Anais Nin Reads: Lillian, Djuna, and Sabina

Promotional photo for This Hunger

Promotional photo for This Hunger

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:

For a complete list of digital Nin titles, visit our e-bookstore.

 

 

 

 

 

An Impromtu Reading by Anais Nin (played by Elyse Ashton)

Elyse Ashton

Elyse Ashton

Plans to stage Doraine Poretz’s play Anaïs Nin: Woman of the Dream are moving ahead. Fundraising has begun on kickstarter.com, and the campaign will continue until June 2, 2011; all investments are greatly appreciated. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in the summer.

To promote the play, Elyse Ashton, who will portray Nin, spoke at a recent reading of stories and poetry entitled “A Woman’s Voice” that Poretz organized at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.

Poretz comments: One of the speakers listed was Elyse Ashton, the actress, and the members of the audience had assumed she would be coming on as herself reading one of her stories. I announced, however, that Elyse, alas, couldn’t make it but that astonishingly enough I had run into the writer/diarist Anaïs Nin near her home in Silver Lake, and she generously agreed to come by to speak to the theme of women and creativity. And so, I introduced Elyse/Anaïs, who goes on to say, as you will hear in the video, how happy she was to have the chance to speak, especially since she knew about the “wonderful play that Doraine had written” and how impressed she was that the actress was a “mirror image” of herself! Anyway, it was a wonderful end to a great reading. What Elyse/Anaïs read were excerpts from the book A Woman Speaks, which I had received years ago from Rupert [Pole] with an inscription that from Anaïs’s point of view, it should have been entitled “A Woman Speaks Too Much!”

While most of the audience “got the joke” that “Anaïs” was actually an actress, apparently some were unaware that Anaïs passed more than 30 years ago and commented on how good she looks!

The 11 minute video can be viewed by clicking here.

For a former post that mentions a reading of the play that was presented during the summer of 2010, click here.

For a look at Nin titles available digitally, visit our e-bookstore.

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.

The Story Behind A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal

The inaugural issue of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, which celebrated Nin’s 100th birthday, is now available on Kindle.  This is the story of how it came to be.

After Gunther Stuhlmann, who edited the amazing 19 annual issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, died in 2002, there was suddenly a severe vacuum in Nin studies. Stuhlmann had planned a special centennial issue of ANAIS for 2003, and even began gathering material for it when he became seriously ill and had to abandon the project. After encouragement from several Nin and Miller scholars, this editor decided to create a new Nin journal that would pick up where ANAIS left off. Because Nin described Richard Centing’s and Benjamin Franklin V’s Under the Sign of Pisces as “a café in space” in which the literary community could gather, we were inspired to so name the new journal.

In February of 2003, I traveled to France with the intention of visiting famous Nin sites, especially her birthplace in Neuilly-sur-Seine and the house in Louveciennes, which Henry Miller called “the laboratory of the soul.” I was fortunate enough to find the Neuilly house newly refurbished, probably looking much as it did when Nin was born there. But the most amazing stroke of luck was being invited to the Nin house in Louveciennes by its new owner, actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, with a group of distinguished guests, one of them a famous actress from the Comédie-Française. After having spent more than a decade wishing for the chance to enter this fabled house, after watching it

From left: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Genevieve Casisle, Anne-Marie Thomas, at Louveciennes

From left: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Genevieve Casisle, Anne-Marie Thomas, at Louveciennes

decay to the point where it was being considered for demolition, to be inside the house on Nin’s 100th birthday, toasting her with a group of people Nin would have admired, was nothing short of miraculous. Of course, I took dozens of photos and recorded each moment of the day, and wrote it up for A Café in Space. (Click here to see a previous post on the Louveciennes visit.) On top of this, I met Claudine Brelet, who was a close friend of Lawrence Durrell, and she took us on a nostalgic tour of Montparnasse. She agreed to write an article about the special places that Durrell and Miller frequented, through which readers can experience the tour themselves.

