Anaïs Nin was never afraid of new ways to disseminate her work, working in several different media, much of it ahead of its time. Her words were on the page, read at spoken word events, recorded on vinyl, made into film, and were accompanied by electronic music.
In Volume 10 of A Café in Space, yet another platform for Nin’s work has appeared: comic book (or graphic novel, or manga). Joel Enos, a frequent contributor to A Café in Space and who works in the graphics media, decided to put Nin’s famous story “Under a Glass Bell” into comic book form, using the artwork of the talented Fiona Meng to visualize Nin’s ethereal Jeanne and her two brothers, who, according to critic Oliver Evans, are living out a life of psychological incest in their house. The siblings’ isolation from the world is represented by the glass bell, which, as Nin says, “covered the entire house.”
The prospects of such a representation of Nin’s fiction are tantalizing indeed, and I hope we will see more in the future. Below are some frames from A Café in Space, which can be ordered both in print and digital format.
Below, Jeanne has rushed from disturbing images she sees in the “room of mirrors” to her sleeping brother:
Under a Glass Bell (the ebook) can be ordered by clicking here.
Did Gore Vidal lie about his relationship with Anaïs Nin?
According to Kim Krizan’s article in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Volume 10, the answer is yes. Is this speculation, theory, mere speculation, or fact substantiated with proof?
Anyone who has read The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4 (1944-47) knows that Nin had a close friendship with the young budding novelist, but since her sex life and even love affairs of the heart were all but completely edited out, the reader is left to guess about the true nature of the relationship with Vidal.
We do know that Vidal publicly lashed out at Nin with a scathing review of volume 4 of the diary, which made the claim that she invented most of the passages concerning him; he also satirized Nin brutally in his novels, perhaps most notably Myra Breckinridge. His campaign of character assassination continued in his Palimpsest: A Memoir, in which he said that Nin’s biographer (Deirdre Bair) falsely claimed that Vidal proposed marriage to Nin, who was 23 years older than he: “Needless to say, I never wanted to marry anyone, certainly not someone who was to me, in my ageist youth, a very old woman.”
Bair got her much of her information from the unpublished 1940s diary of Anaïs Nin, which provides the details of Nin’s erotic life that was cut from the published diary. In it, Nin clearly states that on more than one occasion, Vidal did propose a marriage in which each would be free to pursue sexual encounters on the outside. While Nin had hoped Vidal’s homosexuality could be “cured” with analysis and maturity (a common notion in the 1940s), Vidal told her, as quoted in the diary, “You see, if I could have loved a woman, it would be you. Now I know my homosexuality is incurable.”
But all this is Nin’s side of the story. Vidal’s side is already clear: Nin was a fabricator, an inventor, a liar.
So, how does Kim Krizan prove that it was Vidal who was the actual fabricator? By going to the UCLA special collections department which houses the Nin papers. In this vast mountain of documents, she unearthed a blockbuster letter from Vidal to Nin written in 1947. In it, he states that he would “never have a satisfying homosexual relationship,” and that while he was “attracted to youth, to beauty,” he was, separately, attracted “unphysically” to Nin and enjoyed the “spiritual emotional rapport” they had. “I need that more than the other.” He goes on to propose selling his house in Guatemala, and then “we can get a small place near Antibes or wherever there are interesting people and cheap living.” He envisions a “tranquil if not complete” life with Nin, one in which she would be “free of America, Hugo (her husband), all the mess.”
But there was one big obstacle to this proposal, and that was Rupert Pole.
Anaïs Nin was born 110 years ago the day this journal, our landmark 10th issue, is to be released, so we have two reasons to celebrate. Ten years ago, I, for one, had no idea that A Café in Space would ever reach such a milestone, and so I must pay tribute to those who have made it happen: our contributors and our readers. Without you, there is no journal on Anaïs Nin some 36 years after her death. It is our aim to continue spreading her words, to enlarge the circle, welcoming new readers and scholars from around the world. I certainly am honored to facilitate this forum for as long as possible, but I am also well aware that this is only a continuation of those who came before us, including Under the Sign of Pisces, edited by Benjamin Franklin V and Richard Centing, and ANAIS: An International Journal, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Without such formidable models, this journal would not exist in its present form.
