A Café in Space: Barbara Kraft remembers Henry Miller

In her contribution to Volume 13 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Barbara Kraft shares the beginning of her forthcoming memoir Henry Miller: The Last Days, which will be published soon by Sky Blue Press.

Henry Miller

After delivering An Open Letter to Henry Miller on public radio in 1977, Miller invited Kraft to cook dinner for him, and she eventually became a regular at the Miller household.

Here, Kraft describes her first meeting with Miller:

“A half hour had passed when I heard a slow shuffling noise in the kitchen and then the famous voice. Leaning on his walker, it was a labored crossing and there he was. Dressed in pajamas and a blue terrycloth robe, fluffy white bedroom slippers and white socks on his feet, Miller continued to charm. Frail, fragile, deaf in one ear, blind in one eye, lame on one side but not broken. Age could not touch him; his spirit was indefatigable and still quite miraculous. The eternal clown, the gentle jester.”

Read the entire excerpt in volume 13, along with an excerpt from Anaïs Nin’s forthcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin and Benjamin Franklin V’s introduction to the book, essays by Nin scholars from around the world, testimonies by women writers influenced by Nin, short fiction, poetry, photographs and visual art.

To order Volume 13 of A Café in Space, which is available in print and as an ebook, click here.

Anais Nin’s Artistic Associations: Maya Deren

In his article  “Multiplying Women: Reflection, repetition, and multiplication in the works of Maya Deren and Anaïs Nin,” which appears in in A Café in Space, Vol. 8, Satoshi Kanazawa (director of the Henry Miller Society of Japan) describes how the Nin and Deren first met:

In the summer of 1944, when she and her friends were taking a walk on the beach of Amagansett, New York, Anaïs Nin encountered a strange scene. A woman was lying on the shore, letting herself be pummeled by the waves while two people filmed it. Later, Nin found out the woman was Maya Deren, an avant-garde filmmaker, who was filming the opening scene of At Land (1945).

Maya Deren in At Land (1945)

Nin was naturally attracted to Deren and eventually got so involved with her films that Deren wrote a part specifically for her in Rituals in Transfigured Time (1946).

Kanazawa sums up Deren’s three most significant films:

The three most outstanding of Deren’s short films, Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, and Rituals in Transfigured Time, remind us of Buñuel’s 1930s surrealism. With only these three 15-minute silent movies, she paved the way for new expression by younger filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas, John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch. The consistent theme of these works is the splitting and multiplication of the Self. How the Self, which is essentially supposed to be “one,” is transformed into “many” is superbly documented through dreamlike images.

Mirror images were used to reflect the “splitting and multiplication of the selves,” as illustrated by the following still from an unreleased film:

This imagery and expansion of the doppelganger theory espoused by psychoanalyst Otto Rank, to whom Nin said in therapy that she “felt like a shattered mirror,” certainly would have appealed to her. It was with great faith that Nin entered into the filming of Rituals of Transfigured Time in August of 1945. Once the film was finished, however, Nin rebelled against Deren, claiming that she had “uglified” her and everyone else in the film (many of whom were Nin’s friends). Kanazawa notes that the following diary quote was the “kind of challenge to American naturalist realism [that] is quite familiar to the readers of Anaïs Nin”:

“The camera can be a lover, or a hater, or a sadist, or a defamer… It lies” (Diary 4 351). Nin went on: “The quest for ugliness is one I never understood. Was it because Americans were for the most part born in ugliness, familiar with it, and had grown to love it, or because they associated beauty with the undemocratic upper class, art, the past, Europe, and repudiated it? The American definition of realism was ugliness. To avoid being accused of creating illusion, they always showed the same ugly view of everything. Maya magnified the skin blemishes, the knotted nerves, the large ears; she stressed the oily surfaces, the thyroid white of the eyes, the baldness or the pimple. Maya’s actors happened to be beautiful. She uglified them. I had never seen as clearly as in Maya, the power to uglify in the eye behind the camera” (353).

