A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 6 is on Kindle

CafeInSpace_Cover2009-out2.inddToday, Vol. 6 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal was released on Amazon’s Kindle. Vol. 6 (2009) contains the remarkable letters between Anaïs Nin and her father, composer Joaquín Nin, during the time just before and after the first nine days of their incestuous relationship in the south of France. Also included are essays by several prominent Nin scholars, such as Tristine Rainer and Sarah Burghauser, analysis of Henry Miller’s writing, feminist literary theory, poetry, and reviews of Nin-related events.

For more information about the contents of the journal, and/or to order the print version, click here.

To order Vol. 6 of A Cafe in Space on Kindle, click here.

The Rebirth of Anais Nin’s Writing Philosophy

After Anaïs Nin self-published the revised Winter of Artifice (1942) and Under a Glass Bell and Other Stories (1944), she was faced with a formidable dilemma: to begin writing new material—the two previous publications were largely written before 1939, the year Nin fled Paris for New York because of the war, and they were both described as ethereal and dreamlike, neither of which interested the big publishers.

In New York, Nin’s life was in upheaval as she tried in vain to adjust to the indifference her work received and the arid climate in which she did not feel creative. Her personal life, too, was in tatters, and she often confessed to her unpublished diary that she was suicidal. Her relationship with Henry Miller was finished, bitterly, and Gonzalo Moré, her lover of some seven years, was weighing Nin down with his shiftlessness, his suffocating dependency, and the burden presented by his neurotic wife, Helba Huara. Because of these glaring and harsh realities, Nin, for the first time, was forced to face the true nature of her situation and those to whom she’d allied herself. She said often that she created those in her life by seeing them through the eyes of a dreamer, a mystic, which filtered out everything except what she found endearing, beautiful, miraculous.

At first, Nin’s forced awakening put her in unfamiliar territory—the real world, reality, unfiltered, undistilled, in all its ugliness and toxicity. She foundered, not able to find the footing, the philosophy, on which to create her new fiction. On a vacation at the beach house of her friend, Irina Alexander, where Nin went to recuperate from her severe bouts of depression, she was to find the symbol of her new direction:

Valentina Orlikova

Valentina Orlikova

July 23, 1943

The image which has supported, inspired me, upheld me, put me to shame, is strangely that of the woman Captain Soviet Valentina Orlikova with whom Irina had a friendship. Her photograph gave me the same shock I felt when I first saw it in a magazine cover and heard about her life. A shock of admiration, of love, of identification.

She is born February 22.

La vie frappe. Il faut y faire face, recevoir le coup, et continuer… [Life beats you down. One must face it, receive the blow, and continue…] Every day Valentina faces death, separation from her husband and child, the great tragedy of war, greater catastrophes, universal tragedies. Il y a une self-indulgence dans la souffrance. [There is self-indulgence in suffering.]

Nin became inspired to emulate this “woman of action,” and she found herself buying a coat she would call “Harper’s Bazaar elegance,” rather than her now old and somewhat tattered (but exotically unique) clothing from her Paris years.

Sept. 21, 1943

Symbolically, I fell I love with a Coat—a coat that represents the great change in me. It is not the coat of fire-fish or peacock, but of the woman captain. It is a very beautiful, masculine-material, tailored coat, fitted, with a velvet collar

Note the similarity in this photo of Nin and that of Orlikova

Note the similarity in this photo of Nin and that of Orlikova

and cuffs. It is expensive, aristocratic, simple, very pure, for action—and far from mirages or Byzance or the dream! I shall wear it a long time. It is enduring, of good quality. I chose it boldly, in an expensive shop. Then I hesitated because of the high price. But Hugo then insisted I should make him feel like a man of power able to get such a coat for his wife, and when I saw it was a symbol for him too then I yielded. The coat for a new life…

Armed with new inspiration came the excitement of designing an entirely new philosophy of writing, that of selflessness, like the woman captain’s. The seeds just begin to sprout in the following passage:

Sept. 14, 1943

I cannot begin a work casually. Have a concept of something big. Cannot begin—select, eliminate. Feel whatever I do will have to be all encompassing.

What happens if I leave myself out? Then everyone will be restored to his natural value, not mythical, not romantic, not enlarged—not symbolic.

With me absent and only the other characters present, I shall be in a human world, purely of feeling, which is my link with all the world. Irina [Alexander, Nin’s friend] said she always understood my emotions, not my interpretations or analysis of these emotions. Possibly if I eliminated myself as representing the legend, the vision, the far reaching and the cosmic, I might get into direct contact with the natural aspect of human beings. It is only in relation to me that they become “poetized” or translated into a dream. […] No one will see the poetic Gonzalo—only the fêtard [reveler] and the masochist, the adventurer and the masochist. It will be a diminished world. A natural world, not an intensified one. Me absent, passion and intensity will be removed, [as well as] the mirror reflecting people’s potential selves. It might be a way into the human. While I am there it will be mystical and mythical.

It might be good to begin writing about characters as unrelated to me. For example, I see […] the impossible woman, my mother, the extension of her. In a state of destructive revolution—the black anima.

If I disappeared as a character and became merely the vision—if I disappeared as an ego and used myself as the chemical which brought certain elements to light, I might accomplish the objective work of human dimensions which might relate me to the present. For the dream and the myth situate one in the past or the future but not in the present. They cause tragedy and not happiness. They destroy life in favor of the eternal.

