Anais Nin Myth #21: All of Anais Nin’s erotica has been published

Myth: Delta of Venus and Little Birds contains all of Anais Nin’s erotica.

Fact: In spite of editor John Ferrone‘s insistence that the only Nin erotica that did not get published were “scraps” that ended up on the cutting room floor, an important collection of unpublished erotica existed. In fact, Ferrone himself knew of it by 1985, as his correspondence to Nin literary executor Rupert Pole proves.

An auction house approached Harcourt, for whom Ferrone worked, wanting biographical information about Nin since they were about to auction off a book called Auletris by “A. Nin,” which was one of only five copies produced by Press of the Sunken Eye in 1950. Auletris was divided into two “books”: “Life in Provincetown,” none of which had ever been seen before, and an uncut version of “Marcel,” which appears in abbreviated form in Delta of Venus. Upon reading the text, Nin was verified as its author.

For some reason unknown to me, neither Ferrone nor Pole pursued this book any further, and no one mentioned it again until I discovered the correspondence earlier this year. Upon reading Auletris, I recognized its importance and literary value and realized that it needs to be published. Therefore, Sky Blue Press will release it in October 2016.

To learn more about Auletris, read our recent post.

To hear an 11-minute history of Auletris, click here.

For a reliable source of Anais Nin quotations, get THE QUOTABLE ANAIS NIN: 365 Quotations with Citations.

Podcast 20: Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica Part 1

Listen to how Anaïs Nin’s erotica collection was lost during the 1940s and has only resurfaced today under the title Auletris.

Auletris is virtually unknown to Nin scholars and readers alike. Originally written for Barnett Ruder in the early 1940s, it was sold to a California collector in the 1940s, and five copies were typed up and sold under the table in 1950. Amazingly, its existence became known in 1985 when a copy was being auctioned—but it was never published, and the public never knew about it.

Unknown to all, a copy of this mysterious book was housed at a major university library, and after much detective work, it was located, transcribed, and will be published in October by Sky Blue Press.

This is nothing short of a major literary event. Be among the first to learn about the details of this find.

Run time: 11 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

This podcast is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations

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

Detail of erotic postcard from the private collection of Anais Nin.

Auletris: Long Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica

This is the story of how I discovered that not all of Anaïs Nin’s erotica has been published, despite Delta of Venus and Little Birds editor John Ferrone’s insistence to the contrary.

When Ferrone approached Nin in the 1970s about publishing the erotica she had written in the 1940s for a collector at a dollar a page, she initially bristled at the idea, fearing it may taint her reputation as a serious writer. However, Ferrone made a convincing argument after reassuring Nin that not only would it not harm her reputation, but it would bolster it since the writing was, as we now know, brilliant and ground-breaking. The rest is history—Delta of Venus and Little Birds became New York Times bestsellers shortly after Nin’s death in 1977 and have been translated into dozens of languages across the world.

Ferrone said that of the 850 pages of raw material he was given, only scraps remained, nothing worth publishing. But I, by a minor miracle, was to find out that this is not so.

Gunther Stuhlmann was Nin’s longtime literary agent and, I’m proud to say, a friend of mine. After he passed, his wife Barbara gave me much of his archive because she felt I might be able to do something with it. One day, not long ago, I was going through a folder that held a collection of correspondence from the 1980s, and among it was a letter from Ferrone to Stuhlmann saying that an auction house was selling a copy of a book illicitly printed in 1950 called Auletris, which supposedly contained original Nin erotica. The book was one of five copies in existence and contained two stories—“Marcel,” which is about 50 pages long, and “Life in Provincetown,” which is a similar length. A severely edited version of the former story appears in Delta (17 pages long), while the latter is nowhere to be found in any Nin book or archive.

What intrigued me were the half dozen opening pages of “Life in Provincetown” (page 1 is below) that the auctioneer had Xeroxed for Stuhlmann—they most definitely contained Nin’s writing, and they seemed to indicate she was at the top of her game when they were written. I had to find the rest of this book!

