Marguerite Young’s reaction to The Diary of Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin had always favored writers who were outside of what was considered the norm of modern literature, beginning with D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and Djuna Barnes in the 1930s. In the 1960s, Marguerite Young, the author of the massive Miss MacIntosh My Darling, was championed by Nin as a writer extraordinaire of poetic prose. Both before and after the book was published, Nin mentioned Young in articles, a review, interviews and lectures whenever she had the chance. Young repaid Nin the favor by offering to write a “statement” about Nin’s forthcoming The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume One, which debuted in 1966. I have recovered the handwritten draft of Young’s reaction to the diary and have rendered it below without editing. This is indeed a rare gem. Whether the statement was actually used (I find no trace of it anywhere) it certainly does capture the nature of Nin’s writing and how it came to be. The statement was given to Hiram Haydn, Nin’s editor at Harcourt Brace & World, as annotated on the first page of the draft (see the figure below).

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Click to enlarge

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, covering the years 1931-1934, is a fascinating segment of that journal which she began as a Spanish-speaking child who came from a fabulous, sophisticated, and aristocratic European background to live the impoverished life of a displaced person in New York City.

When she stepped off the boat with her mother and two younger brothers who came here because of their abandonment by their father, a famed pianist, the darling of European musical circles—she clutched in her hand that notebook in which, like Henry James’ Maisie, she would tall all she knew of life’s displacements, discussions, and cruel tragedies which needed the illumination of her vision, her intelligence, her compassion, her transmuting imagination.

Like Henry James’ Maisie who triumphed over the childhood sorrows cause by the perversities of tempestuous and temperamental adulthood—in this case, the foibles and fantasies of the wandering father, for mother was a source of peace and strength—the little girl writing down first intuitions and perceptions lived to become that beautiful lady whose portrait we see in the diary—a literary lady who had grown up to fall in love with the beauties of English prose, who became herself a master of lyric style, the visual and the energetic, the luminous revelation of the psyche, ever the psyche dreaming at her glass, returned to Europe as one who is half American, half European. Say that hers is a transatlantic consciousness—she has made many journeys back and forth although probably the one journey which interests her most is a journey into the underworld of memory or a journey across a sea of dreams.

America is fortunate in having at least this quasi-citizen—though we may entertain the suspicion that in Europe she seems the European who never left the place of her beginnings, perhaps because she is a seeker always of origin. And yet by chance we may claim her as most distinctly our—one who gives a new dimension to the crude immediacy of American life, a tone of elegance, that art which is always the most formal thing and which has elicited, because of its insistence upon informative musical tone and precise hieroglyphic image, the admiration and even the imitation of thousands of America writers, particularly the poets and the young experimenters with prose, a prose which should be something more than dull, flat, neutral, uncommitted—a prose which should burn with that personal and impersonal intensity which they have found in her as in the firefly and the star.—Marguerite Young

Anaïs Nin’s long-lost erotica Auletris is now in print after a 66 year wait: click here for details.

Marguerite Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Anais Nin’s diary

Marguerite Young with the manuscript of Miss MacIntosh

Marguerite Young with the manuscript of Miss MacIntosh

Marguerite Young, author of Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, a book that Anaïs Nin championed, lived a few blocks away from the apartment on Washington Square in New York that Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler inhabited. Nin describes her first impressions of Young, recorded in the fall of 1959:

Her smile and her talk are enchanting. They are a continuation of her writing, an accompaniment to it. There is an extraordinary force of her imagination and language there… Her hair hangs absolutely straight on each side of her face. She monologues, without pauses… Everyone in her eyes is beautiful. She endows all her friends with beauty; but her own charm lies in the kaleidoscopic variations of her imagination, her power of storytelling, her human warmth. (The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 6)

As the friendship between Nin and Young grew, Nin and Guiler often recorded their phone conversations with Young. On November 15, 1964, more than a year before Anaïs Nin’s Diary 1 was published, Young called Guiler to give her reactions to the manuscript, which Guiler apparently had lent her.