These early thoughts laid the groundwork for Nin’s greatest volume of fiction, the novels which would make up the Cities of the Interior series, beginning with This Hunger, which would be published in 1945.

Stay tuned for other posts examining the development of Nin’s writing philosophy.

Anais Nin e-bookstore (updated)

 

Since there are now several titles by Anais Nin available as e-books, primarily on Kindle, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a handy guide with links to each book. The sequence of the list and associated comments are presented with two groups of readers in mind: those already familiar with Anais Nin, and those whose experience with the author is just now dawning.

We will update this list when new titles, or more details, become available (last update: August 29, 2014).

We hope this list proves useful; feel free to comment.

MiragesMirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947 (Sky Blue Press) After a seventeen year wait, finally the next installment of Nin’s unexpurgated diaries is available, chronicling Nin’s struggle to adapt to living in America after being forced by war to flee her beloved Paris. Highlighted are Nin’s relationships with Henry Miller, Edmund Wilson, and Gore Vidal.

 

 

portableThe Portable Anais Nin (Sky Blue Press) The best place to start. A comprehensive anthology of Nin’s most important work, rendered in their entirety, and a record of her growth as a writer. An excellent read for both newcomers (who wish to sample Nin’s writing) and the experienced (who, with this title, can witness Nin’s relationships between life, her diary, her fiction, and her philosophy). $9.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

 Anais Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (Sky Blue Press) One of the persisting mysteries about Anais Nin is the circumstances of her death: she ended her published diaries a few years beforehand and left little information behind. Even the biographies are sketchy on this topic. Barbara Kraft, a student and friend of Nin, spent a good part of Nin’s final 2 years supporting her emotionally and has written a powerful memoir about the incredible spirit of her mentor and her refusal to surrender her life. She also records the great love and compassion of Nin’s “west coast husband,” Rupert Pole. $6.99. To order, click here.

 

 

Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939 by Britt Arenander. This unique book depicts Nin’s life from the perspective of her surroundings during the most important era in her life—her Paris years, from 1924 to 1939, when she met Henry Miller and came into her own as a writer and as a sensual woman. This book gives us a vivid picture of Nin’s turbulent life in the 1920s and 1930s. Britt Arenander allows us to follow in Nin’s and Miller’s footsteps. She has brilliantly woven text and photographs into a tapestry of the Paris that Nin and Miller came to love so much. For more information, click here. To order, click here.

 

deltaDelta of Venus (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Anais Nin’s bestselling collection of erotica, which set the standard by which all erotica is measured. While Nin claimed to write this with “tongue in cheek,” there is little doubt about its liteary and poetic value. Recommended to everyone. $9.29. To order, click here.

 

 

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Little Birds (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) The sequel to Delta of Venus that retains the high literary quality of feminine erotica. Recommended to everyone, especially those who have read Delta of Venus. $9.99. To order, click here.

 

glassbellUnder a Glass Bell and Other Stories (Sky Blue Press) This collection of Anais Nin’s short stories contains some of her finest writing. Originally self-published, this book was the one that first put Nin on the literary map. Recommended for all, especially newcomers who wish to experience Nin’s concept of distilling life events into concise fiction. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

house1House of Incest (Sky Blue Press) Anais Nin’s first work of fiction, often compared to surrealism in the French style, which bends and expands the English language into the mystical realm. Major scholars today conclude that House of Incest is Nin’s best book. $3.99. To order, click here.

 

 

diary2The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 2 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt–Vol. 1 not yet available) This diary follows Nin’s life in Paris from 1934 until 1939, citing her associations with Henry Miller, Otto Rank, Gonzalo More, Antonin Artaud, and her experiences in Louveciennes, Paris, New York, and Fez. This book is recommended for new readers for its literary significance, and experienced readers because each name, place, date, etc., can be electronically searched. $14.82. To order, click here.

 

diary3The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 3(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) When war forced Anais Nin from France, she called it “the end of our romantic life,” but it was the beginning of a torturous transition to New York and its impersonal harshness. Out of her element, Nin struggled to resume her life as an artist, and because of indifference to her work, she purchased her own printing press and painstakingly published it herself. Vol. 3 follows Nin’s relationships with Gonzalo More, Henry Miller, Richard Wright, and Luise Rainer, and how they were influenced by a new time and setting. $14.27. To order, click here.

 

diary4The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) This diary chronicles Nin’s life in New York from 1944 to 1947. Key passages include Gore Vidal, Edmund Wilson, Maya Deren, and an array of young homosexual men with whom she associated. Recommended to newcomers because of the reflection of the terrible time Nin had adjusting to American life and the total rejection of her work. An electronically searchable text makes it valuable to all. $9.99. To order, click here.

 

diary5The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 5 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Covering the years 1947 to 1955, this volume follows Nin’s life “on the trapeze,” alternating between New York and California. A truly tranformative time in Nin’s life as her California experiences brought her many new and fascinating personages, including Jean Varda, James Herlihy, Louis and Bebe Barron, Renate Druks, et al. Recommended to newcomers who wish to see how it was possible Nin could mask her double life, not only to her readers, but to her friends and loved ones. Searchable text is a plus for all readers. $12.57. To order, click here.

firecoverFire: From “A Journal of Love”: The Unexpurgated Diary 1934-1937 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Culled from Anais Nin’s unedited diary, this volume contains intimate details of Nin’s relationships with her husband Hugh Guiler, Henry Miller, Gonzalo More, and Otto Rank. Recommended for anyone interested in Nin’s growing sense of womanhood during her Paris years. $9.99. To order, click here.