I was able to contact some of the contributors to the never-to-be-finished issue of ANAIS, including veteran scholars such as Franklin, Lynette Felber, Phil Jason, and others, all of whom agreed to partake in the first issue of A Café in Space. Furthermore, after attending a centennial Nin conference in California early in 2003, and after hearing talks given by author Janet Fitch and Kazuko Sugisaki, Nin’s Japanese translator, I was able to collect article versions of the talks for the new journal. Fitch’s talk, titled “No Women Writers,” describes how she discovered Nin after her a junior high school substitute teacher declared that there were no important women writers. “He challenged the class to think of a single one… And then a girl in the front row raised her hand, I can still see her, her frizzy ash-blonde hair, her plump arm, waving, and she asked, What about Anaïs Nin? …And I ripped off a note which I passed up the row… WHO IS ANAÏS NIN?” The girl “corrected the spelling and sent it back, saying, ‘Read the Diaries, they’re incredible!’” The rest is history, and Fitch says that Nin’s influence is present in her famous novel White Oleander.

After the conference, we took a drive up to Oakland, CA to visit with Nin’s last surviving family member, her brother Joaquín Nin-Culmell, who, although he’d suffered a stroke shortly beforehand, was incredibly lucid, welcoming, and enthusiastic. He took us on a journey back to his childhood, explaining how cruel and selfish his father was, how Anaïs was protective of her brothers, how the family was instructed by the mother to speak only French in the household in order to keep alive their native language after coming to America. He showed us photographs and artifacts from the past, but the sight of his piano sitting silent in his living room was haunting—since his stroke, he neither played nor listened to music again. Less than a year later, he was gone. How fortunate it was to catch him on that day, a clear, warm, sunny day, the aura of which shined through Joaquín’s face. Not having originally planned to, I ended up writing up the occasion (“An Afternoon With Joaquín Nin-Culmell”) for A Café in Space.

But what about Anaïs Nin herself? What would she contribute to A Café in Space? Serendipity once again played a role in this: I was given a portion of Nin’s unpublished 1940s diaries, and in it I found passages that epitomized Nin’s first years in America after fleeing war in Europe. Disillusioned and disconnected to anything vital, she was drowning in depression and despair when she met a young and somewhat naïve young man from Iowa, who’d arrived in New York to seek artistic freedom. His youthful zeal and exuberance were exactly what Nin was lacking in her life, and thus began a torrid affair. The entire experience Nin summed up in one word: “Mirage,” a word which could be applied to her entire existence in New York.

John Dudley, 1940

John Dudley, 1940

After reading about Nin’s affair with the young John Dudley, I couldn’t help but wonder if a photo of him didn’t exist somewhere. Nin’s descriptions were vivid, but one likes to have a real image with which to compare them. Only weeks before the publication of Vol. 1, I was in Massachusetts gathering up boxes of back issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, which I’d volunteered to distribute. I opened a desk drawer (with permission) and discovered a pile of photographs that had, I imagined, been set aside for future issues of ANAIS. Among them was a young blond man standing, smiling, in front of what looked like a plantation house. Was the house Hampton Manor, where the affair occurred? Was the young, vivacious man John Dudley? I collected this and several other photos, and after some research, I discovered that yes, these were indeed of Dudley. I had barely enough time to submit them before publication.

Looking back on all this, I can say that nearly everything in the first issue of A Café in Space was the result of bonne chance.

To see further information and/or to order a print version of  Vol. 1, click here.

A Café in Space, Vol. 1, 2003, the Kindle version, can be ordered here.

Vol. 1 joins Vol. 6 (2009) and Vol. 7 (2010) on Kindle. More issues will be available in the coming months.

Renate Druks and Ronnie Knox: an unlikely affair

Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal has arrived and is ready for ordering.

We began discussing some of the articles in Volume 8 with a post on Reginald Pole, Nin’s “father-in-law,” and we continue with another, a film treatment by Tristine Rainer entitled “The Bohemian and the Football Player,” which examines the unlikely relationship between Renate Druks, a painter nearly 40 years old, and Ronnie Knox, a dashing but disturbed 24 year old athlete who had been drafted by the Chicago Bears after starring as UCLA’s quarterback.