This conversation captures Young’s prophetic predictions about the impact Diary 1 would have—money, fame, a youthful following—most of which came to pass after the diary’s release in 1966, ending Nin’s long history of obscurity.

Guiler, when he could get a word in (Young, as Nin noted, was a monologist), also expresses the uniqueness of the writing (an enthusiastic response in spite of the fact he elected to not be included in any of the diaries).

The conversation turns to Nin and Guiler’s “New York dog,” Chico, who was ill, revealing the compassionate natures of Guiler and Young.

To hear the 11 minute conversation between Young and Guiler, click here.

Thorvald Nin: Anais Nin’s brother

Anaïs Nin valued writer Marguerite Young’s opinions about her as-of-yet unpublished Diary 1, which begins in 1931, just before the 28 year old Nin met Henry Miller. While Young understood why Nin and her editor/agent Gunther Stuhlmann decided to begin the first published diary at that stage of Nin’s life (because it was arguably the most interesting period), she still expressed a desire to know more about Nin’s early years and her family members, all of whom are briefly mentioned in the diary for the sake of background.

In this revealing conversation, Young gets Nin to open up about her feelings towards her brother Thorvald, her mother, and her father. Nin explains how, as a child, she knew everything about her father’s infidelity and that when he left the family at Arcachon in 1913 he would never return.

She reveals why she felt Thorvald had estranged himself from the family, and Young offers her own rather surprising opinion, as you shall hear.

In response to her Aunt Anaïs’s remarks, Thorvald’s daughter, Gayle Nin Rosenkrantz, says, “I must respond to the theory about my Dad’s going into the business world. My poor Dad had no choice in the matter. His mother made him turn down a four year engineering scholarship at Cornell and told him he had to get a job to help support the family. He was obedient. He went into business because that is all an 18 year old boy could do. Get a ‘go-fer’ job in a bank and hope it leads to something. Believe me, he was broken hearted.”

Thorvald Nin, ca. 1950 (click to enlarge)

Thorvald Nin, ca. 1950

She adds that Thorvald “was never ‘estranged’ from his family. He always remained loving towards his mother and [his brother] Joaquín. He helped support his mother throughout her life. He was not a great letter writer, that is for sure, but ‘estranged’ is not the right word. When I was growing up we never lived in the States so we never saw my grandmother or Uncle Joaquín or Aunt Anaïs except during the brief times we spent in New York in between living in one Latin American country or other. When we were there we did spend time with both Anaïs and Hugo and Grandmother and Joaquín, and I remember in particular how warm and caring Hugo was with us. In the late 40s and early 50s Anaïs and sometimes both Anaïs and Hugo would come to Mexico and spend time with my Dad and his second wife Kay quite often. When Kay and Dad retired and moved to Florida, Anaïs and Hugo visited them off and on. Now my Dad was critical of Anaïs, no doubt about that. He did not think she was a ‘good’ writer and thought her novels were impossible to understand. He also knew that she was not living a straight and narrow domestic life, and because he cared for and admired Hugo, he disapproved of her infidelities. He talked about this to me when I was much older and long after Anaïs died. When I was growing up, Dad never discussed Anaïs in a hostile manner.

“My Dad loved music so even though he himself was not a professional musician, he did appreciate the arts. He always remained close to Joaquín.

“When Anaïs started publishing her diaries, in the 1960s, my Dad very clearly requested that she not include anything about him. She ignored that, and he was furious. The last time they saw each other was in San Francisco in 1971 for the Mass of Dedication of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary. Joaquín had been commissioned to compose the music for the Mass so Dad and Kay flew in from Florida and Anaïs came up from Los Angeles. [My husband] David and I took everyone out for dinner that evening and the exchange between Dad and his sister was not pleasant for the rest of us. So, yes, my Dad became estranged from his sister, but not from the rest of his family.”

To listen to the 16 minute conversation between Anaïs Nin and Marguerite Young, click here.

Other related posts

For more on Nin’s parents, click here.

To hear Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Nin’s diary, click here.