Speaking of the roots of Nin scholarship, one of its key members, Duane Schneider, whose work on Nin led to Anaïs Nin: An Introduction (1979) and An Interview with Anaïs Nin (1970), which was reprinted in Vol. 5 of this publication, died in December 2012. A long-time teacher of English, publisher, author and scholar, he will be missed by his loved ones, his students and the Nin community. His old friend and “partner in crime,” Benjamin Franklin V, pays him tribute in this issue.
One of the 20th century’s greatest men of letters, Gore Vidal, also died in 2012. His connection to Anaïs Nin has long been one that attracts both interest and controversy, especially in light of his vitriolic attacks on her character even long after her death. It seems fitting, then, that we present three looks at Vidal, one of them by Anaïs Nin herself, and try to uncover the truth of their legendary relationship.
The Vidal excerpt from Nin’s unpublished diary also serves as a “preview” of Mirages: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1939-1947, which is slated to be released in late 2013 as a co-publication of Sky Blue Press and Ohio University Press. This diary, the first to be published since Nearer the Moon in 1996, reveals how Nin’s forced return to New York nearly destroyed her personally but also helped her become a prolific and more mature writer. In a style of which only Nin is capable, she details the ends of her relationships with Henry Miller and Gonzalo Moré, her futile bonds with increasingly younger men, her publishing woes, and redemption in the form of Rupert Pole, the young, ardent lover who lured her to California, thus beginning her bicoastal double life.
The work of Anaïs Nin, which has by now been largely digitized, is beginning to spread around the world as electronic reading devices become more popular. In the past year or two, Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Spain, India, Japan, Canada, and Brazil are all serviced by popular ebook portals such as Amazon.com, and anyone with a computer, smart phone, tablet, or one of many other devices can now download Nin’s work, making it widely accessible in new locations.
As digital books increase Anaïs Nin’s readership, other formats are also emerging, and one of them appears in this issue: a graphic novel form (or, if you will, a “comic book” version) of one of Nin’s iconic works, “Under a Glass Bell.” Told by Joel Enos and drawn by Fiona Meng, Nin’s characters come “alive” on the page, and a portion of the ethereal story is presented in a way not seen before. Who knows what other kinds of digital media will lend themselves to popularizing Anaïs Nin’s work in the future?
To order the print version of Volume 10 (to be released Feb. 21, 2013), click here.
To purchase the digital version, click here and begin reading today.
Duane Schneider, one of the preeminent Anais Nin scholars of the 20th century and co-author of Anais Nin: An Introduction (1979), has passed away. He once owned his own hand-operated press and published several documents, including An Interview With Anais Nin in 1970, which was reprinted in A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5 (2008). What follows is an obituary written by his widow, Crystal Gips.
Duane B. Schneider of Yarmouth Port MA died Wednesday, December 26, 2012, at The Terraces Orleans after a long bout with Lewy Body, a degenerative neurological disease. He was 75.
Mr. Schneider is survived by his wife Crystal Gips of Yarmouth Port MA; son Jeffrey Schneider, his wife Felicia Jevitt, and their daughter Morgan and son Jeremy of Mason OH; son Eric Schneider and his daughters Laura and Sara of Cincinnati; daughter Lisa Schneider of New Marshfield, OH; daughter Emily Strickland, her husband Wayne, and their daughters Sandy and Rachel of Guysville, OH; and his sister Dona Browne of Farmington Hills, MI. His former wife, JoAnne Dodd of Athens, OH, also survives him.
Mr. Schneider was born November 15, 1937, in South Bend, IN and grew up there. He was the son of William and Lillian (Pitchford) Schneider. After graduating from high school, he attended Elmhurst College outside Chicago, where he intended to prepare to be a minister. With a change of heart, he transferred to Miami of Ohio, majored in English and was named an undergraduate fellow. He also won the undergraduate prize for the study of Greek. He began graduate school at University of California Berkeley, married his high school friend JoAnne Bennett, and completed a master’s degree in English at Kent State in Ohio in 1960. Mr. Schneider earned a Ph. D. in English in 1965 from the University of Colorado where he was an English instructor for 5 years in the College of Engineering.