Kanazawa notes that perhaps Nin should have reconsidered the poem Deren wrote her when the filming began:

For Anaïs Before the Glass
By Maya Deren

The mirror, like a cannibal, consumed,
carnivorous, blood-silvered, all the life fed it.
You too have known this merciless transfusion
along the arm by which we each have held it.
In the illusion was pursued the vision
through the reflection to the revelation.
The miracle has come to pass.
Your pale face, Anaïs, before the glass
at last is not returned to you reversed.

This is no longer mirrors, but an open wound
through which we face each other framed in blood.

August 19, 1945

Kanazawa notes: For Deren, to stand before the mirror is to look into an open wound and see the bloody figure. Always facing her mirror-diary, Nin should have recognized “this merciless transfusion.”

Nin practically disassociated herself from Deren after Rituals in Transfigured Time, although she credits her for having inspired other filmmakers with whom she worked, most notably Kenneth Anger, in whose film Inauguration of the Pleasuredome (1954) she appeared.

While today Deren is hailed as a groundbreaking filmmaker whose influence can be seen even today, it must be remembered she died largely forgotten and impoverished in 1961 at the age of 44.

For more on Maya Deren, visit Moira Sullivan’s Maya Deren Forum.

To order the print version of A Cafe in Space, Vol. 8, click here. To order the Kindle version, click here.
Check out Sky Blue Press’s SUMMER SALE 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.

Letters from the trapeze life of Anais Nin

ruperttavi

Rupert with Tavi

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)

My Love:

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.

Ever

R

***

Letter to Rupert (Spring 1960, Paris)

Darling chiquito:

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.

A

To order the print version of A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5, click here. To order the Kindle version, click here.
Check out Sky Blue Press’s SUMMER SALE 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.  

Alan Swallow: Anais Nin’s publisher

On the surface, the match between writer Anaïs Nin and publisher Alan Swallow seemed perfect. Both were passionate about their work, neither of them trusted the world of big-time publishers, and both had struggled long and hard to achieve what they had. In fact, Swallow predicted the collaboration would be a “good wedding of work and publisher.”

By the time Nin wrote to Swallow in 1961 about becoming her publisher, she and her agent, Gunther Stuhlmann, had vainly struggled for years to find an American publisher for her body work, and Nin was on the brink of giving up [see Anaïs Nin and Gunther Stuhlmann, “The Incubation of Fame: Early correspondence,” A Café in Space, Vol. 3, pp. 100-126]. Swallow was a self-made man, a tireless optimist and a workaholic who, in the early years, ran his operation out of his Denver garage. He’d made a success by the sweat of his brow and by giving everything he had—to his health’s detriment—to his business. He was an inspiration to many, a folk hero to small publishers far and wide, and was completely devoted to his authors.

Alan Swallow, publisher

Alan Swallow, publisher

When Alan Swallow was presented with the chance to become Anaïs Nin’s publisher, he jumped at it, plunging in with enthusiasm and bold plans to revamp the presentation of Nin’s fiction. In recently found correspondence included in Volume 4 of A Cafe in Space, just released on Kindle, we witness the birth of the form in which the fiction exists today as Swallow took up the many bits and pieces that had been haphazardly published over the years into a cohesive collection. He did, however, unknowingly step into a longstanding situation with high innate entropy—years of failure, starts and stops, and bad business habits—against which he fought mightily. He had to plead for information, tried to keep up with Nin’s bicoastal habits, and had run-ins with Gunther Stuhlmann concerning the logistics of existing catalogues versus new publications, money, costs, storage, and all the other details of taking over a huge responsibility with a highly disorganized and fractured structure. Swallow’s letters indicate his ability to think on the run, to cover all the bases, and they also reflect incredible honesty and a remarkable willingness to comply with demands that taxed him greatly, especially those of the monetary kind. There is little doubt he put his author first, even when it hurt, a fact that was not lost with Nin and Stuhlmann.

