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There were few self-promoters as tireless as Anais Nin. When she wasn’t doing interviews, lectures, readings, and book signings, she was plotting new ways to get her work in the hands of readers.
In Paris during the 1930s, she partnered with two emerging modernist writers, Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, and together the “3 Musketeers,” as they called themselves, published 3 books in the “Villa Seurat Series,” named after the street where Miller’s apartment served as their headquarters.
In New York, when no one would publish her work, Nin bought a manually powered printing press and published her own work as beautifully crafted books. She joined forces with Frances Steloff, whose Gotham Book Mart was central to the Village counterculture literary scene.
During the 1940s, Nin began what would become a powerful vehicle for selling her books: lecture tours and readings. Slowly, she began to amass a small but passionate following despite the literary establishment’s failure to pay her any attention or respect.
At the end of the 1950s, Nin began a professional relationship with German expatriate literary agent Gunther Stuhlmann, whose never-say-die attitude and methodical approach finally began to break through to a larger public–first, publisher Alan Swallow undertook all of her fiction, and then, after Henry Miller had become famous in the USA after the obscenity trials allowed him to publish his banned books, Miller’s letters to her were published in 1964, bringing her the attention of a wider public. This set the stage for the release of her first Diary of Anais Nin in 1966. The rest is history. Nin then expanded her lectures, readings, and interviews, using auditoriums, films, recordings, radio and TV stations to express her message to a now adoring audience. She continued this until illness finally brought it to an end in the mid-70s.
After her death, it was left to others to promote her work, and admittedly there has been and never will be such an effective advocate as she. However, we continue her work as best we can. We have just celebrated Cyber Monday, and I know in my heart that Anais would have embraced this concept and would have taken advantage of it somehow. With that in mind, we are offering her work here at Sky Blue Press for attractive prices, and if you want to get Anais into your hands, this is a good opportunity. It is also a great chance to get her into the hands of your friends, loved ones, and colleagues, the uninitiated. There is little doubt that Anais Nin’s writing has been a positive influence on those who are fortunate enough to have found her, and we strive to widen the circle.
We are offering The Portable Anais Nin, the new print version, which contains the best of Anais’s writing, chronologically arranged; Anais’s only banned book, the original 1939 version of The Winter of Artifice; all issues of A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, and more.
Visit http://www.skybluepress.org for details.
Sky Blue Press is offering their titles, including their Anais Nin publications as well as the poetry of Stephane Mallarme and Daisy Aldan, at incredibly good prices. Worldwide shipping is available, and any buyer gets a priceless but free gift. Details are below (clicking on each icon will take you to the bookstore directly):
The Portable Anais Nin, by popular demand, will be available in print. In fact, we are using this sale to fund its publication. It is a chronological anthology of Nin’s most important writings, beginning at age 12 and continuing to just before her death. It is not only a handy guidebook to her work, it also follows her evolution as a writer and as a woman. Introduced and annotated by Benjamin Franklin V, it is projected to be in print by October 1, 2011. Sky Blue Press is taking advanced orders at a 25% discount for a limited time. (reg. $19.99): $14.99
The Winter of Artifice: a facsimile of the original 1939 Paris edition. This book had been out of print for nearly 70 years because it was banned in English-speaking countries and war had obliterated its distribution in France. This book is made from the original unexpurgated version. (hardcover, reg. $29.50): $5.99
One of 25 limited edition copies of the above title (signed and numbered by Benjamin Franklin V, including a rare glossy photo of Nin in 1939 Paris, and a facsimile of her handwritten diary entry describing how the edition was doomed; hardcover, reg. $100.00): $49.50 (less than 5 left).