In the same year, Mr. Schneider joined the faculty of the English Department at Ohio University. In the late 1970s he served as chair of the English Department’s graduate programs, and then in 1981 was elected Chair of the Faculty Senate. After two years in that role, he returned to the English Department as Chair, and then in 1985 became the Director of the Ohio University Press. Under his leadership at the Press, it flourished and rose to new levels of publishing and sales. One of the scholarly highlights of his career was his deep friendship with the feminist writer Anais Nin, which grew out of his writing of a book, with his colleague Ben Franklin V, about her and her writings including the well known Diaries of Anais Nin. Duane was also the founding president in 1985 of the Thomas Wolfe Society, an international literary society that still flourishes today.
Duane entered early retirement from Ohio University in 1995, and continued teaching fall term each year at Ohio through 2007, for a total of 47 years as a professor. Duane also taught one summer at University of Montana, and part time at California State University Northridge, The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, and The New School in NYC. He was Emeritus Professor of English at Ohio University. He and Crystal lived in Athens, Los Angeles, Albany NY, Saint Simons Island GA, and Long Beach CA, before moving three years ago to Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod.
Mr. Schneider operated his own publishing firm, Croissant & Co., in the 1970s. He published the short works of such people as Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Nin, and others, all printed on a hand press he operated himself.
Mr. Schneider was an active Unitarian during his adult life. He served as president of the Athens Unitarian Fellowship in the mid 70s during the building of the fellowship hall, and he was recently a member of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable.
The family will hold a private burial in Athens. Memorial services will follow at a later date in Athens and on Cape Cod.
Duane and his wife are ever so grateful to HopeHealth for its wonderful Hospice care and especially to nurses Deborah and Melanie, social worker Julie, and nurse assistant Ann Marie for their love and kindness along with fine professional care.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. Schneider’s honor may be made to the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, P.O. Box 285, Barnstable MA 02630, or to HopeHealth, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601.
Kim Krizan, whose Masters thesis was on Anais Nin, and who is a frequent contributor to A Cafe in Space, has written a new book in which Nin is a key character: Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale. To find out about the book and how to become a part of its publication, read the press release below.
For Immediate Release: THE “BROAD” BEHIND BEFORE SUNRISE & BEFORE SUNSET LAUNCHES BOOK CAREER ON KICKSTARTER
Oscar Nominated Screenwriter “Kicks” Hollywood to the Curb by Debuting Non-Fiction Book With CrowdFunding Site
“You know how to make a little pledge, doncha? You just put your finger on the button and push.” – Kim Krizan
October 1st, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA. — Best known for writing and creating the generation-defining romance films BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET, Oscar nominated screenwriter Kim Krizan is “kicking” Hollywood to the curb and taking her career to the crowd — crowdfunding, that is — with her new Kickstarter project: a tongue-in-cheek history of dangerous women entitled Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale. [Click here to go to Kim's kickstarter page]
Krizan’s debut non-fiction book is being offered directly to fans worldwide in exchange for pledges of support. If Krizan raises $10,000, the book will be published and those pledging $25 or more will receive a hard copy.
“In Hollywood, a writer is either handing off ideas to a studio or writing spec scripts that rely on some business person to fund. The Hollywood writer is always waiting and at every turn, her work is in the hands of middlemen,” said Krizan. “With Kickstarter, I can go to fans directly and they alone get to decide whether my project goes out in the world.”
Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale was inspired by Krizan’s long-time fascination with femme fatales, femme fatale films, and her experiences as a woman and a Hollywood writer. It asks timeless questions: “What does a woman wear when she kills her husband?” “What does a woman drive when she gets out of Sh*tsville?” and “How does a woman get revenge on society en masse?” It is sprinkled with examples from real-life history and is a mash-up of profane, profound, and perverse observations on female power.
