On March 7, the program Lust Letters: Answering Desire With Words was held at Coagula Curatorial in Los Angeles, which included artwork and readings. Among the performers was Barbara Kraft, who read from her memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, a book that chronicals Kraft’s friendship with Nin during her final two years of life. A synopsis of the reading is as follows:
Barbara Kraft closed the evening with an account of author Anais Nin’s final days, implicitly lassoing together the writings of Aarested with the creative process of Nin modeled by Youd.
Kraft, who formerly worked as a journalist and now runs her own boutique public relations firm, recalled meeting Nin on February 8, 1974 in the author’s Silverlake glass house. Kraft said she was mesmerized by her.
“[Nin] was tall, wearing a floor-length Indian gown…She was poetry in body,” said Kraft, who read an excerpt from her e-book “Anais Nin: The Last Days – A Memoir.”
Kraft described Nin as her teacher during the acclaimed writer’s final years.
“The tutorial relationship turned into an intimacy,” said Kraft, who said that as Nin died of cancer, her body weakened and her pain intensified.
“At one point, I literally got in bed with her, at her request, to hold her,” said Kraft.
Kraft’s diary from her meetings with Nin were compiled and published in “The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini.” Publication ended her marriage, and Kraft’s “whole life came crashing down,” she said.
“If you want to change your life, you pay a price,” Kraft added.
To read the entire review of the event by Matt Hamilton, click here.
Anais Nin: The Last Days is available as an e-book and can be ordered here.
To read an excerpt from Anais Nin: The Last Days on Huffington Post, click here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 27, 2013 Media Contact: Barbara Kraft Communications and Public Relations 818.760.8498; Barbara@bkraftpr.com
LUST LETTERS READINGS PRESENTED BY CHINATOWN’S COAGULA CURATORIAL MARCH 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
LOS ANGELES, CA – In conjunction with Coagula Curatorial Gallery’s Lust Letters exhibition, the Gallery is presenting an evening of performance and readings March 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m. The exhibition features Tim Youd’s Delta of Venus – a 30-foot piece of art inspired by Anais Nin’s erotic writings. Youd will perform his rendition of selections from Nin’s Delta of Venus.
Curator Joan Aarestad will address Eroticism in Art: A Woman’s View and writer Barbara Kraft will read from her newly published EBook Anais Nin: The Last Days.
Coagula Curatorial is part of the Chung King Road Gallery Row located in historic Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles at 977 Chung King Road. (323) 480-7852; www.coagulacuratorial.com.
For further information please contact Barbara Kraft Communications at 818.760.8498.
Anaïs Nin was never afraid of new ways to disseminate her work, working in several different media, much of it ahead of its time. Her words were on the page, read at spoken word events, recorded on vinyl, made into film, and were accompanied by electronic music.
In Volume 10 of A Café in Space, yet another platform for Nin’s work has appeared: comic book (or graphic novel, or manga). Joel Enos, a frequent contributor to A Café in Space and who works in the graphics media, decided to put Nin’s famous story “Under a Glass Bell” into comic book form, using the artwork of the talented Fiona Meng to visualize Nin’s ethereal Jeanne and her two brothers, who, according to critic Oliver Evans, are living out a life of psychological incest in their house. The siblings’ isolation from the world is represented by the glass bell, which, as Nin says, “covered the entire house.”
The prospects of such a representation of Nin’s fiction are tantalizing indeed, and I hope we will see more in the future. Below are some frames from A Café in Space, which can be ordered both in print and digital format.
Below, Jeanne has rushed from disturbing images she sees in the “room of mirrors” to her sleeping brother:
Under a Glass Bell (the ebook) can be ordered by clicking here.
Did Gore Vidal lie about his relationship with Anaïs Nin?
According to Kim Krizan’s article in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Volume 10, the answer is yes. Is this speculation, theory, mere speculation, or fact substantiated with proof?
Anyone who has read The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4 (1944-47) knows that Nin had a close friendship with the young budding novelist, but since her sex life and even love affairs of the heart were all but completely edited out, the reader is left to guess about the true nature of the relationship with Vidal.
