The Birth of Anaïs Nin’s Writing Theory

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.

Both Realism and Reality and On Writing are available today in The Portable Anaïs Nin, which is available in both e-book and print form.

Anaïs Nin: Typical Wife or Master of Illusion?

Volume 9 (2012) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal has been released on Kindle. The print version is coming soon as well. This issue explores the details of Nin’s early “trapeze life,” the swinging back and forth between her New York husband and Los Angeles lover, which was to last for 30 years. Kim Krizan, the Academy Award nominee for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, visited the UCLA archives and shares the fascinating discoveries she made in her article “Anaïs Nin: Typical American Wife—life with Rupert Pole, 1953.” Not only does Krizan discover that after six years with Pole Nin finds herself in the same role she was in some thirty years earlier with her young husband Hugh Guiler—a “typical American wife” baking pies, tidying the house, shopping, mending—but unlike the Guiler relationship, the one with Pole was punctuated by hypnotic sex scenes so powerful that, in spite of her better judgment, Nin was compelled to create an elaborate double life, one that would last until her final days.

Also in Volume 9, to complement Krizan’s article, are excerpts from Nin’s 1950 diary and correspondence to Pole from the same time period. “The Tree and the Pillar,” culled from Nin’s diary, gives us an idea of what Nin thought about her
relationship with Pole and how conflicted she was about it. Consider this passage:

Five years ago I began to use naturalization as one of the many myths to justify my departures. Americanization. Divorce. Jobs. Lectures. Magazine work. Publication of books. Christmas holidays with my family. Illness of [my brother] Thorvald at a New York hospital. Problems of A Spy in the House of Love. Disguises. Metamorphoses to cover my trips—my other life. The questions put by Rupert are answered with more lies. Only the passion and the love are true, so deeply true, so deeply true—but do they justify the lies told to protect it?

This should be a joyous moment, a moment of finding each other again after I conquered all the obstacles which pull me away. [Rupert] does not know each return is a victory, that each return has taken great efforts, great planning, great lavishness of acting in New York.

When one considers the fact that Nin not only had to create an impossibly complicated scheme to keep Pole unaware that she was still married to and living with Guiler in New York, but she had to convince Guiler that her trips to California were for the sake of her health and her writing—and she had to do this each and every time she made her trips from one to the other—and she kept it up for nearly three decades—it is mind-boggling, to say the least.

To give the reader an idea of how far Nin went to maintain this lifestyle, a selection of letters written to Pole explaining her trips to New York are presented. Entitled “A Web of Lies,” a term Nin herself used to describe them, these letters are so detailed that it seems impossible that they could be almost pure fabrication. All of the jobs she describes, and the people with whom she works, the writing she does for various magazines, her residences, are fictional, and yet she keeps up a narrative that accommodates all of seemingly illogical twists and turns of her schedule (usually caused by changes in Guiler’s plans), why Pole was not allowed to call her (because she was with Guiler and not in some friend’s apartment), and where the money she was bringing in was coming from (she claimed her work brought it in, whereas it was Guiler’s money), etc. This short snippet of correspondence is a mere fraction of Nin’s efforts to keep up the façade.

And how was Nin able to develop such ability for spinning webs of lies? Nin scholar Simon Dubois Boucheraud writes of Nin’s “fake diary,” which was one of Nin’s earliest attempts to keep her husband unaware of the fact that she was having
an affair, this time with Henry Miller in Paris in the early 1930s. Guiler had read one of Nin’s diaries that described a sexual encounter with Miller. In order to counter this stunning turn of events, Nin’s plan was to keep a fake diary which she hoped Guiler would read “by accident,” one in which she writes of how the diary Guiler read was actually a diary that contained her fantasies. This so-called “real” diary, which was actually fiction, would then cause Guiler to think the actual real diary was fake. It is an amazing journey with incredible detail—and it foreshadows her future “trapeze life.”

We will include further explorations of Volume 9 of A Café in Space in future posts.

To order Volume 9 from the Kindle store, click here.