Krizan’s Kickstarter campaign features a hilarious video of her “confession” to writing a book, shows her slipping through Chinatown on what appears to be a nefarious errand, and ends with her appearance in a bar where she asks an unsuspecting gentleman to support her Kickstarter project. “You know how to make a little pledge, doncha?” asks Krizan, a femme fatale who wouldn’t look out of place in the 1940s noir classic DOUBLE INDEMNITY. “You just put your finger on the button and push.”
To receive a copy of Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale, Krizan has devised twelve pledge levels, allowing the potential reader to purchase the book in print or digitally, and to receive an array of bonus gifts. Her final pledge level allows the fan to have the unique experience of meeting Krizan at Los Angeles’ famous Union Station to live out their own BEFORE SUNRISE experience by walking and talking into the evening. “That film’s dialogue was based on my love of great conversations,” explained Krizan. “I find people infinitely interesting and I like nothing better than having an hours-long in-depth conversation on life and love.”
Krizan first stood out for her role as hip high school teacher Ginny Stroud in DAZED AND CONFUSED, who mouths the Fourth of July’s perennially favorite line, “Hey guys, one more thing, hey, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating and that’s the fact a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, rich white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”
Krizan went on to be part of the creative team that brought BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET to life and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. The films were directed by Richard Linklater and starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Krizan also wrote the critically-acclaimed comic book, Zombie Tales: 2061, published by BOOM! Studios, and she regularly contributes to A Cafe in Space, a journal dedicated to the works of Anais Nin.
About Kim Krizan: Kim Krizan is an Academy Award-nominated writer of the films BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET. She was born in Los Angeles and has a Master’s degree in literature. Krizan also appeared as an actor in a number of films, including SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED and WAKING LIFE. Krizan teaches creative writing classes for UCLA Extension. Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale is Krizan’s first book.
When Anaïs Nin met the 20 year old Gore Vidal in 1945, she found in him a kindred soul, one who understood her and her writing, which was something she rarely experienced. She was initially swept off her feet by his dymanic, self-assured, and elegant demeanor, and the emotional bond between them sprang forth very quickly. They grew to love each other, but since Vidal was homosexual, it was a torn love, one that could not be fulfilled physically. Nin and Vidal supported and inspired each other’s work, and Vidal, who worked as an editor for Dutton, was able to arrange Nin’s first contract with an American publisher.
Gore Vidal quite famously derided Nin in his work and in his comments after they had split, and Nin was not kind to Vidal’s work, characterizing it as pedestrian and beneath his capabilities. Was the vitriol a true reflection of their feelings for each other, or was it a result of the great pain of not being able to be true lovers? That is a question that begs to be examined.
Below are Nin’s first comments about Vidal in her soon-to-be-released unexpurgated 1940s diary:
November 19, 1945
Kimon Friar asked me to go to his lecture on love. At the Y.M.H.A. I was in a sad mood, so I dressed as Mary Stuart, who had her head cut off by a jealous Queen Elizabeth, in a tight black dress with long sleeves half covering the hand, a heart shaped black hat edged with pearls, and a white veil. Kimon lectured at the head of a long table. At the foot of the table one chair was empty, and I took it (Hugo had to sit behind me). Next to me sat a handsome Lieutenant, who, after I had leaned across him to speak to Maya Deren, spoke to me. “Are you French? I am a descendent of troubadour Vidal.” … He is luminous and manly. He is … not nebulous, but clear and bright. He talks, is active, is alert and poised. [H]e has [a] tall and slender body, … clear skin, and [a] full, sensual mouth. He is twenty years old. He is one of the editors at Dutton, and his own novel is appearing in the spring. He knows Under a Glass Bell and had guessed who I was. He asked when he might visit me. I said I would be home that evening or on Tuesday evening. He said he would come on Tuesday as he was not free that evening. But after a moment, he said: “I’d like to come this evening if you don’t mind.”
So four hours after meeting him, he walked into my studio. … His voice is rich and warm; he is intuitive. There is too much to tell.