 

winterThe Winter of Artifice, the original Paris edition (Sky Blue Press) This title was out of print for 70 years because of censorship laws and Nin’s subsequent decision to cut an entire story (“Djuna,” the fictionalized Henry and June tale, which was originally edited by Miller himself), and to heavily edit the remaining two. This is recommended to all for its literary value, which had been lost to readers for decades. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

laddersNEWLadders to Fire (Sky Blue Press) The first novel of the collection Nin would later entitle Cities of the Interior, Ladders to Fire introduces the reader to Nin’s key characters: Djuna, Lillian, Sabina, and Jay, all in part based on real people, including Nin, as she placed different aspects of herself within the composite female characters. This new authoritative edition includes an introduction by Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. A must-read for all readers, new and otherwise, because it lays the groundwork for the following titles. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

childrennewChildren of the Albatross (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s second novel in the Cities of the Interior collection, divided into two parts, the first examining Nin’s relationship with the “transparent children” described in Diary 4, one of whom is based on Rupert Pole. The second part reveals the psychological truth behind Nin’s female characters’ relationships with Jay, fashioned after Henry Miller. This new authoritative edition includes an introduction by Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. We suggest reading all the Cities titles in order, for that is what Nin intended. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

4chamberedThe Four-Chambered Heart (Sky Blue Press) Third in the Cities collection, this novel uses the Seine and a houseboat as a symbolic stage on which three characters–Djuna, Rango, and Zora–are gripped in a life-and-death battle of jealousy, possessiveness, raging passion, and disillusion. Based on Nin’s relationship with Gonzalo More and his wife Helba. Recommended for its solid characters, incredible tension, and searing climax. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

spyA Spy in the House of Love (Sky Blue Press) One of Nin’s most popular titles, this novel, 4th in the Cities series, examines Sabina, the character based on both Nin and June Miller. A fractured being, Sabina sees each shard of her character reflected in her five lovers. Recommended to all because it best characterizes Nin’s life in the 1940s, which was one of desperation and despair. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

seductionSeduction of the Minotaur (Sky Blue Press) The last in the Cities series, this novel concentrates on Lillian’s battle with the “minotaur,” a demonic force which has tormented her, only to find, after seeking relief from others in exotic places (in this case, a lush Mexico), that the demon lives within her. Recommended because of its authenticity, symbolism, and direct language. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

collagesCollages (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s last work of fiction, written shortly before the release of her diaries, Collages is a collection of interwoven short stories that are based on experiences of Nin’s friends, such as Jean Varda and Renate Druks. It is perhaps Nin’s only book in which she is not the central character. Recommended for its fairy-tale atmosphere, and especially for its humor, a characteristic for which Nin was rarely credited. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

 

stellaStella (Sky Blue Press) A lesser-known work written by Anais Nin in 1945, is an examination of self-discovery and self-worth. The title character is loosely based on actress Luise Rainer, who is faced with the contrast between her love affair with a public that adores her for her film roles, and her personal inability to find human love. Critic Oliver Evans says Stella “remains one of [Nin’s] most thoroughly realized performances.” Recommended for anyone who does not own either The Portable Anais Nin or Swallow’s Winter of Artifice. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

dhlawrencecoverD. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (Sky Blue Press). Anais Nin’s first published book is an examination of her first literary muse, the controversial English novelist, D. H. Lawrence. Assembled from notes in only 13 days, this study is regarded by critics as the best introduction to Lawrence to this day. Recommended for anyone interested in Lawrence, or in Nin’s masterful critical insights. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To purchase this title, click here.

 

cafe7A Cafe in Space, Vol. 7 (Sky Blue Press) This issue contains a close look at Nin’s marriage with Hugh Guiler, including a shocking letter he wrote offering her divorce; an interview with Deirdre Bair; John Ferrone’s tale of how Nin almost never published her erotica; an unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, and examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

cafe61A Cafe in Space, Vol. 6 (Sky Blue Press) The highlight of this issue is the publication of the recently found letters between Nin and her father, Joaquin Nin, at the time of their incestuous relationship. The letters reveal a crafty and relentless pursuit of the 30 year old Anais by her father. The journal is filled with articles about Nin and Henry Miller, as well as examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

cafe1A Cafe in Space, Vol. 1: special centennial issue (Sky Blue Press) The inaugural issue, which contains a previously unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, has contributions by Janet Fitch, Philip Jason, Benjamin Franklin V, Lynette Felber, Kazuko Sugisaki, Toyoko Yamamoto, Yuko Yaguchi, among others. Included is a journey to Louveciennes and Neuilly to visit Nin’s homes (with photos) and a tour of Montparnasse with Claudine Brelet, close friend of Lawrence Durrell. Recommended for all. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.

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A Cafe in Space, Vol. 2This issue contains a substantial excerpt from Nin’s 1943 diary which illustrates her relationship with several Haitians in New York, and one in particular, Albert Mangones, represented the sort of atmosphere and culture Nin sorely missed. The results were torrid and, in the end, heartbreaking. Articles by several noted Nin scholars and an excerpt from Maria Chekhov’s memoirs are included, as well as a tour of Henry Miller’s Paris hotels. Recommended for all. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.