We do know that Vidal publicly lashed out at Nin with a scathing review of volume 4 of the diary, which made the claim that she invented most of the passages concerning him; he also satirized Nin brutally in his novels, perhaps most notably Myra Breckinridge. His campaign of character assassination continued in his Palimpsest: A Memoir, in which he said that Nin’s biographer (Deirdre Bair) falsely claimed that Vidal proposed marriage to Nin, who was 23 years older than he: “Needless to say, I never wanted to marry anyone, certainly not someone who was to me, in my ageist youth, a very old woman.”
Bair got her much of her information from the unpublished 1940s diary of Anaïs Nin, which provides the details of Nin’s erotic life that was cut from the published diary. In it, Nin clearly states that on more than one occasion, Vidal did propose a marriage in which each would be free to pursue sexual encounters on the outside. While Nin had hoped Vidal’s homosexuality could be “cured” with analysis and maturity (a common notion in the 1940s), Vidal told her, as quoted in the diary, “You see, if I could have loved a woman, it would be you. Now I know my homosexuality is incurable.”
But all this is Nin’s side of the story. Vidal’s side is already clear: Nin was a fabricator, an inventor, a liar.
So, how does Kim Krizan prove that it was Vidal who was the actual fabricator? By going to the UCLA special collections department which houses the Nin papers. In this vast mountain of documents, she unearthed a blockbuster letter from Vidal to Nin written in 1947. In it, he states that he would “never have a satisfying homosexual relationship,” and that while he was “attracted to youth, to beauty,” he was, separately, attracted “unphysically” to Nin and enjoyed the “spiritual emotional rapport” they had. “I need that more than the other.” He goes on to propose selling his house in Guatemala, and then “we can get a small place near Antibes or wherever there are interesting people and cheap living.” He envisions a “tranquil if not complete” life with Nin, one in which she would be “free of America, Hugo (her husband), all the mess.”
But there was one big obstacle to this proposal, and that was Rupert Pole.
Anaïs Nin was born 110 years ago the day this journal, our landmark 10th issue, is to be released, so we have two reasons to celebrate. Ten years ago, I, for one, had no idea that A Café in Space would ever reach such a milestone, and so I must pay tribute to those who have made it happen: our contributors and our readers. Without you, there is no journal on Anaïs Nin some 36 years after her death. It is our aim to continue spreading her words, to enlarge the circle, welcoming new readers and scholars from around the world. I certainly am honored to facilitate this forum for as long as possible, but I am also well aware that this is only a continuation of those who came before us, including Under the Sign of Pisces, edited by Benjamin Franklin V and Richard Centing, and ANAIS: An International Journal, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Without such formidable models, this journal would not exist in its present form.
Speaking of the roots of Nin scholarship, one of its key members, Duane Schneider, whose work on Nin led to Anaïs Nin: An Introduction (1979) and An Interview with Anaïs Nin (1970), which was reprinted in Vol. 5 of this publication, died in December 2012. A long-time teacher of English, publisher, author and scholar, he will be missed by his loved ones, his students and the Nin community. His old friend and “partner in crime,” Benjamin Franklin V, pays him tribute in this issue.
One of the 20th century’s greatest men of letters, Gore Vidal, also died in 2012. His connection to Anaïs Nin has long been one that attracts both interest and controversy, especially in light of his vitriolic attacks on her character even long after her death. It seems fitting, then, that we present three looks at Vidal, one of them by Anaïs Nin herself, and try to uncover the truth of their legendary relationship.
The Vidal excerpt from Nin’s unpublished diary also serves as a “preview” of Mirages: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1939-1947, which is slated to be released in late 2013 as a co-publication of Sky Blue Press and Ohio University Press. This diary, the first to be published since Nearer the Moon in 1996, reveals how Nin’s forced return to New York nearly destroyed her personally but also helped her become a prolific and more mature writer. In a style of which only Nin is capable, she details the ends of her relationships with Henry Miller and Gonzalo Moré, her futile bonds with increasingly younger men, her publishing woes, and redemption in the form of Rupert Pole, the young, ardent lover who lured her to California, thus beginning her bicoastal double life.
The work of Anaïs Nin, which has by now been largely digitized, is beginning to spread around the world as electronic reading devices become more popular. In the past year or two, Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Spain, India, Japan, Canada, and Brazil are all serviced by popular ebook portals such as Amazon.com, and anyone with a computer, smart phone, tablet, or one of many other devices can now download Nin’s work, making it widely accessible in new locations.