When Gore Vidal says he will be the President of the United States, I believe him. He walks in easily, not dream-fogged, not unreal, not bemused … His eyes are … clear, open, hazel. They are French eyes. His face is square … He came Sunday afternoon. Then this evening we sat at the Number One bar and talked. His father is a millionaire. His grandfather was Senator Gore. His mother left them when he was ten to marry someone else. “She is Latin looking, vivacious, handsome, her hair and eyes like yours,” he said, “beloved of many.”
The boy-man is lonely. He rejects homosexual advances. He says: “In the army, I live like a monk.” He is writing his novel. He is clear minded, but emotionally confused and vulnerable. …
Will his French troubadour lineage stir in his memory some recognition of Anaïs, whose name comes from a little Greek town in the south of France? I feel yes, unconsciously. He has the courage to say: “May I come?” He telephones, he can command a taxi. Will he dare? I feel the bond, less than with Bill, but one that suits my present self better, for I am returning to my aristocracy and my pleasures, and leaving my bohemianism behind.
Gore talks about his childhood: “When my mother left me I became objective…I live detached from my present life…at home our relationships are casual…my father married a young model…I like casual relationships…When you are involved you get hurt. I do not want to be involved ever…”
Mutely … Gore’s sudden softness envelops me.
December 5, 1945
Gore is a lieutenant at Mitchell Field. He comes in on weekends, and Sunday he came to see me. We had a fine talk, lightly serious, gracefully sad. He read me from Richard II. “Why was he killed?” I asked. “Because he was weak. I am not weak,” said Gore.
No, he is not weak, but he might need Joan of Arc to place him on his throne. I told him his arthritic hand was due to a psychic cramp for writing about an ordinary hero when he himself is no ordinary young man. I teased him, touched upon his depression. His handwriting is chaotic and unstable. He took me to dinner.
Today he called me up: “This is troubadour Vidal.” His voice is lovely, musical …
December 10, 1945
Gore came, and we slid easily into a sincere, warm talk …
He takes me to dinner at the Lafayette. All the society mothers look for him, for their cocktails and dances. The debutantes write him letters: “Why are you so detached?” As we walk, I take his arm. This gesture has infinite repercussions upon the long distance range of his being. When I relinquish it, a moment later he extends it back and says: “Mon bras?”
… [He] is … adequate, answers all I say, and holds his ground. When we return home (he came at four and left at midnight), he makes me laugh with the most amazingly well-acted pastiches of Roosevelt, Churchill, a southern senator, a petitioner at the House of Commons, etc. … [N]ow, I abandon my writing, my need of the doctor, to write about him because I enjoy his presence. I enjoy being allowed into his secret self. His very far apart, clear hazel eyes open into mine: “I give you the true Vidal, a supreme gift.” Leaving, he says: “I’ll come on Wednesday. Don’t let anyone else come. Send Hugo away.”
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Volume 9 (2012) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal has been released on Kindle. The print version is coming soon as well. This issue explores the details of Nin’s early “trapeze life,” the swinging back and forth between her New York husband and Los Angeles lover, which was to last for 30 years. Kim Krizan, the Academy Award nominee for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, visited the UCLA archives and shares the fascinating discoveries she made in her article “Anaïs Nin: Typical American Wife—life with Rupert Pole, 1953.” Not only does Krizan discover that after six years with Pole Nin finds herself in the same role she was in some thirty years earlier with her young husband Hugh Guiler—a “typical American wife” baking pies, tidying the house, shopping, mending—but unlike the Guiler relationship, the one with Pole was punctuated by hypnotic sex scenes so powerful that, in spite of her better judgment, Nin was compelled to create an elaborate double life, one that would last until her final days.
