Marguerite Young’s reaction to The Diary of Anaïs Nin

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

youngreactiondiary

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

Review of Henry Miller: The Last Days

Kraft, Barbara. Henry Miller, the Last Days, a memoir (Texas: Sky Blue Press 2016) 203 pp.

Only a few months after Anaïs Nin’s death, Barbara Kraft attended a ‘Q & A’ talk by Henry Miller, (whose work she had always admired)… This rediscovery led to Kraft writing and reading ‘An Open Letter to Henry Miller’ on an NPR station… Miller subsequently invited her to cook dinner for him, and, of course, to engage in conversation (which led to) a mutually nurturing friendship for the last two years of his life… Paul Herron, Introduction

The Open Letter to Henry Miller (1977) appears at the end of Kraft’s paean, a moving tribute that flows like a Henry Miller watercolor and echoes as one of his favorite pieces of music, Scriabin’s Sonata No. 5 in F-sharp, Op. 53.

Kraft opens with a brief summation of Henry Miller’s life and passing before she begins with her first meeting of the famous writer as one of his many rotating cook in early 1978. “A modest man, surely the most unaffected, unself-conscious human being I have ever met.”

Readers will find no need to underline, star, mar or highlight this flawless gem that radiates the illuminating facets of a self-taught man, a writer who ranks with Emerson, Thoreau and other major authors who have received their due in American literature. However, albeit Miller was read widely during his time, he did not receive the recognition and glory he deserved and still deserves.

FrontCoverEbookKraft’s meetings with Miller seem to weave his immediate life with his passing, as though they were one. In Kraft’s Dec 26, 1979 interview with Miller, he said, “Sex is not everything. It’s the last thing in a way, in one sense, compared to love. Without love one is hopeless. One can’t live without love. It’s the spiritual food that we subsist on.”

In the same interview, he said, “I’m old-fashioned and I’m glad to be old-fashioned because I think they have misinterpreted my own words.”

Miller was wed five times and fathered three children. What the reader will discern from Miller’s final days is the fact that he continued his habit of painting with canvasses spread on his ping pong table, continued to be generous by allowing strangers and family to board in his house, and continued to be a scintillating conversationalist who did not dwell in his past. In New York in the thirties before he left for Paris, he literally begged in the streets so he could eat, a habit which ended when someone tossed coins in his face, proving to him this was not the way of a writer. Yet he still needed to eat, and in Tropic of Cancer Miller describes how he sent letters to fourteen people asking if he might lunch or dine with them one day a week.

At his home in Pacific Palisades, Miller enlisted sixteen cooks who came and created a dinner for him once a week. No doubt, Barbara Kraft was his favorite, and she stood up for him when he was neglected by his caretakers and arranged for the compassionate Bill Pickerill to stay with Miller during his last weeks, ensuring someone would be there at the end.

Of his ten year affair with Anaïs Nin, Miller wondered aloud how she could have been attracted to him, and Kraft, who was a close friend of Nin during the last three years of her life, wisely answered it was because he was “so plain and down to earth.”

She added: “You rooted her. She needed your realness, your simplicity and directness. Otherwise she might have flown off into space, given her obsession with escaping anything resembling reality.”

For Henry Miller was a free spirit and a true poet. In Kraft’s memoir Anaïs Nin: The Last Days (Sky Blue Press, 2011), readers do not detect Anaïs’s great love of literature and reading. There is a focus on forgiveness for her past. Nin had a desire for fame and the love she sought in so many men who only gave her sex. There is suffering that does not exist in Henry Miller’s last days although he was deaf and blind in one eye, frail to the point he could not even hold up his head even at dinner.

But, Miller was never a complainer, never a man who bemoaned his lack of recognition. He truly loved women, and was greatly inspired his last love, the beautiful, young Brenda Venus; he never had a need of forgiveness. He was a philosopher, unlike Nin, and also a man who, like Faulkner, no doubt believed in the indomitable human spirit. One of Miller’s adages:

“Those who think with the heart see life as a tragedy while those who perceive it with their heads see it as a comedy.”

Miller called Barbara Kraft “a writer for all time.” She truly is. Despite the chaos of going through a horrendous divorce after a lengthy marriage, she was able to immerse herself in Henry Miller’s life and death. What she placed on her mirror to buoy her spirits after Miller’s quiet death on June 7, 1980, “at home in his own bed,” are Henry Miller’s own words to uplift us all:

Paradise is everywhere and every road… One can only go forward and then sideways and then up and then down…there is perpetual movement…which is circular, spiral, endless. Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads… Understanding is not piercing of the mystery but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it.