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A Cafe in Space, Vol. 3 contains early correspondence (1957-61) between Anais Nin and the man who was instrumental in her ulitmate literary success, her agent Gunther Stuhlmann. The letters give the readers a look at the long, hard climb, the many failures, and the degree of frustration Nin endured on the way up. Also included are contributions from three of the leading Lawrence Durrell scholars in the world about the “3rd Musketeer” and how his literature is regarded today. Recommended for both Nin and Durrell fans. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.

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A Cafe in Space, Vol. 4. The highlight of this issue is two important series of correspondence: the first is between Rupert Pole and editor John Ferrone, which reveals the intense wrangling that was involved during the editing of Anais Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June; the second involves Nin, agent Gunther Stuhlmann, and publisher Alan Swallow in a dramatic look at Nin’s rise to fame, culminating in the release of her Diary. Recommended for those interested in what lies behind some of Nin’s most important works. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.

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 A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5. This special issue, entitled “In Her Own Words,” focuses on a wide range of Anais Nin’s writing, much of it experimental and unpublished. Examples of her critical writing, fiction treatments, and a long lost interview from 1969 are included, as well as her correspondence with Rupert Pole during her trips to New York, where she was living with Hugh Guiler. To purchase, click here.

 

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A Cafe in Space, Vol. 8.  This issue’s centerpiece is correspondence between Anais Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler during the final months she was alive. Dying in Los Angeles with her lover Rupert Pole at her side, she sought “absolution” from Guiler and emotional freedom. Even more remarkable is the early correspondence between Pole and Guiler just after Nin’s death. Also included is a look at Nin’s “father-in-law,” Reginald Pole, the Shakespearean actor and Rupert’s father.  For more information on this title, click here. To purchase, click here.

 

A Cafe in Space, Vol. 9 contains several excerpts from Anais Nin’s unpublished 1950s diary in which she describes the “trapeze life” swinging back and forth across the country from her husband in New York to her lover in Los Angeles, and how difficult it was to keep her men in the dark about each other. Critical articles on Nin’s writing and how her persona was carefully crafted, on two of her contemporaries, Lawrence Durrell and Antonin Artaud, as well as creative pieces by two of Nin’s former students, along with reviews of two important publications on Henry Miller and by Anais Nin, complete this issue. For more information, click here. To order, click here.

 

cafe10A Café in Space, Vol. 10 contains explosive new material on the much-disputed relationship between Anais Nin and Gore Vidal. Kim Krizan produces proof that Vidal mischaracterized the nature of the bond for decades during which he attacked Nin’s character. In an excerpt from the about-to-be-released unexpurgated diary, Nin describes Vidal during the months after they first met. Also included are studies of Nin’s early patriotic poems; Nin’s erotica; electronic music pioneers Louise and Bebe Barron; poetry; reviews and updates, and a graphic novel version of Nin’s “Under a Glass Bell.”

 

A Café in Space, Vol. 11cafe11 contains excerpts from the unpublished diary of Anais Nin, topics of which include living in 1950s America, Nin’s hateful relationship with Helba Huara, and fears of the havoc that publishing her diary could bring. The lead article involves a relatively unknown “scandal” in 1955, which centered on the release of a book entitled ‘My Friend Henry Miller’ by Miller’s old pal Alfred Perles, in which the “secret” romantic relationship between Nin and Miller in 1930s Paris is revealed and how Nin desperately tried to have her name removed from the text. A series of letters by Nin, Miller, Perles and others give the reader an inside look of how what should have been a minor event instead resulted in a censored version of the Perles book, resulting in a lifelong bitterness towards Nin by Miller. Articles on the theme of incest in the works of both Nin and Lawrence Durrell appear in this issue, as well as memoirs, poetry, and web items of interest.

NOTE: We do NOT recommend the title White Stains because it apparently contains no work from Anais Nin, despite her name being placed on the title page.

 

Anaïs Nin as Inspiration: a Nin concept album

Recently, we have described how Anaïs Nin has inspired other artists: there have been numerous paintings, sculptures, films, plays, and other forms of artistic expression that are rooted in Nin’s life and work. Now we can add an entire album of music to the list. Pam Shaffer, a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter, has just released her first full length album based on Nin’s Paris diaries, entitled As We Are (culled from the famous Nin quote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”) which includes the songs “Henry,” “Gonzalo,” “Hugh,” “June,” “Nanakepichu,” among others. Upon listening to the album, I immediately felt that Shaffer captured Nin’s aura and has allowed it to inform her songs.

I asked Shaffer to comment on her album; her thoughts follow:

aswearecoverI have played the piano for just about as long as I can recall and wrote my very first song about a baby falling out of a tree (rather derivative in retrospect and an odd commentary on children’s songs). Music was always my favorite mode of expression but I also painted a fair amount as a child and enjoyed writing poetry as an adolescent. For the majority of my time as a teenager I was terrified to sing in public. On occasion, I would play a Tori Amos cover or one of my own songs for friends. Unbeknownst to me, people at my high school actually listened, which came as a great surprise to me when years later, I ran into classmates who asked if I was still playing. I began performing in earnest in college.

