, Britt Arenander’s book Anaïs Nins Förlorade Värld (Anaïs Nin’s Lost World) was released in Sweden. Gunther Stuhlmann, Anaïs Nin’s literary agent, sent me a copy as a gift, and it was always a book, despite my inability to read Swedish, that I admired.
The author, who had recently moved to France, made the pilgrimage to Louveciennes to see Anaïs Nin’s legendary “laboratory of the soul,” the 200 year old house where she met Henry Miller in 1931. It then dawned on her to see if the apartment building where Miller and his friend Alfred Perlès lived still stood in Clichy, and it did. This series of events triggered her quest to research and rediscover each Paris address ever mentioned by Nin or Miller, and the result was a wonderful book filled with both vintage and recent photographs of these storied locations. In between was the synopsis of the life that Nin, Miller, and many of their cohorts lived in the 1930s, interlaced with the history of Paris, Montparnasse, and Louveciennes. I had always hoped that one day the book would be published in English.
Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when Britt Arenander contacted me recently with the idea of doing just that, and it was a project I was more than happy to undertake.
In her introduction, the author clearly states her inspiration: “A lost world, of which the outlines still remain, was what I wished to recreate, by help of photographic jigsaw puzzle pieces. But my hope is also that it might be an intimate guide to Paris outside the main tourist routes.”
We have taken this idea and enhanced the original book with updated information, a well-planned table of contents complete with links to not only each photograph, some of which, as the one to the left, are at least 100 years old, but also to street maps of several of the chief Nin/Miller haunts. The last new touch is an interactive map that one can view with their ebook device or computer that offers background information, vintage photos, and current street views of such places as Nin’s Louveciennes house, the location of her houseboats, the hotel where Nin and Miller began their affair, the brothel where Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler witnessed a “show,” and on and on.
All of this, I believe achieves Britt Arenander’s quest to offer an intimate guide to Paris that is definitely out of the ordinary. The reader will be able wander through Anaïs Nin’s lost world visually, literarily, virtually, and if in Paris, truly.
The book can be ordered with Kindle and with any Apple product (iPad, iPhone, etc.) after downloading the Kindle app.
To see a sample or to purchase Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.
To view a sample interactive map drawn from the book, click here.
Visit our Anaïs Nin e-bookstore here.
Since there are now several titles by Anais Nin available as e-books, primarily on Kindle, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a handy guide with links to each book. The sequence of the list and associated comments are presented with two groups of readers in mind: those already familiar with Anais Nin, and those whose experience with the author is just now dawning.
We will update this list when new titles, or more details, become available (last update: August 29, 2014).
We hope this list proves useful; feel free to comment.
Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947 (Sky Blue Press) After a seventeen year wait, finally the next installment of Nin’s unexpurgated diaries is available, chronicling Nin’s struggle to adapt to living in America after being forced by war to flee her beloved Paris. Highlighted are Nin’s relationships with Henry Miller, Edmund Wilson, and Gore Vidal.
The Portable Anais Nin (Sky Blue Press) The best place to start. A comprehensive anthology of Nin’s most important work, rendered in their entirety, and a record of her growth as a writer. An excellent read for both newcomers (who wish to sample Nin’s writing) and the experienced (who, with this title, can witness Nin’s relationships between life, her diary, her fiction, and her philosophy). $9.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Anais Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (Sky Blue Press) One of the persisting mysteries about Anais Nin is the circumstances of her death: she ended her published diaries a few years beforehand and left little information behind. Even the biographies are sketchy on this topic. Barbara Kraft, a student and friend of Nin, spent a good part of Nin’s final 2 years supporting her emotionally and has written a powerful memoir about the incredible spirit of her mentor and her refusal to surrender her life. She also records the great love and compassion of Nin’s “west coast husband,” Rupert Pole. $6.99. To order, click here.
Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939 by Britt Arenander. This unique book depicts Nin’s life from the perspective of her surroundings during the most important era in her life—her Paris years, from 1924 to 1939, when she met Henry Miller and came into her own as a writer and as a sensual woman. This book gives us a vivid picture of Nin’s turbulent life in the 1920s and 1930s. Britt Arenander allows us to follow in Nin’s and Miller’s footsteps. She has brilliantly woven text and photographs into a tapestry of the Paris that Nin and Miller came to love so much. For more information, click here. To order, click here.
