Anaïs Nin’s Greatest Human Triumph

By 1973, Anaïs Nin and Hugh (Hugo) Guiler had been married for 50 years, yet neither of the two ever ceased trying to discover themselves or to understand their relationship. Also by 1973, Nin had for decades been splitting her personal life between Guiler in New York and Rupert Pole in California, trying (and not really succeeding) to keep the two men unaware of each other. In Nin’s unexpurgated diaries Mirages and Trapeze, we discover how Nin used her double life as a means of attaining a sense of wholeness—for in Guiler she had security, artistic understanding, a meaningful social life and access to medical and psychological care; in Pole, she had sexual passion and sensual fulfillment. Since there was seemingly no man alive capable of giving Nin everything she needed, she resorted to two—but this was by no means an ideal situation. As one discovers in Trapeze, Nin was often terribly frustrated by both the point of using each as someone to escape to because of the other.

Guiler, who was a complicated man with two distinct sides—a banker obsessed with money and a sensitive artist who dabbled in engraving and film— from the very beginning was unable to sexually satisfy his wife, who turned to multiple lovers six years into the marriage. Eventually, in 1947, she met the ideal lover in Pole. During that time, Nin was financially bound to Guiler—neither she nor Pole were capable at the time of supporting themselves alone. The arrangement led to resentment and a feeling of being trapped on Nin’s part, and as she spent more and more time away from Guiler, he began to realize he was losing his wife and, like Nin, turned to psychoanalysis to help cope with the situation. The dichotomy between banker and artist widened, and Guiler often felt inadequate as a banker (he had a habit of reckless speculation and was always trying to compete with his dead father, a successful businessman) and as an artist (he was, whether he admitted it or not, competing with his wife). The marriage deteriorated to the point when, in 1949, Guiler floated the idea of divorce by Nin—which, because of her need for security, she rejected. For the next three decades, the Guiler marriage stumbled from one crisis to the next, and, near the end of her life, she declared she and Guiler were “bad for each other.”

After Nin’s success with the Diaries in 1966, she became the breadwinner of the Guiler family. While she abhorred living with Guiler for even short periods of time because of his constant psychological and financial floundering, she would not divorce him out of a sense of gratitude for all he’d done for her—a sense she often labeled as “guilt.” Instead, she supported him and allowed him in his later years to continue filmmaking and to live a comfortable life. While Nin was resigned to the failure of the marriage, Guiler continued to see personal evolution through psychoanalysis and science, which brings us to a letter he wrote to Nin in 1973 after she had spent a “miserable month” with him:

New York, September 13, 1973

Darling: I am terribly sorry to have given you a miserable month after my return from Europe. I am so glad to hear that you have also recovered physically and emotionally. [Psychologist Inge] Bogner says it is crises like this one that strengthen us—or [give us] the ability to surmount them. But she has already helped by saying that most of what happened was due to forces (some of them world forces) that were not under my control.

Certainly it is now clear to me that I brought back from my work only the worries and the tensions, and that I could not expect you to understand that there were also many real satisfactions in the work itself. The truth is that I never really felt adequate in the business world, an inadequacy that was symbolized by my apparent difficulty with arithmetic. Great light has been thrown on this kind of problem by an article by a woman scientist [Maya Pines] in last Sunday’s NY Times. It is a long extract from a book, which Harcourt Brace is bringing out next month [The Brain Changers, 1973]. I hope you will see to it that they send you a copy. Essentially, scientific experiments have proved that our brain is in two segments—the right side inarticulate in language, mute, understanding only in images, and it is clearly related to our dream life. The left side is intellect, analytical (like a Virgo), and is something like a computer. [Each of] these two segments are locked under their own shell and normally connected by hundreds of fibers. But when these fibers are severed (as in the case of an operation for epilepsy) the result is two personalities in the same person, and the left, intellectual personality is always trying to give rational explanations of apparent irrational (or strange) reactions in the other. You helped me to keep these two personalities joined, rather than severed as they would have been with any other kind of wife. So I think that while my father had something to do with my actions, the whole thing is more mysterious than just that, and the woman scientist herself says that no one has been able to penetrate that area.

What is remarkable is how you have been able to throw so much light on an area [business] which was, as you say, alien to you, and in this sense you have achieved, for yourself, as well as for me, an extraordinary equilibrium, helped probably by your persistent efforts to be articulate, which in someone less balanced would have made a Virgo of you. In this sense your writing did more than make you a great artist, but also kept the connection between the two shells in a state of communication, and this to me stands out as perhaps your greatest human triumph.

Love, Hugo

While this letter could be filed under the “too little, too late” category (they would permanently separate only a year later), it certainly provides insight into how Guiler saw himself within the context of his marriage, and it demonstrates his recognition of Nin’s incomparable ability help others find themselves.

Hugh Guiler, New York, 1974

Sky Blue Press and Swallow Press team up for a new Anaïs Nin diary

Sky Blue Press has just signed a deal with Swallow/Ohio University Press to co-publish Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947-1955. This partnership is a continuation of the one formed for the publication of the previous diary, Mirages (2013), which was the first Nin diary published since 1996.