Rainer and Druks had met through their mutual friend, Anaïs Nin, and remained friends long after Nin’s death in 1977. Rainer told Druks that her relationship with Knox seemed to be a great idea for a film. Druks responded that she was no writer, that Rainer would have to write the script. In the end, Rainer arranged for Druks to tell her story to a tape recorder and then transcribe the recording into text. After compiling a large stack of paper, Rainer edited it into the film treatment. While the film was never made, the treatment reveals in detail, and in Druks’ raconteur style, the nature of an impossible marriage between her and Knox. Knox, for starters, was afraid that his image would be ruined if he went public with his older, bohemian wife. So, he kept it secret, going as far as renting an apartment in Los Angeles, where he rarely stayed, to convince others he was single.

Renate Druks, Ronnie Knox, Anais Nin

Renate Druks, Ronnie Knox, Anais Nin

In spite of the odds, Renate Druks and Ronnie Knox had bursts of joy and many humorous adventures, some of which Nin incorporated into her final novel, Collages. There is truth in the following passage, in which the characters Renate and Bruce (modeled after Knox), are trying maneuver their sailboat in Holland:

They traveled for a while down the rivers and canals, admiring the soft landscape, the browns and greys so familiar from Dutch paintings. Then the motor sputtered and died. They were in the middle of a swift flowing river, becalmed.

The boat ceased to follow a straight course. Every now and then, like a waltzer, it took a complete turn in the middle of the river.

Its erratic course did not discourage the barges passing by with cargoes and racing for the locks. They traveled at full speed alongside the sailboat, not noticing that Bruce and Renate were rudderless, and that they might at any moment circle in the path of the swift sliding barges.

At one moment the sailboat skirted the shore and Bruce maneuvered it towards the right into a small canal. At this very moment the motor revived and pushed them at full speed under too low a bridge. Scraping this they continued to speed past quiet small houses on the shore. Bruce now could not stop the motor.

It had regained its youthful vigor. He stood on the bridge and remembered his western movies. He picked up a coil of rope and lassoed one of the chimneys of a passing house. This stopped the runaway sailboat but drew a crowd around them.

“Crazy Americans,” said someone in the crowd.

A policeman came towards them on a bicycle.

“You damaged a historical bridge.”

“I didn’t know it was historical,” said Bruce.

“You will have to appear in court.”

The irony of the story is that Knox wanted badly to be a bohemian writer, while Druks’ college age son wanted to be “normal,” as he perceived Knox to be. Knox gave up his football career to pursue writing, at which he failed, while Druks’ son went to college, where he was unable to fit in. The end result was tragic.

To see a web site devoted to Renate Druks’ art, click here.

To see another post on Druks, click here.

To further explore or order Volume 8, click here.

Feb. 21: Anais Nin’s Birthday

To celebrate Anais Nin’s birthday, February 21, 1903, this page gives you a chance to easily locate the related information we have posted in the past. If this is your first time here, we hope you enjoy the summaries of Nin’s birth, her family background, and her place of birth, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

Feel free to comment if you have further information or questions.

Post 1: Anais Nin’s French and Danish ancestry

Post 2: Anais Nin’s Spanish and Cuban ancestry

Post 3: Anais Nin’s parents: Joaquin and Rosa

Post 4: Anais Nin’s birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine

Post 5: Anais Nin’s birth: the certificate

Post 6: Anais Nin’s 13th birthday

Celebrate Anais Nin’s birthday by purchasing one of the books (some extremely rare and out of print) from her and Rupert Pole’s personal collection at the Los Angeles house.

Or, if you are digitally inclined, visit our Anais Nin e-bookstore.

We celebrate Anais Nin’s birthday every year with a new issue of the only current Anais Nin literary journal, A Cafe in Space. To order your copy, click here.

Anais Nin’s D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study on Kindle

In the late 1920s, Anaïs Nin discovered English novelist D. H. Lawrence, whose intuitive approach to writing about sex she found astounding. She was amazed at how he, a man, was able to accurately express a woman’s feelings, and how he wrote from the entire being, including the unconscious. Lawrence, in the end, would have more to do with how Nin developed her own writing than any other, including Proust or Miller. Ironically, Nin’s love of Lawrence spurred her to declare she would “go another [way], the woman’s way” in her writing at the conclusion of an iconic discussion with Miller and Durrell in 1937 (Diary 2 231-233).