To listen to Nin read “Under a Glass Bell,” click here.

To listen to Nin reading about her fictional characters Lillian, Djuna, and Sabina, click here

To see all Nin titles available as e-books, visit our e-bookstore.

To purchase books from Anaïs Nin’s Silver Lake collection, click here.

New Anaïs Nin anthology coming soon

We are only a few weeks away from the release of a new collection, The Portable Anaïs Nin, which will appear on Kindle in the coming weeks. It will be the first full-length anthology of Nin’s writing since Phil Jason’s The Anaïs Nin Reader (1973).

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Anais Nin with her self-published Under a Glass Bell

Editor and compiler Benjamin Franklin V notes in his introduction, “Since [the publication of The Anaïs Nin Reader]…the number of Nin titles has approximately doubled, with eleven new volumes of the diary and two books of erotica being most important. Now, the time seems right for another sampling of Nin’s work, not only because of the existence of this new material or because almost forty years have passed since the publication of Jason’s book, but also to encourage a reconsideration of Nin’s writing, which no longer attracts the dedicated readership it did in 1973.” Another consideration is that The Portable Anaïs Nin will appear in conjunction with several new Nin titles on Kindle, acting as a sort of guidebook to her work, helping to gain the new audience Franklin envisions.

Franklin’s philosophy is to include entire passages of Nin’s work in The Portable Anaïs Nin, including titles of fiction such as House of Incest. Soon, we will post the table of contents here, and will provide regular updates on the book’s progress.

In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, where we are about to do something along the lines of what was done to promote Marguerite Young’s Miss MacIntosh, My Darling: Nin and several others read the entire 1200 pages on the New York radio station WBAI over the course of a year. In this light, I feel Anaïs would approve of our tweeting her House of Incest, 140 characters at a time, to celebrate The Portable Anaïs Nin.

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. 

Anais Nin reads “Under a Glass Bell”: an audio recording

Anais Nin circa 1970

Anais Nin circa 1970

By the time Anaïs Nin returned to New York in late 1939, driven from Paris by the war, she had already begun writing a series of short stories that would be collected under the title of Under a Glass Bell. According to Benjamin Franklin V’s Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts, Nin self-published (Gemor Press) the original collection in 1944, which contained the following stories: “Birth,” “House Boat,” “Je Suis le Plus Malade Des Surrealistes Antonin Artaud,” “The Labyrinth,” “The Mohican,” “The Mouse,” “Rag Time,” and “Under a Glass Bell.” For the 1948 Dutton edition, Nin added the titles “The Child Born out of the Fog,” “The Eye’s Journey,” “Hejda,” and “Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth.”

Before Nin released her now-famous diaries in 1966, she spent decades promoting her fiction, sometimes by reading passages or entire stories during lectures—in this case it is the title story “Under a Glass Bell.” It is very possible that this audio recording was made not long after Swallow Press re-released the collection in the early 1960s.

The story, as Nin reads it, is reminiscent of the incestuous isolation that is the theme of her first fictional work House of Incest or Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles. Nin’s delivery gives the story a dimension that may otherwise be undetectable. It is advised to empty your mind and let Nin’s words take it on a short but fascinating journey.

To listen to the 18 minute sound clip, click here. (Courtesy of The Anaïs Nin Trust; all rights reserved)

To listen to Young and Hugh Guiler discuss Nin’s diary, click here.

For more information on Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To order the digital version of Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To order the print version of Under a Glass Bell, click here.

