Children of the Albatross, which has just been published on Kindle, is considered by many to be one of Anaïs Nin’s most beautiful books; it is also a groundbreaker in that it eloquently addresses androgyny and homosexuality, which few literary works dared to do in 1940s America. What follows is an “unprofessional” analysis of the book, in which we are introduced to three of Nin’s most iconic characters: Djuna, Lillian, and Sabina, all of whom represent different aspects of Nin’s character—serenity, earthiness, and the femme fatale, respectively.
This new authoritative edition includes an introduction by Nin, character sketches drawn from Benjamin Franklin’s Nin Character Dictionary, and a complete publishing history of the title.
The novel is divided into two sections, “The Sealed Room,” in which we follow Djuna’s developing perception of sexuality, and “The Café,” in which the nature of each of the three female characters’ relationships with the powerful, omnipotent painter Jay, whom Nin fashioned after Henry Miller.
In “The Sealed Room,” young Djuna is in an orphanage, perhaps a metaphor for Nin’s sense of abandonment by her father at the age of ten, and is confronted by the “watchman,” a vile man who trades freedom for sexual favors. Later she is molested by her dance teacher. Symbolic of Nin’s own struggle to free herself of overly powerful, masculine men (Paco Miralles—dance teacher who tried to seduce her; her father—incest; Henry Miller—emotional betrayal), Djuna’s quest for freedom was for Michael, a young effeminate man (based on her cousin Eduardo Sánchez), with whom she seeks a complete love but fails because of his homosexuality. Djuna encounters Donald (after Robert Duncan), Lawrence (“Pablo” of the diary), and the seventeen year old Paul (Bill Pinckard) with whom she shares a nurturing (and sexual) relationship.
“The Café” brings together the three female characters (Sabina, Lillian and Djuna) with Jay (after Miller), who is a painter with whom all three woman have had a relationship. In this segment of the novel we find out, through the characters, how Nin’s relationship with Miller had different stages and levels. Just as the female characters have conflicts in their approach to Jay, Nin’s internal conflicts regarding Miller ultimately resulted in estrangement. The book concludes after Michael and Donald appear at the café, in effect bringing relationships from various times and places together as Jay drags Djuna from her “cities of the interior” into life.
It is interesting to note that the title “The Sealed Room” is a reference to Anaïs Nin’s house in Louveciennes, France, which had one window that was eternally shuttered and appeared to be present for symmetry alone. The “room” which didn’t exist behind this window became an important metaphor for Nin’s interior vision. She also compared the sealed room to her diary, which was the repository that fed her fiction. This reminds us of the fact that Nin was criticized (and indeed she criticized herself at times) for not being able to invent, to compose fiction purely from the imagination. But what she did was to use the components of the diary as an ingredient in what can be considered a sort of “alchemy,” what she termed a “distillation” that became a unique type of fiction that was, unfortunately, almost totally incompatible with the times (1930s to 1950s) during which it was published.
There are several levels at which her fiction can be read—there is the remarkable and distinct prose, which some compare to French surrealism and which uses words in unique ways (consider the word “ensorcell,” for example); there is the psychological aspect of her writing, in which there is a constant search for identity, the understanding of the dynamics of relationships, and the impact of the past on the present; there is the struggle for self-awareness and self-evolution, which makes her writing relevant to this day. We see ourselves, our struggles, our pain, our hell, in Nin’s work, and when her characters somehow survive and grow, we are inspired. Her work can be considered a mirror in which we see ourselves, which gives it a sort of secret personal touch that is sometimes missing in contemporary fiction. It is also why few can agree on the particulars of Anaïs Nin’s body of work, because we all see it in our own way.
When Children of the Albatross was first released by Dutton in 1947, it met with mixed reviews—one of the usual complaints was that Nin’s fiction is light on plot and heavy in the sorts of things that, although they wouldn’t admit it, the critics simply didn’t understand. In the 1940s, literary critics were looking for realism, sequence, solid characters with solid descriptions. Nin offered none of these characteristics in her fiction and therefore it was difficult to get a decent review or to sell many copies to middle American readers.
Today, because it offers deep insight into Nin’s inner life within its beautifully written passages, it is considered one of her most effective works, and it is also recognized as one of the first American titles by a female author to consider male homosexuality.
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.
This past year has been a busy one when it comes to new Anais Nin-related publications, and we want to make it simple for you to keep up to date. Here is a list of the latest Nin titles available at the Kindle store or app, beginning with the most recent:
ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 4, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann, originally published in 1986. This issue is dedicated to the memory of Nin’s husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, his life and his art, with contributions from art critics, Nin’s brother Joaquin, and Guiler himself. Also included are important letters between Henry Miller and Anais Nin regarding their respective writing efforts, which shed light on the degree of influence each had on the other. Studies of Otto Rank, Nin’s friend Caresse Crosby, ancient Japanese poetry, and Nin’s writing round out the issue. For more on this title, click here.
The Authoritative Edition of The Four-Chambered Heart. The third novel of the Cities of the Interior series comes with an introduction by Anais Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. For more on this title, click here.
