Slut-Shaming Anaïs Nin, 2019: Enough!

Meghan Markle has stirred up some waves by using Anaïs Nin’s “I must be a mermaid” quote from The Four-Chambered Heart as inspiration for her collaboration with the British edition of Vogue. Consequently, articles have popped up scrutinizing just who this Anaïs Nin is. One such article, which was published today (August 5, 2019) by Brinkwire and written by an anonymous author, portrays Anaïs Nin (and Henry Miller) in a most unflattering light and is riddled with errors and plain, old-fashioned venom. In order to shed light on the actual truth about who Nin was, I am offering some insight and corrections below.

“The first time Henry Miller made love to Anais Nin, he pounced on her with such ferocity that she felt she’d been ravished ‘by a cannibal’.” [Not true—he actually asked her afterward: “You were expecting more brutality?”]

“It was 1932 and the 20th century’s most notorious writers of erotica were together at her rented chateau outside Paris.” [Neither of them had yet written “erotica.” That did not begin until around 1940 when both were in New York. And her house, which was formerly a living quarters for wine workers, was anything but a “chateau.”]

“Nin’s husband was a rich banker, so she had paid for the impoverished Miller to travel from Dijon, where he was eking out a living as a teacher.” [Nin’s husband had just taken a huge salary cut, and it was drastic enough that he and Nin gave up living in Paris and moved to Louveciennes, a suburb where the rent was cheaper.]

“But even a seasoned philanderer such as Nin was taken by surprise when Miller threw her to the ground and ‘attacked’ her. She was utterly smitten.” [Nin, at this time, had never had sex with any other man other than her husband—she was hardly a “philanderer.” And Miller never threw her to the ground or “attacked” her. Read the diary Henry and June.]

“Nin, who died in 1977 aged 73, was once derided as a ‘monster of self-centredness whose artistic pretensions now seem grotesque’. Yet today her aphorisms are frequently quoted online by a growing legion of fans who are rediscovering her.” [Nin was never attacked this way during her lifetime. The “monster” quote comes from a puritanical reaction to the morally scathing posthumous biography of Nin by Deirdre Bair, which, in spite of its excellent scholarship, reads like an indictment of a woman guilty of high crimes.]

“Nin was a wildly promiscuous woman whose bold sexual experimentation included bigamy, a menage a trois, incest with her own father and writing a book about sexual perversion so sordid — including paedophilia and necrophilia — that even today online retailer Amazon hides it in its ‘adult content dungeon’. She certainly hasn’t always been a fashionable name to drop into conversation.” [The author is probably writing about Auletris: Erotica (Sky Blue Press, 2016), which is clearly no longer in the dungeon.]

“Born in 1903 near Paris to a Spanish-Cuban father and French-Danish mother who split up when she was eight, the beautiful Nin earned a reputation for her untrammelled sex life long before anyone noticed her writing.” [First, she was ten when her father left the family. Second, her highly-regarded book D.H. Lawerence: An Unprofessional Study was written before she knew Miller, her first extramarital lover.]

Meghan Markle

“As she recorded in her diaries and in novels that were thinly disguised memoirs, Nin repaid his devotion by cheating on him relentlessly with the many men who became besotted with her.” [Miller also “cheated” on her, even with prostitutes. Funny, no mention of that.]

“She was fixated with Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis and seduced two leading practitioners who agreed to analyse her.” [First of all, her first analyst, Rene Allendy, was the one who lured Nin to a hotel room where he brandished a whip, not the other way around. As for Rank, the seduction was mutual.]

“She even briefly practised as a ‘shrink’ herself — a deeply unethical one — having sex with her patients on her couch and cheekily later complaining that she couldn’t help but want to ‘intercede’ in their problems.” [I have studied Nin for nearly 30 years and know of no account of her having sex with her patients on her couch. I defy anyone to quote and cite such a passage by anyone who was present then.]

