In Silver Lake, California, there is a home where Anais Nin lived that is a mythical as any, including her famous house in Louveciennes, France. It was a home that her lover, Rupert Pole, had dreamed of from the day he and Anais came to California in 1947. Rupert wanted roots, stability, and yet his was a free and soaring spirit, and both of these aspects attracted Anais Nin, the married writer with whom Pole fell in love. Nin was someone with, as she put it, “portable roots,” someone who both longed for the sense of “home” and yet needed to live without boundaries, perhaps explaining her many moves from many homes, all of which were given her personal touch, a touch that was constantly in flux, as was she.
Rupert stubbornly saved his money for years and years, and when it came time to create a permanent home (as permanent as a home could be when living with Anais), he called upon his half-brother, Eric Wright, son of Lloyd Wright, and grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright, both of whom were important figures in 20th century architecture. Eric created a home that is symbolic of both Rupert’s and Anais’s worldview—a place that is firmly planted on a hillside north of Los Angeles and, because of its glass wall facing west, gives one the feeling of floating in the sky and the mountains. Truly, the house contains elements of both the rootedness of a home and the sense of freedom and openess.
I am no expert on the details of the art of making a house, but I am keenly aware of how my senses react when in one, and being in the Silver Lake house gives me the feeling of both comfort and adventure simultaneously, a perpetual flowing of the senses, a feeling of being somewhere otherworldly, and it brings out the romantic in me.
While the Silver Lake house has many elements that make it instantly recoginizable as a “Wright” house, it also has a strong feel of the orient. And in spite of its relatively small size, with its ingeniously placed and disguised nooks, it can contain a seeming universe of treasures, as it once did when it was occupied by Rupert and Anais. It is an incredibly rich space.
Rupert, who called it the “house of the century” in a letter to Anais, expressed his feelings about it when construction was nearing completion. He said that “the beauty of this house is really the beautiful relationship of its occupants. Eric doesn’t know it—but our house is really designed for love…”
To hear an interview with Eric Lloyd Wright, click here.
To visit Eric’s web site, click here.
To hear Eric speak about Anais Nin at the anais @ 105 event (2008), click here.
Volume 9 (2012) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal has been released on Kindle. The print version is coming soon as well. This issue explores the details of Nin’s early “trapeze life,” the swinging back and forth between her New York husband and Los Angeles lover, which was to last for 30 years. Kim Krizan, the Academy Award nominee for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, visited the UCLA archives and shares the fascinating discoveries she made in her article “Anaïs Nin: Typical American Wife—life with Rupert Pole, 1953.” Not only does Krizan discover that after six years with Pole Nin finds herself in the same role she was in some thirty years earlier with her young husband Hugh Guiler—a “typical American wife” baking pies, tidying the house, shopping, mending—but unlike the Guiler relationship, the one with Pole was punctuated by hypnotic sex scenes so powerful that, in spite of her better judgment, Nin was compelled to create an elaborate double life, one that would last until her final days.
Also in Volume 9, to complement Krizan’s article, are excerpts from Nin’s 1950 diary and correspondence to Pole from the same time period. “The Tree and the Pillar,” culled from Nin’s diary, gives us an idea of what Nin thought about her
relationship with Pole and how conflicted she was about it. Consider this passage:
Five years ago I began to use naturalization as one of the many myths to justify my departures. Americanization. Divorce. Jobs. Lectures. Magazine work. Publication of books. Christmas holidays with my family. Illness of [my brother] Thorvald at a New York hospital. Problems of A Spy in the House of Love. Disguises. Metamorphoses to cover my trips—my other life. The questions put by Rupert are answered with more lies. Only the passion and the love are true, so deeply true, so deeply true—but do they justify the lies told to protect it?
This should be a joyous moment, a moment of finding each other again after I conquered all the obstacles which pull me away. [Rupert] does not know each return is a victory, that each return has taken great efforts, great planning, great lavishness of acting in New York.
When one considers the fact that Nin not only had to create an impossibly complicated scheme to keep Pole unaware that she was still married to and living with Guiler in New York, but she had to convince Guiler that her trips to California were for the sake of her health and her writing—and she had to do this each and every time she made her trips from one to the other—and she kept it up for nearly three decades—it is mind-boggling, to say the least.
