Reunited: Letters from the “house of incest”

Anaïs Nin never did things by the rules. She wrote surrealistic and erotic fiction when it went against the grain of the times in which she lived. She engaged in lifestyle choices that were widely considered taboo—adultery, bigamy, you name it—if it was condemned, she probably did it. But, putting morality aside, she offers us a glimpse into a life lived fully without pre-conditions. It was a grand experiment. Sometimes it succeeded spectacularly, and sometimes it failed in exactly the same way. Whatever she did, she wrote about it brilliantly, and this is one of the reasons she has attracted millions of readers over the past half-century and more.

One of the key events in her life, as I have written about, and spoken about in my podcast, was adult-onset incest. Abandoned at the age of ten by her father, pianist/composer Joaquín Nin, she spent the next twenty years trying to replace his love with that of others—her husband Hugh Guiler; John Erskine; Henry Miller; and the list goes on and on with men who were at least in part substitute fathers. One can argue this was perversion; but whatever it was, it was a reaction to a traumatic event early in life.

If you are a Nin reader, you are probably familiar with the unexpurgated diary Incest, which is so named because that is the topic—incest with a father who had been absent for twenty years. It is, for some, a revolting document. Read some of the reviews if you want to know what I mean. It is easy to moralize about incest between two consenting adults. But let’s face it—it is not as uncommon as we’d like to think. When Makenzie Philips revealed her relationship with her father John Philips some years ago, there was disbelief and outrage, but very few attempts at understanding. When Incest, which describes the relationship with Nin’s father in graphic detail, came out in 1992, not only did the critics trash her (her life, not her writing), some of her old friends rejected her as a liar and keeper of vile secrets, while others simply didn’t believe it was true. Some went as far as accusing Nin’s literary executor (and “West Coast husband”) Rupert Pole as having made up the diary passages himself to cash in on scandal. There was a lot of condemnation, but few attempts at grasping the dynamics of the Anaïs-Joaquín relationship. And, after all, we only had Anaïs’s word for it.

All that has changed.

Deirdre Bair, Nin’s official biographer, said that while Nin and her father wrote to each other often during their affair, the letters were destroyed after having been read to erase any evidence of their sexual relationship. Imagine my surprise, then, in 2007, when I discovered a folder in Nin’s Los Angeles house that was labeled, in Nin’s hand, “Father Letters.” In it were the original letters from her father written during the entirety of their affair. They included his relentless overtures beginning in 1933, which only increased in intensity after meeting his daughter for the first time in many years at her home in Louveciennes. They included his descriptions of what would take place “within the walls” of his hotel room in the South of France, which eerily came to pass. And there was a second folder, with Anaïs’s responses. These have all been collected between the covers of a single book, never before seen, and they reveal the history, depth and complexity of their relationship from the time Nin was a child until she met her father at his hotel in June 1933; they continue throughout the several-month affair and its aftermath, when both struggled to come to grips with what they had done and what it meant.

I, for one, have never seen accounts from both sides of an adult-onset incestuous relationship. This is what makes the book valuable. It is the kind of story that few have shared, let alone allowing the world to be privy to intimate correspondence. This, in my opinion, is how we begin to understand this affair in particular and adult incest in general.

While incest is considered by some to be the ultimate taboo, it is as real as any other human activity. It has happened all over the world since the beginning of time. It happens in our neighborhoods, sometimes in our own houses. It is something that has to be dealt with psychologically and compassionately. But that begins with understanding.

This book, titled Reunited, gives us a snapshot of the lives of two artists who fused in an explosion of catastrophic passion. We are left trying to make sense of it. The letters are where we start.

To order a print copy of Reunited: The Correspondence of Anaïs and Joaquín Nin, 1933-1940, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 36: Nin Magazine with Letícia Gicovate

Episode 36 of the Anaïs Nin Podcast examines Nin Magazine, an act of erotic rebellion by Letícia Gicovate, who has bravely published three volumes and counting in Brazil and England. In today’s ever-increasing hostility to free sexuality, Anaïs Nin was the inspiration for a project that has captured the naturalness of sexuality and erotic expression. But the path from creation to mass consumption has been cluttered, blocked even, by both institutional and private censorship from bookstores and the internet. These challenges have not discouraged the 38-year-old Brazilian expat who now lives in England—in fact, it has inspired her to work harder, to not give up, to follow Nin’s example when she herself was faced with the rejection of the literary establishment to her ground-breaking work. Find out what Nin magazine is all about and how you can get involved in its future.