“In fact [Delta of Venus] had never been intended for publication as [Nin] had written it to order, at a dollar a page, in the 1930s for a millionaire businessman in Paris. ‘More porn, less poetry,’ she accurately explained.” [Nin, at Miller’s suggestion, didn’t write erotica until after she returned to New York in late 1939. And the “collector” was an American, not a Parisian. Read the diary Mirages.]

“It was the affair with Miller that helped define her. It was in the early 1930s when Nin, then in her late 20s, met the impoverished, foul-mouthed and bullying author.” [Miller was not a “bully.” He was a robust yet gentle lover and an effective editor of Nin’s work.]

“Soon after, Nin embarked on an affair with the equally lascivious Miller. After that first sexual encounter in the garden, she recorded how in trysts he would treat her like a prostitute, asking her to whip him or crawl on her hands and knees. ‘It is like a forest fire, to be with him,’ she confessed.” [Nin’s first sexual encounter with Miller was at his hotel in Paris, not a garden. And Miller was a not a sadist.]

“Nin became obsessed with [June] Miller and they clearly had a sexual dalliance. In her diaries, she mused about the attractions of sapphism and how the ‘passivity’ of the woman’s role in sex with men ‘suffocates me’.” [Nin and June Miller never had a consummated sexual encounter.]

“When this menage a trois was portrayed in the 1990 film Henry & June — in which Uma Thurman played June — it won a U.S. film classification usually reserved for hardcore pornography.” [Unfairly so, as almost every critic agrees.]

“[Nin] never expressed anything other than delight over the shocking liaison [incest with her father], which perfectly illustrated Nin’s complete inability to feel guilt. [Untrue—the affair deeply conflicted her. Read the diary Incest.]

Anais Nin, 1940s

“For years, Nin was able to keep up a precarious trans-America balancing act (she called it her ‘bicoastal trapeze’), alternating between Pole’s spartan log cabin in the wilds of Arizona, and Guiler’s luxurious flat in New York — fobbing off each man that she occasionally needed to get away for work or relaxation.” [First, they never lived in Arizona. Second, Pole was the one taking money from Nin. Read the diary Trapeze.]

“It never occurred to Nin to consider something as tediously conventional as divorce: she married Pole bigamously in 1955, choosing for the ceremony a remote desert village in Arizona, where she hoped marriage records would be hard to find.” [It was Pole who insisted on marrying her in Arizona—she did not want this, but relented to keep Pole happy. And Nin did consider divorce, but her economic status would have been decimated if she left Guiler.]

“Even after being heavily censored, [the originally published Diaries] remained jaw-droppingly candid about her sexual history and her many lovers — an international array of celebrities including Miller and fellow writers Edmund Wilson and Antonin Artaud, and Freud’s colleague, the famous psychiatrist Otto Rank — and of course her father.” [The original edited Diaries did not clearly assert (or even strongly hint) that she had multiple lovers. This was not known until after 1986, when the unexpurgated diaries began coming out.]

“A friend recounted how they once stopped their car at a petrol station and Nin was surprisingly friendly to all the attendants and mechanics. ‘Oh yes,’ she explained. ‘I sleep with all the men here.’” [That account, by Lila Rosenblum, is untrue. Nin carefully recorded her affairs, even the most insignificant, and nowhere does she write about having sex with mechanics.]

“Nin never had children, although in 1942 she aborted a child at six months. She later admitted she was never sure whether the child was her father’s or Miller’s.” [This abortion, made famous in her diary Incest, was in 1934, and Nin never considered her own father as the father of the child. She was sure it was Miller.]

While these corrections will most likely not reach the many readers of the Brinkwire article, or those it will in turn spawn, at least there is a written rebuttal here. Nin scholarship, for at least the last three decades, has been compromised with misstatements, inaccuracies, puritanical poison pens, all of which add up to slut-shaming. It’s time to set the record straight. The best way to do this is to read her work and do some basic research before exploiting Nin and Markle in a public forum.

The see the original Brinkwire article, click here.