To give the reader an idea of how far Nin went to maintain this lifestyle, a selection of letters written to Pole explaining her trips to New York are presented. Entitled “A Web of Lies,” a term Nin herself used to describe them, these letters are so detailed that it seems impossible that they could be almost pure fabrication. All of the jobs she describes, and the people with whom she works, the writing she does for various magazines, her residences, are fictional, and yet she keeps up a narrative that accommodates all of seemingly illogical twists and turns of her schedule (usually caused by changes in Guiler’s plans), why Pole was not allowed to call her (because she was with Guiler and not in some friend’s apartment), and where the money she was bringing in was coming from (she claimed her work brought it in, whereas it was Guiler’s money), etc. This short snippet of correspondence is a mere fraction of Nin’s efforts to keep up the façade.
And how was Nin able to develop such ability for spinning webs of lies? Nin scholar Simon Dubois Boucheraud writes of Nin’s “fake diary,” which was one of Nin’s earliest attempts to keep her husband unaware of the fact that she was having
an affair, this time with Henry Miller in Paris in the early 1930s. Guiler had read one of Nin’s diaries that described a sexual encounter with Miller. In order to counter this stunning turn of events, Nin’s plan was to keep a fake diary which she hoped Guiler would read “by accident,” one in which she writes of how the diary Guiler read was actually a diary that contained her fantasies. This so-called “real” diary, which was actually fiction, would then cause Guiler to think the actual real diary was fake. It is an amazing journey with incredible detail—and it foreshadows her future “trapeze life.”
We will include further explorations of Volume 9 of A Café in Space in future posts.
To order Volume 9 from the Kindle store, click here.
From 1947 until her death thirty years later, Anaïs Nin lived what she called the “trapeze life,” swinging from Hugh Guiler, her husband in New York City, to Rupert Pole, her lover and then husband (although not legal since she never divorced Guiler) in Los Angeles. By the time the letters that appear in A Café in Space, Vol. 5 were written, Nin had lived her double life for more than a decade and was well rehearsed in the sort of deception she needed to maintain it.
Pole was under the impression that Nin was working for Eve magazine for $100 a week in New York and for twice that when she was “assigned” to Paris. In fact, while Nin had written for Eve, she was never an employee. Her trips to New York had little to do with the magazine business—they had to do with Hugh Guiler. Her Paris trips were gratis, thanks to Guiler’s bank position, and they were put up in the posh Crillon Hotel at the bank’s expense.
During 1960, Rupert Pole was in the middle of the construction of the fabled Silver Lake house, designed by his half-brother, Eric Wright. Being on a teacher’s salary, he naturally felt that it was necessary for Nin to “work” in New York and Paris to help pay for the place, so, while he detested being apart from her, he accepted the situation. Of course, most of the money Nin brought to Pole was Guiler’s, since Guiler believed he was supporting her during her “healing” trips to California.
Pole sometimes became suspicious of Nin’s trips, questioning the logic of some of her scenarios, and she struggled to keep him at ease. Her letters were at once tender and gentle, and yet she laid out what she was about to do in no uncertain terms, always coming up with the right things to say in order to justify her actions. She used whatever worked, and she never gave quarter. (Her letters to Guiler, incidentally, were in much the same vein—tender, newsy, placating, even loving—but they relentlessly supported her choices.)
Following are a couple samples of the Nin-Pole correspondence from A Café in Space, Vol. 5, which has just been released on Kindle. Pole is in California, taking care of his ailing cocker Tavi (the same dog that accompanied Nin and Pole on their first cr0ss-country trip in 1947) while Nin was in Paris.
Letter from Rupert (Spring 1960, Los Angeles)
Quel jours! After wrote you from beach took Tavi to McWherter’s today (Monday after school) hoping he could help but fearing he’d want to put him to sleep. He’s having same thing with his mother so was very sympathetic—”Tiger” he called, but Tavi so limp and listless and not like a tiger at all—but Mac gave him another kind of injection (to “feed” the brain) and said lots of cockers have lived through strokes!! Said I could give him a little water after—thank god as the ice bit was really getting me down—also he can have a little ice cream to keep up his strength—so I tore down to get some only to find he didn’t like it—but he does seem little better today and is functioning normally (I take him out and hold him up to wee wee). School is not difficult—I’m just as glad to have him in the car where he can’t hurt himself.