There’s a line in a Jewel song that says, “You can be Henry Miller and I’ll be Anaïs Nin/This time it will be even better we’ll stay together in the end.” I remember hearing that line and wondering who those people were. Though my interest was piqued, it took me a few years to actually buy and read Henry and June. By the time I was 18, I had read it through several times and had moved onto her other diaries along with some of her essays. Reading her words was much like seeing my own thoughts committed to paper though they were ideas I had never dared to have before. I read her work consistently through college and wrote my independent honors thesis about how her life and art merged in an ideal state in the 1930s.

Anaïs’s life and work has affected me in a myriad of ways. Artistically, she has shown me that I must persevere and work within my own style whether it is popular or not. She writes in such a particular voice and does not stray from her own intuitive expression. She was not “successful” as a writer for much of her life, but she kept writing regardless. Her style is beautiful and accessible to me, but it might not be to others. She made her life into her art, which inspires me greatly. Though I do not always agree with the choices she made in her life, it is illuminating to read about her successes and failures as she attempted to live her life to its fullest degree. Her work reminds me not to settle for half-measures and to pursue my passions with all my energy. Clearly, her writing greatly influenced my own as I love the fluidity of her prose and the way she lets her stories unfold. I strive to write songs that operate the same way, utilizing the unconscious material and blending it with the conscious content.

A few years ago, the song “Henry” simply popped into my head. I wasn’t setting out to write a song about Anaïs and Henry, but there it was. It stood out quite a bit from the rest of my material, which was mostly drawn from my own life. I started to think that perhaps Henry was “lonely” and that I should write about June. Having written a thesis on Anaïs’s diaries, the source material was fresh in mind. Over the course of two years, I wrote all of the songs for the album. At the time, I was also writing songs about myself and other topics, but the Anaïs songs tended to have a distinct feel to them, a cohesive character that set them apart from my other work. I had an inkling that they were meant to be a concept album, and by the time I was mixing my previous EP, I was talking with my producer about recording the Anaïs songs together as an album. We began recording demos based on my sketches from my laptop recordings in early 2009, and that was the genesis of the album. My source materials span her dairies and unexpurgated works from 1930-1938, though I have also read House of Incest along with Cities of the Interior, so you never know what might have snuck in there.

In a way, her most famous quote was a perfect album title, because each of the songs is a different character. The songs are coming to the listener as “they” are, and each listener will take something different from them, thus fulfilling the concept of the quote. I think that quote is universal and insightful but was far too long for an album title. “As We Are” can be interpreted in many ways, but I hope it accurately depicts the nature of the album.

I recall telling my friend Karin Tatoyan about my idea for an Anaïs Nin concept album while sitting outside the Echo Curio on the curb of Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. She herself is an astonishingly talented musician, and she looked at me with wide eyes and said my idea was brilliant. I laughed and recounted how hard it was to find a thesis advisor because none of my professors were versed in the works of Anaïs Nin and that I couldn’t have possibly found a more obscure topic about which to write. She told me that very few people would have a clue what I was doing, but those who did would be thrilled, and those who did not would at the very least be intrigued by such a mysterious subject. Writing an album about Anaïs Nin matches the general theme of my life, which continuously reveals that I am quite good at accomplishing unusual, eccentric tasks but mediocre at best when it comes to easy and practical ones. I was always the kid who could do a one-handed cartwheel but might stub my toe while walking in my own room. I could solve an algebraic equation in my head but I might not count our change correctly. I am aware that I likely should have written or released a more general album first, one that was perhaps more easily relatable and accessible to draw people in before I delved into the unknown. However, I’ve never done things the easy way, and at least now my listeners will be those who will hopefully follow me down dark paths as well as well-lit ones.

To hear songs from, or to purchase the album, click here.

47 blvd. Suchet: Anaïs Nin’s house of dreams

47 blvd Suchet today
Click to enlarge

In the summer of 1929, during a time of particular success on the part of Anaïs Nin’s banker husband, Hugh Guiler, the couple rented a lavish apartment at 47 boulevard Suchet, in a fashionable (and extremely expensive) part of Paris. Guiler would later say that this move was among their most foolish, but that may be due more to the Wall Street crash, which would occur only a few months later, prompting their move in 1930 to the less expensive Louveciennes, just outside of Paris.

Nin was inspired to make the Suchet apartment a work of art. In her Early Diary, Vol. 4, in July 1929, she says: We moved Wednesday, July 17. House not finished and full of workmen. Until Sunday I never sat down except for my meals, which we ate at a pension almost next door… First night—just the bed made. No hot water, or telephone, or gas, or light. I was worn out but cheerful and hungry, and I felt a great sense of power because the whole thing was done with order and a thousand obstacles were overcome… Physical exhaustion but mental elation at the feeling that I am using my force, fully at last, on tangible work… On this homemaking I am using imagination, sense of color, of form, of comfort, of beautiful living… I have learned to mix colors and create some which surprise the painters. I have designed furniture, have quickly caught on to the proportions, etc. I can figure out how much wood it takes to make a closet (and I never passed an arithmetic class!). The men who have to work for me are surprised that I understand all their trades, that I never change my mind, and always know exactly what I want.