The relationship between Nin, Stuhlmann, and Swallow, however cordial it usually was, was not void of controversy. Swallow’s letter of December 2, 1964 to Nin leaves little doubt he’d felt betrayed by both Nin and Stuhlmann when Swallow was bypassed as a potential publisher of Letters to Anaïs Nin by Henry Miller (who had just won his obscenity trials, clearing the way for the publication of his Tropics and other books the USA) in favor of the mainstream publisher Putnam: 

And then I find that the letters are sold, and by this time the whole idea of cooperation and a joint imprint was forgotten. Perhaps they object at Putnam (which, by the way, has become a despicable publisher); perhaps it was just more convenient to make the arrangements that way. Neither you nor Gunther ever told me; I never heard another word about the idea.

Now then, next step: undoubtedly the letters will sell and will bring attention. The name of H. Miller is now magic. Even the corner shoeshine boy, if he would publish this, would sell it! But once it is ready to go, then it has to be “big time” or whatever the conception is. I want to register right now this notion: I do not want it held up in any way that the sales of the H. Miller letters will indicate what a big time outfit can do that a small time one can’t—first, because anyone can sell that book, not because of its value (which I think it undoubtedly has, although I’ve seen none of the work) but because of the name; so it is no test. I, too, could sell thousands and thousands of that book and more quickly than I will sell, note, thousands and thousands of your former books. Second, because the ice has already broken, just as I predicted it would. Too late, in one sense, but just right for Putnam to grab onto it. In fact, a part of the success they will have with that book will be due to my work—and I don’t mind saying that I resent it like the devil…

Alan Swallow died only weeks after the release of what would become Nin’s vehicle to fame: the Diary, in which at least he was named co-publisher with Harcourt. Swallow Press continues to publish Nin’s fiction today in association with Ohio University Press.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 4, click here
To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 4, click here.

Volume 4  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

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. 

Anais Nin’s Artistic Associations: Lawrence Durrell

When Anaïs Nin met Lawrence Durrell in Paris in 1937, she was instantly drawn to his young, ardent mind, as was Henry Miller, who’d been corresponding with him beforehand. Durrell, a young Englishman by way of India and Greece, was an aspiring writer who was heavily influenced by Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, the scandalous novel that Nin helped get published in 1934.

The young Lawrence Durrell

The young Lawrence Durrell

Shortly after meeting and realizing their affinities, they dubbed themselves the “three musketeers,” and out of Miller’s Villa Seurat apartment, they wrote and published three titles under the moniker “Villa Seurat Series”—Nin’s The Winter of Artifice, Miller’s Max and the White Phagocytes, and Durrell’s The Black Book, all published by Obelisk Press.

War separated the musketeers, each going in his/her own direction (Nin to New York, Durrell to Greece and eventually Egypt, Miller to Greece with Durrell and then New York). Each went on to have successful writing careers, although none of them happened overnight. While all three wrote in what might be loosely considered a post-modernist style, each had a significantly different approach to writing: Miller’s works were often carried by his use of explosive language, Nin’s were increasingly introspective and psychological in nature, and Durrell’s were multi-layered texts heavy in symbolism.

Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, consisting of four novels (the first of which, Justine, came out in 1957) about the same events occurring in wartime Alexandria, but told from different perspectives, was his tour de force. The Quartet is still the main topic of discussion among today’s Durrell scholars, three of whom contribute their vast knowledge to A Café in Space, Vol. 3 (2005), just released on Kindle:

Richard Pine, director of the Durrell School of Corfu, writes about the three musketeers in his “The End of Our Romantic Life: The psychic hinterland of Nin, Durrell, and Miller.” In a comparison of how each of their lives affected their literature, he states: “…all three recognized the inevitability not only of writing their lives, but of writing them as both fact and fiction. From this descends the concept of the dual self or of multiple selves, of the reader-as-writer and of the fictional character as a real self.” In correlation with these observations, Pine also examines the role Otto Rank, the psychologist who penned Art and Artist, had in influencing the writing of the three authors.

Nabila Marzouk, professor at Fayoum in Egypt, compares the approach to literary homosexuality in Durrell’s work and that of Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist. After examining homosexuality in Durrell’s Quartet and Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley, she observes: “Durrell represents homosexuality as a positive, enriching experience, whereas “Mahfouz’s characters are flesh and blood who are not meant to be taken for more than they are… [Alley character] Kirsha is a mere pervert who delights in his pleasures of the flesh.” She also adds that there is no word in Arabic for “homosexual,” and the one that comes the closest means “sexual abnormality.”