A Cafe in Space, Volume 2, which includes Nin’s “dream of Haiti,” a love affair with a culture and its members, essays on Nin’s writing, Henry Miller, and an excerpt from Anton Chekhov’s sister’s memoir. (reg. $15.00): $4.99
A Cafe in Space, Volume 4 includes correspondence between Anais Nin, her agent Gunther Stuhlmann, and publisher Alan Swallow, which details the frustration, pain, hope, breakthroughs, betrayals, and heartbreak on the way to Nin’s ultimate fame; revealing letters between editor John Ferrone and Rupert Pole, who were at odds about how to present Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June. (reg. $15.00): $4.99
A Cafe in Space, Volume 5 is a special issue with Nin’s unpublished critical writing, treatments of her fiction, and an extensive interview conducted at the height of her fame in 1969. (reg. $15.00): $4.99
A Cafe in Space, Volume 6 contains “Prelude to a Symphony,” recently discovered letters from Joaquin Nin to his daughter in 1933 around the time of the beginning of their incestuous affair. These letters make clear who the aggressor in this relationship was, and to what lengths Nin’s father went to entice his grown daughter to his lair in the south of France. Also included are several articles regarding Nin’s writing, Henry Miller, and poetry. (reg. $15.00): $4.99
To Purify the Words of the Tribe: The Verse Poems of Stephane Mallarme, including his masterpiece “Un Coup De Des,” translated by Daisy Aldan, recoginized worldwide as Mallarme’s premier translator. This bilingual volume contains the French symbolist’s poems in both French and English, in the same visual format used by Mallarme himself, with expositions by Aldan. By far the best Mallarme translation on the market today. (reg. $19.95): $3.99
The Collected Poems of Daisy Aldan: 1933-2000. Daisy Aldan, who was Anais Nin’s close friends, was more than just a maverick Beat publisher and translator; she was also a very accomplished poet whose style was always evolving and always deeply spiritual. From her lush early poems to her minimalist later ones, this book chronicles the birth and evolution of one of the twentieth century’s best kept secrets. (reg. $29.95): $5.95 (there are less than 20 left)
Check out these and Sky Blue Press’s other titles at their new bookstore: http://www.skybluepress.org
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.
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.
A brief history of The Winter of Artifice: After years of incubation, Anaïs Nin fictionalized three major events in her life: 1) her affair with Henry Miller and the subsequent infatuation with his wife, June; 2) the reunion with her father after a twenty year absence, which resulted in a series of incestuous encounters; 3) the analysis (and affairs) she experienced with pyschoanalytical pioneers René Allendy and Otto Rank. These events resulted in the following novellas, respectively: “Djuna,” “Lilith,” and “The Voice.”
Only weeks after Anaïs Nin held a copy of her new book in her hands, two events occurred that were to redirect its future—war broke out, and the editor of Obelisk Press, Jack Kahane, died. Because of the war, Nin fled Paris for New York with a few copies of her book, and once in America, she realized that The Winter of Artifice would never survive the censors because of its explicit nature, especially that of “Djuna.” A few copies of Paris edition ended up in the hands of Nin’s friends and associates, but it was largely absent from the market in Europe and impossible to distribute in America or England.
These novellas comprised Nin’s second work of fiction, The Winter of Artifice, which was published by Obelisk Press in the summer of 1939 as part of the Villa Seurat Series—Miller’s Max and the White Phagocytes and Lawrence Durrell’s The Black Book made up the other titles. The series name came from the three authors’ unofficial headquarters, Miller’s apartment on Villa Seurat in Montparnasse.
Nin set about altering the contents of The Winter of Artifice for an American audience. She completely eliminated “Djuna” and cut out or drastically altered several passages in the remaining two stories. Her gutted prototype, made from an Obelisk Press copy, still exists. When Nin could not interest any American publishers in the book, she decided to publish it herself, buying an old printing press and setting up shop with her collaborator and lover, Gonzalo Moré. In 1942, the handset Winter of Artifice was finished, under the imprint Gemore Press, containing the two novellas, one untitled (formerly “Lilith”) and “The Voice.”
The book underwent further incarnations: In 1947, the untitled novella was revised and titled “Winter of Artifice,” and, along with the revised “The Voice,” was included in the 1947 English edition of Under a Glass Bell (Editions Poetry London). In the 1948 Dutton edition of Under a Glass Bell, the two revised novellas were included, but “Winter of Artifice” was renamed “Djuna,” not to be confused with the “Djuna” of the original edition. In 1961, Swallow published Winter of Artifice, which included facsimiles of the text the now-renamed “Winter of Artifice, “The Voice,” and Stella, taken from the 1946 book Ladders to Fire, “Stella.” The current Swallow edition is much the same.
The original “Djuna” ended up being heavily revised and incorporated into Ladders to Fire, with very little remaining of its erotic spirit. Later in life, Nin claimed that “Djuna” contained “bad writing,” but there is good evidence that she wanted to avoid public scrutiny of her affair with Miller, not to mention her changed attitude towards him after their break-up in the early 1940s. Miller, after all, was instrumental in the development of the prose contained in the story—for a detailed look at this, click here. His heavy influence in her writing was something she didn’t want publicized.
Many scholars are unaware of the original edition of The Winter of Artifice and the explicit representation of the Henry-June-Anaïs triangle in “Djuna.” Benjamin Franklin V, an important Nin scholar, recognized this gap in Nin scholarship and was the momentum behind a facsimile of the Paris edition of The Winter of Artifice being released in 2007. With this edition, Nin readers can finally experience Nin’s early foray into realistic prose—a turnaround from the heavily veiled The House of Incest (1936)—which was lost by circumstances and life-forces beyond anyone’s control. And now, with the new Kindle edition, Nin’s writing has finally entered the world of digital text, with other titles to follow.