As digital books increase Anaïs Nin’s readership, other formats are also emerging, and one of them appears in this issue: a graphic novel form (or, if you will, a “comic book” version) of one of Nin’s iconic works, “Under a Glass Bell.” Told by Joel Enos and drawn by Fiona Meng, Nin’s characters come “alive” on the page, and a portion of the ethereal story is presented in a way not seen before. Who knows what other kinds of digital media will lend themselves to popularizing Anaïs Nin’s work in the future?
To order the print version of Volume 10 (to be released Feb. 21, 2013), click here.
To purchase the digital version, click here and begin reading today.
There is big news for those worldwide who are eager to read the works of Anaïs Nin digitally. Amazon has recently opened markets in England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Japan, Brazil, and Canada, making it possible for anyone either with a Kindle or a Kindle app on their computer, phone, or tablet to download Nin titles instantly. Nin’s fiction and A Café in Space are available, as well as the diaries and erotica. To visit the Amazon sites in your country, click on the appropriate link below:
It wasn’t long after discovering Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller some 20 years ago that I developed a hunger to follow in their footsteps in Paris. I recall writing down some of the addresses of Nin’s and Miller’s haunts and homes, names of famous Montparnassian cafés, and in particular the fabled house in Louveciennes. Back then, I had only Michelin maps and travel guides (the names of which I patched together as “Fodommerbaum”) to help me piece together some sort of plan. Nothing, though, prepared me for the actual act of walking the streets to seek out the remnants and echoes of what once existed.
The very first site I wanted to see was the quai where Nin moored her houseboat, La Belle Aurore. I only had old photographs to help me figure out exactly where it was. I stood holding the photo on Pont Royal, straining to match the 60 year old image with the current scene, and I had to guess. I stood at my declared spot and tried to feel the magic of knowing that once upon a time, an old, leaky barge sat in these waters, that Nin and her lover Gonzalo walked down the same staircase I did to board it. Was I right? Was this the spot?
I was only able to discover this past week that I was indeed pretty close, and I was able to do so sitting in front of my computer screen, thanks to today’s GPS technology. While editing and formatting Britt Arenander’s Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, I began to toy with the idea of making what was mainly a photo-book with a nice, concise synopsis of Nin’s and Miller’s Paris years into something more: an interactive travel guide using GPS technology, something than can not only be read, but used. Once I began seeking out the more than 40 specific locations listed in the book on Google Maps, I began to see that not only can one visit these locations virtually, but one can also navigate between them and create virtual walking tours. Had I had access to something like this twenty years ago, my first Paris visit would have been very different. For example, one of Henry Miller’s apartments was on Avenue Anatole France in Clichy, and it was the setting for the famous battle between Miller and his wife June over the fact that Miller and Nin were lovers, a final cataclysmic explosion that resulted in divorce. How could any self-described aficionado not visit this place and reconstruct that scene? The sad fact is that I spent half a precious day trying to find the place only to come up empty. How was I to know that there are two Avenues Anatole France, one in Paris and one in Clichy, to the north? It is only now that I can walk that street and look up at the art-deco building where emotions ran amok that day in 1932, thanks to Google’s “street view” option. In fact, I decided one day to do what Miller himself did on a regular basis: walk from his favorite restaurant at Place Clicy, the Wepler, to his apartment, simply by using the navigation tools. The same was true in Montparnasse and all the other locations.
So, what I did was to mark each location and then to present some background of its significance, using facts from Arenander’s book and vintage photographs. (There are other options as well, such as including links that allows the viewer to delve further into its history, including sound and video clips, and this is something I aim on enhancing the map with often. To see an example, go to our intactive sample map and click on La Gare chemin de fer de petite ceinture.) I thought that if one were planning a trip to Paris and wanted to “practice” identifying historic locations beforehand, one could do so easily. Also, since many travelers bring smart devices along on their trips, one could use an iPad, say, or an iPhone to map out their walks as they were actually doing them. What a remarkable way to enhance a trip, especially when time is at a premium. And if one is unable to make such a trip, it is still possible to revisit the traces of the past at home. After all, I was finally able to use the street view navigation to scope out Nin’s houseboat location and finally pinpoint the spot by comparing it with the old photos. Not only that, but I discovered the old iron rings that once moored the houseboats are still affixed to the walls! (Go to the sample interactive map by clicking here and you can visit quai de Tuileries yourself.)