James Clawson, a young American Durrell scholar, writes about the Mediterranean as it appears in Durrell’s work. He notes: “This ‘Sea in the Middle of Durrell’s World’ is more than canvas backdrop. Just as Alexandria uses its inhabitants as flora and precipitates among them various conflicts, so too does the Mediterranean provide an ‘invisible constant’ to influence the peoples around it. For this reason, Durrell’s Mediterranean has by likened to Poe’s Virginia and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”

Also included in Volume 3 are reviews of Durrell scholar Michael Haag’s Alexandria: City of Memory, Pine’s Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape, and Lawrence Durrell and the Greek World, edited by Anna Lillios.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 3, click here.

To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 3, click here.

Volume 3  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

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.

Gunther Stuhlmann: the man behind Anaïs Nin’s success

Gunther Stuhlmann (1927-2002) is one of the main topics in Volume 3 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, which is now available on Amazon’s Kindle.

Nin & Stuhlmann at booksigning, 1959

Nin & Stuhlmann at booksigning, 1959

In 1957, Stuhlmann, then a young up-and-coming literary agent in New York, wrote a letter to Nin, whom he had met some years prior. Thus began a partnership and accompanying correspondence that was to last for the rest of Nin’s life. Volume 3 highlights their early letters to each other, which reveal that Nin’s writing career was in ruins. By the time Stuhlmann took Nin on as a client, she had very little to show for decades of work, self-publication, and relentless self-promotion. Reacting to constant rejection and failure, at one point she confided to Stuhlmann that she was entertaining the idea of “giving it all up.”

But Stuhlmann, a man known for tenacity and in-your-face business tactics, was only getting started with her. His patience with the free-wheeling Nin—who was wont to make bad decisions and trust the wrong people only to be repeatedly bailed out by her husband, Hugh Guiler—was remarkable. His was a monumental job: to re-mold Nin into a disciplined and logical businesswoman. Stuhlmann’s belief in her work was deep—he saw potential whereas most New York literary types saw badly crafted, narcissistic surrealism. As an ex-patriot European, Stuhlmann’s vision was not narrowed by 1950s American ideas of what books ought to be—realistic, easy-to-read, chronologically ordered plots, familiar characters, etc. Nin, as we all know, was anything but.

Because of their oppositely aligned personalities and tactics, Nin and Stuhlmann were often at odds with each other. On April 23, 1959, Nin wrote Stuhlmann from Paris and informed him of a deal she’d struck up with her friend Jean Fanchette, who edited the bilingual journal Two Cities, to which Nin contributed. He agreed to translate Nin’s work and to sell it to French publishers, none of which Stuhlmann, Nin’s official agent, knew:

Fanchette sold Spy to Stock by showing partly translated M.S. He understood you were to take over contract, and I have just written him to remind him that all contractual matters are to be sent to you. If it does not reach you soon and if you are in personal contact with anyone there you might refer to it. I gave Jean your address—the agreement was you would let him free to work as a friend. I also told Fanchette you would consider his novel—to be coming out soon—to see if you would care to be his agent—OK?

Stuhlmann, who had just extricated Nin from a messy relationship with the publisher Neville Spearman, reacted angrily to this latest bit of news:

I don’t see any reason why you should not authorize [Fanchette] as your translator for the Spy but I firmly believe that we ought to conduct all business discussion as to terms and contracts etc. through our office and subject to your and our scrutiny so that we do not get into another situation which would be embarrassing for all of us. It was no mean trick to solve the Spearman entanglement and I am somewhat weary of getting into a similar situation in France.

In the end, Fanchette never completed the translation of Spy in the House of Love, nor any other Nin title, and this delayed her publication in France for years.

The series of letters ends just before Nin found her true American publisher, Alan Swallow, and sets up the three-way correspondence between Nin, Swallow, and Stuhlmann, which is the centerpiece of Volume 4. The letters allow readers to discover the nuts and bolts, and sweat and tears, of Anaïs Nin’s ascendance to literary stardom, and the role that the man behind the scenes, Gunther Stuhlmann, played.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 3, click here.