Hurried home to fix things Reginald liked (he called yesterday night late to say he had to talk to me) then called him to find he was feeling much better and thought he’d go down to Dorothy’s and wait for her to come home!!!
Sooooo threw out the last of the suki yaki vegetables in ice box (which had gone bad) and settled down to eggs, carrots, and the chipped beef which Tavi can’t eat.
To relax decided to go to the Bergman “Brink of Life.” Wow what a mistake—why didn’t you tell me!!! Labor pains, abortions, death—went through it all with them as Bergman’s actors always force you to do—how did he get those scenes?? And that was the actress on the operating table, not someone dubbed in. Even the second film (French) was hardly the relaxing kind—the hero—a wonderful man with liquid eyes and a mustache like Gil’s—guillotined before the camera at end just after he finds his love!!!!!!
But all this—loveless marriages—children with no father—love aborted by the guillotine—only makes me realize more and more and more how very wonderful our love is—and how very precious.
That damn insurance thing you always send—always starts me thinking what life would be like without you—and each time I realize it would be completely lifeless—it would be no life at all—much worse than Tavi’s life now—where he is at least spared pain—and thought—and of course he long ago stopped worrying about love…
But not his master—take good care of the master’s love—and return it soon—unchanged.
Letter to Rupert (Spring 1960, Paris)
Your letter about Tavi upset me so much I was sad all day. Just before I left I whispered in his ear that he should wait for me and keep well. I had an intuition, and I wrote you about it—I was at Grazilla’s and seeing her dog I worried about Tavi—I know what he means to us, yet darling, old age is so cruel it is better to not be alive—and the Tavi we knew lately was not the real Tavi. He has had much love and care—more than any dog I know. You know, he often wobbled to one side—he must have had a slight stroke before—I hate to think of Tavi being ill when I am not there to console you, to greet you when you come home. I hope perhaps it was a false alarm—and he may be all well now—I thought of you all day. Got your letter in the morning.
At 5 o’clock the English Book Shop started its autograph party. All sorts of people came—old friends—new ones—writer, poets, Sylvia Beach, Harold Norse, Mellquist, an art critic who gave me introduction to biggest Swedish newspaper, etc. A Negro singer like Josephine Premice—painters, etc. We stayed until 9 o’clock. I was dead and hungry—then 8 of us went to dinner—small place. Fanchette got drunk and talked a lot of nonsense. 2 girls from Vienna who couldn’t talk at all, then on to Deux Magots where I dumped them at midnight—too many people. I returned wishing to be in my little home with you—realizing more than ever I am made for intimate life—not public life. I’m tense and not happy with most people. I need the tropical warmth of my Acapulco marriage, life “a deux.”
I hope I get another letter before I leave Saturday—The French never heard of Madrebon Roche [a drug]! I thought I could buy it cheaper here. It must have another name. I can get LSD from Jean Fanchette who is working at psychiatric hospital—perhaps.
Te quiero chiquito—love to Tavi…tell him to wait for me.
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.
Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal will be released after Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday, February 21, 2011.
This issue contains letters from Anaïs Nin, Hugh Guiler, and Rupert Pole, between 1975 and the end of 1977. Never seen before, these letters shed light on two very important considerations near and just after Nin’s death: first, the degree to which Nin’s marriage with Guiler had deteriorated; second, the amazing alliance Pole and Guiler forged after Nin’s death. Guiler’s very first letter begins:
Dear Rupert: As we are going to be communicating with each other from now on I think it is well that I do what I can to make things as easy as possible for us both, and I want to start by being quite frank with you.
And then he reveals that he had been aware of the “special relationship” that Pole and Nin had “for more than ten years.” In what could have been a bitter exchange, Guiler instead reached out to Pole, and the two men developed mutual sympathy and ultimately respect. Volume 8 contains the first two letters between Pole and Guiler and subsequent correspondence as well.
Nin’s illness and subsequent death was the backdrop for this group of letters, and her illness was something she never publicly discussed or wrote about, except in her unpublished diaries, The Book of Music and The Book of Pain. Now, one of Nin’s friends during the last two or three years of her life, Barbara Kraft, has written a memoir entitled Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, from which the preface and first chapter are included as an introduction to this difficult and mostly unknown period.