Press release for Anais Nin: The Last Days

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2011

SKY BLUE PRESS ANNOUNCES THE EBOOK PUBLICATION OF
ANAIS NIN: THE LAST DAYS
A MEMOIR
BY BARBARA KRAFT

San Antonio, TX   “I have chosen to reveal the intimacies of Anaïs Nin’s last days as I witnessed them so that the story of her death is not lost. Everything comes back in the mind’s eye. Everything comes back in the crucible of the heart. She remains in my psyche all these years later as the most refined and rarified human being I have ever encountered.”

Thus begins Barbara Kraft’s memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days. With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Kraft has done what no biographer, no scholar, no film could do: capture the humanity, mortality, and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is available on Amazon’s Kindle, and soon the Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, as well as other e-book-friendly devices such as the iPhone and will be available through nearly every credible device worldwide.

Anaïs Nin, noted for her diaries and erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. Quickly, the two became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Kraft’s impending cataclysmic divorce and Nin’s terminal cancer. The circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and untiring part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of life.

As Kraft observes,

“Illness is the great leveler from which none of us is immune. It flushes out all the old, buried truths and puts us in touch with the essential meaning of things. There is no time, no energy for masks, veils, labyrinths, interior cities, or multiple hearts. Death hovered over her, the one reality that Anaïs could not transcend or transmute or transform or levitate with the magic of words. It was a reality she met with a dignity that tore at the heart of all of us who knew her and were close to her.”

Kraft describes her initial meeting with Nin in February 1974, writing that Nin was poetry embodied and seemed to “glide” over the rose-colored carpet of her Silver Lake home “like a swan skimming the surface of still waters.” And in December of that year, Kraft begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer. She describes Nin’s vivid dreams during this period, her many trips to a healer in the Mojave Desert, and her frequent requests that Kraft wear her dresses when she went out, saying, “You will take my spirit with you out into the world.”

Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft captures expertly. She poignantly records not only Nin’s stubborn grip on life, but also the heroic efforts that Rupert Pole, Nin’s west coast lover, made to shield her from the inevitable pain, agony, and humiliation associated with the disease. It is a monumental tribute to not only those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.

The very personal events in this book can be appreciated by anyone who has gone through terminal disease or know someone who has. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.

A former reporter for Time, Washington Post, People, USA Today, and Architectural Digest, Barbara Kraft is author of The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini, with a preface by Anaïs Nin, and the recently published memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, which Nin biographer Noel Riley Fitch calls “intimate and beautifully written.” Kraft’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly, and Columbia Magazine, and among the many radio programs she has hosted and produced is Transforming OC, a two-part documentary on the 2006 opening of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Kraft lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.

Sky Blue Press, established in 1996 by Paul Herron, is “dedicated to the preservation of literature as art,” and strives to achieve this goal with each publication. Titles include Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors (1996); To Purify the Words of the Tribe: The Major Verse Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1999); The Winter of Artifice: 1939 Edition by Anaïs Nin (2007); A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (2003-present); and e-book versions of Anaïs Nin’s fiction, including House of Incest, Under a Glass Bell, and A Spy in the House of Love; The Portable Anaïs Nin (2011); and Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (2011).

To purchase Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Website: www.skybluepress.com
Contact: skybluepress@skybluepress.com

Cyber Monday and beyond: Promoting Anais Nin

Anais Nin with Gunther Stuhlmann, 1959 book-signing

There were few self-promoters as tireless as Anais Nin. When she wasn’t doing interviews, lectures, readings, and book signings, she was plotting new ways to get her work in the hands of readers.

In Paris during the 1930s, she partnered with two emerging modernist writers, Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, and together the “3 Musketeers,” as they called themselves, published 3 books in the “Villa Seurat Series,” named after the street where Miller’s apartment served as their headquarters.

In New York, when no one would publish her work, Nin bought a manually powered printing press and published her own work as beautifully crafted books. She joined forces with Frances Steloff, whose Gotham Book Mart was central to the Village counterculture literary scene.

During the 1940s, Nin began what would become a powerful vehicle for selling her books: lecture tours and readings. Slowly, she began to amass a small but passionate following despite the literary establishment’s failure to pay her any attention or respect.

