Auletris: Long Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica

This is the story of how I discovered that not all of Anaïs Nin’s erotica has been published, despite Delta of Venus and Little Birds editor John Ferrone’s insistence to the contrary.

When Ferrone approached Nin in the 1970s about publishing the erotica she had written in the 1940s for a collector at a dollar a page, she initially bristled at the idea, fearing it may taint her reputation as a serious writer. However, Ferrone made a convincing argument after reassuring Nin that not only would it not harm her reputation, but it would bolster it since the writing was, as we now know, brilliant and ground-breaking. The rest is history—Delta of Venus and Little Birds became New York Times bestsellers shortly after Nin’s death in 1977 and have been translated into dozens of languages across the world.

Ferrone said that of the 850 pages of raw material he was given, only scraps remained, nothing worth publishing. But I, by a minor miracle, was to find out that this is not so.

Gunther Stuhlmann was Nin’s longtime literary agent and, I’m proud to say, a friend of mine. After he passed, his wife Barbara gave me much of his archive because she felt I might be able to do something with it. One day, not long ago, I was going through a folder that held a collection of correspondence from the 1980s, and among it was a letter from Ferrone to Stuhlmann saying that an auction house was selling a copy of a book illicitly printed in 1950 called Auletris, which supposedly contained original Nin erotica. The book was one of five copies in existence and contained two stories—“Marcel,” which is about 50 pages long, and “Life in Provincetown,” which is a similar length. A severely edited version of the former story appears in Delta (17 pages long), while the latter is nowhere to be found in any Nin book or archive.

What intrigued me were the half dozen opening pages of “Life in Provincetown” (page 1 is below) that the auctioneer had Xeroxed for Stuhlmann—they most definitely contained Nin’s writing, and they seemed to indicate she was at the top of her game when they were written. I had to find the rest of this book!

After a lot of research, I found out that a copy was hiding in plain sight in the special collections of a university library, and I was able to obtain a copy of the text. When I read the entire manuscript, I knew it had to be published, because it is valuable for three reasons—first, not a word of the Provincetown story has ever seen the light of day; second, “Marcel” appears in its original form, unedited, with several lengthy passages that landed on the cutting room floor, never to be seen again; and third, because the quality of the writing is superb and not tinkered with for commercial reasons.

Auletris breaks many taboos—there are tales of incest, sex with children, rape, voyeurism, cutting, sadomasochism, homoeroticism (both male and female), autoerotic asphyxiation, to name a few, all set in old Provincetown, Paris, and other exotic locales; the characters are deliciously decadent, and the themes are largely based on Nin’s own experiences recorded in her unexpurgated diaries. This book comes along just as interest in both Nin and the genre of erotica is booming.

Auletris will be published by Sky Blue Press this autumn.

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Page 1 of “Life in Provincetown” (click to enlarge)

Another book inspired by the Stuhlmann archive: The Portable Anais Nin.

Podcast 8: Anaïs Nin and Lana Fox—From Tragedy to Triumph

Anaïs Nin’s erotica and especially the unexpurgated diary Incest have attracted a polarized response—on the one hand, readers enjoy Nin’s adventurous spirit and her powerful, haunting and eloquent writing; on the other is a very vocal and “moral” reaction to the point where some feel impelled to discard Nin from reading lists altogether. There are those cannot get past the notion of such “taboos” such as incest, intense sexuality and abortion. But what about those readers who have experienced some of these things themselves? Lana Fox, erotica writer and co-founder of the sex-positive Go Deeper Press, discusses how, as a sexual abuse and incest survivor who was bullied in school and shamed for displaying any sort of her own sexuality, was able to transform her life, and how Anaïs Nin played a very important role in her rebirth. She says that Delta of Venus and the Incest passages “totally changed” her life, validated her sexual fantasies and helped her overcome the impulse to end her life. Not only did Fox bloom as a writer, she was able to transcend her past and create a world in which she could live and thrive.

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Lana Fox

Lana Fox has also contributed an article entitled “Love Will Come: How Anaïs Nin Fostered My Erotic Creativity” to A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 13, which appears in February 2016.

