Podcast 22: The Battle to Uncensor Anais Nin’s Auletris: Erotica

When Anaïs Nin’s long-lost erotica collection, Auletris, was published in October 2016 by Sky Blue Press, it was immediately censored by Amazon, the world’s largest retailer. What was amazing is not only was the most recognizable name in female erotica rendered invisible during searches, others were not, including, unbelievably, an entire category of “dinosaur porn.”

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

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

Was this a gross misunderstanding, or was it ignorance? Is it possible that the higher-ups had never heard of Nin despite her bestselling erotica Delta of Venus and Little Birds? This is the story of how Sky Blue Press took on Goliath and ultimately, with help from the media and customers, won.

Run time: 14 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To purchase Auletris, click here.

To read a review of Auletris by Los Angeles Review of Books, click here.

To listen to a panel of experts discuss Auletris, click here.

Re-Viewing Anais by Rochelle Lynn Holt

Re-Viewing Anaïs (Scars Publications, 2015) is a collection of author Rochelle Lynn Holt’s essays and reviews regarding her mentor, Anaïs Nin, with whom she collaborated in the 1960s and 1970s. Culled from several different publications, the book gives us a good overview of Holt’s regard of Nin’s work. As Holt says in her postscript:

ReviewingAnaisRe-Viewing Anaïs is a semi-academic collection of forty-nine essays/reviews that have been published individually in various periodicals from the Sixties to the present time. They represent virtually every one of Anaïs Nin’s publications in her lifetime and posthumously.

According to the postscript, Holt operated a handpress much in the same way Nin did in the 1940s, and Nin herself mentions Holt’s press in her Diary. Holt earned her MFA from Writers Workshop and her Ph.D. from Columbia Pacific University.

Re-Viewing Anaïs can be viewed and/or purchased by clicking 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 #6: Nin’s Fiction: A Blueprint of the Pysche

Episode six of The Anaïs Nin Podcast features an interview with Brazilian poet Marina Ferrer, whose understanding of Anaïs Nin’s writing is so profound that I feel she has taught me a new way, a clearer way, to approach Nin’s most neglected work—her fiction. If I, who have been studying Nin for a quarter century, feel this way, I am certain you will too.

Marina Ferrer

Marina Ferrer

“Keep your mind open,” Ferrer advises new Nin readers. “You have to approach her without prejudice. Avoid the expectation that you are going to be told a story like Harry Potter. You have to be willing to work psychologically. Accept Anaïs as she comes—don’t impose what you think literature is on her writing or you are going to be fighting her all the way to the end of the book.”

Listen as Ferrer likens Nin’s characters to a blueprint of the psyche and asserts that we all have “cities of the interior” in which several versions of ourselves live, each beckoned to the surface by different external circumstances. Reading Nin, then, raises our own self-awareness, which is perhaps the greatest gift an author can give readers.

Run time: 15 minutes.

To listen to the podcast on iTunes, click here. If you don’t have iTunes, click here.

You can order Nin’s iconic collection of fiction, Cities of the Interior, by clicking here.

Marina Ferrer’s essay and poetry will be included in A Café in Space, Vol. 13, which can be pre-ordered here.

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.

A Spy in the House of Love republished

A new ebook edition of Anaïs Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love has been published, which includes an introduction from Anaïs Nin, character descriptions, a publishing history, and a chronology of the author’s life and work.

SpyInTheHouseA Spy in the House of Love is one of Nin’s most famous titles, the fourth installment in the “continuous novel,” entitled Cities of the Interior. Nin chronicles the life of Sabina, who is married and has relationships with five very different men, each reflecting a different facet of herself. Sabina’s selves are at war with each other, and she seeks unity, which is the theme of the novel. It is written in beautiful prose and is considered to be a true gem of the English language.

To see more about this title, click here.

To order or preview A Spy in the House of Love, click here.

Anais Nin’s problem with American publishers

Anais Nin, who had written the novel A Spy in the House of Love, was having great difficulty getting it published. None of the big New York publishers were interested in Nin’s ethereal fiction, preferring instead Hemingway or Mickey Spillane novels; in other words, uncomplicated and in-your-face good ol’ American writing.

One of the many publishers Nin contacted was Pellegrini & Cudahy, and below is a rejection letter written by a certain Coley Taylor, who decided to be “honest” in his assessment of the novel. What makes this somewhat unusual was Nin’s response to the rejection letter; Nin usually vented in her diary, not in letters to the publisher. Her to-the-point response makes her frustration with the American publishing scene very clear, as you shall see.

Rejection

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Nin’s response:

I was not angry at your frankness and everyone has a right to his personal opinions. However I find that under cover of honesty and personal reactions if you expressed a lack of tact of human courtesy and a limited insight. The whole cause for the deterioration of publishing and writing lies precisely in this lack of literary objectivity and this substitution of unskilled emotional reactions to writers. It is you who are bored, who failed to see the continuity or the revelation of character. Maturity in evaluation consists precisely in examining your inner subjective reactions so as not to inflict them upon writers as criticism. It does not harm me because I am a veteran, but your so called honesty harms young writers. Your letter was insensitive rather than honest, destructive and irresponsible if it had been addressed to a beginner who believes that publishers are impartial, objective mature critics, men of taste capable of evaluating writing.

Nin’s claim that she was unharmed is to be taken with a grain of salt. The repeated and unrelenting rejection of her work in America took its toll on her. It would be another nine years before she was to find the publisher who would put all her fiction into print: Alan Swallow.

To see more about A Spy in the House of Love, click here.

To read Nin’s response to a critic, click here.

To purchase A Spy in the House of Love, click here.

To purchase Cities of the Interior (which includes Spy), click here.

 

 

Participate in our Anais Nin reader poll

On this page we will host some readers’ polls about Anais Nin and her work. Check back often to see the appearance of new polls and to check the results of existing ones! Cast your votes below.

Looking for new Anais Nin titles to read?

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Cyber Monday and beyond: Promoting Anais Nin

Anais Nin with Gunther Stuhlmann, 1959 book-signing

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.

Anais Nin and her press, 1940s

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.

Anaïs Nin’s The Winter of Artifice is on Kindle

The long odyssey of The Winter of Artifice has taken a new turn, seventy years after its publication in Paris—it is now available as a digital e-book on Kindle 

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.

 Anaïs Nin, Paris, late 1930s

Anaïs Nin, Paris, late 1930s

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.

 

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