At the end of the 1950s, Nin began a professional relationship with German expatriate literary agent Gunther Stuhlmann, whose never-say-die attitude and methodical approach finally began to break through to a larger public–first, publisher Alan Swallow undertook all of her fiction, and then, after Henry Miller had become famous in the USA after the obscenity trials allowed him to publish his banned books, Miller’s letters to her were published in 1964, bringing her the attention of a wider public. This set the stage for the release of her first Diary of Anais Nin in 1966. The rest is history. Nin then expanded her lectures, readings, and interviews, using auditoriums, films, recordings, radio and TV stations to express her message to a now adoring audience. She continued this until illness finally brought it to an end in the mid-70s.

Anais Nin and her press, 1940s

After her death, it was left to others to promote her work, and admittedly there has been and never will be such an effective advocate as she. However, we continue her work as best we can. We have just celebrated Cyber Monday, and I know in my heart that Anais would have embraced this concept and would have taken advantage of it somehow. With that in mind, we are offering her work here at Sky Blue Press for attractive prices, and if you want to get Anais into your hands, this is a good opportunity. It is also a great chance to get her into the hands of your friends, loved ones, and colleagues, the uninitiated. There is little doubt that Anais Nin’s writing has been a positive influence on those who are fortunate enough to have found her, and we strive to widen the circle.

We are offering The Portable Anais Nin, the new print version, which contains the best of Anais’s writing, chronologically arranged; Anais’s only banned book, the original 1939 version of The Winter of Artifice; all issues of A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, and more.

Visit http://www.skybluepress.org for details.

ANAIS NIN’S STUDENTS, A CELEBRATION

ANAIS NIN’S students read their work and discuss her impact on their lives
Featuring NANCY SHIFFRIN, LEAH SCHWEITZER, and NAN HUNT.

310.822.3006 info@beyondbaroque.org
681 Venice Bl., Venice, CA 90291
December 16, Friday 7:30 PM

NANCY SHIFFRIN is a poet, critic, and teacher. She earned her MA studying with ANAIS NIN. She earned her PhD at The Union Institute studying Jewish-American Literature. Her work has won awards and honorable mentions from The Academy of American Poets, The Alice Jackson Foundation, The Poetry Society of America, The Pushcart Prize, and The Dora Teitelbaum Foundation. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Canadian Jewish Outlook, Religion and Literature, Humanistic Judaism, New York Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, and numerous other periodicals. Her books are what she could not name (poems), MY JEWISH NAME (essays), and her most recent poetry collections: THE VAST UNKNOWING and GAME WITH VARIATIONS UniBook.com. Through Creative Writing Services, her literary arts consultancy, she helps aspiring writers achieve publication and personal satisfaction. She teaches English at Los Angeles Valley College. Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~nshiffrin/

With the encouragement of ANAIS NIN, LEAH SCHWEITZER has conducted classes and workshops in journal writing and creative writing since 1976. She is the co-editor of the poetry anthology Without a Single Answer [Judah Magnes Museum Press, 1990], and has participated in readings and programs for such venues as Beyond Baroque, Elderhostel, L.A. Poetry Festival, Valley Contemporary Poets, Black Oak Books, Skidmore and Goucher Colleges, the Sculpture Gardens, Venice Jail, and at many local arts conferences. Her work appears in such publications as Bitterroot, Apalachee Quarterly, CQ, Small Press Review, Shirim, The Otto Rank Journal, Confrontation, Crosscurrents, The Skirball Cultural Center Magazine, Ariel, Heshbon, The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, The New L.A. Poets, and The Sculpture Gardens Review. She considers her time as a student of ANAIS NIN to be among the defining moments in her writing and teaching life.