D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

Nin wrote an essay about Lawrence in 1930 entitled “The Mystic of Sex.” At the urging of a friend, she submitted it to Canadian Forum, which accepted and published it under a pseudonym. In Early Diary 4, Nin says: “Let me think only of praise of ‘my’ Lawrence coming out in print, under a remote name, not my own yet—Melisendra. Who is Melisendra? Looking in from the outside, only at the writing, as people will, what image will they see? What new me will they create, and I, like a dutiful actress, live out?” (327). So, Anaïs Nin was finally in print for the first time, and yet she dared not share her name, perhaps due to fear of scandal (Lawrence was considered a pornographer, a pervert, by many at the time).

Nin was going through a personal turmoil during this period, having suffered a devastating unfulfilled relationship with writer John Erskine, growing discontent within her marriage, frustration with her role as hostess to her husband’s wealthy and stuffy clients, and a growing sense of sensuality that both envigorated and tortured her. Lawrence’s writing was a sort of literary fuel for the fire. She threw her passion into her study of Lawrence and began to accumulate notes on his fiction. After unsuccessfully submitting several short fiction pieces to Paris publisher Edward Titus, she blurted out to him that she was writing a book about Lawrence. He immediately expressed interest and asked her to show him her work—the problem was that she only had a scattered pile of notes. In an amazing thirteen days, she assembled and rewrote her notes and presented Titus with the manuscript of D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, a title intended to reflect the fact that Nin was no academic. This was a courageous act, perhaps a bit impulsive, for a young woman to write a book about one of the most controversial authors of the time. The finished book contained a deep understanding of Lawrence’s work, and it also revealed Nin’s own thinking about writing, the sensuality and psychology of it.

Many critics, even to this day, have declared D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study the best criticism of Lawrence ever written—indeed, Lawrence’s wife Frieda told Nin she considered it the best.

Broken up into chapters based on Lawrence’s background, philosophy, and religion; his views on women, death, and primitivism; his poetry and major titles including Women in Love and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Nin concisely provides the reader with the essence of his writing and the intentions behind it. She reveals how he revolutionized modern writing by writing across the entire spectrum of the human being. She states:

When the realization came to the moderns of the importance of vitality and warmth, they willed the warmth with their minds. But Lawrence, with the terrible flair of the genius, sensed that a mere mental conjuring of the elemental was a perversion.

So here are his people struggling to achieve complete life and a sincere understanding of the gods in the center of our bodies.

Imprisoned in our flesh lives the body’s own genie, which Lawrence set out to liberate. He found that the body had its own dreams, and that by listening attentively to these dreams, by surrendering to them, the genie can be evoked and made apparent and potent.

In her chapter entitled “Woman,” Nin expresses what is now considered to be a feminist point of view, not only on her part, but on Lawrence’s as well. She says:

The woman for whom the phallic worship is only half of creative divinity is the builder-artist. Lawrence was not meddling with that builder-artist direction taken by women, but with the woman within the builder-artist. Woman pure and simple—or neither pure nor simple.

She quotes Lawrence as saying:

“[W]omen are not fools…they have their own logic. A woman may spend years living up to a masculine pattern. But in the end the strange and terrible logic of emotion will work out the smashing of the pattern, if it has not been emotionally satisfactory.”

She concludes with:

He confides in the intuition. He battles for the clairvoyance of it, through many chaotic pages. And this is purely a feminine battle. His moments of blind reactions strike a response in women.

Having touched the fundamental sources of woman’s attitude and impulses, the rest would naturally follow. It is not the first time that artists and poets have come closer to the woman than other men have. But it is the first time that a man has so wholly and completely expressed woman accurately.

D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study can be purchased for $3.99 on Amazon.com by clicking here.

To see digital Nin titles , visit our continually updated Anaïs Nin e-bookstore by clicking here.