After a lot of research, I found out that a copy was hiding in plain sight in the special collections of a university library, and I was able to obtain a copy of the text. When I read the entire manuscript, I knew it had to be published, because it is valuable for three reasons—first, not a word of the Provincetown story has ever seen the light of day; second, “Marcel” appears in its original form, unedited, with several lengthy passages that landed on the cutting room floor, never to be seen again; and third, because the quality of the writing is superb and not tinkered with for commercial reasons.

Auletris breaks many taboos—there are tales of incest, sex with children, rape, voyeurism, cutting, sadomasochism, homoeroticism (both male and female), autoerotic asphyxiation, to name a few, all set in old Provincetown, Paris, and other exotic locales; the characters are deliciously decadent, and the themes are largely based on Nin’s own experiences recorded in her unexpurgated diaries. This book comes along just as interest in both Nin and the genre of erotica is booming.

Auletris will be published by Sky Blue Press this autumn.

facsimileLIP

Page 1 of “Life in Provincetown” (click to enlarge)

Another book inspired by the Stuhlmann archive: The Portable Anais Nin.

Podcast 8: Anaïs Nin and Lana Fox—From Tragedy to Triumph

Anaïs Nin’s erotica and especially the unexpurgated diary Incest have attracted a polarized response—on the one hand, readers enjoy Nin’s adventurous spirit and her powerful, haunting and eloquent writing; on the other is a very vocal and “moral” reaction to the point where some feel impelled to discard Nin from reading lists altogether. There are those cannot get past the notion of such “taboos” such as incest, intense sexuality and abortion. But what about those readers who have experienced some of these things themselves? Lana Fox, erotica writer and co-founder of the sex-positive Go Deeper Press, discusses how, as a sexual abuse and incest survivor who was bullied in school and shamed for displaying any sort of her own sexuality, was able to transform her life, and how Anaïs Nin played a very important role in her rebirth. She says that Delta of Venus and the Incest passages “totally changed” her life, validated her sexual fantasies and helped her overcome the impulse to end her life. Not only did Fox bloom as a writer, she was able to transcend her past and create a world in which she could live and thrive.

lana_fox-300x300

Lana Fox

Lana Fox has also contributed an article entitled “Love Will Come: How Anaïs Nin Fostered My Erotic Creativity” to A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 13, which appears in February 2016.

Run time: 36:11

To listen to Podcast 8 on iTunes, click here

To listen without iTunes, click here

Links:

Lana Fox on Twitter: @foxlana

Go Deeper Press

Lana Fox’s fan fiction book based on Nin’s writing: Cathedral of Furs

Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1932-1934

Delta of Venus

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947

Pre-order volume 13 of A Café in Space

 

Call For Papers: A Cafe in Space, Volume 13

A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal seeks contributions for its next issue, which debuts Feb. 21, 2016. See guidelines below:

Cafe121. Content must at least peripherally involve Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, or members of their outer circle, including those who influenced their writing. Articles can be academic in nature, or more general, depending on topic.

2. Essays should be in the realm of 2,000-6,000 words, but we’re flexible depending upon topic.

3. We accept poetry as long as there is a correlation, at least in spirit, to Anais Nin.

4. We accept short erotic fiction if it is in the spirit of or inspired by Anais Nin.

5. We accept visual art, including photographs as long as it relates to Anais Nin et al.

6. Deadline for proposals is the end of August 2015. Deadline for final drafts is December 1, 2015.

Submissions, inquiries and proposals can be sent to skybluepress @ skybluepress . com

We will consider submissions for future issues of A Café in Space based on room, theme, or other factors.

To better understand A Café in Space, we recommend purchasing a recent issue on Amazon or any other electronic vendor before submitting. Print copies can be ordered from http://www.skybluepress.org

–Paul Herron, Editor, Sky Blue Press

Paul Herron dishes on Anais Nin with Rose Caraway

Rose Caraway

Rose Caraway

Erotic writer/blogger/podcaster Rose Caraway (found on Twitter as @RoseCaraway) recently had me as a guest on The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotic Podcast, and we discuss Anais Nin’s erotica (with an excerpt from a previously unknown erotic story), her use of language, sexuality, fiction, diary, and writing style. We take a sneak peek at the upcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1947-1955, which chronicles Nin’s perilous double life with two husbands. We ponder Nin’s unpublished erotic storyMontparnasse,” which is unlike anything in Delta of Venus or Little Birds and try to reason why she wrote the story in the first place. Was it just an example of bad writing, or was it the result of something her anonymous collector had said? Find out here. Run time: just over an hour.