Delta of Venus (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Anais Nin’s bestselling collection of erotica, which set the standard by which all erotica is measured. While Nin claimed to write this with “tongue in cheek,” there is little doubt about its liteary and poetic value. Recommended to everyone. $9.29. To order, click here.
Little Birds (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) The sequel to Delta of Venus that retains the high literary quality of feminine erotica. Recommended to everyone, especially those who have read Delta of Venus. $9.99. To order, click here.
Under a Glass Bell and Other Stories (Sky Blue Press) This collection of Anais Nin’s short stories contains some of her finest writing. Originally self-published, this book was the one that first put Nin on the literary map. Recommended for all, especially newcomers who wish to experience Nin’s concept of distilling life events into concise fiction. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
House of Incest (Sky Blue Press) Anais Nin’s first work of fiction, often compared to surrealism in the French style, which bends and expands the English language into the mystical realm. Major scholars today conclude that House of Incest is Nin’s best book. $3.99. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 2 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt–Vol. 1 not yet available) This diary follows Nin’s life in Paris from 1934 until 1939, citing her associations with Henry Miller, Otto Rank, Gonzalo More, Antonin Artaud, and her experiences in Louveciennes, Paris, New York, and Fez. This book is recommended for new readers for its literary significance, and experienced readers because each name, place, date, etc., can be electronically searched. $14.82. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 3(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) When war forced Anais Nin from France, she called it “the end of our romantic life,” but it was the beginning of a torturous transition to New York and its impersonal harshness. Out of her element, Nin struggled to resume her life as an artist, and because of indifference to her work, she purchased her own printing press and painstakingly published it herself. Vol. 3 follows Nin’s relationships with Gonzalo More, Henry Miller, Richard Wright, and Luise Rainer, and how they were influenced by a new time and setting. $14.27. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) This diary chronicles Nin’s life in New York from 1944 to 1947. Key passages include Gore Vidal, Edmund Wilson, Maya Deren, and an array of young homosexual men with whom she associated. Recommended to newcomers because of the reflection of the terrible time Nin had adjusting to American life and the total rejection of her work. An electronically searchable text makes it valuable to all. $9.99. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 5 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Covering the years 1947 to 1955, this volume follows Nin’s life “on the trapeze,” alternating between New York and California. A truly tranformative time in Nin’s life as her California experiences brought her many new and fascinating personages, including Jean Varda, James Herlihy, Louis and Bebe Barron, Renate Druks, et al. Recommended to newcomers who wish to see how it was possible Nin could mask her double life, not only to her readers, but to her friends and loved ones. Searchable text is a plus for all readers. $12.57. To order, click here.
Fire: From “A Journal of Love”: The Unexpurgated Diary 1934-1937 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Culled from Anais Nin’s unedited diary, this volume contains intimate details of Nin’s relationships with her husband Hugh Guiler, Henry Miller, Gonzalo More, and Otto Rank. Recommended for anyone interested in Nin’s growing sense of womanhood during her Paris years. $9.99. To order, click here.