Letícia Gicovate. Photo: Fabrice Gagos

Run time: 26:15

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To learn more about Nin magazine, click here.

To read an interview with Letícia Gicovate, click here.

Anthology of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal is here!

Not only are we celebrating Anaïs Nin’s 116th birthday, which occurs on February 21, 2019, but also the publication of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Anthology 2003-2018.

Anaïs Nin was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on February 21, 1903. A Café in Space was born 100 years later, 15 volumes of which were published annually. The legacy of the journal is captured in a one-of-a-kind anthology, some 400 pages of the best representative work collected over the 15 years of its existence.

The authors’ list is quite impressive:

Anaïs Nin
Henry Miller (Nin’s former lover)
Alfred Perlès (Miller’s best friend)
Hugh Guiler (Nin’s “east coast” husband)
Joaquín Nin (Nin’s father)
Rupert Pole (Nin’s “west coast” husband)
Joaquín Nin-Culmell (Nin’s younger brother)
Eduardo Sánchez (Nin’s cousin)
John Ferrone (Nin’s editor)
Lanny Baldwin (Nin’s 1940s love interest)
John W. Bagnole (Miller scholar)
Simon Dubois Boucheraud (Nin scholar)
Sarah B. Burghauser (Nin scholar)
Ruth Charnock (Nin scholar)
Béatrice Commengé (Nin’s French translator)
James M. Decker (Miller scholar)
Lynette Felber (Nin/Miller scholar)
Janet Fitch (American novelist)
Lana Fox (erotic writer)
Benjamin Franklin V (Nin scholar)
Kennedy Gammage (poet and Durrell scholar)
David Green (Durrell scholar)
Anita Jarczok (Nin scholar)
Dawn Kaczmar (English scholar)
Jane Eblen Keller (Durrell/Nin scholar)
Harry Kiakis (friend of Miller)
Richard Pine (Durrell scholar)
Eduardo Pineda (historian)
Bruce Redwine (Durrell scholar)
Steven Reigns (Nin scholar)
Chrissi Sepe (novelist)
Colette Standish (visual artist)
Yuko Yaguchi (Nin scholar and Japanese translator)

This talented and diverse group of contributors best represents  A Café in Space and offers insight into Nin, Miller, Durrell, and other contemporaries, including Rebecca West, Evelyn Hinz, Helba Huara and Luis Buñuel.

Never-before-published photographs of Anaïs Nin adorn the covers of the anthology, and several rare photos are included in the contents.

Articles include diary entries by Nin and her correspondence with many of her contemporaries and family members, revealing details of events previously unknown to the public, including a series of letters to and from her father during the incest period. There are offerings by some of the world’s most highly regarded Nin, Miller and Durrell scholars on far-ranging but always relevant topics, including Nin’s rise to fame, how she is regarded in the media, her history of readership in Japan, how she influenced some of today’s writers, the story behind Nin biographies, thoughtful looks at today’s studies on Nin, Miller and Durrell, and accounts of visits to some of the most iconic locations frequented by the “three musketeers” in France. Short fiction, art and poetry reflect Nin’s influence on today’s writers, and there are book reviews on studies of each of the “musketeers.”

This anthology is a grand adieu from the only Nin-dedicated literary journal in print today and will give the reader much to savor, something to dip into whenever the spirit is moved, or perhaps to binge on to satisfy the hunger for material on one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, whose influence reaches well into the twenty-first.

To purchase the print version of the Café in Space anthology, click here.

To purchase a digital version, click here.

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Anaïs Nin Podcast 34: How A Café in Space was born

In 2003, 100 years after the birth of Anaïs Nin, the first volume of the only current literary journal dedicated to Nin was born too. It came on the heels of the demise of ANAIS: An International Journal after its editor, Gunther Stuhlmann, died in 2002, before he was able to produce a special centennial issue the following year.

Paul Herron, a frequent contributor to ANAIS, was devastated by the loss of his friend and mentor, not to mention the fact that a huge void in Nin studies had suddenly opened up. Only a few months later, Herron attended a Lawrence Durrell conference in Ottawa, Canada, where he was approached by another of his mentors, Roger Jackson, the Miller publisher who inspired him to produce Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors (1996), and encouraged him to think about filling the gap in Nin scholarship himself. At first, the idea intimidated him because of his deep respect for Stuhlmann’s work, something he felt was untouchable. But certain travels and events soon changed his mind, some of which is revealed here for the first time.