To listen to the podcast in iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

A list of available Anais Nin titles

How does one sort through hundreds of websites to find elusive Anais Nin titles? We’ve compiled a concise list to help you out.

To purchase a book that was once a part of Rupert Pole’s and Anais Nin’s personal collection at their Silver Lake house in Los Angeles, including rare and out of print titles, click here.

To find and purchase any title Swallow Press published (virtually all of Nin’s fiction and other titles as well), click here.

In the past year, several Nin titles have been made available as ebooks. To search the ever-growing list, click here.

To find the print versions of Nin’s (both original and unexpurgated) diaries, click here.

To locate Nin’s erotica, click here.

To examine or order print versions of A Cafe in Space, the only current Anais Nin literary journal, click here.

Sky Blue Press has the only print version of the original The Winter of Artifice, a facsimile of the Obelisk Press edition that was, according to Nin herself, banned in America. There are still copies of this limited printing left. To find out about the book, or to order, click here.

A complete list of all of Nin’s fictional characters is collected in Anais Nin Character Dictionary. To learn about this title, click here.

Are we missing anything? If so, leave a comment and we’ll attempt to answer all questions.

Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #14

Myth #14: It was Anaïs Nin’s wish that Delta of Venus be published.

Fact: According to John Ferrone, Nin’s editor at Harcourt in New York, it was Rupert Pole who wanted the erotica to be published, predicting its bestseller status. For years, Pole tried to convince Nin that the erotic stories she wrote in the 1940s for a dollar a page were not only publishable, but would be immensely popular. Nin, however, insisted that the erotica was “imitative” of masculine pornography and nothing special, just pages she dashed off with “tongue in cheek.” Once Ferrone saw the stories, he immediately recognized their uniqueness and literary value. After he convinced Nin that her stories were more than worthy of publication, she finally gave in, although she didn’t live long enough to see Delta of Venus reign on the bestseller list for 36 weeks. Ferrone wonders whether she would have been disillusioned—that something she wrote as a “joke” would outsell all her other titles combined.

deltaofvenus-coverAlthough Nin wrote in the postscript of the book that in spite of only having male pornography as a model, she “was intuitively using a woman’s language,” Ferrone questions whether she actually felt that way or was simply capitulating to his own opinion that she was a pioneer in feminine erotic writing.

For John Ferrone’s wonderful recounting of the story of Delta of Venus, see A Café in Space, Volume 7, pp. 53-61.

Interpreting Anaïs Nin’s Erotica: do we see it as we are?

Image courtesy of Bonni Reid

Image courtesy of Bonni Reid

If there is any consensus about reading Anaïs Nin, it is that one sees aspects of one’s self in the work—whether it be fiction or the diary. Nin’s work is a mirror of sorts, and sometimes a distorted one. This is what makes Nin’s writing “personal,” and therefore “universal,” and is also a reason why there are so many disagreements about its meaning. A reader with a feminist point of view will see the feminism, and another will see something else entirely, and we haven’t even gotten into gender differences.

And about the erotica: one reason it has seen so little serious academic criticism is that it is generally believed that she knocked these stories off in her spare time with little thought or care at a buck a page for a collector, and then, near the end of her life, “sold out” by having them published. In his article “Claiming Ownership: Issues in Nin criticism—the diary vs. the fiction” (from A Café in Space, Vol. 6), Bruce Watson notes that “In his review of Nin criticism, Anaïs Nin and Her Critics, [Philip K.] Jason gives the Erotica a scant page of attention, prefaced by the dunning statement that: ‘Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979) add little to Nin’s stature, even though they sold amazingly well…’ Jason’s tart commentary on Nin’s Erotica seems the stock critique of the seasoned academic when faced with popular literature; he seems to distrust it for the very fact that it is popular.”

However, today there is a growing trend to look critically at the erotica and to write about it. In fact, there are three articles that address Nin’s erotica in the current A Café in Space.