NAN HUNT has taught for over thirty years: poetry, writing workshops, and college English. She innovated Jungian-based writing workshops for the UCLA Extension Writing Program: “Trusting the Spontaneous Voice” and “Tygers & Medusas, Writing the Transformation of Anger”. Due to the success of these classes, she was invited to lecture and/or teach one-day to two-week workshops in more than thirty-five U.S. and European cities. She was presenter and panelist for Associated Writing Programs in Albany and Portland. Her poetry has appeared in over one hundred publications, including Poets On, Slant, Beloit, Poetry Journal, Southern California Anthology, New Millennium Writing, Kyoto Review, Poet India, (M)other Tongues, The Oregonian, Shelia-Na-Gig, and as finalist in Nimrod and Comstock Review. She has received poetry fellowships from Harcourt Brace, Centrum, Suffield College, and Hambidge Center for the Arts. The Wrong Bride is her recent collection of poems.

The Genesis of The Portable Anais Nin

The idea of The Portable Anaïs Nin came from Gunther Stuhlmann, who was Nin’s literary agent and co-editor of her Diary of Anaïs Nin. At the time, which was in the mid-1990s, he felt that too much attention was being given by biographers and critics to the sordid side of her love life, and not enough to her work. Complicating all of this was the release of her unexpurgated diary Incest, which covered not only adult-onset incest with her father, but also the fact that she’d had a long, horrifying abortion of a late-term child, both of which she wrote about graphically. This combination of biographies and unexpurgated diaries naturally turned attention to the “verboten” aspects of Nin’s life rather than her literary achievements.

Review of one of the Nin biographies (click to enlarge)

Stuhlmann proposed an anthology that would “introduce a new generation of readers to the writer Anaïs Nin rather than to the ‘personality’ which has been distorted and denigrated in recent years… I visualize a handy volume which creates an overall view of the many facets of Nin’s work and ideas by drawing on her actual writing.” In short, he wished to return the attention to the art, and through the art, the artist.

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems of Nin publication is the way they were presented originally. Nin not only had the need to write about her life, even early in her career, she longed to share the diaries with her readers. For obvious reasons (the fact that the nature of her life meant multiple deceptions and lies to her significant partners), she could not possibly have published the diaries as they were. Her first attempt to express what she’d written in secret was through her fiction, which was mainly a veiled version of her life and its principle personages. This she found unsatisfactory, and the critics agreed. While there is plenty of psychological truth in the fiction (which in itself makes it valuable), it was still smoke and mirrors, illusion, and vague.

Nin struggled for years to find a way to publish her diaries, and it was only late in life that she came up with the only possible solution: to offer extremely expurgated versions of them, versions that would not hurt those still living. Her husband, Hugh Guiler, asked to not be mentioned, which added another complication, because she could only recount her life without mention of the husband who financially and emotionally supported her (this omission was ammunition for attack by feminists, who were attracted to her in the first place because the diaries made it appear she’d live an independent life). So, seven volumes of heavily edited diaries appeared on the market, and it was left to readers to “read between the lines” to figure out that Henry Miller and her own father were among her many lovers. When the unexpurgated diaries came out posthumously (beginning with Henry and June in 1986), several of Nin’s friends, fans, and associates felt betrayed. The revelations are many, and some of them are stunning. I remember being invited to a get-together of some women who’d thought they knew Anaïs Nin until the unexpurgated diaries came out. Some of them refused to believe that their Anaïs was capable of such atrocities, especially incest. One of them said, “I think Gunther Stuhlmann and Rupert Pole concocted those passages themselves just to make money.” No one seemed to disagree.

This fractured approach to Nin publications eventually led to the point where the world seemed to turn against what was once the champion of self-discovery, the lover of life, the one who refused to despair, the one whom an entire generation admired for daring to seek and tell the truth. Reviewers of the biographies and the unexpurgated diaries didn’t bother to review the books—instead, they laid judgment on the author’s life. Lost in all of this was the work.

Gunther Stuhlmann’s proposal for The Portable Anaïs Nin was rejected by certain publishers who by that time had formed some harsh opinions about Nin, and it was placed in a folder and filed away in a drawer. After Stuhlmann’s untimely death in 2002, his wife, Barbara, discovered the proposal while sorting through the massive amount of documents he’d left behind. She sent it to me. There were only a couple yellowed pages in the folder, but the idea was as fresh and as important as it had ever been. I contacted Benjamin Franklin V, who is the world’s foremost Nin scholar and bibliographer, and he was overjoyed with the idea of a new anthology. After months of painstaking work of selecting, introducing, and annotating selections from the entire spectrum of Nin’s writing, Stuhlmann’s vision was realized. The Portable Anaïs Nin was first released as an ebook, and now it is finally available in print.