New Anais Nin Literary Journal issue coming soon

Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal will be released after Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday, February 21, 2011.

websitecoverimageThis issue contains letters from Anaïs Nin, Hugh Guiler, and Rupert Pole, between 1975 and the end of 1977. Never seen before, these letters shed light on two very important considerations near and just after Nin’s death: first, the degree to which Nin’s marriage with Guiler had deteriorated; second, the amazing alliance Pole and Guiler forged after Nin’s death. Guiler’s very first letter begins:

Dear Rupert: As we are going to be communicating with each other from now on I think it is well that I do what I can to make things as easy as possible for us both, and I want to start by being quite frank with you.

And then he reveals that he had been aware of the “special relationship” that Pole and Nin had “for more than ten years.” In what could have been a bitter exchange, Guiler instead reached out to Pole, and the two men developed mutual sympathy and ultimately respect. Volume 8 contains the first two letters between Pole and Guiler and subsequent correspondence as well.

Nin’s illness and subsequent death was the backdrop for this group of letters, and her illness was something she never publicly discussed or wrote about, except in her unpublished diaries, The Book of Music and The Book of Pain. Now, one of Nin’s friends during the last two or three years of her life, Barbara Kraft, has written a memoir entitled Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, from which the preface and first chapter are included as an introduction to this difficult and mostly unknown period.

Most of us are aware of the effect Nin’s father’s abandonment had on Nin’s love life, of the psychological need to re-conquer him through other men, and finally by trysting with her father himself. But there were other ramifications as well, which Kim Krizan highlights in her article, “Anaïs Style.” Nin is known to have dressed exotically, to have created her own outfits, to always have stood out from the crowd no matter her age. Where did this fascination—and even obsession—come from? Krizan insightfully makes a connection between the scars left by Nin’s father’s abandonment—and perhaps just as importantly, his exclamation of “How ugly you are” when she was ill as a little girl—and her need to dress beautifully, to “de-uglify” herself. Using quotations from the childhood diary, Krizan makes her case that Anaïs Nin’s lifelong fascination with style was actually an act of self-healing.

Tristine Rainer, a friend of Nin’s, was also close to another Nin friend, Renate Druks, the heroine of Nin’s final novel, Collages. In a sometimes humorous and sometimes distressing film treatment, Rainer uses Druks’ own commentary to tell the saga of her torrid affair with a young and tragic sports hero, Ronnie Knox, in her “The Bohemian and the Football Player.”

Also in this issue are criticisms of Nin’s writing by Nin scholars Joel Enos and Sonya Blades; a critique of the relationship between Nin and Maya Deren by Japanese scholar Satoshi Kanazawa; an analysis of Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Henry and June for his movie of the same title by Anita Jarczok; a recollection of Rupert Pole’s father, Reginald Pole, by Harry Kiakis (followed by the editor’s research on the once-famous Shakespearian actor); the introduction to The Portable Anaïs Nin by Benjamin Franklin V; photography, art, fiction, poetry, and reviews.

A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 8 will be released in a limited edition, so be sure to reserve your copy now. You may order in three ways: by credit card; with PayPal; or by snail mail. Price is, as always, $15.00.

Reginald Pole, Anaïs Nin’s “father-in-law”

Reginald Pole with Rupert, 1920s

Reginald Pole with Rupert, 1920s

Reginald Pole, who was Rupert Pole’s father, referred to Anaïs Nin as his “daughter-in-law,” since he, like Rupert, believed that Anaïs and Rupert were legally married (when they married in 1955, Nin was married to Hugh Guiler, her first and only legal husband). Nin mentions Reginald in some extended passages in her Diary 5, passages that contrast his apparent genius for the stage and his dark, self-destructive personality. In A Café in Space, Vol. 8, which has just been released, Reginald Pole is highlighted in two different articles, one a personal recollection by Harry Kiakis, who was an acquaintance of the then elderly Reginald, and another which includes passages from Nin’s published and unpublished diaries and excerpts from a memoir by Reginald’s great love, Beatrice Wood, about their personal relationships with him.

All three writers witnessed Reginald’s quirky habits, his dozens of bottles of medicine surrounding him in darkened, musty hotel rooms, his penchant for wandering the streets late at night and sleeping until noon, his always-declining health which prompted Nin to consider him a manifestation of death, his clinging ways, his manipulativeness.