Most of us are aware of the effect Nin’s father’s abandonment had on Nin’s love life, of the psychological need to re-conquer him through other men, and finally by trysting with her father himself. But there were other ramifications as well, which Kim Krizan highlights in her article, “Anaïs Style.” Nin is known to have dressed exotically, to have created her own outfits, to always have stood out from the crowd no matter her age. Where did this fascination—and even obsession—come from? Krizan insightfully makes a connection between the scars left by Nin’s father’s abandonment—and perhaps just as importantly, his exclamation of “How ugly you are” when she was ill as a little girl—and her need to dress beautifully, to “de-uglify” herself. Using quotations from the childhood diary, Krizan makes her case that Anaïs Nin’s lifelong fascination with style was actually an act of self-healing.
Tristine Rainer, a friend of Nin’s, was also close to another Nin friend, Renate Druks, the heroine of Nin’s final novel, Collages. In a sometimes humorous and sometimes distressing film treatment, Rainer uses Druks’ own commentary to tell the saga of her torrid affair with a young and tragic sports hero, Ronnie Knox, in her “The Bohemian and the Football Player.”
Also in this issue are criticisms of Nin’s writing by Nin scholars Joel Enos and Sonya Blades; a critique of the relationship between Nin and Maya Deren by Japanese scholar Satoshi Kanazawa; an analysis of Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Henry and June for his movie of the same title by Anita Jarczok; a recollection of Rupert Pole’s father, Reginald Pole, by Harry Kiakis (followed by the editor’s research on the once-famous Shakespearian actor); the introduction to The Portable Anaïs Nin by Benjamin Franklin V; photography, art, fiction, poetry, and reviews.
A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 8 will be released in a limited edition, so be sure to reserve your copy now. You may order in three ways: by credit card; with PayPal; or by snail mail. Price is, as always, $15.00.
Reginald Pole, who was Rupert Pole’s father, referred to Anaïs Nin as his “daughter-in-law,” since he, like Rupert, believed that Anaïs and Rupert were legally married (when they married in 1955, Nin was married to Hugh Guiler, her first and only legal husband). Nin mentions Reginald in some extended passages in her Diary 5, passages that contrast his apparent genius for the stage and his dark, self-destructive personality. In A Café in Space, Vol. 8, which has just been released, Reginald Pole is highlighted in two different articles, one a personal recollection by Harry Kiakis, who was an acquaintance of the then elderly Reginald, and another which includes passages from Nin’s published and unpublished diaries and excerpts from a memoir by Reginald’s great love, Beatrice Wood, about their personal relationships with him.
All three writers witnessed Reginald’s quirky habits, his dozens of bottles of medicine surrounding him in darkened, musty hotel rooms, his penchant for wandering the streets late at night and sleeping until noon, his always-declining health which prompted Nin to consider him a manifestation of death, his clinging ways, his manipulativeness.
And yet, Reginald Pole, born in England, was once a heralded Shakespearian actor, a director, a writer, a playwright, working with John Barrymore and Boris Karloff and garnering rave reviews in the early part of the 20th century and the respect of the best in the stage business. His uncle was William Poel (a misspelling of his name that stuck), who revolutionized how Shakespeare was represented on the stage. Exposure to his uncle and an education at Cambridge, where, with Rupert Brooke, he founded the Marlowe Society, led Reginald to the stage quite naturally.
After a long but spotty career, Reginald died in the 1960s after a mostly agonizing physical life, torn by loneliness and ill health. Much of his work on the stage is largely forgotten, never having been recorded, and most of what is written about him centers on his formidable idiosyncrasies. Through excerpts from a long-lost essay by Reginald entitled “The Essence of Drama,” which was published by the English review Service, we can perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of his great mind. He begins:
“The theatre is the playground of the human soul. Upon its stage all dreams of beauty that are expressible in terms of the physical brain of man may be brought into visible realization. It is the focusing point wherein can be merged the experiences of varied units of consciousness. Here is the true round table where the thoughts of the world’s great Art Templars are pooled. Here is the synthesis of all emotional forces that seek their freedom in the world of Art. For the Theatre is the congenial host of all the arts. None is unwelcome, for each here has its field. And to obtain the fullest power of life each art must welcome the service of its fellows.”