Recorded on the eve of the publication of the Café in Space anthology (2003-2018), this podcast is Paul Herron’s story of how it all began.

Run time: 16:38

To listen to the podcast in iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order a print copy of the Café in Space anthology, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

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Recent publications by or about Anaïs Nin: A handy guide

It’s easy to get lost in Anaïs Nin’s literary ocean without a guide, so we have created a list ofrecent publications by Nin or about her, in a relatively chronological reverse order, along with a few faves.

cafe152018: A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 15. Contains original pieces by Anaïs Nin and Rupert Pole; essays by several renowned scholars and writers; rare photographs; interviews with Nin notables including one of the characters of Collages, Nobuko Albery.

 

lostworld2017: Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939 by Britt Arenander. A guidebook to the Paris of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, with complete historical documentation and more than fifty photographs of the literary duo’s favorite haunts, both then and now.

 

trapeze2017: Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947-1955. The long-awaited diary that chronicles the beginning of Nin’s “double” life with husband Hugh Guiler in New York and lover Rupert Pole in California. A complete rendering of the rigors, both physical and psychological, of a bicoastal affair with two very different men.

 

cafe142017: A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 14. Excerpts from Nin’s unpublished correspondence and much more.

 

 

auletris2016: Auletris: Erotica, a long-lost collection of Nin erotica consisting of two main stories: “Life in Provincetown” and “Marcel,” much of which had never been published before.

 

 

Other favorites include:

miragesMirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947. The first new Nin diary in seventeen years, Mirages is the record of Nin’s arrival in New York from Paris at the dawn of war and her mighty struggles as a woman and writer adapting to a harsher world. Features Henry Miller, Gonzalo More, Gore Vidal, and finally Rupert Pole.

 

quotableThe Quotable Anaïs Nin, a thematic collection of 365 of Nin’s famous (and occasionally obscure) quotations, with citations. You will note the poem “Risk” does not appear here, since it has been mistakenly attributed to Nin for decades. For verified quotes with sources, this is the book you need.

 

portableThe Portable Anaïs Nin, a sampling of all genres of Nin’s writing, in chronological order with comments by renowned Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V. Highly recommended for first-time Nin readers or anyone who wants a complete collection in one book.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 30: Gonzalo Moré and Helba Huara

To kick off the celebration of the 15th and final issue of A Café in Space, California artist and historian Eduardo Pineda discusses his two articles, “The Dreaming Tiger—On Gonzalo Moré” and “La Gitana—On Helba Huara,” which reveal the secrets and long-lost memories of Nin’s Peruvian lover Gonzalo Moré and his wife, the dancer Helba Huara.

Helba Huara and Anaïs Nin, 1936. Photo: Emile Savitry

Helba Huara and Anais Nin, 1936. Photo: Emile Savitry

As anyone who has read Nin’s 1930s and 1940s diaries knows, Nin met Gonzalo Moré at a party and was swept off her feet by his astounding presence, his Latin passion, and his utter bohemianism. When Nin visited Moré at his Paris apartment, she was shocked to find that he and his wife Helba were living in utter squalor. Once Nin and Moré commenced their decade-long love affair, she felt compelled to help him and Helba escape their sickly existence by giving them money for a new apartment, for food and medicine—Helba, at this time, had just fallen into a mélange of illnesses that incapacitated her and ended her once-celebrated dance career. While Huara was grateful for Nin’s financial support, she resented her presence in her husband’s live, and almost immediately a hate-infested relationship developed between the three of them. For ten years, it was a war between carnal passion and almost insane jealousy and hatred, a war in which the dark side eventually ultimately destroyed the Nin-Moré relationship in 1946. But before it ended, Nin and Moré founded the Gemor Press in New York to not only print Nin’s books, but also to provide Moré with a source of income. While the press produced several true works of art, Moré’s lack of discipline and Helba’s increasing demands on him for constant care rendered him unable to fulfill his duties as a printer.

Ironically, Moré came from a prominent Peruvian family and was due a significant inheritance. In order to save their relationship, Nin offered to send Moré back to Peru to get his inheritance, but his pride would not let him go—he was horrified by the idea of how his family would react to his sorry state of affairs and never went back.

Once the affair ended—and it ended bitterly—there were few entries in Nin’s diaries about Moré and Huara, and we, the readers, like Nin, lose track of them. There was confusion about how Moré and Huara left the country, when, and what happened next. Even the death date attributed to Moré in the published diaries (1966) turns out to be off by seven years.