Run time: 36:11

To listen to Podcast 8 on iTunes, click here

To listen without iTunes, click here

Links:

Lana Fox on Twitter: @foxlana

Go Deeper Press

Lana Fox’s fan fiction book based on Nin’s writing: Cathedral of Furs

Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1932-1934

Delta of Venus

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947

Pre-order volume 13 of A Café in Space

 

Anais Nin Takes Center Stage in LA’s Chinatown Event

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 27, 2013 Media Contact: Barbara Kraft Communications and Public Relations 818.760.8498; Barbara@bkraftpr.com

LUST LETTERS READINGS PRESENTED BY CHINATOWN’S COAGULA CURATORIAL MARCH 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

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Photo credit: Eric Minh-Swenson

LOS ANGELES, CA – In conjunction with Coagula Curatorial Gallery’s Lust Letters exhibition, the Gallery is presenting an evening of performance and readings March 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.  The exhibition features Tim Youd’s Delta of Venus – a 30-foot piece of art inspired by Anais Nin’s erotic writings.  Youd will perform his rendition of selections from Nin’s Delta of Venus.

Curator Joan Aarestad will address Eroticism in Art: A Woman’s View and writer Barbara Kraft will read from her newly published EBook Anais Nin: The Last Days.

Coagula Curatorial is part of the Chung King Road Gallery Row located in historic Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles at 977 Chung King Road. (323) 480-7852;  www.coagulacuratorial.com

For further information please contact Barbara Kraft Communications at 818.760.8498.

Vol. 7 of A Cafe in Space is Here!

cafeinspace_2010coverA Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 7, is a reality. Today we received shipment of the newest—and in some ways one of the best—issue of the only current Anaïs Nin publication in print. Its 150 pages contain Anaïs Nin’s previously unpublished diary excerpts, an intimate look at Hugh Guiler’s feelings about his marriage to Nin, an interview with Deirdre Bair, John Ferrone’s tale of how Delta of Venus was almost not published, and several articles and creative pieces from some of the most established and newest stars of Nin study.

We encourage you to order your copy now—we have sold more advance copies than ever before, and the supply is limited.

 

 

 

Table of Contents
Kim Krizan: Hugh’s Stand—Revelations of a letter from Hugh Guiler to Anaïs Nin

Paul Herron: Leaping Ahead of Reality—Hugh Guiler’s diary

Deirdre Bair: The Making of Anaïs Nin: A Biography—Paul Herron interviews Deirdre Bair

Anaïs Nin: L’Homme Fatal—From the unpublished diary

John Ferrone: The Making of Delta of Venus

Angela Meyer: Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus—Feminine identity through pleasure: a mini analysis

Dawn Kaczmar: Irigaray and Nin Through the Looking Glass—Mimetic re-appropriation of the masculine discourse

Adrian Haidu: A Masculine Perspective of Woman—(Considered as a perspective)

Joel Enos: Flow and Moments of Arrest—Anaïs Nin’s boat imagery

Cari Lynn Vaughn: A Literary Love Triangle—Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin and D.H. Lawrence

Tristine Rainer: Les Mots Flottants—Anaïs Nin’s Diary 2

Sarah Burghauser: Ouroboros and Disorientation—Profile of a Nin lover

Laura Marello: Anaïs Nin and Her Contemporaries—Ahead of their time

Daisy Aldan: Three poems from the end

Marc Widershien: Four poems from Maine

Sharanya Manivannan: Possession

Connie Baechler: Overlay

Reviews and other items of interest: Reviews of The Mistress Cycle, The Heretics, and Ferlinghetti: A City Light; internet links

Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #14

Myth #14: It was Anaïs Nin’s wish that Delta of Venus be published.

Fact: According to John Ferrone, Nin’s editor at Harcourt in New York, it was Rupert Pole who wanted the erotica to be published, predicting its bestseller status. For years, Pole tried to convince Nin that the erotic stories she wrote in the 1940s for a dollar a page were not only publishable, but would be immensely popular. Nin, however, insisted that the erotica was “imitative” of masculine pornography and nothing special, just pages she dashed off with “tongue in cheek.” Once Ferrone saw the stories, he immediately recognized their uniqueness and literary value. After he convinced Nin that her stories were more than worthy of publication, she finally gave in, although she didn’t live long enough to see Delta of Venus reign on the bestseller list for 36 weeks. Ferrone wonders whether she would have been disillusioned—that something she wrote as a “joke” would outsell all her other titles combined.

deltaofvenus-coverAlthough Nin wrote in the postscript of the book that in spite of only having male pornography as a model, she “was intuitively using a woman’s language,” Ferrone questions whether she actually felt that way or was simply capitulating to his own opinion that she was a pioneer in feminine erotic writing.