He criticized European and American theatre:
“America has reflected the best, and at times the worst, of Europe. As yet there is nothing new. That is to come. In the West the soil is fertile, and waits but for the grain… Modern Europe is not at all behind the Athenians. But the enormous output of theatrical trade and commerce tends to blind the issue. Yet the theatres and motion-picture houses, which make convenient sitting rooms for our tired and jaded neighbors, have no more in connection with the art of the theatre than the same neighbors’ photograph-albums have with the art of Rembrandt, or the clothes they wear with Byzantine tapestries. We must take them for granted, we who love the theatre, and pursue our own course free and unafraid. For that which we follow has the power that shakes the world.”
He concludes with:
“‘Art and Religion mutually condition each other,’ wrote Wagner; “these two form but one single organism.’ Every true artist knows this in his soul. The mission of Art, as that of Life itself, is to regenerate, or to fulfill, the Life of Man. Only with such aim is the greatest in art achieved. Only with such aim shall the Theatre fulfill itself, that man may be one with Nature, likest God.”
Beatrice Wood noted in a letter to Nin after Reginald’s death, “I, like you, sensed his heights and wish he could have stayed there…”
To see more or to order Vol. 8, click here.
Myth #15: Rupert Pole “romanticized” the story of his first meeting of Anaïs Nin.
After Anaïs Nin’s death in 1977, Rupert Pole loved to tell the story of how he met her, the great love of his life, for the first time. In early 1947, they had both been invited to the same party, and they happened to get into the same elevator on their way up. He said one of the first things he and Anaïs noticed were each other’s ink-stained hands, which became the basis for their conversation that night—they both worked at print shops. It has been said in at least one Nin study that there was no basis for his description, that Nin’s version of the evening was quite different than Pole’s, that she never mentioned having ink on her hands, nor on his, in any of her writings. The conclusion was that Pole invented these details in a “romanticized” and “charming” version of the story.
However, in one of Anaïs Nin’s final unpublished diaries, she recalls the meeting:
There was a party at the Chelsea Hotel, the old fashioned Hotel writers loved. I wore a black taffeta long skirt and a blouse. I entered the elevator. A very tall, very slender young man lowered his head to see the other passengers. I suddenly became aware of large eyes, brown, green, gold, eyes the color of Venice. His eyelashes were dark and very thick. His eyebrows very hairy. He had a long slender neck. This whole design of his neck and shoulders was of extreme stylization and yet he looked sturdy. We happened to sit on a couch. And then it was we noticed each other’s hands: ink stained only as printers get stained. We talked about printing. He was an actor, and between jobs he helped his friend to print Xmas cards. And I was printing my own books. He appeared to me the ideal figure for Paul in the Children of the Albatross.
While this memory was recorded late in Nin’s life, it matches Pole’s version of the story closely, disproving the argument of romanticized embellishment.
In late 1947, Anaïs Nin went to Acapulco with her lover Rupert Pole, with whom she’d been involved for most of that year. Her stay there was remarkable in that it inspired her to write the novel Solar Barque, which evolved into Seduction of the Minotaur.
The central character, Lillian, who appears in several Nin novels, is a pianist who has come to Mexico to escape her drab role as wife to Larry and mother of two children. “With her first swallow of air she inhaled a drug of forgetfulness…” in the city she calls Golconda, which was “Lillian’s private name for this city which she wanted to rescue from the tourist-office posters and propaganda. Each one of us possesses in himself a separate and distinct city, a unique city, as we possess different aspects of the same person. She could not bear to love a city which thousands believed they knew intimately. Golconda was hers.” Acapulco, or Golconda, during the 1940s, although beginning to draw tourists, was not far removed from the fishing village it had historically been.
In Volume 5 of The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Nin describes (actually in retrospect) her arrival in Acapulco: “I am lying on a hammock, on the terrace of my room at the Hotel Mirador… The sun, the leaves, the shade, the warmth, are so alive that they lull the senses, calm the imagination. This is perfection… It is eternal, it overwhelms you, it is complete.”
In the novel, the hotel “was at the top of the hill, one main building and a cluster of small cottages hidden by olive trees and cactus. It faced the sea at a place where huge boiling waves were trapped by crevices in the rocks and struck at their prison with cannon reverberations.” The Hotel Mirador, overlooking the famous cliffs from which daring young men dive for the tourists, exists to this day. The hotel bar where many events occur in the novel is actually La Perla, which Nin mentions in the Diary. Once such event is her rendezvous with a Dr. Hernandez, who is the model for the character of the same name, and whom Nin befriended.