Recently, a blog post by Yolanda De Leon commented on Nin’s sense of décor, and in it is an excerpt from Early Diary 4, which says: While sewing gold thread on a sapphire-blue pillow I thought about the spiritual value of Decoration. Through it, I realize, I have gained in assurance, audacity, authority… Besides all the keen, profound delight I get from an assembling of color, stuffs, wood, and stone, I feel the joy of a visibly beautiful work. The immense studio is already painted, turquoise blue with more Veronese green than usual so it will harmonize with the blue and gold fireplace. The large Hindu lamp is hung. While the sawing of wood, hammering, and painting are going on, I make pillows or I paint room designs on the paper I should be using for that famous Novel.

After reading this passage, it occurred to me that I had seen some of these very drawings Nin mentions, in a folder that was tucked away at her Silver Lake house in Los Angeles. Nin is often criticized, sometimes without substantiation, for embellishing events in her diary. However, this is one case where the evidence seems to bear out her claims. I have scanned a few of these drawings (sometimes collages interspersed with photos) along with pictures taken inside the apartment. One can plainly see Nin’s visions put into action in the décor of this elegant apartment occupied for only a year.

By August of 1930, the effects of the crash forced Nin and Guiler to Louveciennes, the future “laboratory of the soul.” Nin’s comments reflect her mixed feelings: Yesterday we signed the lease for our House in the Country! I came home, and as we sat talking about it, my eyes wandered off to the turquoise walls, so high and spacious, and I began to cry…intolerable pangs of regret for my beautiful, beautiful place. Yet the other house is lovely, in a different way…

Nin concept (click to enlarge)

Nin concept (click to enlarge)

 

Interior of Suchet apt (click to enlarge)

Interior of Suchet apt (click to enlarge)

 

 

Nin's concept for bedroom (click to enlarge)

Nin’s concept for bedroom (click to enlarge)

Anais Nin in 1929, Blvd. Suchet

Nin's desk at Suchet (click to enlarge)

Nin’s desk at Suchet (click to enlarge)

 

 

Nin's concept of fireplace (click to enlarge)

Nin’s concept of fireplace (click to enlarge)

For more information on the Suchet apartment, refer to Britt Arenander’s Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, which includes a detailed description and an interactive map.

To see a sample or to purchase Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

To view a sample interactive map drawn from the book, which includes 47 blvd Suchet, click here.

Visit our Anaïs Nin e-bookstore here.

Anais Nin Literary Journal On Kindle

Volume 7 (2010) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (the only current Nin journal anywhere) has just been made available on Kindle. In this issue are some amazing articles and excerpts from Nin’s unpublished diary, not to mention an interview with Nin biographer Deirdre Bair and John Ferrone’s account of the birth of Delta of Venus. Eventually, we hope to have Vols. 1 through 6 published as e-books as well.

cafeinspace_2010coverOur aim is to make the journal easy to obtain no matter where one is, and to make the price one that is easy on the pocketbook ($3.99). There’s nothing like the print version in one’s hands, but the quality, photographs, and extra bells and whistles, such as an interactive table of contents, are all there in the e-book. We hope you will support our efforts!

To visit the Amazon.com location for A Café in Space, Vol. 7, click here.

To see a description of the contents of Vol. 7, click here.

Our other Nin titles on Kindle are: The Portable Anais NinHouse of Incest, Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow.

The Portable Anaïs Nin debuts

The Portable Anaïs Nin, the first comprehensive Nin anthology in nearly forty years, has just been released as an e-book, available from Amazon.com for $9.99. It is the equivalent of more than 300 printed pages of the most compelling and representative writings of Anaïs Nin, arranged chronologically over a broad spectrum of genres: passages from the edited and unexpurgated diaries, works of fiction (including House of Incest, “This Hunger,” “Houseboat,” and “Stella”—all in their entirety), erotica, critical writing, and a previously uncollected—and revealing—interview.

portablecoverBecause Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V has arranged the works in the order they were written (for the table of contents, click here), the entire book presents us with a sort of autobiography, beginning with young Anaïs’s views on her parents’ separation, and ending with facing death, and just about every major event in between. Topics from her diary include her early relationship with Hugh Guiler, a failed affair with John Erskine, her ménage à trois with Henry and June Miller, incest, abortion, Otto Rank, Gonzalo Moré, Robert Duncan, Gore Vidal, her family members, writing philosophy, fictional character sources, failure, editing the diaries, and fame. Franklin has chosen fiction that follows Nin’s life experiences so the reader can see how plots and characters evolved from the diary, and how portraits changed as Nin’s perspective and attitudes shifted. When read thus, The Portable Anaïs Nin becomes Nin’s life story.

Still, each portion of The Portable Anaïs Nin stands on its own, and the book can be read selectively. In this way, as Nin agent and literary collaborator Gunther Stuhlmann once envisioned, the collection is a sort of guidebook that invites a new generation of readers to sample her work and thus be able to make informed selections when diving more deeply in to Nin’s writing.

It occurred to me while reading the book several times (as a proofreader and publisher) is that there is yet another facet of the experience of reading Anaïs Nin, and that is of time. It was 20 years ago almost to the day when I first read Nin’s Henry and June, for example, and at that time it evoked a personal response from me. As I read it today, even though the words are exactly the same in every passage, it inspires something quite different, which reinforces my opinion that Nin holds up a mirror in her work in which we see ourselves—and as we change, so does the reflection.

So, no matter where one comes from in terms of reading background and experience, the bond formed between the author Anaïs Nin and the reader is unique and always evolving, sometimes in new and unforeseen dimensions. It is precisely why Benjamin Franklin V and I believe that The Portable Anaïs Nin possesses real value to readers of every sort.