For John Ferrone’s wonderful recounting of the story of Delta of Venus, see A Café in Space, Volume 7, pp. 53-61.

Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #8

Myth #8: Henry and June is exactly as Anaïs Nin wrote it.

Fact: Anaïs Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June, which came out some nine years after her death in 1977, was as heavily edited as her original Diary 1 (1966). Nin did most of the editing of Diary 1, which mainly concerned cutting the sexual affair with Henry Miller and her erotic longing for his wife June. The material in Henry and June (i.e. the Miller/June entanglement), according to Nin’s wishes, was not to be published until after the death of her husband, Hugh Guiler, who died in 1985. The task of editing was given to Harcourt’s John Ferrone, who edited Delta of Venus, Nin’s only bona fide bestseller. Ferrone described himself as a “hard-nosed editor” with little use for material not on topic, repetitious, or muddled. His goal was for Henry and June to read smoothly, as a novel would, and to not stray from its premise—the Anaïs-Henry-June triangle. Rupert Pole, Nin’s “California husband” and Trustee of the Anaïs Nin Trust, however, did not take well to Ferrone’s extensive cuts and rewording of Nin’s text and let him know about it in his letters. Ferrone found himself defending his editorial decisions while Pole often made demands that certain passages be left in, or left alone. This led to a rather contentious working relationship between the two, who otherwise were very fond of each other.

Pole had put his foot down and demanded: “as the trustee of the Anaïs Nin Trust I must insist that you restore the following passages:” (and he listed no less than nine). (A Café in Space 4 16)

Ferrone summed up his deletions and changes by saying, in a letter to Pole: “I took my cue from Anaïs’s own editing of Diary I. She rewrote passages that were unclear and, believe me, she deleted things that were excessive, not because they related to Henry but because, from the vantage point of maturity, she knew they were a mistake.” (A Café in Space 4 18)

One of the most contested passages was the final one. Ferrone didn’t want to use what Pole suggested at all, but finally agreed to use an edited form of it. About this, he said:

“I know you will pooh-pooh all of this, but the ending is too important to leave as it is. This is how I would like to edit it:

‘Last night I wept, because the process by which I have become woman has been painful, because I am no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes are opened to reality, to Henry’s selfishness, to June’s need of power. Yet I can still love passionately, humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and am not yet accustomed to its absence.’” (A Café in Space 4 14-15)

Pole responded with:

“Anaïs’ ending must be preserved as she wrote it. The repetition of ‘I wept’ is the essence of Anaïs’ poetic prose style.

‘…my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe.’ This is the essence of Anaïs’ philosophy which she maintained throughout her life.I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. That means my imagination has ceased to embellish desperately—so that there is no more danger of delusion for me. I wept because there was no more danger and I had lost my faith in Christmas.’ This was her belief (in Linotte) that her father would join them at Christmas.” (A Café in Space 4 17)

Ferrone replied:

“I throw up my hands and restore the passages you insist upon, but I do not agree with you. You lack objectivity.” (A Café in Space 4 17)

However, the published version of Henry and June ends with:

“Last night I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become a woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality—to Henry’s selfishness, June’s love of power, my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.

“So Henry is coming this afternoon, and tomorrow I am going out with June.” (Henry and June 274)

The ending was not exactly how Pole envisioned it, nor what Ferrone wanted, nor what Anaïs Nin wrote verbatim in her diary.

In short, both of these well-intentioned men wanted the best of Anaïs Nin to shine through Henry and June, just as they believed Nin herself wanted. The verdict is the readers’ to make.

The complete exchange of letters between Rupert Pole and John Ferrone can be found in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 4, 2007.
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