Dr. Hernandez was originally assigned the village as an intern and decided to stay on, leaving his wife and children in Mexico City since Acapulco had insufficient schools. His life is quite accurately depicted in the novel as a selfless man who devoted himself to fighting disease and immunization of the villagers, while begrudgingly caring for the tourists: “…half of their ills are imaginary. Most of the time they call me because they are frightened of foreign countries and foreign food.”
Another character in Seduction of the Minotaur is Diana, who is an earthy, passionate painter who represents the free sensuality of Golconda, and who is based on Annette Nancarrow, who was married to the composer Conlon Nancarrow, mother of two young children, and friendly with Orozco and Diego Rivera, among many other luminaries in the Mexican art world. In the Diary, Nin says her eyes “were caught by the brilliant colors of [Annette’s] dress. I watched her for several seconds… She had a mass of short, curled hair aureoled around her head, unruly, in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec women, and under this a delicately chiseled face, a small straight nose, fawn-colored eyes, and a slender neck poised on a voluptuous body. Her movements have a flow and sweep and vivacity and seductiveness. She undulates her hips, her breasts heave like the sea, she is never still.”
In Seduction, Diana “thrust her breasts forward, as if to assert that hers was a breathing, generous body, and not just a painting. But they were in curious antiphony, the quick-turning sharp-featured head with its untamed hair, and the body with its separate language, the language of the strip teaser; for, after raising her breasts upward and outward as a swimmer might before diving, she continued to undulate, and although one could not trace the passage of her hand over various places on her body, Lillian had the feeling that, like the strip teaser, she had mysteriously called attention to the roundness of her shoulder, to the indent of her waist.” Diana becomes the symbolic temptation and a sort of test for a young American man who has hitchhiked to Mexico to ponder his forthcoming marriage, which mirrors the theme of the novel: enslavement to convention versus a more natural state of being.
Nin and Annette Nancarrow became friends, and while Nin never fulfilled her dream of establishing a house in Acapulco, Annette did, living in the shadow of Hotel Mirador.
Another character is based on an American engineer named Hatcher, married to a Mexican woman and living in a remote area near San Luis, north of Acapulco. He was attempting to “go native,” which Nin (and Lillian in the novel) assumed meant living simply, from the land, without possessions, close to nature. However, attached to Hatcher’s house was a storage room, described in Seduction as “enormous, as large as the entire front of the house. As large as a supermarket. With shelves reaching to the ceiling. Organized, alphabetized, catalogued.
“Every brand of canned food, every brand of medicine, every brand of clothing, glasses, work gloves, tools, magazines, books, hunting guns, fishing equipment.
“‘Will you have cling peaches? Asparagus? Quinine?’ He was swollen with pride. ‘Magazines? Newspapers?’
“Lillian saw a pair of crutches on a hook at the side of the shelf. His eyes followed her glance, and he said without embarrassment: ‘That’s in case I should break a leg.’
“…She had imagined Hatcher free. That was what had depressed her. She had been admiring him for several weeks as a figure who had attained independence, who could live like a native, a simplified existence with few needs. He was not even free of his past…”
When Lillian flies home from Mexico, she “was bringing back new images of her husband Larry, as if while she were away, some photographer with a new chemical had made new prints of the old films in which new aspects appeared she had never noticed before. As if a softer Lillian who had absorbed some of the softness of the climate, some of the relaxed grace of the Mexicans, some of their genius for happiness had felt her senses sharpened, her vision more focused, her hearing more sensitive. As the inner turmoil quieted, she saw others more clearly. A less rebellious Lillian had become aware that when Larry was not there she had either become him or had looked for him in others.”
The parallel between Lillian’s stifling, conventional life and Nin’s marriage to Hugh Guiler, her banker husband back in New York, is obvious. While Nin could not write about her marriage in the Diary (Guiler had forbidden any mention of him), she could by way of fictional characters in Seduction of the Minotaur address these intimate issues.