Also in Volume 9, to complement Krizan’s article, are excerpts from Nin’s 1950 diary and correspondence to Pole from the same time period. “The Tree and the Pillar,” culled from Nin’s diary, gives us an idea of what Nin thought about her
relationship with Pole and how conflicted she was about it. Consider this passage:
Five years ago I began to use naturalization as one of the many myths to justify my departures. Americanization. Divorce. Jobs. Lectures. Magazine work. Publication of books. Christmas holidays with my family. Illness of [my brother] Thorvald at a New York hospital. Problems of A Spy in the House of Love. Disguises. Metamorphoses to cover my trips—my other life. The questions put by Rupert are answered with more lies. Only the passion and the love are true, so deeply true, so deeply true—but do they justify the lies told to protect it?
This should be a joyous moment, a moment of finding each other again after I conquered all the obstacles which pull me away. [Rupert] does not know each return is a victory, that each return has taken great efforts, great planning, great lavishness of acting in New York.
When one considers the fact that Nin not only had to create an impossibly complicated scheme to keep Pole unaware that she was still married to and living with Guiler in New York, but she had to convince Guiler that her trips to California were for the sake of her health and her writing—and she had to do this each and every time she made her trips from one to the other—and she kept it up for nearly three decades—it is mind-boggling, to say the least.
To give the reader an idea of how far Nin went to maintain this lifestyle, a selection of letters written to Pole explaining her trips to New York are presented. Entitled “A Web of Lies,” a term Nin herself used to describe them, these letters are so detailed that it seems impossible that they could be almost pure fabrication. All of the jobs she describes, and the people with whom she works, the writing she does for various magazines, her residences, are fictional, and yet she keeps up a narrative that accommodates all of seemingly illogical twists and turns of her schedule (usually caused by changes in Guiler’s plans), why Pole was not allowed to call her (because she was with Guiler and not in some friend’s apartment), and where the money she was bringing in was coming from (she claimed her work brought it in, whereas it was Guiler’s money), etc. This short snippet of correspondence is a mere fraction of Nin’s efforts to keep up the façade.
And how was Nin able to develop such ability for spinning webs of lies? Nin scholar Simon Dubois Boucheraud writes of Nin’s “fake diary,” which was one of Nin’s earliest attempts to keep her husband unaware of the fact that she was having
an affair, this time with Henry Miller in Paris in the early 1930s. Guiler had read one of Nin’s diaries that described a sexual encounter with Miller. In order to counter this stunning turn of events, Nin’s plan was to keep a fake diary which she hoped Guiler would read “by accident,” one in which she writes of how the diary Guiler read was actually a diary that contained her fantasies. This so-called “real” diary, which was actually fiction, would then cause Guiler to think the actual real diary was fake. It is an amazing journey with incredible detail—and it foreshadows her future “trapeze life.”
We will include further explorations of Volume 9 of A Café in Space in future posts.
To order Volume 9 from the Kindle store, click here.
For Immediate Release: December 5, 2011
SKY BLUE PRESS ANNOUNCES THE EBOOK PUBLICATION OF
ANAIS NIN: THE LAST DAYS
BY BARBARA KRAFT
San Antonio, TX “I have chosen to reveal the intimacies of Anaïs Nin’s last days as I witnessed them so that the story of her death is not lost. Everything comes back in the mind’s eye. Everything comes back in the crucible of the heart. She remains in my psyche all these years later as the most refined and rarified human being I have ever encountered.”
Thus begins Barbara Kraft’s memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days. With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Kraft has done what no biographer, no scholar, no film could do: capture the humanity, mortality, and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is available on Amazon’s Kindle, and soon the Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, as well as other e-book-friendly devices such as the iPhone and will be available through nearly every credible device worldwide.
Anaïs Nin, noted for her diaries and erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. Quickly, the two became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Kraft’s impending cataclysmic divorce and Nin’s terminal cancer. The circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and untiring part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of life.
As Kraft observes,
“Illness is the great leveler from which none of us is immune. It flushes out all the old, buried truths and puts us in touch with the essential meaning of things. There is no time, no energy for masks, veils, labyrinths, interior cities, or multiple hearts. Death hovered over her, the one reality that Anaïs could not transcend or transmute or transform or levitate with the magic of words. It was a reality she met with a dignity that tore at the heart of all of us who knew her and were close to her.”