But now, the lack of information and the mysteries have been in great part solved by Pineda’s dogged detective work, which has taken over twenty years. We find out how Moré and Huara met each other, how they had a daughter who Nin believed was Moré’s niece, and the incredible success Huara had as a performer of Peruvian indigenous dances, even to the point where she and Moré (who accompanied Huara on piano) appeared in New York City during the 1920s. We also discover that Huara was about to be awarded a national U.S. tour just as she fell ill, and how her plans for a return to dance many years later were tragically ended with an accident.

Listen as Eduardo Pineda reveals these details of the lives of these two once-famed but now enigmatic artists.

Run time: 50 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order Volume 15 of A Café in Space, click here.

New Review of Henry Miller: The Last Days

Here is a new, abridged version of a review by Resources for American Literary Study:

Henry Miller, the Last Days: A Memoir
By Barbara Kraft. San Antonio: Sky Blue P, 2016. 203 pp. $15.

Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller (1891-1980) both shared part of their private lives with Barbara Kraft, giving her the unimaginable opportunity of being alongside two of the more memorable writers of the twentieth century during their final years. Kraft became an important source of support and enjoyment for the ailing writers. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, A Memoir (2011) is Kraft’s account of her time with Nin, and this current memoir details the events surrounding her friendship with Miller. Drawing from her diary recording that period, Kraft provides an intimate view into Miller’s ups and downs with his failing health. We are presented with a Miller very much alive and connected—albeit growing more disinterested—with the world around him, vivacious in his love for Brenda Venus, continuing his endless correspondence, and publishing short works. Miller’s home life, however, was increasingly troubled, and Kraft elucidates biographical details of Miller’s household that have been overlooked by his many biographers.

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Following the international fame Miller attained in the early 1960s due to his pornography trial and resulting American and British publication of his Tropic novels, he became a sought-after outsider. With this (mostly) unwanted attention, the aging writer tended to avoid many of his devoted fans. In reaction to this sometimes-aggressive public attention, Miller may have subconsciously tried to regain some privacy by keeping separate the various sections of his life. Kraft recalls that Miller had a revolving collection of sixteen different “chefs” visiting his house, of whom Kraft was one—these were people whom Miller had asked to cook him dinner a few times a month—yet, over the course of nearly three years, Kraft never met any of the others. Because of Miller’s tendency to pigeonhole his friends into various parts of his life, it is understandable that Kraft’s memoir is very much centered on Miller’s kitchen, a place where she spent many evenings conversing with Miller, sometimes bringing special visitors with whom Kraft thought Miller might find an affinity.

From a biographical perspective, Kraft’s Henry Miller, The Last Days is an important addition to the memoirs and reflections on Miller’s Pacific Palisades time.

By the beginning of 1980, the inevitable final decline in Miller’s health became apparent to Kraft. Death came slowly, and Kraft recalls the waiting for the moment when his life would end. During these last months, Miller was still mostly cognizant of his surroundings, but his body increasingly failed him. He refused to let Venus see him in such a condition and turned down an opportunity presented by Kraft to meet Eugene Ionesco, one of his favorite playwrights. As his body failed, Miller’s mind also drifted, sometimes back to his days in France, and he soon required Pickerill’s assistance with all of his daily functions. Kraft moves quickly through these months, as Miller’s ability to interact with guests decreased and she had to devote more attention to her own personal life.

The memoir ends with Miller’s death, and by ending there, it appears that Kraft had no personal involvement with Miller’s posthumous family affairs. Why it took Kraft twenty-three years to set down a detailed reflection on her friendship with Miller seems irrelevant; for those interested in Miller, Kraft recollects the events as if they had just recently unfolded, writing in the first person. Ultimately, the expanded details of the book-length memoir provide a final glimpse of Miller from a perspective that no other biographer will be able to portray.

WAYNE E. ARNOLD, The University of Kitakyushu, Japan, for Resources for American Literary Study

To order a print copy of Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

Podcast 29: Anaïs Nin’s Lost World with Britt Arenander

Swedish author Britt Arenander discusses the new English language version of her Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, which is in now in print. Lost World contains more than 50 photographs, many of them vintage, of Anaïs Nin’s and Henry Miller’s favorite haunts and living quarters in and around Paris during the most interesting period of their lives. Included is a concise but thorough guide through the streets of Paris.