And yet, Reginald Pole, born in England, was once a heralded Shakespearian actor, a director, a writer, a playwright, working with John Barrymore and Boris Karloff and garnering rave reviews in the early part of the 20th century and the respect of the best in the stage business. His uncle was William Poel (a misspelling of his name that stuck), who revolutionized how Shakespeare was represented on the stage. Exposure to his uncle and an education at Cambridge, where, with Rupert Brooke, he founded the Marlowe Society, led Reginald to the stage quite naturally.

After a long but spotty career, Reginald died in the 1960s after a mostly agonizing physical life, torn by loneliness and ill health. Much of his work on the stage is largely forgotten, never having been recorded, and most of what is written about him centers on his formidable idiosyncrasies. Through excerpts from a long-lost essay by Reginald entitled “The Essence of Drama,” which was published by the English review Service, we can perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of his great mind. He begins:

Reginald Pole in character

Reginald Pole in character

The theatre is the playground of the human soul. Upon its stage all dreams of beauty that are expressible in terms of the physical brain of man may be brought into visible realization. It is the focusing point wherein can be merged the experiences of varied units of consciousness. Here is the true round table where the thoughts of the world’s great Art Templars are pooled. Here is the synthesis of all emotional forces that seek their freedom in the world of Art. For the Theatre is the congenial host of all the arts. None is unwelcome, for each here has its field. And to obtain the fullest power of life each art must welcome the service of its fellows.”

He criticized European and American theatre:

“America has reflected the best, and at times the worst, of Europe. As yet there is nothing new. That is to come. In the West the soil is fertile, and waits but for the grain… Modern Europe is not at all behind the Athenians. But the enormous output of theatrical trade and commerce tends to blind the issue. Yet the theatres and motion-picture houses, which make convenient sitting rooms for our tired and jaded neighbors, have no more in connection with the art of the theatre than the same neighbors’ photograph-albums have with the art of Rembrandt, or the clothes they wear with Byzantine tapestries. We must take them for granted, we who love the theatre, and pursue our own course free and unafraid. For that which we follow has the power that shakes the world.”

He concludes with:

“‘Art and Religion mutually condition each other,’ wrote Wagner; “these two form but one single organism.’ Every true artist knows this in his soul. The mission of Art, as that of Life itself, is to regenerate, or to fulfill, the Life of Man. Only with such aim is the greatest in art achieved. Only with such aim shall the Theatre fulfill itself, that man may be one with Nature, likest God.”

Beatrice Wood noted in a letter to Nin after Reginald’s death, “I, like you, sensed his heights and wish he could have stayed there…”

To see more or to order Vol. 8, click here.

New Year’s Day, 1933: Henry Miller on Louveciennes

After Anaïs Nin had spent several days with her lover Henry Miller at her suburban Paris home in Louveciennes while her husband was away, she noted that although Miller recorded endless notes on Paris, he had never do so with Louveciennes. So, uncharacteristically, she entrusted him with her diary, and a part of what Miller wrote in it follows.

Jan. 1, 1933. I left Henry alone with my journal in the cave and prepared for bed because I wanted to rested for Hugh. Henry drank a bottle of Anjou and wrote the following:

New Year’s Day, putting the finishing touches to my notebook of Paris, record of the first three years—in the quiet of Louveciennes. Anaïs pasting her eyes, her hair comb on my loose-leaf pages and envelopes from the Tyrol and fragments of [Howell] Cresswell’s room in the Hotel Odessa. All this reviving in me the kaleidoscopic memory-picture adventures in Paris, so that as I finish pasting the fragments together my temptation is to sit down and write a book on them immediately. Coming out to Louveciennes on the train, the picture of the countryside so indelibly engraved in my mind—I know every foot of ground along the route, and with each billboard, each sign, each crazy house or road or movie, even a chicken run or a cemetery or a vacant lot, there is a welter of associations. And so when Anaïs remarks that I have never made any notes, strangely, of my experiences here in Louveciennes, it is only, I think, because everything is still so alive and meaningful, everything still so unconsciously exploited. When I collect my notes for my first Paris book there is the tender, sentimental, regretful feeling of putting between covers what was once a rich, throbbing life which literature will never reproduce, as indeed it should not. But as I was putting together these random notes, what a joy when I found there were little souvenirs of Louveciennes which could be inserted into that chaotic mass of facts, events, incidents, phenomena—quiet strains of collected living, as it were—even a trifle like the handbill from the Louveciennes cinéma, which will always remind me of my walks to the village tabac, or to the épicerie for a “good bottle of wine”—Chateauneuf, Barsac, Meursault, etc. No, if I have not written of Louveciennes it is only because I am not writing history—I am making it. I, am so aware of the fateful, destined character of this Louveciennes.