It is, as Stuhlmann envisioned, “an open invitation to an engaging literary adventure trip, which could, and should, gain an entirely new audience for Anaïs Nin’s work.”

To order a print copy of The Portable Anais Nin, click here.

To order a digital version of The Portable Anais Nin, click here.

To see our complete list of available Anais Nin ebooks, click here.

To order books from Anais Nin’s and Rupert Pole’s Silver Lake Collection, click here.

Anais Nin’s Artistic Associations: Maya Deren

In his article  “Multiplying Women: Reflection, repetition, and multiplication in the works of Maya Deren and Anaïs Nin,” which appears in in A Café in Space, Vol. 8, Satoshi Kanazawa (director of the Henry Miller Society of Japan) describes how the Nin and Deren first met:

In the summer of 1944, when she and her friends were taking a walk on the beach of Amagansett, New York, Anaïs Nin encountered a strange scene. A woman was lying on the shore, letting herself be pummeled by the waves while two people filmed it. Later, Nin found out the woman was Maya Deren, an avant-garde filmmaker, who was filming the opening scene of At Land (1945).

Maya Deren in At Land (1945)

Nin was naturally attracted to Deren and eventually got so involved with her films that Deren wrote a part specifically for her in Rituals in Transfigured Time (1946).

Kanazawa sums up Deren’s three most significant films:

The three most outstanding of Deren’s short films, Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, and Rituals in Transfigured Time, remind us of Buñuel’s 1930s surrealism. With only these three 15-minute silent movies, she paved the way for new expression by younger filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas, John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch. The consistent theme of these works is the splitting and multiplication of the Self. How the Self, which is essentially supposed to be “one,” is transformed into “many” is superbly documented through dreamlike images.

Mirror images were used to reflect the “splitting and multiplication of the selves,” as illustrated by the following still from an unreleased film:

This imagery and expansion of the doppelganger theory espoused by psychoanalyst Otto Rank, to whom Nin said in therapy that she “felt like a shattered mirror,” certainly would have appealed to her. It was with great faith that Nin entered into the filming of Rituals of Transfigured Time in August of 1945. Once the film was finished, however, Nin rebelled against Deren, claiming that she had “uglified” her and everyone else in the film (many of whom were Nin’s friends). Kanazawa notes that the following diary quote was the “kind of challenge to American naturalist realism [that] is quite familiar to the readers of Anaïs Nin”:

“The camera can be a lover, or a hater, or a sadist, or a defamer… It lies” (Diary 4 351). Nin went on: “The quest for ugliness is one I never understood. Was it because Americans were for the most part born in ugliness, familiar with it, and had grown to love it, or because they associated beauty with the undemocratic upper class, art, the past, Europe, and repudiated it? The American definition of realism was ugliness. To avoid being accused of creating illusion, they always showed the same ugly view of everything. Maya magnified the skin blemishes, the knotted nerves, the large ears; she stressed the oily surfaces, the thyroid white of the eyes, the baldness or the pimple. Maya’s actors happened to be beautiful. She uglified them. I had never seen as clearly as in Maya, the power to uglify in the eye behind the camera” (353).

Kanazawa notes that perhaps Nin should have reconsidered the poem Deren wrote her when the filming began:

For Anaïs Before the Glass
By Maya Deren

The mirror, like a cannibal, consumed,
carnivorous, blood-silvered, all the life fed it.
You too have known this merciless transfusion
along the arm by which we each have held it.
In the illusion was pursued the vision
through the reflection to the revelation.
The miracle has come to pass.
Your pale face, Anaïs, before the glass
at last is not returned to you reversed.

This is no longer mirrors, but an open wound
through which we face each other framed in blood.

August 19, 1945

Kanazawa notes: For Deren, to stand before the mirror is to look into an open wound and see the bloody figure. Always facing her mirror-diary, Nin should have recognized “this merciless transfusion.”