To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 3, click here.

Volume 3  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

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.

A Café in Space, Vol. 2 (2004): Anaïs Nin’s Haitian connection

A Café in Space,Vol. 2, which has just been published on Kindle, contains a substantial excerpt from Anaïs Nin’s 1943 diary, which describes her relationships within a circle of Haitian friends. Because Nin was disillusioned with the New York literary and social atmosphere, which she found “soulless,” she was easily attracted to the Haitian way of life. In it, she discovered master storytellers, wild music and dancing, and a cultural richness with which she identified. One young Haitian artist, Albert Mangones, unwittingly swept Nin off her feet with his soft sensuality. One could view the ensuing affair as just one of the many that Nin engaged in during the 1940s, but it was more significant than most. First of all, it was one of the first times Nin found herself as an unabashed aggressor, as she mentions in the following passage:

In the sun and warmth of summer, yesterday we went with Albert to Jacques Lipchitz’s studio with his statue of a drummer, to hear a criticism. I heard Albert talk luminously, responding to the cosmic vision of Lipchitz. His intelligence not like ours, monstrously over-developed like a morbid growth, not reaching the point of dissolution, dissection, separation, but fused, integrated, direct, pure. If Albert were older, not the shy young son…if he dared. But now I am faced by a new difficulty: I am the intimidating one, the one one does not dare to reach for!

My impulse is to run to him and kiss him. And [psychoanalyst Martha] Jaeger stands guard, the mythological mother, saying: “Do not run towards pain, do not run into pain, do not destroy yourself again, do not follow the mirages of love! He is the Son—he is too young—he is too yielding. Wait for the man…”

Neg Mawon in Haiti, by Albert Mangones

Neg Mawon in Haiti, by Albert Mangones

Neither Jaeger’s warning nor obstacles such as the fact that Mangones not only had a girlfriend in New York, but a fiancée in Haiti, inhibited Nin in her pursuit, which resulted in a fiery sexual union and, of course, subsequent suffering. Nin’s account includes not only descriptions of Mangones, but also of the Premice family, one of whom, Josephine, would go on to because a singing sensation. Mangones, after returning to Haiti, established himself as a master architect and sculptor. His Neg Mawon (Unknown Slave), sculpted in 1968, became the symbol of Haiti, prominently placed before the Presidential Palace. Today it still stands, above the ravages of the earthquake. (To see a biography and film excerpt on Mangones–in French–click here. To see a short memoir on Mangones–in English–click here.)

Other articles in Volume 2 include an excerpt from a new translation of Anton Chekhov’s sister, Maria, which gives us a glimpse into his chaotic world; snippets from Tristine Rainer’s diary regarding Nin’s final illness; a study of Nin and Henry Miller by Karl Orend; and a collection of articles by French authors, including Nin translator Béatrice Commengé, who takes us on a journey through Paris to revisit the hotels Henry Miller inhabited.

To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 2, click here.

To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 2, click here.

Volume 2 joins Volume 1, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

To see all available digital titlesby 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.

The Story Behind A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal

The inaugural issue of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, which celebrated Nin’s 100th birthday, is now available on Kindle.  This is the story of how it came to be.

After Gunther Stuhlmann, who edited the amazing 19 annual issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, died in 2002, there was suddenly a severe vacuum in Nin studies. Stuhlmann had planned a special centennial issue of ANAIS for 2003, and even began gathering material for it when he became seriously ill and had to abandon the project. After encouragement from several Nin and Miller scholars, this editor decided to create a new Nin journal that would pick up where ANAIS left off. Because Nin described Richard Centing’s and Benjamin Franklin V’s Under the Sign of Pisces as “a café in space” in which the literary community could gather, we were inspired to so name the new journal.