The Winter of Artifice, the original Paris edition (Sky Blue Press) This title was out of print for 70 years because of censorship laws and Nin’s subsequent decision to cut an entire story (“Djuna,” the fictionalized Henry and June tale, which was originally edited by Miller himself), and to heavily edit the remaining two. This is recommended to all for its literary value, which had been lost to readers for decades. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Ladders to Fire (Sky Blue Press) The first novel of the collection Nin would later entitle Cities of the Interior, Ladders to Fire introduces the reader to Nin’s key characters: Djuna, Lillian, Sabina, and Jay, all in part based on real people, including Nin, as she placed different aspects of herself within the composite female characters. This new authoritative edition includes an introduction by Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. A must-read for all readers, new and otherwise, because it lays the groundwork for the following titles. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Children of the Albatross (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s second novel in the Cities of the Interior collection, divided into two parts, the first examining Nin’s relationship with the “transparent children” described in Diary 4, one of whom is based on Rupert Pole. The second part reveals the psychological truth behind Nin’s female characters’ relationships with Jay, fashioned after Henry Miller. This new authoritative edition includes an introduction by Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. We suggest reading all the Cities titles in order, for that is what Nin intended. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
The Four-Chambered Heart (Sky Blue Press) Third in the Cities collection, this novel uses the Seine and a houseboat as a symbolic stage on which three characters–Djuna, Rango, and Zora–are gripped in a life-and-death battle of jealousy, possessiveness, raging passion, and disillusion. Based on Nin’s relationship with Gonzalo More and his wife Helba. Recommended for its solid characters, incredible tension, and searing climax. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Spy in the House of Love (Sky Blue Press) One of Nin’s most popular titles, this novel, 4th in the Cities series, examines Sabina, the character based on both Nin and June Miller. A fractured being, Sabina sees each shard of her character reflected in her five lovers. Recommended to all because it best characterizes Nin’s life in the 1940s, which was one of desperation and despair. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Seduction of the Minotaur (Sky Blue Press) The last in the Cities series, this novel concentrates on Lillian’s battle with the “minotaur,” a demonic force which has tormented her, only to find, after seeking relief from others in exotic places (in this case, a lush Mexico), that the demon lives within her. Recommended because of its authenticity, symbolism, and direct language. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Collages (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s last work of fiction, written shortly before the release of her diaries, Collages is a collection of interwoven short stories that are based on experiences of Nin’s friends, such as Jean Varda and Renate Druks. It is perhaps Nin’s only book in which she is not the central character. Recommended for its fairy-tale atmosphere, and especially for its humor, a characteristic for which Nin was rarely credited. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Stella (Sky Blue Press) A lesser-known work written by Anais Nin in 1945, is an examination of self-discovery and self-worth. The title character is loosely based on actress Luise Rainer, who is faced with the contrast between her love affair with a public that adores her for her film roles, and her personal inability to find human love. Critic Oliver Evans says Stella “remains one of [Nin’s] most thoroughly realized performances.” Recommended for anyone who does not own either The Portable Anais Nin or Swallow’s Winter of Artifice. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (Sky Blue Press). Anais Nin’s first published book is an examination of her first literary muse, the controversial English novelist, D. H. Lawrence. Assembled from notes in only 13 days, this study is regarded by critics as the best introduction to Lawrence to this day. Recommended for anyone interested in Lawrence, or in Nin’s masterful critical insights. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To purchase this title, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 7 (Sky Blue Press) This issue contains a close look at Nin’s marriage with Hugh Guiler, including a shocking letter he wrote offering her divorce; an interview with Deirdre Bair; John Ferrone’s tale of how Nin almost never published her erotica; an unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, and examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 6 (Sky Blue Press) The highlight of this issue is the publication of the recently found letters between Nin and her father, Joaquin Nin, at the time of their incestuous relationship. The letters reveal a crafty and relentless pursuit of the 30 year old Anais by her father. The journal is filled with articles about Nin and Henry Miller, as well as examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 1: special centennial issue (Sky Blue Press) The inaugural issue, which contains a previously unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, has contributions by Janet Fitch, Philip Jason, Benjamin Franklin V, Lynette Felber, Kazuko Sugisaki, Toyoko Yamamoto, Yuko Yaguchi, among others. Included is a journey to Louveciennes and Neuilly to visit Nin’s homes (with photos) and a tour of Montparnasse with Claudine Brelet, close friend of Lawrence Durrell. Recommended for all. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 2This issue contains a substantial excerpt from Nin’s 1943 diary which illustrates her relationship with several Haitians in New York, and one in particular, Albert Mangones, represented the sort of atmosphere and culture Nin sorely missed. The results were torrid and, in the end, heartbreaking. Articles by several noted Nin scholars and an excerpt from Maria Chekhov’s memoirs are included, as well as a tour of Henry Miller’s Paris hotels. Recommended for all. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 3 contains early correspondence (1957-61) between Anais Nin and the man who was instrumental in her ulitmate literary success, her agent Gunther Stuhlmann. The letters give the readers a look at the long, hard climb, the many failures, and the degree of frustration Nin endured on the way up. Also included are contributions from three of the leading Lawrence Durrell scholars in the world about the “3rd Musketeer” and how his literature is regarded today. Recommended for both Nin and Durrell fans. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 4. The highlight of this issue is two important series of correspondence: the first is between Rupert Pole and editor John Ferrone, which reveals the intense wrangling that was involved during the editing of Anais Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June; the second involves Nin, agent Gunther Stuhlmann, and publisher Alan Swallow in a dramatic look at Nin’s rise to fame, culminating in the release of her Diary. Recommended for those interested in what lies behind some of Nin’s most important works. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5. This special issue, entitled “In Her Own Words,” focuses on a wide range of Anais Nin’s writing, much of it experimental and unpublished. Examples of her critical writing, fiction treatments, and a long lost interview from 1969 are included, as well as her correspondence with Rupert Pole during her trips to New York, where she was living with Hugh Guiler. To purchase, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 8. This issue’s centerpiece is correspondence between Anais Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler during the final months she was alive. Dying in Los Angeles with her lover Rupert Pole at her side, she sought “absolution” from Guiler and emotional freedom. Even more remarkable is the early correspondence between Pole and Guiler just after Nin’s death. Also included is a look at Nin’s “father-in-law,” Reginald Pole, the Shakespearean actor and Rupert’s father. For more information on this title, click here. To purchase, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 9 contains several excerpts from Anais Nin’s unpublished 1950s diary in which she describes the “trapeze life” swinging back and forth across the country from her husband in New York to her lover in Los Angeles, and how difficult it was to keep her men in the dark about each other. Critical articles on Nin’s writing and how her persona was carefully crafted, on two of her contemporaries, Lawrence Durrell and Antonin Artaud, as well as creative pieces by two of Nin’s former students, along with reviews of two important publications on Henry Miller and by Anais Nin, complete this issue. For more information, click here. To order, click here.
A Café in Space, Vol. 10 contains explosive new material on the much-disputed relationship between Anais Nin and Gore Vidal. Kim Krizan produces proof that Vidal mischaracterized the nature of the bond for decades during which he attacked Nin’s character. In an excerpt from the about-to-be-released unexpurgated diary, Nin describes Vidal during the months after they first met. Also included are studies of Nin’s early patriotic poems; Nin’s erotica; electronic music pioneers Louise and Bebe Barron; poetry; reviews and updates, and a graphic novel version of Nin’s “Under a Glass Bell.”
A Café in Space, Vol. 11 contains excerpts from the unpublished diary of Anais Nin, topics of which include living in 1950s America, Nin’s hateful relationship with Helba Huara, and fears of the havoc that publishing her diary could bring. The lead article involves a relatively unknown “scandal” in 1955, which centered on the release of a book entitled ‘My Friend Henry Miller’ by Miller’s old pal Alfred Perles, in which the “secret” romantic relationship between Nin and Miller in 1930s Paris is revealed and how Nin desperately tried to have her name removed from the text. A series of letters by Nin, Miller, Perles and others give the reader an inside look of how what should have been a minor event instead resulted in a censored version of the Perles book, resulting in a lifelong bitterness towards Nin by Miller. Articles on the theme of incest in the works of both Nin and Lawrence Durrell appear in this issue, as well as memoirs, poetry, and web items of interest.
NOTE: We do NOT recommend the title White Stains because it apparently contains no work from Anais Nin, despite her name being placed on the title page.
The Portable Anaïs Nin, the first comprehensive Nin anthology in nearly forty years, has just been released as an e-book, available from Amazon.com for $9.99. It is the equivalent of more than 300 printed pages of the most compelling and representative writings of Anaïs Nin, arranged chronologically over a broad spectrum of genres: passages from the edited and unexpurgated diaries, works of fiction (including House of Incest, “This Hunger,” “Houseboat,” and “Stella”—all in their entirety), erotica, critical writing, and a previously uncollected—and revealing—interview.
Because Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V has arranged the works in the order they were written (for the table of contents, click here), the entire book presents us with a sort of autobiography, beginning with young Anaïs’s views on her parents’ separation, and ending with facing death, and just about every major event in between. Topics from her diary include her early relationship with Hugh Guiler, a failed affair with John Erskine, her ménage à trois with Henry and June Miller, incest, abortion, Otto Rank, Gonzalo Moré, Robert Duncan, Gore Vidal, her family members, writing philosophy, fictional character sources, failure, editing the diaries, and fame. Franklin has chosen fiction that follows Nin’s life experiences so the reader can see how plots and characters evolved from the diary, and how portraits changed as Nin’s perspective and attitudes shifted. When read thus, The Portable Anaïs Nin becomes Nin’s life story.