Nin practically disassociated herself from Deren after Rituals in Transfigured Time, although she credits her for having inspired other filmmakers with whom she worked, most notably Kenneth Anger, in whose film Inauguration of the Pleasuredome (1954) she appeared.

While today Deren is hailed as a groundbreaking filmmaker whose influence can be seen even today, it must be remembered she died largely forgotten and impoverished in 1961 at the age of 44.

For more on Maya Deren, visit Moira Sullivan’s Maya Deren Forum.

To order the print version of A Cafe in Space, Vol. 8, click here. To order the Kindle version, click here.
Check out Sky Blue Press’s SUMMER SALE at their new bookstore: http://www.skybluepress.org

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.

Letters from the trapeze life of Anais Nin

ruperttavi

Rupert with Tavi

From 1947 until her death thirty years later, Anaïs Nin lived what she called the “trapeze life,” swinging from Hugh Guiler, her husband in New York City, to Rupert Pole, her lover and then husband (although not legal since she never divorced Guiler) in Los Angeles. By the time the letters that appear in A Café in Space, Vol. 5 were written, Nin had lived her double life for more than a decade and was well rehearsed in the sort of deception she needed to maintain it.

Pole was under the impression that Nin was working for Eve magazine for $100 a week in New York and for twice that when she was “assigned” to Paris. In fact, while Nin had written for Eve, she was never an employee. Her trips to New York had little to do with the magazine business—they had to do with Hugh Guiler. Her Paris trips were gratis, thanks to Guiler’s bank position, and they were put up in the posh Crillon Hotel at the bank’s expense.

During 1960, Rupert Pole was in the middle of the construction of the fabled Silver Lake house, designed by his half-brother, Eric Wright. Being on a teacher’s salary, he naturally felt that it was necessary for Nin to “work” in New York and Paris to help pay for the place, so, while he detested being apart from her, he accepted the situation. Of course, most of the money Nin brought to Pole was Guiler’s, since Guiler believed he was supporting her during her “healing” trips to California.

Pole sometimes became suspicious of Nin’s trips, questioning the logic of some of her scenarios, and she struggled to keep him at ease. Her letters were at once tender and gentle, and yet she laid out what she was about to do in no uncertain terms, always coming up with the right things to say in order to justify her actions. She used whatever worked, and she never gave quarter. (Her letters to Guiler, incidentally, were in much the same vein—tender, newsy, placating, even loving—but they relentlessly supported her choices.)

Following are a couple samples of the Nin-Pole correspondence from A Café in Space, Vol. 5, which has just been released on Kindle. Pole is in California, taking care of his ailing cocker Tavi (the same dog that accompanied Nin and Pole on their first cr0ss-country trip in 1947) while Nin was in Paris.

Letter from Rupert (Spring 1960, Los Angeles)

My Love:

Quel jours! After wrote you from beach took Tavi to McWherter’s today (Monday after school) hoping he could help but fearing he’d want to put him to sleep. He’s having same thing with his mother so was very sympathetic—”Tiger” he called, but Tavi so limp and listless and not like a tiger at all—but Mac gave him another kind of injection (to “feed” the brain) and said lots of cockers have lived through strokes!! Said I could give him a little water after—thank god as the ice bit was really getting me down—also he can have a little ice cream to keep up his strength—so I tore down to get some only to find he didn’t like it—but he does seem little better today and is functioning normally (I take him out and hold him up to wee wee). School is not difficult—I’m just as glad to have him in the car where he can’t hurt himself.

Hurried home to fix things Reginald liked (he called yesterday night late to say he had to talk to me) then called him to find he was feeling much better and thought he’d go down to Dorothy’s and wait for her to come home!!!

Sooooo threw out the last of the suki yaki vegetables in ice box (which had gone bad) and settled down to eggs, carrots, and the chipped beef which Tavi can’t eat.