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Mirages begins when World War II forced Nin and her husband from Paris, and, as the title suggests, her post-Paris life isa series of failed attempts at both literary acceptance and romance. After a seven-year crossing of what Nin called a “desert,” she finally meets the man she feels will be the “One” for her, the young out-of-work actor from California, Rupert Pole.

Trapeze deals with the life Nin has chosen for herself—the double life, living part time with her husband Hugh Guiler in New York, and part time with Pole in Los Angeles. It is a brutally honest look at what seems to be an impossible arrangement, the maintaining of two lives, two men, two homes, and the lengths to which Nin went to keep her most audacious secret yet. What kept her from choosing one man over the other? Did she find true happiness? What sort of physical and psychological toll did this lifestyle have on her and her two men? And how did she handle the complete collapse of her writing career in the austere 1950s America? All of these questions will finally be answered.

Trapeze will be released in Spring 2017 in both print and ebook formats.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 15: Nin’s Editor John Ferrone

When one thinks of Anaïs Nin’s Henry and June, Delta of Venus and Little Birds, one thinks of her “blockbusters,” her most popular and bestselling works, titles that put her on the map. Two of the three books were made into Hollywood films, and Henry and June became notorious because of its first-ever NC-17 rating. The two volumes of erotica, Delta of Venus and Little Birds, propelled Nin’s reputation as a groundbreaking feminine erotica writer. While Nin wrote all of the material in these volumes, the man who made them bona fide successes was John Ferrone, Nin’s editor.

John Ferrone & Anais Nin, 1970s

John Ferrone & Anais Nin, 1970s

Nin met Ferrone in 1969, and by 1973 he was her fulltime editor at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Nin was so impressed with his editing that as she gave him 850 pages of raw erotica, written some thirty years prior for a dollar a page, she gave him the following instructions: “Do anything you like with it. I trust you.” Ferrone wrote “The Making of Delta of Venus” for Volume 7 of A Café in Space in which he describes the great lengths he had to go to in order to sort out the entangled and complicated stories, to craft them into top-notch literary collections.

When Ferrone was editing Henry and June in 1985, he clashed with Nin’s “West Coast Husband” and Trustee of The Anaïs Nin Trust over how the book would appear—Rupert Pole wanted none of Nin’s writing changed, whereas Ferrone recognized the need for significant alterations in order to produce a commercially successful book. Their letters were so incendiary that after the book was done, Ferrone never edited another Nin book. For more on this, read Ferrone’s “The Making of Henry and June the Book” in Volume 4 of A Café in Space. The exchanges are legendary.

I was saddened to learn that John Ferrone died on April 10, 2016 in Old Bridge, New Jersey, due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. There will be a memorial service at the Most Holy Redeemer Church, 133 Amboy Rd., Matawan, NJ on May 24 at 11:30. For more information, visit mostholyredeemerchurch.org.

Podcast 15 is devoted to John Ferrone and tells the story of how he was instrumental in helping me with the most important project I’d ever undertaken at that point—the editing of 1,600 pages of handwritten diary pages into Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947, the first such diary in nearly twenty years.

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

To order Volume 4 of A Café in Space, click here.

To order Volume 7 of A Café in Space, click here.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 12: He Said, She Said

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947 documents a long period of “erotic madness” when Anaïs Nin, in order to find someone who could relieve her of her stifling marriage to Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, went from one failed love affair to the next. Her paramours included youngsters, artists, homosexuals, and one in particular, with whom Nin claimed to never have consummated the affair, C.L. (Lanny) Baldwin, a businessman who wrote poetry on the side. There is an entire section of Mirages devoted to him, entitled “L’homme Fatal,” meaning the sort of man with whom Nin would fall in love, knowing that it would lead to utter disaster. In Diary 4, which did not chronicle any sort of intimate details of Nin’s love life, Nin nonetheless describes her efforts to convert Baldwin to her way of living—in other words, the artist’s life, or bohemianism, if you will. When he resisted, citing the responsibilities of career, wife and children, she became enraged and turned on him. Mirages goes deeper and reveals that, according to Nin, Baldwin was attracted to Nin and her lifestyle, but did not have the courage to make love to her or to give up the bourgeois life.

Anais@work

Anais Nin at Gemor Press

Fast-forward forty years. Among Gunther Stuhlmann’s archives was a manuscript by Lanny Baldwin called “A Movement in Mauve: A Memoir,” which tells his side of the story. Stuhlmann never published the document, and it lay in a folder for another twenty-five years before its discovery after Stuhlmann’s death in 2002. The memoir is remarkable because it is one of the only documents in which one of Nin’s “boyfriends” actually describes in detail his affair with her. It is also remarkable because it counters much of what Nin said in both Diary 4 and Mirages.

The memoir will be published in its entirety in volume 13 of  A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, available Feb. 21, 2016.