Henry Miller at Louveciennes
Henry Miller at Louveciennes

That is why, for instance, I listen to Anaïs so eagerly when, as we pass the Coty estate at night, she explains the story of Madame du Barry, the lover’s head thrown over the garden wall, her dainty figure, the Watteau shepherds and shepherdesses. In Louveciennes some tremendous, significant unity and purpose has been forged. I have matured here. Even if it is only a dirty picture out of Frou-Frou that we discuss, for a moment it leads to greater things.

Here, in the big billiard room, where the rats once scurried, sit Anaïs and I—or pace up and down, gesticulating, while I explain to her the bankruptcy of science, or the meta-anthropological crisis. Here, at her desk, littered with shattering materials for the future, I hammer out my impetuous thoughts and images. Here all the images that grip and invade us are given free rein and new cosmological frontiers established.

My notes—it is when I think of them tonight, being embalmed, as it were, that I realize the inadequacy of human expression. No artist can ever catch up with his life. Here a thousand thoughts burst in my head over a simple utterance. Nothing can ever be brought to a finish. The important thing, I was thinking tonight, is that Louveciennes becomes fixed historically in the biographical record of my life, for from Louveciennes dates the most important epoch of my life. And I was thinking in the train how strange it was that just recently I should have become so concerned about the record of my life.

Spengler’s philosophy of Care, which the Chinese had and the Egyptians—all the historical peoples! Here in Louveciennes everything is “categorized,” “labeled,” “filed,” “annotated,” “bound.” Here is the soul of a historical romantic’s “I,” conscious of its great destiny, attracting kindred spirits, aye, attracting even her future recorders and biographers—as tho’ her voluminous diary were not sufficient. Here one has only to turn the photograph around and the husband sees himself, the lover sees himself, the friend sees himself. Here you are permitted the luxury of always seeing yourself while all the while a thousand eyes are seeing you, studying you, recording you. Here the eye regards the eye that regards the eye…ad libitum, ad infinitum. Here all the great cosmological processes are unraveled, skeined, knotted, .loosened. Here all things, the great cosmological processes, are disheveled artistically—a chaos to be ordered again the next morning.

“Did you sleep well last night?” “No, I was disturbed by the prelunar character of my dreams.” “What did you say Rank said about tattooing?” And so, at breakfast, it commences from tattoo to taboo, thru all the vagaries of the incest prohibition, thru all the layers of the geological “I,” to be dissolved in the end in ink—pp. 50-99 of the journal of my life. And let this spiderish activity, this du Barry geometry of the novecentisti, is the breath of life to all thirsty artists. While one meditates, words dance out from the walls, plots are nailed down, perfumes distilled on beautiful scented paper—and perhaps Madame de Stael herself may be nailing down a torn carpet or putting a new toilet seat in the privy house. And when Madame de Stael returns she is perhaps filled with those great primordial images which Salvador Dali would have us revive: excrement, masturbation, love… The goldfish, which used to race at ninety kilometers an hour in the cement pond outside, are replaced by glass monsters swimming in an electric bowl—psychologic fish that have no problems, except of Time and Space. Fish of the late city-man that were never baited, hooked, or scaled. Fish who swim motionlessly—as a substitute for living. Glass, translucent lives, lit up from below by shining quartz and rock crystal.

Louveciennes, then, looms up on the horizon of my mind like some laboratory of the soul. It is by no accident that the problems discussed here are such as they are. The most important thing here is the soul—everything else takes second place. And so it is that here life expands to its richest, that a few days take on the magnitude of time, that the slightest event acquires significance. (Incest pp. 80-83) For more posts on Louveciennes, click here. To read Anais Nin’s diary entry on New Year’s Eve, 1919, click here.

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