To relax decided to go to the Bergman “Brink of Life.” Wow what a mistake—why didn’t you tell me!!! Labor pains, abortions, death—went through it all with them as Bergman’s actors always force you to do—how did he get those scenes?? And that was the actress on the operating table, not someone dubbed in. Even the second film (French) was hardly the relaxing kind—the hero—a wonderful man with liquid eyes and a mustache like Gil’s—guillotined before the camera at end just after he finds his love!!!!!!

But all this—loveless marriages—children with no father—love aborted by the guillotine—only makes me realize more and more and more how very wonderful our love is—and how very precious.

That damn insurance thing you always send—always starts me thinking what life would be like without you—and each time I realize it would be completely lifeless—it would be no life at all—much worse than Tavi’s life now—where he is at least spared pain—and thought—and of course he long ago stopped worrying about love…

But not his master—take good care of the master’s love—and return it soon—unchanged.

Ever

R

***

Letter to Rupert (Spring 1960, Paris)

Darling chiquito:

Your letter about Tavi upset me so much I was sad all day. Just before I left I whispered in his ear that he should wait for me and keep well. I had an intuition, and I wrote you about it—I was at Grazilla’s and seeing her dog I worried about Tavi—I know what he means to us, yet darling, old age is so cruel it is better to not be alive—and the Tavi we knew lately was not the real Tavi. He has had much love and care—more than any dog I know. You know, he often wobbled to one side—he must have had a slight stroke before—I hate to think of Tavi being ill when I am not there to console you, to greet you when you come home. I hope perhaps it was a false alarm—and he may be all well now—I thought of you all day. Got your letter in the morning.

At 5 o’clock the English Book Shop started its autograph party. All sorts of people came—old friends—new ones—writer, poets, Sylvia Beach, Harold Norse, Mellquist, an art critic who gave me introduction to biggest Swedish newspaper, etc. A Negro singer like Josephine Premice—painters, etc. We stayed until 9 o’clock. I was dead and hungry—then 8 of us went to dinner—small place. Fanchette got drunk and talked a lot of nonsense. 2 girls from Vienna who couldn’t talk at all, then on to Deux Magots where I dumped them at midnight—too many people. I returned wishing to be in my little home with you—realizing more than ever I am made for intimate life—not public life. I’m tense and not happy with most people. I need the tropical warmth of my Acapulco marriage, life “a deux.”

I hope I get another letter before I leave Saturday—The French never heard of Madrebon Roche [a drug]! I thought I could buy it cheaper here. It must have another name. I can get LSD from Jean Fanchette who is working at psychiatric hospital—perhaps.

Te quiero chiquito—love to Tavi…tell him to wait for me.

A

To order the print version of A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5, click here. To order the Kindle version, click here.
Check out Sky Blue Press’s SUMMER SALE at their new bookstore: http://www.skybluepress.org

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.  

Alan Swallow: Anais Nin’s publisher

On the surface, the match between writer Anaïs Nin and publisher Alan Swallow seemed perfect. Both were passionate about their work, neither of them trusted the world of big-time publishers, and both had struggled long and hard to achieve what they had. In fact, Swallow predicted the collaboration would be a “good wedding of work and publisher.”

By the time Nin wrote to Swallow in 1961 about becoming her publisher, she and her agent, Gunther Stuhlmann, had vainly struggled for years to find an American publisher for her body work, and Nin was on the brink of giving up [see Anaïs Nin and Gunther Stuhlmann, “The Incubation of Fame: Early correspondence,” A Café in Space, Vol. 3, pp. 100-126]. Swallow was a self-made man, a tireless optimist and a workaholic who, in the early years, ran his operation out of his Denver garage. He’d made a success by the sweat of his brow and by giving everything he had—to his health’s detriment—to his business. He was an inspiration to many, a folk hero to small publishers far and wide, and was completely devoted to his authors.