In February of 2003, I traveled to France with the intention of visiting famous Nin sites, especially her birthplace in Neuilly-sur-Seine and the house in Louveciennes, which Henry Miller called “the laboratory of the soul.” I was fortunate enough to find the Neuilly house newly refurbished, probably looking much as it did when Nin was born there. But the most amazing stroke of luck was being invited to the Nin house in Louveciennes by its new owner, actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, with a group of distinguished guests, one of them a famous actress from the Comédie-Française. After having spent more than a decade wishing for the chance to enter this fabled house, after watching it

From left: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Genevieve Casisle, Anne-Marie Thomas, at Louveciennes

From left: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Genevieve Casisle, Anne-Marie Thomas, at Louveciennes

decay to the point where it was being considered for demolition, to be inside the house on Nin’s 100th birthday, toasting her with a group of people Nin would have admired, was nothing short of miraculous. Of course, I took dozens of photos and recorded each moment of the day, and wrote it up for A Café in Space. (Click here to see a previous post on the Louveciennes visit.) On top of this, I met Claudine Brelet, who was a close friend of Lawrence Durrell, and she took us on a nostalgic tour of Montparnasse. She agreed to write an article about the special places that Durrell and Miller frequented, through which readers can experience the tour themselves.

I was able to contact some of the contributors to the never-to-be-finished issue of ANAIS, including veteran scholars such as Franklin, Lynette Felber, Phil Jason, and others, all of whom agreed to partake in the first issue of A Café in Space. Furthermore, after attending a centennial Nin conference in California early in 2003, and after hearing talks given by author Janet Fitch and Kazuko Sugisaki, Nin’s Japanese translator, I was able to collect article versions of the talks for the new journal. Fitch’s talk, titled “No Women Writers,” describes how she discovered Nin after her a junior high school substitute teacher declared that there were no important women writers. “He challenged the class to think of a single one… And then a girl in the front row raised her hand, I can still see her, her frizzy ash-blonde hair, her plump arm, waving, and she asked, What about Anaïs Nin? …And I ripped off a note which I passed up the row… WHO IS ANAÏS NIN?” The girl “corrected the spelling and sent it back, saying, ‘Read the Diaries, they’re incredible!’” The rest is history, and Fitch says that Nin’s influence is present in her famous novel White Oleander.

After the conference, we took a drive up to Oakland, CA to visit with Nin’s last surviving family member, her brother Joaquín Nin-Culmell, who, although he’d suffered a stroke shortly beforehand, was incredibly lucid, welcoming, and enthusiastic. He took us on a journey back to his childhood, explaining how cruel and selfish his father was, how Anaïs was protective of her brothers, how the family was instructed by the mother to speak only French in the household in order to keep alive their native language after coming to America. He showed us photographs and artifacts from the past, but the sight of his piano sitting silent in his living room was haunting—since his stroke, he neither played nor listened to music again. Less than a year later, he was gone. How fortunate it was to catch him on that day, a clear, warm, sunny day, the aura of which shined through Joaquín’s face. Not having originally planned to, I ended up writing up the occasion (“An Afternoon With Joaquín Nin-Culmell”) for A Café in Space.

But what about Anaïs Nin herself? What would she contribute to A Café in Space? Serendipity once again played a role in this: I was given a portion of Nin’s unpublished 1940s diaries, and in it I found passages that epitomized Nin’s first years in America after fleeing war in Europe. Disillusioned and disconnected to anything vital, she was drowning in depression and despair when she met a young and somewhat naïve young man from Iowa, who’d arrived in New York to seek artistic freedom. His youthful zeal and exuberance were exactly what Nin was lacking in her life, and thus began a torrid affair. The entire experience Nin summed up in one word: “Mirage,” a word which could be applied to her entire existence in New York.

John Dudley, 1940

John Dudley, 1940

After reading about Nin’s affair with the young John Dudley, I couldn’t help but wonder if a photo of him didn’t exist somewhere. Nin’s descriptions were vivid, but one likes to have a real image with which to compare them. Only weeks before the publication of Vol. 1, I was in Massachusetts gathering up boxes of back issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, which I’d volunteered to distribute. I opened a desk drawer (with permission) and discovered a pile of photographs that had, I imagined, been set aside for future issues of ANAIS. Among them was a young blond man standing, smiling, in front of what looked like a plantation house. Was the house Hampton Manor, where the affair occurred? Was the young, vivacious man John Dudley? I collected this and several other photos, and after some research, I discovered that yes, these were indeed of Dudley. I had barely enough time to submit them before publication.