Reviewed by Rochelle Lynn Holt
rochellelynnholt.com

Podcast 23: The Diary of Anais Nin: Who Was In, Who Was Out

Fifty years ago Anaïs Nin’s decades-long struggle to escape obscurity and misunderstanding came to an explosive end when Harcourt published the first volume of The Diary of Anaïs Nin. It was an instant commercial and critical smash and propelled Nin from the shadows into the spotlight, from acult figure status to fame, at the age of 63, a status she would enjoy until her death in 1977.

The Diary is noted for its character study of Henry Miller and his wife June, as well as several other notable people, and it was done in a way that left out the intimate details of Nin’s love life, which kept her husband, family, and lovers from being hurt or scandalized. Even without this aspect of Nin’s life, the Diary was hailed as a fascinating document of the inner life of a creative and incredibly intuitive woman-artist who socialized with fascinating people in Paris of the 1930s…and because it was released at the dawn of second-wave feminism and the overall “youth movement” of the 1960s, it resonated with young people, especially young women who saw Nin as a sort of feminist and free-thinking pioneer. The timing could not have been better.

eduardoletter

Eduardo Sanchez’s letter to Anais Nin (fragment) Click to enlarge

What is generally unknown about the Diary is what had to be done in order to include the characters who inhabit it. Had Henry Miller declined to be in it, it probably never would have been published, or if it had, it certainly would not have been as successful. In this podcast, we find out exactly what Miller thought about his portrait, and what he asked Nin to keep or delete.

We also hear from two people important to Nin—English writer Rebecca West and cousin Eduardo Sánchez—both of whom refused to allow Nin to include them. West was one of Nin’s earliest female idols, and Sánchez was Nin’s childhood crush and her confidant during her early adulthood. Sánchez’s condemnation of not only his portrait, but the Diary itself, is astounding, as you will hear in a letter he wrote to Nin in 1965.

Run time: 12:33

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

This podcast is sponsored by Auletris: Erotica by Anaïs Nin, just released 75 years after it was written.

Podcast 22: The Battle to Uncensor Anais Nin’s Auletris: Erotica

When Anaïs Nin’s long-lost erotica collection, Auletris, was published in October 2016 by Sky Blue Press, it was immediately censored by Amazon, the world’s largest retailer. What was amazing is not only was the most recognizable name in female erotica rendered invisible during searches, others were not, including, unbelievably, an entire category of “dinosaur porn.”

Detail of cover, from a card in Nin's collection

Detail of cover, from a card in Nin’s collection

Was this a gross misunderstanding, or was it ignorance? Is it possible that the higher-ups had never heard of Nin despite her bestselling erotica Delta of Venus and Little Birds? This is the story of how Sky Blue Press took on Goliath and ultimately, with help from the media and customers, won.

Run time: 14 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To purchase Auletris, click here.

To read a review of Auletris by Los Angeles Review of Books, click here.

To listen to a panel of experts discuss Auletris, click here.

Seeking inmates of Amazon’s dungeon

As you may know, The Anaïs Nin Podcast is a monthly program that touches upon anything and everything having to do with Nin and her work. This month we saw the release of her new erotica collection Auletris by Sky Blue Press, and when Amazon placed it into its “adult content dungeon,” which rendered it unsearchable, a controversy arose that led to media coverage and, amazingly, Amazon’s changing their mind.

cover170x170But not everyone is so lucky. Amazon’s dungeon is still filled with several books that will never see the light of day.

Now, to my point: this practice of making books invisible is the topic of the next podcast. It amounts to modern-day censorship. Are you an author or publisher who is in the dungeon, or have been? If so, I want to hear your story. You can write me at skybluepress @ skybluepress . com. I plan on airing in mid-November.

Perhaps together we can make a difference.

To order Auletris: Erotica, click here.

Amazon Releases Anaïs Nin’s Auletris From Its “Dungeon”

auletriscoverIn a move that reminds me of the draconian book-banning obscenity laws of the first part of the twentieth century, retail giant Amazon rendered Anaïs Nin’s new erotica collection, Auletris, unsearchable on its website, citing “adult content” as the reason. This is widely known as Amazon’s adult content “dungeon,” and it makes the book practically invisible to readers even if they actively search for the title. The end result is that sales are effectively killed.

But after the media began to cover the controversy earlier this week, Amazon has now reversed its stance and has made Auletris visible to buyers, just as other mainstream erotica is, including Nin’s Delta of Venus and Little Birds, not to mention Fifty Shades of Grey.