When Nin pitched the original version of the novel, Solar Barque, during the mid-1950s, she was met with the usual disdain from the New York publishers, so she decided to publish it herself, using the printer Edwards Brothers in Ann Arbor, Michigan (which, I’m proud to say, produces Sky Blue Press’s A Café in Space) in 1958. Upon publication, which was commercially unsuccessful, Nin decided after she was signed by her first true American publisher, Alan Swallow, to add a coda to the book which completes the character of Lillian by examining—through flashbacks—her relationships with the other key Nin characters Jay, Sabina, and Djuna, and the novel was renamed Seduction of the Minotaur. It is possible that Nin felt the addition necessary to create a fitting conclusion to the “continuous novel” she entitled Cities of the Interior, publishing in a single volume Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, physically tying the roman fleuve together as a unit.
Seduction of the Minotaur is now available on Kindle. It joins Under a Glass Bell, The Winter of Artifice, A Spy in the House of Love, and Children of the Albatross as a digital book, with more titles soon to come.
The two worlds, hers and mine, have somehow got to not just tolerate each other but to collaborate in a friendly, and loving way with each other if they are going to have a relationship. I have certainly in direct ways gone out of my way to collaborate with the world of the imagination and to adapt and bend the material world to it, even to twist that material world to it, just as I have twisted in certain ways things that would otherwise have been straight. Perhaps my twisted colon comes from that—”twisting my guts.” I know that in indirect ways I rebelled against this and made her suffer for my having warped and distorted that part of my own nature which like the wisteria she wrote about, insisted on growing in its own direction. She, on the other hand, has been like a sensitive plant to which the material world, represented [by] her father and her mother, came to assume the role of an enemy to her existence as an individual. Ever afterwards for her the only friendly world was inside of Cities of the Interior, House of Incest, the journal, the secret life locked away in safes and vaults, the inner life as refuge…sometimes as a fortress bristling with weapons of attack as well as defence, the moat around the fortress dividing, separating, separating from the earth on the other side—water, the emotional life, not a connection with the earth but a protection against the intrusion of all earth except the kind that existed inside the fortress—the little patch of earth that had been cultivated so long that it was a very private garden in which strange selected plants not from soil at all, but from air like the Spanish moss she sent me, so symbolically.
Left alone for the entire summer of 1947 while Nin traveled with her fervent lover Pole (under the pretence of traveling with a friend), Guiler found the solitude to explore his most intimate feelings and to express them in words.
To read the entire entry from which this excerpt is derived, see “Leaping Ahead of Reality: Hugh Guiler’s diary” in Volume 7 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, pp. 17-26.
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.
Although 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.
Myth #13: Anaïs Nin’s two husbands, Hugh Guiler and Rupert Pole, were unaware of each other until after Nin’s death.
Fact: Rupert Pole knew Anaïs Nin was married to Hugh Guiler shortly after meeting her in 1947 in New York. Nin and Pole made a famous cross-country trip to California during that summer, which commenced her “trapeze” life, swinging back and forth between Guiler in New York and Pole in California for the rest of her life. In 1955, after she convinced Pole that she’d divorced Guiler, Nin reluctantly married Pole in Quartzite, Arizona. For the next 11 years, Pole believed he was Nin’s legal husband, and Guiler believed he was also. The truth is that Pole was never legally married to Nin because she was still married to Guiler.
Once Nin’s diaries were about to be published, she realized her impending fame was about to bring the kind of scrutiny which would surely shed light on her bigamy. So, in 1966, she told Pole that she was still married to Guiler. She blamed Guiler for not being able to live without her and that he needed her emotional and financial support. She convinced Pole that she no longer had sexual relations with Guiler (which is most likely not true) and that her visits were necessary to keep him happy. Once Pole found out that it was Guiler’s money that had made it possible for Nin to financially help Pole and to spend much of each year with him in the first place, he agreed to the annulment of his “marriage” with Nin. The annulment occurred June 16, 1966.
Perhaps a more intriguing question is, did Guiler know about Pole? The popular belief is that he only found out after Nin’s death when she was mentioned as “Mrs. Pole” in her Los Angeles obituary. After Nin’s death in 1977, Guiler wrote a letter to Pole and in the first paragraph told him that he had been aware of his and Nin’s “special relationship” for more than ten years and that he was grateful to Pole for caring for her during her final illness. (The full text of this letter will appear in the 2011 edition of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal.) The tone is congenial and business-like.
So, in short, while they didn’t meet until after Nin’s death, Pole and Guiler knew about each other for at least the last 10 years of her life.