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.