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our e-bookstore.
To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit The Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Anaïs Nin and the inauguration of Two Cities

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In the winter of 1958/9, Anaïs Nin wrote: “When Larry Durrell wrote to me in Paris to look up Jean Fanchette, and I did, I did not know that he was giving me a link with France. I sat waiting at the Deux Magots, and there came a young and beautiful Negro, slim, not tall, delicate features like those of the Haitians, small straight nose, soft, warm eyes and a sensuous mouth. He was a student of medicine. He published a small newspaper for medical students. He had just received a prize for his poetry. He was full of charm, with a balance between earth and poetry. He had written a critique of Durrell, and Durrell had spent much time with him in Paris” (Diary 6 190). Fanchette, a Mauritian, was in the process of creating the bilingual (French and English) literary journal Two Cities. He told Nin that he’d already garnered promises from Durrell, Henry Miller, George Sykes, Richard Aldington and others for contributions. The meeting would not only shape the future of the publication, but it also resulted in a roller-coaster friendship between Nin and Fanchette, punctuated by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Inspired by Fanchette’s praise of her work, Nin readily agreed to help Two Cities get off the ground. The inaugural issue came out only months later, April 15, 1959, and Nin was not only a contributor, but the “American Editor,” one of the dozen editors listed on the title page.

At the time, Henry Miller, according to his then wife Eve, was “dissolving,” cut off from his source of inspiration: Paris. In a letter to Nin, she wrote, “Henry needs France. This hunk of veritable Paradise [Big Sur, California] in which he’s put down taproots is insidious for him, and he refuses to recognize it… He is another person in Europe. How long can an artist feed on himself? The stimulus is there, not here” (Diary 6 178). Miller’s decision to write for Two Cities and to revisit France was vigorously encouraged by Eve, who confided that part of her insistence was based on her own growing annoyance with the “inertia” of life with him in Big Sur: “I doubt he has ever asked me once, in these entire seven years together, what my hopes and dreams might include!” (Diary 6 178) The trip and the article did come to fruition, but the marriage, like all of Miller’s marriages, was doomed. Some time after Eve and Henry Miller were divorced, Eve committed suicide. There is debate whether the years spent with Miller had contributed to this tragedy.

Nin said, “I helped the magazine. I was grateful for Fanchette’s understanding. I count him as my best friend in France. The magic link. It was strange that at the time I felt bad to be returning to the same old constellation, Miller-Durrell. It seemed like regression.
But then I realized it was not a return to Miller and Durrell, but to France and to Fanchette. The present asserted itself
” (Diary 6 180).

What also enticed Nin was Fanchette’s comments about her work: “The gift of Anaïs Nin is to name and define the alchemy of body and soul, to explore the roots of obscure instincts, define them” (Diary 6 180). Statements like this were sustenance to a writer who’d been denied for decades by the publishers and critics, and she, out of a mix of desperation and gratitude, gravitated to those who fed her including Fanchette. Her feelings are described in a letter from Nin to French agent Marguerite Rebois: “Jean feels something will happen [with my work] after Two Cities appears because he is writing an article on l’Art d’Anaïs Nin. This is to me a symbolic link with France. As you know, the reason I have been so obsessed with getting published in France is that I was afraid that my failure in America would influence all of Europe, and it has. I have been made to feel that I belong there, not here, and want to return there gradually” (Diary 6 175-6).

Fanchette went a few steps further in ingratiating Nin—he not only flattered her by asking her to help with Two Cities, but also offered to present her novel Spy in the House of Love to his publisher in Paris, and, if it were accepted, would translate it into French. In return, Nin began to dispatch letters to her literary friends, encouraging them to contribute to Two Cities. In a letter to Durrell, she said: “This month I gave my energy to Two Cities, which will be good for all of us. I want to thank you for introducing me to Jean Fanchette. His friendship is a delight” (Diary 6 182).

Lawrence Durrell and Jean Fanchette

Lawrence Durrell and Jean Fanchette (courtesy of Veronique Fanchette and www.jeanfanchette.com. All rights reserved.)

By the time Two Cities came out, it had morphed into a partial “hommage à Lawrence Durrell,” with Miller’s article, “The Durrell of the Black Book days” leading off, followed by Alfred Perlès’s “Enter Jupiter Jr,” Frederic J. Temple’s “Contstruire un mur de pierre sèche,” Richard Aldington’s “A note on Lawrence Durrell,” and Edwin Mullins’ “On Mountolive: Durrell answers a few questions.” The rest of the issue contained articles not associated with Durrell, including Nin’s “The writer and the symbols,” and Fanchette’s “Pour une préface,” the article Nin mentioned to Rebois, which lauded House of Incest (1936) and Solar Barque (1958, later incorporated into Seduction of the Minotaur), and much of what written in between. He proclaimed Spy in the House of Love her best novel. Undoubtedly, Fanchette won Nin’s allegiance with this article, but there was already trouble brewing.