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Hotel Orphila, immortalized by August Strindberg

As Arenander says, the book was a labor of love and required a great deal of detective work to retrace Nin’s steps as she visited the places described in the 1920s and 1930s diaries. Astoundingly, most of them still exist, and some retain the ambience that Nin and Miller enjoyed some 85 years ago.

And there are surprises: Nin, shortly after moving to Paris in the 1920s, unwittingly inhabited a room at Hotel Orphila, which the writer August Strindberg made famous in the late 1800s. The brothel Nin mentions in Henry and June is still located at 32 rue Blondel and is still a brothel. The lawn furniture Arenander photographed in the yard of the famed Louveciennes house was there as early as 1910, evidenced by a rare photograph of the owner reclining on the same chaise that was photographed 80 years later. The street where Henry Miller and Alfred Perlès lived in Clichy was immortalized in a post card from 1932—which includes their apartment building.

Arenander also dispels the myth about why Nin was denied entrance to her former Louveciennes home in 1971, as revealed by a conversation with the owner, the reputed Monsieur Auzépy, the very man who allowed the house to lay empty and crumbling for decades.

LostWorld-Front-Cover

Run time: 20 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order the print version of Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

To order the digital version of Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

Podcast 28: A brief history of journals dedicated to Anaïs Nin

Until after Anaïs Nin published her blockbuster Diary of Anaïs Nin in 1966, there had been very few critical studies of her work. One notable exception was Oliver Evans’ article “Anaïs Nin and the Discovery of Inner Space” in the Fall 1962 issue of Prairie Schooner. His book-length analysis didn’t appear until 1968, but soon thereafter, scholars such as Richard Centing, Benjamin Franklin V, Duane Schneider, Philip K. Jason, and Evelyn Hinz began to take Nin’s work seriously and wrote about it.

Centing and Franklin were the co-founders and co-editors of the first periodical dedicated to Nin, which they called Under the Sign of Pisces: Anaïs Nin and her Circle, a quarterly that debuted at the beginning of 1970.

Inaugural issue of Under the Sign of Pisces

Inaugural issue of Under the Sign of Pisces

 

Nin was a tough critic of those who critiqued her work; Oliver Evans was a victim of her dissatisfaction, as was, eventually, Benjamin Franklin V. Franklin says that he was “fired” by Centing in 1973 at the bequest of Nin. The reasons are explained in Episode 28 of The Anaïs Nin Podcast.

Pisces had a long run, ending in 1981, after which the void was filled by Gunther Stuhlmann’s ANAIS: An International Journal. The story behind how this journal came to be and lasted for 19 annual issues is related by Paul Herron, who knew Stuhlmann personally, and who was inspired to create the most recent Nin journal, A Café in Space.

Herron details how Café came to be, who has been in its pages, how by pure luck he was able to include Janet Fitch (White Oleander) in the first annual volume, and attempts to explain why volume 15 (2018) will be the last.

Run time: 22 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To view past issues of A Café in Space, click here.

To find out how to submit work to Volume 15, click here.

Podcast 27: Anaïs Nin’s ‘Auletris’ is now an audiobook

Episode 27 of the Anaïs Nin Podcast is live. Listen to erotica reader Thurlow Holmes describing her experience reading Nin’s Auletris: Erotica for the new audiobook, just released on audible.com, Amazon and iTunes.

“This was one of the first books that I just read out loud, as I was reading it,” Holmes says in an interview with the book’s editor, Paul Herron. “I was taking this as it came at me, so I could imagine myself in a room with the characters.”

“Anaïs Nin’s words just roll off the page, so you get wrapped up in the moment,” she added.

AuletrisAudiobookCoverWhat sets this podcast apart is a steamy audio excerpt from the first story in the section of Auletris entitled “Life in Provincetown,” during which a lushly-lipped model is making love in studio that is separated by a thin wall behind which, unbeknownst to her, was a young Portuguese sailor listening intently and using his imagination to picture what was being done to her by the nature of the sounds she was uttering.

Holmes was surprised to find out how she got the reading part in the first place, which was a series of events that almost killed the entire production, with the contract being signed on the very day after which Sky Blue Press’s audio rights to the book would have lapsed. “Isn’t it serendipitous how things fall apart, the pieces fall into place and click, and here we are with this wonderful book for your listeners to enjoy,” says Holmes. “Here’s our happy ending,” she joked.

The audiobook version of Auletris runs 2 hours and 49 minutes and can be found on:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

The podcast is 27 minutes long and can be listened to:

With iTunes by clicking here

Without iTunes be clicking here

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