I have created a short walking tour which is based on an event that took place in March of 1932, chronicled in Anaïs Nin’s Lost World. Henry Miller had met Anaïs at Chez les Vikings and had a passionate conversation with her. After she left, he wrote his first love letter to her, saying, “I tell you what you already know—I love you.” After writing that letter, he walked home to Hôtel Central, where he and Nin had their first sexual encounter a few days later. Now, we can virtually walk that same path, just for the hell of it.
To take the walking tour, click here.
To order Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.
In 1995, Britt Arenander’s book Anaïs Nins Förlorade Värld (Anaïs Nin’s Lost World) was released in Sweden. Gunther Stuhlmann, Anaïs Nin’s literary agent, sent me a copy as a gift, and it was always a book, despite my inability to read Swedish, that I admired.
The author, who had recently moved to France, made the pilgrimage to Louveciennes to see Anaïs Nin’s legendary “laboratory of the soul,” the 200 year old house where she met Henry Miller in 1931. It then dawned on her to see if the apartment building where Miller and his friend Alfred Perlès lived still stood in Clichy, and it did. This series of events triggered her quest to research and rediscover each Paris address ever mentioned by Nin or Miller, and the result was a wonderful book filled with both vintage and recent photographs of these storied locations. In between was the synopsis of the life that Nin, Miller, and many of their cohorts lived in the 1930s, interlaced with the history of Paris, Montparnasse, and Louveciennes. I had always hoped that one day the book would be published in English.
Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when Britt Arenander contacted me recently with the idea of doing just that, and it was a project I was more than happy to undertake.
In her introduction, the author clearly states her inspiration: “A lost world, of which the outlines still remain, was what I wished to recreate, by help of photographic jigsaw puzzle pieces. But my hope is also that it might be an intimate guide to Paris outside the main tourist routes.”
We have taken this idea and enhanced the original book with updated information, a well-planned table of contents complete with links to not only each photograph, some of which, as the one to the left, are at least 100 years old, but also to street maps of several of the chief Nin/Miller haunts. The last new touch is an interactive map that one can view with their ebook device or computer that offers background information, vintage photos, and current street views of such places as Nin’s Louveciennes house, the location of her houseboats, the hotel where Nin and Miller began their affair, the brothel where Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler witnessed a “show,” and on and on.
All of this, I believe achieves Britt Arenander’s quest to offer an intimate guide to Paris that is definitely out of the ordinary. The reader will be able wander through Anaïs Nin’s lost world visually, literarily, virtually, and if in Paris, truly.
The book can be ordered with Kindle and with any Apple product (iPad, iPhone, etc.) after downloading the Kindle app.
To see a sample or to purchase Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.
To view a sample interactive map drawn from the book, click here.
Visit our Anaïs Nin e-bookstore here.
Barbara Kraft’s new memoir, Anais Nin: The Last Days is getting a lot of press lately, including a substantial excerpt on Huffington Post.
To read the excerpt, go to Huffington Post by clicking here.
To order the book, click here.
WHEN: Saturday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: BEYOND BAROQUE – 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291 http://www.beyondbaroque.org/ 310.822.3006
WHAT: Barbara Kraft will be doing a reading on her newly published book Anaïs Nin: The Last Days
An insightful memoir – Anaïs Nin: The Last Days
By Pauline Adamek
Barbara Kraft’s sensitive memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, captures the humanity, mortality and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures, employing sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose.
Kraft intriguingly opens her chronicle with this explanatory paragraph:
“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.”
Anaïs Nin, noted for her intimate diaries and scandalous, deliciously sensual erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. The two women immediately became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Nin’s terminal cancer and Kraft’s impending difficult divorce. These circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and tireless part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of celebrated life.
As Noel Riley Fitch, author of Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin, writes of Kraft’s book: “An intimate and beautiful portrayal of the final years and painful death of Anaïs Nin… This compelling memoir is honest, critical, and full of perceptive insights into the relationships between Nin and her men.”
“Of all the young women I’ve worked with, you are the one most like me,” Nin told Kraft as she lay dying.
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 she begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer.
Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft expertly captures. 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 not only to those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.
The very personal events in this book will resonate with anyone who has gone through terminal disease or knows someone who has had to endure that challenge. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.
Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is currently available for purchase on Amazon, and also on Smashwords. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is also available directly from iPad and iPhone (through the iTunes store), Nook, the Sony Reader, as well as other Kindle-friendly devices worldwide.
About the Author:
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. 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.