Stories by News.co.au and the Guardian slammed Amazon for the practice of censoring books, and there were other news agencies ready to jump on the bandwagon—this, I believe, helped change the minds of Amazon’s shadowy “catalogue team,” which decides which titles are searchable and which are not. I personally think that the people who comprise this modern-day censorship board did not realize who Anaïs Nin is and had no idea about the implications their soft ban of Auletris would have.

I want to thank everyone who participated in spreading the word about this practice, who helped me connect with the media, and who lent moral support and shared outrage at this twenty-first century form of censorship. We, as readers, have the right to make our own decisions about what we read, and it is insulting for Amazon to dictate our choices to us simply because they feel like it and have the economic power to do so. This right, as far as Auletris goes, has finally been upheld, and I want to commend Amazon for making the right decision.

However, what about all of those left in the “dungeon”? What about those authors who are forced to make significant changes to their work to make it searchable? Who will stand up for them? I, for one, think that Amazon needs to rethink its policy have having a “catalogue team” making such decisions, and seemingly on a whim. When one can readily find “dinosaur erotica” in an Amazon search, why is it that other books don’t see the light of day?

Thank you for releasing Anaïs Nin from the dungeon, Amazon. She was perhaps among your most prestigious inmates…but it’s time to eliminate the dungeon altogether.

To purchase Auletris, click here.

How to purchase Anais Nin’s Auletris Erotica


NOTE: Amazon has since rescinded it censorship of Auletris. I am leaving this post up as a matter of history.

As you may know, Amazon.com has censored Anaïs Nin’s new collection of erotica, Auletris, having it flagged as “adult.” This flag, known as the “adult content dungeon,” renders the book unsearchable unless the seeker is adept at getting around the fact nothing shows up when the title is entered in the search bar under “all products,” which is how most people search for books. Most people would simply give up at this point, although some have dug and dug and finally find ways around the block. When all is said and done, my guess is that the vast majority of people seeking Auletris in their library will fail in their endeavors, which is not only a shame, but is utterly unfair in light of the fact that something like “dinosaur erotica” is easily found and purchased, whereas arguably the most important erotica writer of all, Anaïs Nin, is not.

auletriscoverI have argued with Amazon that if someone is actively seeking the book, they should at least be able to find it. It’s bad enough Auletris doesn’t appear automatically, and totally unthinkable that someone who wants it cannot find a way to purchase it. It’s also bad business for everyone involved.

So, I am offering you, the reader, easy ways to get around Amazon’s morality police. Below are links that will take you directly to Auletris without having to search for it. Simply find your country and click on either print book or ebook (assuming each is available).

Amazon (USA) print book
Amazon (USA) ebook

Amazon (UK) print book
Amazon (UK) ebook

Amazon (Australia) ebook

Amazon (France) print book
Amazon (France) ebook

Amazon (Canada) print book
Amazon (Canada) ebook

Amazon (Italy) print book
Amazon (Italy) ebook

Amazon (Spain) print book
Amazon (Spain) ebook

Amazon (Netherlands) ebook

Amazon (Japan) ebook

Amazon (Mexico) print book UNAVAILABLE
Amazon (Mexico) ebook UNAVAILABLE

Amazon.com (India) print book

Amazon.com (Brazil) print book
Amazon.com (Brazil) ebook

Amazon.com (Germany) print book
Amazon.com (Germany) ebook

Barnes & Noble print book

Please share this post with your friends and fellow readers.

To complain to Amazon about their censorship of Auletris, take a moment and call them at 866-216-1072 (USA only). Amazon should not treat their customers as if they are incapable of making their own decisions about what to read.

Anaïs Nin’s Auletris Erotica Censored by Amazon

NOTE: Amazon has since rescinded it censorship of Auletris. I am leaving this post up as a matter of history.

Anaïs Nin’s new erotica collection, Auletris, has achieved a status that no Nin book has had since The Winter of Artifice (1939) was banned in the USA: censored by the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon. If one does a search for “Auletris,” nothing shows up unless one does the search in “books” or “Kindle store.” So, to the casual observer, Auletris does not exist. There has been a concerted effort on the part of Amazon to block customers from this book.

auletriscensoredAmazon says that it has made the decision that Auletris shall not be searchable because of its “adult content.” Even the cover is obscene, they say. Delta of Venus? Searchable. Little Birds? Searchable. Auletris? In a class by itself. Why?