Still, each portion of The Portable Anaïs Nin stands on its own, and the book can be read selectively. In this way, as Nin agent and literary collaborator Gunther Stuhlmann once envisioned, the collection is a sort of guidebook that invites a new generation of readers to sample her work and thus be able to make informed selections when diving more deeply in to Nin’s writing.
It occurred to me while reading the book several times (as a proofreader and publisher) is that there is yet another facet of the experience of reading Anaïs Nin, and that is of time. It was 20 years ago almost to the day when I first read Nin’s Henry and June, for example, and at that time it evoked a personal response from me. As I read it today, even though the words are exactly the same in every passage, it inspires something quite different, which reinforces my opinion that Nin holds up a mirror in her work in which we see ourselves—and as we change, so does the reflection.
So, no matter where one comes from in terms of reading background and experience, the bond formed between the author Anaïs Nin and the reader is unique and always evolving, sometimes in new and unforeseen dimensions. It is precisely why Benjamin Franklin V and I believe that The Portable Anaïs Nin possesses real value to readers of every sort.
Our other Nin titles on Kindle are: House of Incest, Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow.
As promised in a previous post, we are releasing the Table of Contents of The Portable Anaïs Nin, the most comprehensive Nin anthology yet, which debuts only days from now on Kindle at Amazon.com. It comes out just as many of Nin’s titles are becoming available digitally. The selections in The Portable Anaïs Nin were made chronologically and in their entirety by Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V, whose other titles include Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts (author, 2007); Recollections of Anaïs Nin by Her Contemporaries (editor, 1996); Anaïs Nin: An Introduction (co-author, 1979); and Anaïs Nin: A Bibliography (author, 1973).
The fashion by which Franklin put together this table of contents allows the reader to follow Nin’s growth as a writer and to see how life experiences and relationships contributed to character development, fiction, and overall writing philosophy, which was revolutionary in that Nin sought to speak as a woman, and not an imitator of man.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Preface and Introduction
- Biographical Sketches
- Linotte (September-October 1915; on Maman and Papa)
- Early Diary 2 (July 1921; considering Hugh Guiler)
- Early Diary 3 (January 1925; an early marital crisis)
- Early Diary 4 (May 1929; attraction to John Erskine)
- Henry and June (January 1932; on June Miller)
- Henry and June (March 1932; on Henry Miller)
- Henry and June (April 1932; Henry Miller and Nin on Guiler)
- Henry and June (May-June 1932; on René Allendy)
- Incest (June 1933; in Valescure)
- Diary 1 (October 1933; remembering Paco Miralles)
- Incest (August 1934; abortion)
- Fire (April 1935; on Otto Rank)
- The House of Incest (1936)
- Fire (January 1937; on Gonzalo Moré and Henry Miller)
- Diary 2 (August 1937; on Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller)
- Nearer the Moon (March 1939; on Thurema Sokol)
- “Manuel” (1940-1941; erotica from Delta of Venus)
- Preface to Little Birds
- Postscript to the Preface of Delta of Venus
- “Houseboat” (1941; from Under a Glass Bell)
- Prologue to Under a Glass Bell (1944)
- Preface to Under a Glass Bell (1968)
- Diary 3 (November 1941; on Robert Duncan)
- Unpublished diary (June 1943; an affair with Albert Mangones)
- Diary 4 (April 1945; on Joaquín Nin-Culmell)
- “This Hunger” (1945)
- Prologue to Ladders to Fire (1946)
- Prologue to Ladders to Fire (1963)
- Preface to Cities of the Interior (1974)
- “Stella” (1945)
- Diary 4 (December 1945; on Gore Vidal)
- Realism and Reality (1946)
- On Writing (1947)
- Diary 5 (August 1954; on mother’s death)
- Diary 6 (Summer 1965; on publishing the diary)
- An Interview with Anaïs Nin (March 1969)
- Diary 7 (Fall 1969; on editing the diary)
- Diary 7 (1975-1976; facing death)
Our Nin titles on Kindle are: Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow.