Podcast 27: Anaïs Nin’s ‘Auletris’ is now an audiobook

Episode 27 of the Anaïs Nin Podcast is live. Listen to erotica reader Thurlow Holmes describing her experience reading Nin’s Auletris: Erotica for the new audiobook, just released on audible.com, Amazon and iTunes.

“This was one of the first books that I just read out loud, as I was reading it,” Holmes says in an interview with the book’s editor, Paul Herron. “I was taking this as it came at me, so I could imagine myself in a room with the characters.”

“Anaïs Nin’s words just roll off the page, so you get wrapped up in the moment,” she added.

AuletrisAudiobookCoverWhat sets this podcast apart is a steamy audio excerpt from the first story in the section of Auletris entitled “Life in Provincetown,” during which a lushly-lipped model is making love in studio that is separated by a thin wall behind which, unbeknownst to her, was a young Portuguese sailor listening intently and using his imagination to picture what was being done to her by the nature of the sounds she was uttering.

Holmes was surprised to find out how she got the reading part in the first place, which was a series of events that almost killed the entire production, with the contract being signed on the very day after which Sky Blue Press’s audio rights to the book would have lapsed. “Isn’t it serendipitous how things fall apart, the pieces fall into place and click, and here we are with this wonderful book for your listeners to enjoy,” says Holmes. “Here’s our happy ending,” she joked.

The audiobook version of Auletris runs 2 hours and 49 minutes and can be found on:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

The podcast is 27 minutes long and can be listened to:

With iTunes by clicking here

Without iTunes be clicking here

New Anaïs Nin Podcast and A Café in Space

We are celebrating Anaïs Nin’s 114th birthday with two major events: First, the publication of the 14th volume of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, and the 24th episode of The Anaïs Nin Podcast.

The theme of this year’s A Café in Space is twofold: erotica and Nin’s relationship with her parents. Scholars from India and England look at Nin’s childhood and how it affected her life: Kastoori Barua’s essay uses popular theory to explain how Nin’s life choices were influenced by the unusual relationship she had with both parents, while Jean Owen explores adult-onset incest, using Nin and Kathryn Harrison as examples. Casandra Lim uses Freud’s theory of Oedipus to explains Nin’s relationships. The erotica aspect comes from the recent release of Nin’s long-lost collection Auletris: Erotica, and we present the introduction to the book as well as a lengthy excerpt. Erotica writer Lana Fox then uses Auletris as inspiration for her short story “L’Étalion.”

Also included is never-before-published correspondence between Anaïs Nin, Joaquin Nin-Culmell and Eduardo Sanchez regarding contentious character descriptions of family members in the first volume of The Diary of Anaïs Nin, some of which is explosive.

CafeVol14-Cover-Draft-1

Nin scholars Simon Dubois Boucheraud and Jessica Gilbey also provide article to volume 14, while David Green treats us to his experiences in Durrell country in France. There is an excerpt from and a review of Kazim Ali’s new book Anaïs Nin: An Unprofessional Study and a tribute to John Ferrone from Tristine Rainer.

Short fiction, poetry and art are from Danica Davidson, Katie Doherty, Kennedy Gammage, Harry Kiakis, Steven Reigns, Chrissie Sepe, Colette Standish, David Wilde and Changming Yuan.

At $15, and with this caliber of work, it’s a steal.

Podcast 24 concentrates on the history and future of Anaïs Nin’s diary publication. As you may know, we are fast approaching the May 2017 release of the sixth unexpurgated diary, Trapeze, which covers the beginning of Nin’s double life with husband Hugh Guiler and lover Rupert Pole on opposite ends of the country. We talk about the misconceptions behind the original series (the controversy surrounding the “missing husband”), the development of the early diary series, and a look at the rocky unexpurgated series, one which has reached incredible heights with Henry and June, and horrible lows after Incest was published in 1992, setting up the collapse of Nin’s popularity. I talk about the editing of both Mirages and Trapeze, and the two future diaries, about which few know at this point.

Coming in at 20 minutes, I guarantee it’s worth the listen.

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.
To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order volume 14 of A Café in Space, click here.
It is also available as a digital edition.

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

Next Page »