The Authoritative Edition of Children of the Albatross. The second novel in the series entitled Cities of the Interior. The introduction is culled from Nin’s own words, and also included are character descriptions, publishing history, and a chronology of Nin’s life and work. For more on this title, click here.
The Authoritative Edition of Ladders to Fire. Anais Nin’s first full-length novel comes with the original prologue, character descriptions, publishing history, and a chronology of Nin’s life and work. For more on this title, click here.
ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 3, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Originally published in 1985; available digitally for the first time. With excerpts from Anais Nin’s diary, the work of Anna Kavan and Julieta Campos; articles by Otto Rank, Philip Jason, Tristine Rainer, et al. For more on this title, click here.
The Novel of the Future. Contains the whole of Anais Nin’s writing theory, beginning with “proceed from the dream outward…” Available as an ebook for the first time.
The Quotable Anais Nin, 365 quotations with citations. A quote for each day of the year, cited with book title and page number—the only such book completely devoted to Anais Nin.
Anais Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts by Benjamin Franklin V. A complete guide to all of Anais Nin’s fictional characters—with descriptions and sources—as well as an index to all quotations from the previously unpublished diaries.
ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 2, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Originally published in 1984; available digitally for the first time. With excerpts from Anais Nin’s diary and articles by Nin scholars Philip K. Jason, Suzette A. Henke, as well as Harry T. Moore.
Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947. After a seventeen year wait, finally the sequel to Nin’s unexpurgated diaries is here. An inspiring and cathartic journey through the many relationships and works of art in 1940s New York. Details about Nin’s connections with Gore Vidal, Henry Miller, Gonzalo Moré, and Rupert Pole.
A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, vol. 11, edited by Paul Herron. Excerpts from Anais Nin’s 1950s diaries; the controversy over Alfred Perlès’s My Friend Henry Miller; articles by Kim Krizan, Jean Owen, John Tytell et al.
Stay tuned–more titles are in the works!
Ladders to Fire, Anaïs Nin’s first full-length novel, was originally published by Dutton in 1946 with a prologue by the author. Since then, it has been in and out of print, and was finally collected in the series of novels, or, as Nin put it, the “roman fleuve,” Cities of the Interior, self-published in 1959. Alan Swallow republished the novel in the 1960s, and Cities of the Interior was republished by Swallow Press in 1974.
Lost in the many incarnations of the book were Nin’s prologue and any sense of connection with the other novels in the series (Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur). What this new authoritative edition offers is a publishing history, descriptions of the main characters (all of whom appear in the other novels in the series), a chronology of Nin’s life and work, and the original prologue by Nin.
As the other novels in the series are recast in the “authoritative edition series,” it is our hope that the collection will finally achieve the “flow” from one novel to the next that Nin originally intended.
To preview and/or order Ladders to Fire, click here.
For more on this title, click here.
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:
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:
In 1939, after publishing two works of fiction in Paris—The House of Incest (1936) and The Winter of Artifice (1939)—Anaïs Nin was forced by war to flee to New York, thus tearing her away from France at a time when she felt herself maturing as a writer and as a woman. Suddenly, she was thrust into the hostile world of New York publishing, not to mention a dreary literary atmosphere heavily influenced by “realism” and “puritanism.” Nin purged much of Artifice, including an entire novella, partly because of the fear of U.S. censors, and partly as a rebellion against Henry Miller’s heavy influence on the text. No publisher wanted the revised book, so Nin purchased her own press and published it herself in 1942, with the help of her Peruvian lover, Gonzalo Moré. She then collected a series of short stories begun in Paris and self-published it under the title Under a Glass Bell (1944). The commercial failure of these two titles and the increasing chaotic nature of her personal life left Nin in such a depressed state that she contemplated suicide on several occasions.
In spite of the tragic nature of her New York life, or perhaps in part because of it, she turned to writing like never before, perhaps as a form of salvation. She began to develop the characters and themes for what she called Cities of the Interior, a continuing series of novels that were intended to explore psychological realities, something Nin was quite familiar with. She self-published the first installment of these novels in 1945 under the title of This Hunger, which was later revised and expanded into Ladders to Fire (Dutton, 1946). In Ladders to Fire, Nin introduces and develops the main characters of her continuous novel: Lillian, Djuna, Sabina, and Jay, all based on real-life personages found in her diary. Neither This Hunger or Ladders to Fire were critical or commercial successes, and Nin had to face the fact that neither critics nor readers could grasp the essence of her work. So, she sought to explain her writing to the masses in two different publications—Realism and Reality (1946, Alicat Bookshop) and On Writing (April 1947, Daniel Oliver Associates; August 1947, Alicat Bookshop).
Realism and Reality, a pamphlet published in a limited edition of 750 copies, begins by explaining that the reason Nin’s writing was misunderstood came from “the fact that I write as a poet in the framework of prose…” She continues by saying that there was a “purpose and form behind my partial, impressionistic, truncated characters.” She compares her writing to modern art, in which “a column can signify more than a whole house, and that one eye can convey more than two at times.” Arguably, a key to understanding her work is as follows: because her “books take place in the unconscious, and hardly ever outside of it, they differ from poetry not in tone, language or rhythm, but merely by the fact that they contain both the symbol and the interpretation of the symbol.”