Looking back on all this, I can say that nearly everything in the first issue of A Café in Space was the result of bonne chance.

To see further information and/or to order a print version of  Vol. 1, click here.

A Café in Space, Vol. 1, 2003, the Kindle version, can be ordered here.

Vol. 1 joins Vol. 6 (2009) and Vol. 7 (2010) on Kindle. More issues will be available in the coming months.

Renate Druks and Ronnie Knox: an unlikely affair

Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal has arrived and is ready for ordering.

We began discussing some of the articles in Volume 8 with a post on Reginald Pole, Nin’s “father-in-law,” and we continue with another, a film treatment by Tristine Rainer entitled “The Bohemian and the Football Player,” which examines the unlikely relationship between Renate Druks, a painter nearly 40 years old, and Ronnie Knox, a dashing but disturbed 24 year old athlete who had been drafted by the Chicago Bears after starring as UCLA’s quarterback.

Rainer and Druks had met through their mutual friend, Anaïs Nin, and remained friends long after Nin’s death in 1977. Rainer told Druks that her relationship with Knox seemed to be a great idea for a film. Druks responded that she was no writer, that Rainer would have to write the script. In the end, Rainer arranged for Druks to tell her story to a tape recorder and then transcribe the recording into text. After compiling a large stack of paper, Rainer edited it into the film treatment. While the film was never made, the treatment reveals in detail, and in Druks’ raconteur style, the nature of an impossible marriage between her and Knox. Knox, for starters, was afraid that his image would be ruined if he went public with his older, bohemian wife. So, he kept it secret, going as far as renting an apartment in Los Angeles, where he rarely stayed, to convince others he was single.

Renate Druks, Ronnie Knox, Anais Nin

Renate Druks, Ronnie Knox, Anais Nin

In spite of the odds, Renate Druks and Ronnie Knox had bursts of joy and many humorous adventures, some of which Nin incorporated into her final novel, Collages. There is truth in the following passage, in which the characters Renate and Bruce (modeled after Knox), are trying maneuver their sailboat in Holland:

They traveled for a while down the rivers and canals, admiring the soft landscape, the browns and greys so familiar from Dutch paintings. Then the motor sputtered and died. They were in the middle of a swift flowing river, becalmed.

The boat ceased to follow a straight course. Every now and then, like a waltzer, it took a complete turn in the middle of the river.

Its erratic course did not discourage the barges passing by with cargoes and racing for the locks. They traveled at full speed alongside the sailboat, not noticing that Bruce and Renate were rudderless, and that they might at any moment circle in the path of the swift sliding barges.

At one moment the sailboat skirted the shore and Bruce maneuvered it towards the right into a small canal. At this very moment the motor revived and pushed them at full speed under too low a bridge. Scraping this they continued to speed past quiet small houses on the shore. Bruce now could not stop the motor.

It had regained its youthful vigor. He stood on the bridge and remembered his western movies. He picked up a coil of rope and lassoed one of the chimneys of a passing house. This stopped the runaway sailboat but drew a crowd around them.

“Crazy Americans,” said someone in the crowd.

A policeman came towards them on a bicycle.

“You damaged a historical bridge.”

“I didn’t know it was historical,” said Bruce.

“You will have to appear in court.”

The irony of the story is that Knox wanted badly to be a bohemian writer, while Druks’ college age son wanted to be “normal,” as he perceived Knox to be. Knox gave up his football career to pursue writing, at which he failed, while Druks’ son went to college, where he was unable to fit in. The end result was tragic.

To see a web site devoted to Renate Druks’ art, click here.

To see another post on Druks, click here.

To further explore or order Volume 8, click here.

New Anais Nin Literary Journal issue coming soon

Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal will be released after Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday, February 21, 2011.

websitecoverimageThis 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.

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