Our other Nin titles on Kindle are: House of Incest, Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow.

The Portable Anais Nin TOC

Anais Nin, Paris, 1930s

Anais Nin, Paris, 1930s

As promised in a previous post, we are releasing the Table of Contents of The Portable Anaïs Nin, the most comprehensive Nin anthology yet, which debuts only days from now on Kindle at Amazon.com. It comes out just as many of Nin’s titles are becoming available digitally. The selections in The Portable Anaïs Nin were made chronologically and in their entirety by Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V, whose other titles include Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts (author, 2007); Recollections of Anaïs Nin by Her Contemporaries (editor, 1996); Anaïs Nin: An Introduction (co-author, 1979); and Anaïs Nin: A Bibliography (author, 1973).

The fashion by which Franklin put together this table of contents allows the reader to follow Nin’s growth as a writer and to see how life experiences and relationships contributed to character development, fiction, and overall writing philosophy, which was revolutionary in that Nin sought to speak as a woman, and not an imitator of man.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Preface and Introduction
  • Biographical Sketches
  • Linotte (September-October 1915; on Maman and Papa)
  • Early Diary 2 (July 1921; considering Hugh Guiler)
  • Early Diary 3 (January 1925; an early marital crisis)
  • Early Diary 4 (May 1929; attraction to John Erskine)
  • Henry and June (January 1932; on June Miller)
  • Henry and June (March 1932; on Henry Miller)
  • Henry and June (April 1932; Henry Miller and Nin on Guiler)
  • Henry and June (May-June 1932; on René Allendy)
  • Incest (June 1933; in Valescure)
  • Diary 1 (October 1933; remembering Paco Miralles)
  • Incest (August 1934; abortion)
  • Fire (April 1935; on Otto Rank)
  • The House of Incest (1936)
  • Fire (January 1937; on Gonzalo Moré and Henry Miller)
  • Diary 2 (August 1937; on Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller)
  • Nearer the Moon (March 1939; on Thurema Sokol)
  • “Manuel” (1940-1941; erotica from Delta of Venus)
  •     Preface to Little Birds
  •     Postscript to the Preface of Delta of Venus
  • “Houseboat” (1941; from Under a Glass Bell)
  •     Prologue to Under a Glass Bell (1944)
  •     Preface to Under a Glass Bell (1968)
  • Diary 3 (November 1941; on Robert Duncan)
  • Unpublished diary (June 1943; an affair with Albert Mangones)
  • Diary 4 (April 1945; on Joaquín Nin-Culmell)
  • “This Hunger” (1945)
  •     Prologue to Ladders to Fire (1946)
  •     Prologue to Ladders to Fire (1963)
  •     Preface to Cities of the Interior (1974)
  • “Stella” (1945)
  • Diary 4 (December 1945; on Gore Vidal)
  • Realism and Reality (1946)
  • On Writing (1947)
  • Diary 5 (August 1954; on mother’s death)
  • Diary 6 (Summer 1965; on publishing the diary)
  • An Interview with Anaïs Nin (March 1969)
  • Diary 7 (Fall 1969; on editing the diary)
  • Diary 7 (1975-1976; facing death)
  •  

Our Nin titles on Kindle are: Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow. 

 

      

     

     

Review of An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin

“ANAÏS: An Erotic Evening with Anaïs Nin” ; Written and Directed by Michael Phillips; Starring Sonia Maslovskaya

From now until Oct. 16 at the Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For directions and ticket information, click here. For futher details about the play itself from its official web site, click here.

Guest review by Sarah B. Burghauser

“ANAÏS: An Erotic Evening with Anaïs Nin” is a fictional imagining of what might have happened during one summer weekend in 1954, which Nin apparently does not document in her Diary: writer and director of ANAÏS, Michael Phillips, imagines that Nin (played by Sonia Maslovskaya, the lone actor in this one-woman show) is called to visit June Mansfield Miller in an Arizona psychiatric hospital. While there, she attempts to seduce the doctor under whose care June recovers from her suicide attempt, and communicates with Henry Miller from across a great distance as if he were standing right before her. The three other characters in the play (June, Henry, and the doctor), rather than being physically present on stage, are conjured in the imagination of the audience through Phillips’ writing and through the gaze and gestures of Maslovskaya.

Sonia Maslovskaya as Anais Nin

Sonia Maslovskaya as Anais Nin

It is shocking—and even a bit disturbing—the weight this one weekend has in Phillips’ overall impressions of Nin’s life. What is fact and what is fabrication already stands as a contentious matter in Nin scholarship. While the show makes explicit from the start the fictional nature of this story, making work that directly addresses this theme is audacious (and perhaps also a little refreshing) despite the presumptuousness toward which creative work on Nin often tends. Biographical accuracy notwithstanding, because Nin is a lover of theater and all things dramatic, a play seems a fitting form for this comment regarding fact/fiction to take.

Of course, we can never know whether Nin herself would have found this show to be amusing, flattering, insulting, or what have you. We can only imagine—and imagination is the key ingredient in this show—whether or not these representations of Nin do justice to her fearless and utterly unapologetic way of living.