The contents of all three books are written by the same author, in the same fashion, touching upon many of the same taboos. Delta of Venus has incest, rape, necrophilia, among other topics, and yet anyone can find it easily on Amazon. What sets Auletris apart? What is it about the book that has Amazon skittish about its status? Has Nin gone too far? It is true that Auletris exceeds the taboo standards set by its predecessors, but is that the reason for the censorship?

Or is it a sign that the literary climate in America is returning to the days when censorship boards, whether governmental or private, decide for us what we can see or not see?

Sky Blue Press was told to make changes to Auletris if it is to be deemed searchable: to change the cover, which contains an image from an erotic card from Nin’s personal collection; to change the contents, which is tantamount to telling an artist to alter a masterpiece to make it more palatable to the masses. Sky Blue Press has refused this request. Auletris, it says, is pure Nin, and no changes will be made.

There is only one way to solve this problem—and to make a statement—buy the book from Amazon and prove that censorship will not deter sales.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

How Anaïs Nin’s Auletris Erotica Got Published

When I first discovered a folder from Gunther Stuhlmann’s archive that read “Provincetown Erotica??” I had no idea what was about to happen. I hurried through the correspondence from late 1985 to early 1986, which discussed the fact that a copy of Auletris by “ANin” was up for auction—and that no one, not even Anaïs Nin’s executor, agent or editor, had ever heard of it—and got to the Xeroxed pages from the book itself. I read the following words which open “Life in Provincetown,” the collection’s first section:

aulterisfolderOne long main street running along the Bay outline, Portuguese fishermen sitting in circles like the Italians and chatting. Behind the houses on the main street are wharves which project out on the water at various lengths. On these wharves are the huts, shacks, which the fishermen once used to store their nets, tools, and the boats to be repaired. It is here that the artists live. The roofs are peaked and beamed. Everything is made of rough wood like the inside of some old ship. At high tide the water runs under the wharves, at low tide it exposes a long stretch of sand.

The walls are thin. One can hear everything. Often the shades are not down, and one can see everything.

There are no guardians, no one to say: stop the noise, or to see at what time one comes home. No superintendents, house owners. Just the lonely wharves, in darkness at night, the sound of the water, and little crooked shack-like studios occupied by a variety of people.

The town is full of soldiers, sailors, and beautiful Portuguese girls…and summer visitors in shorts.

There is one movie, one bar where women are not admitted and several night clubs.

In one studio there lived one of the artist’s models, whose mouth was so big, so full, so prominent, that one could see nothing else. When she looked at one, one could notice only the mouth, like the mouth of a negress. She rouged too heavily, and then powdered her face white, so that the mouth stood out even more and was able to eclipse the rest of the face and even the body.

As one knew she was a model, well known in the Village in New York, one assumed she had a beautiful body, but somehow one only looked at the mouth. Somehow or other one imagined the other mouth to be equally luxuriant, equally prominent. Just as one felt that the thin-lipped mouths of Puritan women must he the exact replicas of their thin-lipped sexuality.

Then it stopped. Just like that, I was at the end of the copy, and I could tell just by this short passage that Auletris contained classic Nin prose and heralded a very erotic story. It was this passage, stuck in the folder and hidden there for thirty years, that drove me to find the rest of the book. I had to know what came next! It was a supreme tease, you see.

Once I located a copy, I prayed that the rest of it would fulfill the promise that Nin seems to make in the opening pages. As they say, the rest is history. Not only does Auletris deliver on its promise, but it exceeds much of Delta of Venus or Little Birds in its boldness and variety.

I decided to publish it because, as far as I’m concerned, it deserved to be. The book came out yesterday. Now, at last, the world can discover this treasure for itself.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

To listen to an expert panel discussion of Auletris, click here.

Podcast 21: Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica Part 2

We are celebrating the publication of the new collection of Anaïs Nin’s new book! Listen as The Anaïs Nin Podcast gathers some dynamic experts who discuss the long-lost collection of original Anaïs Nin erotica, Auletris, which is being published today.

My guests—erotica writer, reader and popular podcaster Rose Caraway; women’s sexuality expert Anaín Bjorkquist; erotic writer and publisher Lana Fox; and Nin scholar Jessica Gilbey—have all read Auletris and give their reactions. It is a lively, sometimes hilarious and yet serious discussion of Anaïs Nin’s demolishment of taboo, poetic descriptions of even the most forbidden topics, the effect her erotica has on the reader, and the standing it has in the world of literature. And featured in this podcast is Rose Caraway reading from Auletris.

This is a must-listen for any fan of Anaïs Nin, erotic fiction, or both.

Run time: 53 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy of Auletris, click here.

For a brief history of the discovery of Auletris, click here.

auletriscover

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