Alan Swallow, publisher

Alan Swallow, publisher

When Alan Swallow was presented with the chance to become Anaïs Nin’s publisher, he jumped at it, plunging in with enthusiasm and bold plans to revamp the presentation of Nin’s fiction. In recently found correspondence included in Volume 4 of A Cafe in Space, just released on Kindle, we witness the birth of the form in which the fiction exists today as Swallow took up the many bits and pieces that had been haphazardly published over the years into a cohesive collection. He did, however, unknowingly step into a longstanding situation with high innate entropy—years of failure, starts and stops, and bad business habits—against which he fought mightily. He had to plead for information, tried to keep up with Nin’s bicoastal habits, and had run-ins with Gunther Stuhlmann concerning the logistics of existing catalogues versus new publications, money, costs, storage, and all the other details of taking over a huge responsibility with a highly disorganized and fractured structure. Swallow’s letters indicate his ability to think on the run, to cover all the bases, and they also reflect incredible honesty and a remarkable willingness to comply with demands that taxed him greatly, especially those of the monetary kind. There is little doubt he put his author first, even when it hurt, a fact that was not lost with Nin and Stuhlmann.

The relationship between Nin, Stuhlmann, and Swallow, however cordial it usually was, was not void of controversy. Swallow’s letter of December 2, 1964 to Nin leaves little doubt he’d felt betrayed by both Nin and Stuhlmann when Swallow was bypassed as a potential publisher of Letters to Anaïs Nin by Henry Miller (who had just won his obscenity trials, clearing the way for the publication of his Tropics and other books the USA) in favor of the mainstream publisher Putnam: 

And then I find that the letters are sold, and by this time the whole idea of cooperation and a joint imprint was forgotten. Perhaps they object at Putnam (which, by the way, has become a despicable publisher); perhaps it was just more convenient to make the arrangements that way. Neither you nor Gunther ever told me; I never heard another word about the idea.

Now then, next step: undoubtedly the letters will sell and will bring attention. The name of H. Miller is now magic. Even the corner shoeshine boy, if he would publish this, would sell it! But once it is ready to go, then it has to be “big time” or whatever the conception is. I want to register right now this notion: I do not want it held up in any way that the sales of the H. Miller letters will indicate what a big time outfit can do that a small time one can’t—first, because anyone can sell that book, not because of its value (which I think it undoubtedly has, although I’ve seen none of the work) but because of the name; so it is no test. I, too, could sell thousands and thousands of that book and more quickly than I will sell, note, thousands and thousands of your former books. Second, because the ice has already broken, just as I predicted it would. Too late, in one sense, but just right for Putnam to grab onto it. In fact, a part of the success they will have with that book will be due to my work—and I don’t mind saying that I resent it like the devil…

Alan Swallow died only weeks after the release of what would become Nin’s vehicle to fame: the Diary, in which at least he was named co-publisher with Harcourt. Swallow Press continues to publish Nin’s fiction today in association with Ohio University Press.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 4, click here
To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 4, click here.

Volume 4  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore. 

Anais Nin and Henry Miller collections for sale

Recently a private collector in Manhattan decided to part with his massive collections of Anais Nin and Henry Miller books, which includes rare and first editions, some of them signed, and many of which simply cannot be found elsewhere. The collections have been catalogued by Clouds Hill Books in New York, and we are posting them here. A representative of the bookstore tells me that while the collections can be purchased in their entireties (asking price is $12,500 for the Nin collection and $17,500 for the Miller), they will also consider selling particular titles, or groups thereof, separately. If you are interested in knowing more about these collections, Clouds Hill Books can be reached by calling 212-414-4432 or by e-mailing them at cloudshill@cloudshillbooks.com.

Clouds Hill Books tells me that they soon will be offering substantial D. H. Lawrence and Lawrence Durrell catalogues, both from the same collector. We will post them when they are available.

Also, Nin scholar and friend Marion Fay is offering up her own personal collection of Nin materials, which includes personal correspondence, books, and other items of interest. If, after viewing the catalogue, you are interested in any of the items, you may contact Fay at marionf5@earthlink.net.

To view each collection, click the appropriate icon below:

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Click this icon for the Miller catalogue

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Click this icon for the Nin catalogue

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Click this icon for Fay's Nin collection

I should mention that we are doing this gratis, out of respect of those who have enough interest, passion, and devotion to put together such substantial collections by these iconic authors.

Also, don’t forget that the Anais Nin Trust has offered every title from Nin’s LA house to the public: visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

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