Anaïs Nin began writing the stories collected in Under a Glass Bell in Paris during the mid to late 1930s and finished in New York after she fled France because of the war. When she could not find a publisher for her original collection of eight short stories, she resorted to self-publishing (with engravings by her husband Hugh Guiler) with her Gemor Press in 1944, hoping that she would win the interest of a commercial firm. It received the notice of critic Edmund Wilson, who favorably reviewed the book for The New Yorker.
The first commercial firm to republish the collection was Editions Poetry London in 1947. Because the original edition consisted of only 65 pages, Nin added another short story, “The All-Seeing,” as well as The House of Incest (her famous 1936 prose poem) and the two novellas from her self-published (Gemor Press in 1942) Winter of Artifice: “The Voice” and “Winter of Artifice.” In 1948, Nin’s then friend and supporter Gore Vidal used his clout to encourage his publisher, Dutton, to publish Under a Glass Bell as well as other Nin fiction. The Dutton edition consisted of the original eight stories, “The All-Seeing,” and four new short stories: “The Child Born out of the Fog,” “The Eye’s Journey,” “Hedja,” and “Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth.” Also included were the two novellas from Winter of Artifice.
In 1957, the collection was republished as a facsimile of the Dutton edition minus the Winter of Artifice novellas by the Anaïs Nin Press. Swallow Press republished the collection of thirteen short stories in the 1960s, but in 1995 the order of the stories was changed, leading to a bit of controversy. In his introduction to the 1995 edition of Under a Glass Bell, Gunther Stuhlmann explains that his rationale for reordering the stories “chronologically” (meaning that since Nin used diary passages as source material, Stuhlmann sequenced the stories in the order of the events that inspired them), his rationale being that Nin’s growth as a writer would then be reflected in this new order.
Benjamin Franklin V, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on Nin bibliography, argued that reorganizing the stories violated Anaïs Nin’s literary intentions in his 1997 article “Noli Me Tangere” (“Touch Me Not”). In his article, Franklin quotes Nin herself from her introduction to the original edition as saying that “Everything is related and interactive,” and therefore the order of the stories was a significant ingredient in the collection’s content—reading the stories in order results in a more enriching experience, and reordering them robs the reader of this effect. Franklin went as far as proposing that the new Swallow Press edition be allowed to go out of print and the original order be re-established in subsequent editions. However, the current Swallow Press edition retains the order that Gunther Stuhlmann had placed them.
When it came time to place Under a Glass Bell on Kindle, an issue that had to be addressed was in what order to place the stories. Sky Blue Press decided to use Nin’s original placement, feeling that her intentions should be honored. So, Under a Glass Bell has come full circle after a 65 year odyssey.
An interesting set of facts compiled by Franklin is below—citations of diary sources that inspired the stories of the collection. (This list was created to illustrate that the current Swallow Press order is not exactly chronological.)
“Houseboat”: Diary II, 119 (September 1936), 126 (September 1936), 127 (September 1936), 129 (October 1936), 168 (February 1937), 176 (February 1937), 303 (Summer 1938), 318 (January 1939).
“The Mouse”: Diary II, 179 (March 1937), 186 (March 1937), 206-08 (Summer 1937), 316 (January 1939).
“Under a Glass Bell”: Diary I, 167-70 (January 1933), 171-73 (January 1933); II, 61 (October 1935).
“The Mohican”: Diary II, 85 (June 1936), 99-101 (August 1936), 134 (October 1936), 165 (February 1937), 257-58 (October 1937), 311 (October 1938).
“Je suis le plus malade des surrealistes”: Diary I, 187 (March 1933), 229 (June 1933), 230-34 (June 1933), 245-46 (August 1933); II, 188-91 (March 1937).
“Ragtime”: Diary II, 104-06 (August 1936).
“The Labyrinth”: Linotte, 3-14 (25 July-12 August 1914).
“Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth”: Diary II, 71-81 (April 1936), 184 (March 1937).
“The All-Seeing”: Diary II, 192 (March 1937), 275-77 (November 1937), 288-89 (January 1938), 295 (March 1938), 315 (October 1938).
“The Eye’s Journey”: Diary II, 162-63 (January 1937).
“The Child Born out of the Fog”: Diary IV, 141 (April 1946).
“Hejda”: Diary III, 225-28 (Winter 1942), 233-35 (Winter 1942), 303-04 (January 1944); IV, 33 (December 1944).
“Birth”: Diary I, 337-49 (June and August 1934).