Nin’s unconditional acceptance of Fanchette’s offer to promote not only Spy but her other titles to French publishers rankled her young agent, Gunther Stuhlmann, who was trying to organize Nin’s work into a cohesive package to be presented in a consistent manner. His approach ran counter to Nin’s, who had historically (and mostly unsuccessfully) used friends and contacts to get her work out. In a letter dated April 29, 1959, Stuhlmann, who’d usually handled Nin with kid gloves, blasted her: “At this point, we can’t just give [Fanchette] carte blanche with the other books—he was only involved with Spy as I recall… I firmly believe we ought to conduct all business discussion as to terms and contracts etc. through our office and subject to your and our scrutiny so that we go not get into [a] situation which would be embarrassing to all of us” (A Café in Space Vol. 3 110).

In an undated letter some weeks later, Nin wrote to Stuhlmann complaining of Fanchette’s refusal to publish some of Nin’s friends’ articles, which caused her great embarrassment: “It is so discouraging that I offered to resign. Then he threatens me with loss of his friendship!” (A Café in Space Vol. 3 112). In spite of this, Nin continued supporting Two Cities, even asking Stuhlmann to find an American distributor, which he reluctantly agreed to do (although was not successful). In the meantime, Fanchette’s failure to so much as return the articles Nin had solicited from her friends was causing rifts between them and her, and she was losing patience. In the fall of 1959, she wrote to Fanchette, telling him she could no longer continue as American Editor of Two Cities, but that she would send along good writing when it came along. She continued, “I begged him to send me the material he did not want to use. I explained I was losing friends and creating enemies for Two Cities. No answer” (Diary 6 205).

By the fall of 1961, more than two years after Fanchette’s agreement to translate Spy in the House of Love, the result was what she termed “rough,” which frustrated Nin since she was trying to market the novel in Europe as a source for a movie script. (Despite years of trying, Spy was never made into a film). Around the same time, she reported a drunken Fanchette shouting to her in Paris: “I met you too late. You could have been my first mistress, the mistress one never forgets!” (Diary 6 293).

Two Cities continued to be published until 1964, with Nin friends such as Daisy Aldan taking turns at editorship. Two Cities ETC (Paris) released a limited edition of Letters to Jean Fanchette1958-1963 by Lawrence Durrell. Subsequent Fanchette publications included his poetry volumes Identité provisoire in 1965, Je m’appelle sommeil and La visitation de l’oiseau pluvier in 1977, as well as essays and a novel. His poetry was anthologized by Stock shortly after his death in 1992, under the title L’Ile Equinoxe, a new edition of which has recently been released by Editions Philippe Rey, Paris, with a preface by J.M.G. Le Clézio, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 2008.

While the relationship between Nin and Fanchette had ended on a sour note, she reminisced in her diary more than a decade later: “The Diary has one blessed function. When a friendship breaks, the good is erased. Only the disappointment is engraved in the memory. In the Diary, I found the friendship with Jean Fanchette intact, in its period of honeymoon” (Diary 7 312).

[Qualifying statement: One of the most consistent questions regarding diary content–especially Nin’s–is whether it should be considered fact. Nin said that her truth was “pyschological” and not literal. Her comments and portraits of characters appearing in her diary are, in part, her creations, something she readily admits. Therefore, when Nin describes a personage, it must be remembered that it is her version–she rarely wrote with the idea of pleasing those populating her diary. This blog is largely based on the diary and therefore anything that is repeated therefrom must be regarded through the lens of how the diary came to be–part of Nin’s intimate thought process, a tool for her survival in a world she often felt unfit for habitation.]