Kraft describes her initial meeting with Nin in February 1974, writing that Nin was poetry embodied and seemed to “glide” over the rose-colored carpet of her Silver Lake home “like a swan skimming the surface of still waters.” And in December of that year, Kraft begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer. She describes Nin’s vivid dreams during this period, her many trips to a healer in the Mojave Desert, and her frequent requests that Kraft wear her dresses when she went out, saying, “You will take my spirit with you out into the world.”
Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft captures expertly. She poignantly records not only Nin’s stubborn grip on life, but also the heroic efforts that Rupert Pole, Nin’s west coast lover, made to shield her from the inevitable pain, agony, and humiliation associated with the disease. It is a monumental tribute to not only those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.
The very personal events in this book can be appreciated by anyone who has gone through terminal disease or know someone who has. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.
A former reporter for Time, Washington Post, People, USA Today, and Architectural Digest, Barbara Kraft is author of The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini, with a preface by Anaïs Nin, and the recently published memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, which Nin biographer Noel Riley Fitch calls “intimate and beautifully written.” Kraft’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly, and Columbia Magazine, and among the many radio programs she has hosted and produced is Transforming OC, a two-part documentary on the 2006 opening of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Kraft lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.
Sky Blue Press, established in 1996 by Paul Herron, is “dedicated to the preservation of literature as art,” and strives to achieve this goal with each publication. Titles include Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors (1996); To Purify the Words of the Tribe: The Major Verse Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1999); The Winter of Artifice: 1939 Edition by Anaïs Nin (2007); A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (2003-present); and e-book versions of Anaïs Nin’s fiction, including House of Incest, Under a Glass Bell, and A Spy in the House of Love; The Portable Anaïs Nin (2011); and Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (2011).
To purchase Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.
There were few self-promoters as tireless as Anais Nin. When she wasn’t doing interviews, lectures, readings, and book signings, she was plotting new ways to get her work in the hands of readers.
In Paris during the 1930s, she partnered with two emerging modernist writers, Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, and together the “3 Musketeers,” as they called themselves, published 3 books in the “Villa Seurat Series,” named after the street where Miller’s apartment served as their headquarters.
In New York, when no one would publish her work, Nin bought a manually powered printing press and published her own work as beautifully crafted books. She joined forces with Frances Steloff, whose Gotham Book Mart was central to the Village counterculture literary scene.
During the 1940s, Nin began what would become a powerful vehicle for selling her books: lecture tours and readings. Slowly, she began to amass a small but passionate following despite the literary establishment’s failure to pay her any attention or respect.
At the end of the 1950s, Nin began a professional relationship with German expatriate literary agent Gunther Stuhlmann, whose never-say-die attitude and methodical approach finally began to break through to a larger public–first, publisher Alan Swallow undertook all of her fiction, and then, after Henry Miller had become famous in the USA after the obscenity trials allowed him to publish his banned books, Miller’s letters to her were published in 1964, bringing her the attention of a wider public. This set the stage for the release of her first Diary of Anais Nin in 1966. The rest is history. Nin then expanded her lectures, readings, and interviews, using auditoriums, films, recordings, radio and TV stations to express her message to a now adoring audience. She continued this until illness finally brought it to an end in the mid-70s.
After her death, it was left to others to promote her work, and admittedly there has been and never will be such an effective advocate as she. However, we continue her work as best we can. We have just celebrated Cyber Monday, and I know in my heart that Anais would have embraced this concept and would have taken advantage of it somehow. With that in mind, we are offering her work here at Sky Blue Press for attractive prices, and if you want to get Anais into your hands, this is a good opportunity. It is also a great chance to get her into the hands of your friends, loved ones, and colleagues, the uninitiated. There is little doubt that Anais Nin’s writing has been a positive influence on those who are fortunate enough to have found her, and we strive to widen the circle.
We are offering The Portable Anais Nin, the new print version, which contains the best of Anais’s writing, chronologically arranged; Anais’s only banned book, the original 1939 version of The Winter of Artifice; all issues of A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, and more.
Visit http://www.skybluepress.org for details.