(Details of book history from Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts by Benjamin Franklin V)
(List from Studies in Short Fiction Fall, 1997)
To see or order Under a Glass Bell on Kindle, click here.
Sky Blue Press has also put the original Obelisk Press edition of The Winter of Artifice on Kindle.
Fact: Beginning in 1914, when Anaïs Nin and her family departed Spain for New York, after having lived temporarily with her estranged father’s parents, she began recording daily events in a notebook given to her by her mother. Nin would later famously say that her intention was to write her father an extended “letter” that she hoped would entice him back.
The diary became the centerpiece of the young Anaïs’s life, and she continued the practice of recording her innermost thoughts and impressions in bound notebooks for a good portion of her adult life. Of course, the diaries she kept during her tumultuous years in Paris with Henry Miller became the basis for her fame as a writer when they were finally released in the mid-1960s. What most did not know then was that Nin had given up the daily practice of diary writing some twenty years previous.
After war forced Nin, her husband Hugh Guiler, and many of her circle, including Miller and Gonzalo Moré, to New York around 1940, she became desperately depressed for years, yearning for the “ideal” lover, success in her art of writing, and eventually descended into a downward spiral of failed love affairs and failed books. She began to express a desire to be free from the diary.
On September 25, 1943, she recorded in her unpublished diary: “I wish I could write the END to the Diary and turn to the outside story,” meaning that she felt her creativity was being sucked dry, which was a theme that had been pounded into her head by the likes of Miller, psychoanalyst Otto Rank, and Gore Vidal.
On September 25, 1943, she wrote: “What a potent awakener the Diary is. As I get ready to leave it, I pay it a slight tribute. This should be the last volume [it turned out she would write one more]. At forty I enter a new maturity, stripped of my mirages, dreams and miracles, of my delusions and illusions and my heavy romantic sorrows. What awaits me is the expression of this strength, in action. I am about to lay down my magician’s wand, my healer’s paraphernalia…and to confront the act, in writing as well as in living. Without the diary…the tortoise shell, houseboat and escargot cover. No red velvet panoply over my head, no red carpet under my feet, no Japanese umbrellas growing on the hair, no stage settings, tricks, enchantments…”
On March 13, 1946, she wrote: “This Diary will end when I find the [ideal] lover.”
On April 1, 1946: “I may perhaps attain freedom from the diary itself, from watching myself live, from having to make stories to make it more marvelous. Freedom from my idealized self, the idealization of others.”
Indeed, by the time Nin made her cross-country trip with her “ideal” lover, Rupert Pole, in 1947, she had abandoned the idea of bound diaries altogether, opting to write occasional descriptions of events on loose paper and keep them in folders along with correspondence and articles. After she became famous in the 1960s and into the early 1970s, her diary became what she called the “diary of others,” since she had no time to write new material. She essentially stopped writing in the 1970s, including fiction.
However, as death approached and she came to grips with it, she kept two hardbound diaries in which she handwrote her thoughts on life and death. One volume was the “Book of Music,” the other the “Book of Pain,” presenting both sides of her final years—the joy of living and the struggle with the cancer that would kill her.
Thanks to Heather for the following:
Myth #3: Anaïs Nin was in therapy with Carl Jung.
Fact: Anaïs Nin was not in therapy with Jung; in fact, she never met him. However, she subscribed to many of his theories, especially when it came to the dream and its meaning, and she often used a quote attributed to him: “Proceed from the dream outward.” Nin used her legendary houseboat, La Belle Aurore, to illustrate the concept, which she mentions in Diary 3. Some twenty years before renting her houseboat, she visited the Maupassant house in Brittany; in the garden was a tool shed made from a boat that had been washed ashore during a storm. This sight reminded her of a recurring dream of boats unable to sail because there was no water. She had a dream about living in Maupassant boat. When she saw an ad for a houseboat for rent, she felt compelled to fulfill the dream by living in it, which, of course, she did.
Nin furthered the theory by writing a story of traveling down the Seine in her boat for twenty years only to return to the point of origin…it turned about to be prophetic, à la Jung, when her houseboat was ordered to be towed away in preparation for the onset of war; she was aboard when it was taken to the place of her birth, Neuilly.
Nin also attributed Jung’s writings for helping her conceive and develop her famous House of Incest.