Red light illuminates a corner of the stage where a chair, small wooden desk, and glass of water wait at the beginning of the show. The Sherry Theater in North Hollywood, being a small space, lends itself to a feeling of intimacy—the audience seems to huddle in the seats, which are so close to the stage we could all but extend our desirous hand for the player to touch.

But while the physical space of the theater evokes intimacy—a sense which stems from close proximity, a magnified need to reach out, to touch and to be touched—the show itself cannot sustain this intimacy and instead vacillates between fostering a feeling of connectivity (or at least the possibility of connectivity) and isolation. Throughout the show Nin fidgets inside the confines of an invisible encasement—the encasement of her past, her memory, her desire—without the ability to connect with actual people (arguably, aside from the audience).

On one hand, the absence of other bodies on stage seems to make space for audience members to fit themselves into the narrative of the show and into Nin’s world. On the other hand, because of her encasement, the audience watches Nin struggle and perform a kind of insanity, attempting to make contact with other people in vain. This futility is characteristic of so many critics’ and fans’ attempts to connect with Nin through her writing.

I use the word “insanity” here very deliberately not just because the play is set in a psychiatric hospital. While we are told Nin is called there to visit June, a resident of the hospital after her attempted suicide, watching Nin bounce around the confines of the stage, literally talking to herself for forty-five minutes straight, throughout the course of the show the audience is taught that it is not June, but rather it is Nin herself who is crazy. Nin chats with the invisible doctor as if in casual confession as she recalls her past exploits with June and Henry, and laments the insufferable complicity and indecision of her husband, Hugo.

One cannot ignore the problem of setting this show—about a woman artist who has been so vehemently indicted for being a calculating, mind-game-playing, femme fatale, a snake—in a nut house. That this is a one-woman show, wherein Nin stews in her own memories so deeply she hallucinates Henry’s presence, only highlights this glaringly misguided (and some might argue downright offensive) choice, which is sure to drive feminists—at least this feminist—mad. The unintentional misogyny in this aspect of the play exists in the unexamined cultural and historical mores about women writers, what it means to be a “good woman,” and how we define “insanity”; a male writer who goes mad is labeled “tortured genius,” while a woman writer who goes mad is “hysterical.” Furthermore, at the time this weekend supposedly went missing in 1954, Nin would have been 51 years old and—even after her plastic surgery—did not bear the taut-muscles and wrinkle-free fresh-face of Maslovskaya, who played her.

In a post-show interview, Phillips talks about wanting to avoid the common perception of Nin’s life as glamorous by setting the play in an ambient café reminiscent of those in which she spent hours arguing, dreaming, and philosophizing with Henry, Lawrence Durrell, et al. So rather than glamorizing Nin’s life in attempt to avoid a cliché, instead, Phillips frames her as completely off her rocker. And why the cast of one? Phillips expresses his desire to let Nin “speak for herself,” something critics/fans/adversaries don’t normally do. Ironically, it is not Nin speaking at all, but Phillips, a further reiteration of the impossibility of knowing a Truth about Nin and a boon to the critical argument that Nin’s work is “in the eye of the beholder.” In fact, in the show, Nin’s character observes that June does not exist at all, that she only exists in other people’s love for her. Over the course of the show, however, it becomes apparent that this is the very argument Phillips makes about Nin: he positions Nin as June—as insane, as seductive, as heedless—and puts her before a desirous audience in order to make her shudder alive.

It is a risky business making creative work based on Anaïs Nin’s life and writing; an artist who broaches Nin’s life with a creative lens is sure to meet harsh reactions from Nin lovers and critics not necessarily because the work is “good” or “bad,” but rather because Nin herself is the subject with whom critics and lovers contend. The complexities and subtext of this show stem almost exclusively from the choice to have a cast of one, namely in the tendency this show has to seduce the audience into a feeling of intimacy, only to remind us—sometimes gently, sometimes coldly—that Nin can never be truly touched. Within this play, between intimacy and repulsion, is the most accurate reflection of Nin I could imagine. ANAÏS is a valiant attempt even as it requires, at best, a suspension of belief, and at worst, an agreement to suspend your misogyny sensor.

House of Incest ebook offer

Cover of Gemor Press edition

Cover of Gemor Press edition

We have spent the last couple weeks celebrating  The Portable Anais Nin, an upcoming entirely new and compelling anthology, by tweeting the entire prose poem House of Incest on Twitter. The process was fascinating because within each phrase there is beauty and hauntingness, not to mention a deep and sometimes disturbing truth. After examining each element of the book, reading the entire interwoven text is mind-blowing, at least in my opinion. To give readers this experience, we are offering the entire ebook free for the next week (until Sept. 17, 2010). To obtain your own copy, visit us on Twitter. If you go back a few tweets, you will find a code, which, when entered on the Smashwords site, will allow you to download the book in any format you wish for nothing. (House of Incest will also be included in The Portable Anais Nin.)

Although the book has been considered unfathomable, even by Henry Miller, it is a matter of letting one’s self go, to submit to the dream, as Nin put it. And as in most dreams, symbolic truths are flavored with their “real” counterparts (or, if you will, manifestations): June Miller (Sabina), D. H. Lawrence (the modern Christ), Louveciennes, the ancient house with a “lost” room, the heavy green gate that symbolized imprisonment, the struggle for freedom, completeness, and rebirth.

We hope you take up the offer and that you enjoy your “trip” out of the house of incest into a new and more elevated world.

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