To listen to excerpts from both the diary and the memoir, listen to our podcast:

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

Run time: 15 minutes.

Anais Nin Podcast 7: Ménage à Trois: Nin, Miller and Money

The love affair between Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller is one of the most famous literary liaisons in modern history. In episode 4 of The Anaïs Nin Podcast, we learned how it came to an end, through a series of incredible letters, published in Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947.

But was the relationship over for good? Was there any shred of it that survived?

Listen to Nin’s comments on their failed reunion in 1947, and how their relationship reached a new low when Miller’s friend Alfred Perlès revealed details about the Nin/Miller affair in his book, excerpted from an article in A Café in Space, Volume 12.

Henry Miller, 1961

Henry Miller, 1961

Episode 7 tells us how money played a big role in the ultimate reconnection of Nin and Miller. Miller had won the famous “obscenity trials” and got a huge advance from his publisher just at the time when Nin was down on her luck. Did Miller come through for her, as she had done for him time and again for decades? And how did their meeting go after a 15 year hiatus? Read Nin’s remarks from her unpublished 1962 diary, which are both disturbing and moving.

Run time: 18 minutes

To listen to the podcast in iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order Mirages, click here.

To order A Café in Space, Vol. 12, click here.

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.

Anais Nin Podcast 5, part 2: 5 more questions for Anais Nin with answers

La Coupole: 1930s social media?

La Coupole: 1930s social media?

Part 2 of episode 5 of The Anaïs Nin Podcast picks up where Part 1 left off: with answers to the last five of the ten questions Nin fans said they would have liked to ask her, the answers to which are thoroughly researched and explained.

The subject matter of Part 2 includes the Paris café life as a precursor to social media and how Anaïs Nin would have used Twitter, Facebook, blogs and podcasts today; the end of her love affair with the famed “laboratory of the soul,” her home in Louveciennes, and her undying affinity with France; how Nin kept (or didn’t keep) her two husbands unaware of each other; Nin’s choice to not bear children—whether it was selfishness, as commonly thought, or a much deeper reason; and how Nin went about the construction her most ignored genre of work, her fiction.

louveciennes1931smaller

The “laboratory of the soul”

With the invaluable help of Sex Love Joy podcaster, Anaín Bjorkquist, these questions are addressed, discussed and answered as closely as possible to how Anaïs Nin herself would have.

Once again, special thanks go to Lulu Salavegesen (@Shimmerinbloom) for the concept of this series.

You can listen to Podcast 5, Part 2 on iTunes by clicking here, or, if you don’t have iTunes, by clicking here.

To learn about Part 1 and listen to it, click here.

Run time: 33 minutes. Enjoy.

Anais Nin Myth of the Day #19: Who’s that with Henry Miller?

Myth #19: The woman in the photo with Henry Miller is Anais Nin.

HenryMiller&MargaretNeimanFact: Recently photos of “Henry Miller and Anais Nin” taken by Man Ray have been popping up on Twitter and various blogs. The photos have been dated as either 1942 or 1945, which piqued my interest since by that time, Nin and Miller’s relationship was over. Furthermore, there is no mention of such a photo in Nin’s diaries, including Mirages, which covers those years. Posing nude with Miller for Man Ray would, one would think, make it into the diary.

The woman does resemble Anais Nin, except she is more endowed, curvier. The face and hands, however, could be hers. I have to admit that I was in doubt for a brief moment until I did a little research and discovered her true identity: she is Margaret Neiman, wife of Gilbert Neiman, both of whom were Miller’s friends in Los Angeles, where they invited Miller to stay with them at their home. Documentation of this relationship can be found on The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company: A Henry Miller Blog. The photos were indeed taken in 1942.

Miller was at the Neimans’ when Nin broke off her relationship with him, blasting him for his propensity for living off others, Nin and the Neimans included. “I don’t want you back,” she famously wrote, after Miller said he planned to return to New York and get a job.

For more on the Miller/Neiman relationship, visit the Miller Blog by clicking here.

To read the breakup letters between Nin and Miller, order Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947.

Anais Nin Podcast 3: How Anais Nin Changed a Life

The third Anais Nin podcast is here! In response to a question I sometimes get–“Who are you and how did you get this way?”–I share my journey that began with the movie Henry and June and has resulted in Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947–and everything in between.

The podcast is 12 minutes long. Enjoy and feel free to comment.

Click here: Podcast 3

From Henry and June

From Henry and June

Anais Nin Podcast 2: Demise of the Nin-Miller Affair

Most Anais Nin readers are well aware of how her famous literary love affair with Henry Miller began, but few know exactly how and why it ended. Excerpts from their last exchange of correspondence reveal the details of the fiery end.

For the entire series of letters, read Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947, either in PRINT or as an ebook on KINDLE or iTunes as well as other formats.

Enjoy the podcast. Running time: 12 minutes.

Click here for the podcast: Podcast 2

Henry Miller at Louveciennes

Henry Miller at Louveciennes

Next Page »