There is a myth, partly spun by Anaïs Nin herself, that while Henry Miller was a supporter of her writing during the 1930s, he ultimately had no lasting influence on her style. This podcast will prove that not only did Miller influence Nin in achieving a more accessible form of writing after the surrealistically flavored House of Incest, he even wrote some of the passages in her first “mainstream” novel, The Winter of Artifice.
While Miller and Lawrence Durrell certainly believed in Nin’s writing, they were severe critics of her heavily veiled and poetic use of the English language, which even she admitted was often poor due to the fact she was not a native English speaker. Miller encouraged her to put forth her ideas clearly and concisely, and, as you will see, this affected Nin’s future writing in spite of her insistence that she’d rejected Miller altogether in later years. We will also find out why she said this.
In 1939, the Obelisk Press edition of The Winter of Artifice contained three novellas: “Djuna” (the story of Nin’s love triangle with Miller and his wife June), “Lilith” (inspired by Nin’s incestuous affair with her father), and “The Voice” (the story of Nin’s relationships with her psychoanalysts René Allendy and Otto Rank). Today’s edition does not have “Djuna” at all, and the other two stories were significantly altered by Nin in the 1940. The question is: why? Especially when “Djuna” has been called by Nin scholars one of her most solid pieces of work.
It wasn’t until the original 1939 edition of The Winter of Artifice was republished by Sky Blue Press in 2007 that readers finally had access to this long-lost book, and now we can put the mythology surrounding it to bed.
Run time: 21 miuntes
You can listen to the podcast in iTunes here.
You can listen without iTunes here.
The print version of The Winter of Artifice, which was printed in a small edition, is still available at skybluepress.org.
The digital version of The Winter of Artifice can be found on Amazon.com.
A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal seeks contributions for its next issue, which debuts Feb. 21, 2016. See guidelines below:
1. 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.
–Paul Herron, Editor, Sky Blue Press
When Anaïs Nin met Lawrence Durrell in Paris in 1937, she was instantly drawn to his young, ardent mind, as was Henry Miller, who’d been corresponding with him beforehand. Durrell, a young Englishman by way of India and Greece, was an aspiring writer who was heavily influenced by Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, the scandalous novel that Nin helped get published in 1934.
Shortly after meeting and realizing their affinities, they dubbed themselves the “three musketeers,” and out of Miller’s Villa Seurat apartment, they wrote and published three titles under the moniker “Villa Seurat Series”—Nin’s The Winter of Artifice, Miller’s Max and the White Phagocytes, and Durrell’s The Black Book, all published by Obelisk Press.
War separated the musketeers, each going in his/her own direction (Nin to New York, Durrell to Greece and eventually Egypt, Miller to Greece with Durrell and then New York). Each went on to have successful writing careers, although none of them happened overnight. While all three wrote in what might be loosely considered a post-modernist style, each had a significantly different approach to writing: Miller’s works were often carried by his use of explosive language, Nin’s were increasingly introspective and psychological in nature, and Durrell’s were multi-layered texts heavy in symbolism.
Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, consisting of four novels (the first of which, Justine, came out in 1957) about the same events occurring in wartime Alexandria, but told from different perspectives, was his tour de force. The Quartet is still the main topic of discussion among today’s Durrell scholars, three of whom contribute their vast knowledge to A Café in Space, Vol. 3 (2005), just released on Kindle:
Richard Pine, director of the Durrell School of Corfu, writes about the three musketeers in his “The End of Our Romantic Life: The psychic hinterland of Nin, Durrell, and Miller.” In a comparison of how each of their lives affected their literature, he states: “…all three recognized the inevitability not only of writing their lives, but of writing them as both fact and fiction. From this descends the concept of the dual self or of multiple selves, of the reader-as-writer and of the fictional character as a real self.” In correlation with these observations, Pine also examines the role Otto Rank, the psychologist who penned Art and Artist, had in influencing the writing of the three authors.
Nabila Marzouk, professor at Fayoum in Egypt, compares the approach to literary homosexuality in Durrell’s work and that of Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist. After examining homosexuality in Durrell’s Quartet and Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley, she observes: “Durrell represents homosexuality as a positive, enriching experience,“ whereas “Mahfouz’s characters are flesh and blood who are not meant to be taken for more than they are… [Alley character] Kirsha is a mere pervert who delights in his pleasures of the flesh.” She also adds that there is no word in Arabic for “homosexual,” and the one that comes the closest means “sexual abnormality.”
James Clawson, a young American Durrell scholar, writes about the Mediterranean as it appears in Durrell’s work. He notes: “This ‘Sea in the Middle of Durrell’s World’ is more than canvas backdrop. Just as Alexandria uses its inhabitants as flora and precipitates among them various conflicts, so too does the Mediterranean provide an ‘invisible constant’ to influence the peoples around it. For this reason, Durrell’s Mediterranean has by likened to Poe’s Virginia and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”
Also included in Volume 3 are reviews of Durrell scholar Michael Haag’s Alexandria: City of Memory, Pine’s Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape, and Lawrence Durrell and the Greek World, edited by Anna Lillios.
To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 3, click here.
To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 3, click here.
To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.
To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.