After the failure of her next novel, Children of the Albatross (1947, Dutton), Nin felt compelled to expand her thoughts in On Writing, another pamphlet, the Alicat edition of which had a run of 1000 copies, 750 of which were for sale. This title includes an essay by a young scholar, William Burford, with whom, Nin says in her unpublished diary, she had a strong affinity in terms of writing philosophy. Because Nin focused on the psychological aspects of her characters, critics were quick to judge her as a chronicler of neurosis, which prompted her to respond in On Writing: “…on the contrary, I not only believe that we are suffering from a collective neurosis, but that this is precisely one of the most urgent themes for the novel today: the struggle between the forces of nature in us and our repressive and consequently destructive treatment of those forces.” This was cutting-edge thinking during the 1940s, a time when the country was preoccupied by the war and its aftermath. As one of the editors who rejected her said, these were not times for “morbid introspection.” Nin’s fiction was doomed to either misinterpretation or out-and-out thrashing, and, worst of all, indifference.
Naturally, perhaps partly because Nin’s two pamphlets were printed in small editions, her audience did not grow beyond a coterie, nor did critics cease to pummel or ignore her work. By the mid-1950s, she felt defeated as a writer, on the verge of giving up hope. It wasn’t until 1966 and the amazing success of her Diary of Anaïs Nin that she was finally vindicated. The immediate and warm response to the diary gave Nin the desire to revisit her long-ignored fiction in The Novel of the Future (1968, Swallow Press), in which much of the contents of Realism and Reality and On Writing appeared. Fittingly, the first line contains Jung’s quotation, “Proceed from the dream outward,” which symbolizes Nin’s approach not only to writing, but to life.
In retrospect, it may seem that having to explain one’s fiction in what amounts to “user’s guides” is problematic. One could argue that asking the reader to look upon fiction in an entirely new way is too great a demand. James Joyce, for example, inspired too many “how to read Joyce” publications to note here, but none of them were by Joyce himself. Anaïs Nin, because of frustration and the terrible notion of being misunderstood, left us such guides, explaining her work as no one else could.
One could also argue that Anaïs Nin’s fiction was the only way she could somehow express the contents of her diary, her chef d’oeuvre, which was unpublishable at the time (mainly because its characters were living). But there is another way to look at the fiction—it was created in a crucible of secrecy, desperation, upheaval, and chaos. All of these factors gave birth to what some Nin critics today believe are among the most unique creations by any novelist—the “distilled” scenarios, the fleshless characters, the dreamlike prose and images, the symbols which, if we sensitize ourselves to them, are universal.
How fortunate we readers are that Nin’s life did not permit her to publish her diary immediately, and how fortunate we are that she felt forced to explain her writing theory.
Beginning with the novel This Hunger, which was later incorporated into Ladders to Fire, Anaïs Nin expressed herself through three key female characters: Lillian, Djuna, and Sabina.
These female characters (as well as certain male characters, such as Jay) appear throughout the five novels in the Cities of the Interior collection: Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur. While all three female characters appear in Nin’s earlier fiction (see Benjamin Franklin V’s Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary), they were redefined and reintroduced in Ladders to Fire. As Nin sought acceptance in New York’s harsh literary climate in the 1940s, she ran into criticism about the lack of realism and plot in her stories, and her characters were declared “nebulous.” Nin’s response to this broad misunderstanding of her work was expressed in two works about her theories on writing fiction: Realism and Reality (1946) and On Writing (1947), both of which were, in part, incorporated into The Novel of the Future (1968).
In this reading, held in Washington, D.C. (the date is uncertain, but it is most likely pre-1966), Nin reads passages from Ladders to Fire and A Spy in the House of Love that serve as introductions to her female characters. Nin also mentions that each of them appear in the “party section” of Ladders to Fire.
Note how Nin never skips a beat (except for a giggle) when someone apparently trips over some furniture while she is reading.
To listen to the nine minute sound clip, click here. (Recording courtesy of The Anais Nin Trust)
For information on each of the novels from Cities of the Interior, see the links below:
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.
Volume 7 (2010) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (the only current Nin journal anywhere) has just been made available on Kindle. In this issue are some amazing articles and excerpts from Nin’s unpublished diary, not to mention an interview with Nin biographer Deirdre Bair and John Ferrone’s account of the birth of Delta of Venus. Eventually, we hope to have Vols. 1 through 6 published as e-books as well.
Our aim is to make the journal easy to obtain no matter where one is, and to make the price one that is easy on the pocketbook ($3.99). There’s nothing like the print version in one’s hands, but the quality, photographs, and extra bells and whistles, such as an interactive table of contents, are all there in the e-book. We hope you will support our efforts!
To visit the Amazon.com location for A Café in Space, Vol. 7, click here.
To see a description of the contents of Vol. 7, click here.
Our other Nin titles on Kindle are: The Portable Anais Nin, 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.
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.