 

In her article “A ‘Clanging Cymbal—The Story of Anaїs Nin’s Reception,” Sarah Burghauser points out that “We […] know, and understand why some folks have a problem with [Nin]: but they oftentimes can’t see beyond their own ideas of what a woman writer should be and what sort of work she should produce.” Burghauser illustrates this idea with critic Edmund Miller’s take on Nin’s erotica: “[Miller argues] that Nin’s erotica does not work well as either fiction or erotica, saying, ‘Their [the stories] tendency to thwart arousal is partly a consequence of the loose plotting, but may have derived in part as well from a feminine misunderstanding of what works to arouse men.’ In this passage, Miller is complaining not only on the book collector’s behalf (as per his protest to poetry) but also on his own.”

 

One could claim that Edmund Miller is misinterpreting the erotica, but it could be that he is merely viewing it through his own prism—this is one of the reasons that criticizing Nin’s erotica specifically, and Nin’s work generally, has rarely been a unifying endeavor. If there are a dozen Nin readers, there will be nearly a dozen interpretations. The good news is that the erotica is finally getting the attention it deserves: as valued fiction, as groundbreaking women’s writing, and as a form of feminism, all valid considerations, and all debatable.

 

Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #5

Myth #5: Anaïs Nin’s erotica disqualifies her as any sort of feminist.

 

In the February issue of Glamour, there is an article entitled “6 Crazy Sex Requests Women Just Like You Have Heard.” One of the requests, reported by a 32-year-old woman was, “My husband asked, ‘Can we do it, but can it just be all about me?’ It gets better: He said I could keep the TV on so I wouldn’t miss The Office” (Glamour, p. 100). On the Smoking Gun website, there is a “Contract of Wifely Expectationsin which a man lists requirements his wife must fulfill, which, it could be argued, are repressive to say the least. Both these articles reveal that for some men, patriarchy is alive and well.

As shown in the article “Feminist Smut(?)A study of Anaïs Nin’s erotica,” by Angela Carter in A Café in Space, Vol. 6, patriarchy is a thread running through Anaïs Nin’s erotica (Delta of Venus and Little Birds). For example, Carter uses a story from Little Birds to illustrate that Nin wrote of women’s struggle for sexual liberation in a time of patriarchal mores:

When read in the context of feminist criticism, “Hilda and Rango” is in many ways one of Nin’s more troubling stories. The reader sees the story’s protagonist struggle because her sexual actions are not socially acceptable for women. As the story unfolds, Hilda becomes more and more sexually passive in order to please a male lover who subscribes to conventional gender roles. When the story ends as Hilda submits passively to a dominant male lover, it is easy to assume, mistakenly, that Nin is sustaining gendered traditionalism. (A Café in Space, Vol. 6, p.97)

The story is based on actual events between Nin and Gonzalo More, the Peruvian who swept her off her feet in Paris in the late 30s. Despite his apparent bohemianism, More was very traditional in that he felt women should be submissive and allow the man to “have his way.” Before meeting More, Nin had been sexually awakened in her relationship with Henry Miller, who allowed her to be bold and daring. “Hilda and Rango” parallels this duality: the natural desire to be sexually adventurous and the social pressure to be passive.

Nin writes that when Hilda makes an advance on Rango, he suddenly “pushed her away as if she had wounded him” and tells her that she “made the gesture of a whore.”

The story ends with Hilda submitting completely to Rango, denying her own sexuality in favor of his. Carter goes on to say:

Her will was her desire to initiate sex and Rango drove it out of her. He now rules her sexuality by denying it and forcing her to lay almost corpse-like while he teases her. In the last candlelit moment, he leads their intercourse like the demon she first saw in him. Sadly, this moment when Hilda’s idealized dream of passivity comes true is instead Rango’s moment, “his desire, his hour” (Little Birds 120). The moment that should have fulfilled the passive Hilda’s dream is not her moment at all. By leaving Hilda’s sexuality completely out of the story’s conclusion, Nin provokes the reader to question what happened to her desire, her hour. (A Café in Space, Vol. 6, p. 102)

Carter shows us that Nin indeed used her erotica to highlight the suppression of female sexuality. While Nin was never a second wave feminist in the true sense of the term, her erotica could be viewed as feminist since it expresses the struggle of women to be sexually liberated in the early 1940s, long before second wave feminism took root.

Do you have an Anaïs Nin myth you would like addressed? Let us know by e-mailing us.

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