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.
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.
There is big news for those worldwide who are eager to read the works of Anaïs Nin digitally. Amazon has recently opened markets in England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Japan, Brazil, and Canada, making it possible for anyone either with a Kindle or a Kindle app on their computer, phone, or tablet to download Nin titles instantly. Nin’s fiction and A Café in Space are available, as well as the diaries and erotica. To visit the Amazon sites in your country, click on the appropriate link below:
For the past 40 years, Anaïs Nin has been discovered by an ever-growing number of countries around the world via translations of her work. While her work has long been available in Sweden, France, Japan, and Spain, newcomers include China, Latvia, South Korea, Romania, and Brazil, to name a few.
One of the most remarkable attributes of many of these foreign titles is the cover art, which is often unique and creatively provocative. This alone make the books desirable and collectible. The examples below illustrate this point quite well.
As mentioned in a previous post, there is one repository in the world where all of these titles are housed, and that is in Anaïs Nin’s and Rupert Pole’s home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. The Anaïs Nin Trust decided last year to keep one copy of every edition and to make all the rest publicly available, and the titles below are included. In some cases, there are only a few copies remaining, and the prices are very competitive. Not only do you get a unique book, but you also are guaranteed certification of its provenance—all of these books were part of the private collection at Silver Lake.
To see the availability of each title (there are very few left, usually less than 5), click on the icon, which will take you to the Trust site, where, if you wish, you may place an order.
Proceeds for the sales go to support the Trust’s activities in preserving and promoting the legacy of Anaïs Nin, which is its mission.
We will post more titles here in the coming weeks.
CLICK ON THE ICON TO CHECK AVAILABILITY AND/OR TO PURCHASE
For other posts on the Silver Lake collection, click here.
Too see all Nin titles available as digital books, visit our Anais Nin e-bookstore.
After Rupert Pole and Anaïs Nin moved into their magnificent Silver Lake home, which was designed by Pole’s half-brother Eric Lloyd Wright, one of the most important features was storage space. While the house is not large, there are numerous shelves, file cabinets, closets, and other spaces with hundreds of books, most of them by Nin. Many of the titles were sent by the publishing companies as a courtesy, while others were already a part of Nin’s personal collection.
After Nin died in 1977, Pole carried on the work of editing, promoting, and collaborating with other editors. As a result, 4 early diaries, 4 unexpurgated diaries, 2 volumes of erotica, among other books, were published during the next 20 years. Pole continued building the massive collection, even to the point of adding a library to the house.
When Pole died in 2006, decisions eventually had to be made about the Nin-Pole collection. Since Anaïs Nin and Rupert Pole both worked hard to get Nin’s books into the hands of others, it was proposed to apply the philosophy to the collection: while at least one copy of each edition would remain in the house, the others would be offered to the public. The campaign began in April 2010 at the LA Times Festival of Books, where the Anaïs Nin tent was well attended, but it didn’t end when the festival did, because all of the titles can be purchased at The Anaïs Nin Trust web site.
Each book is embossed with certification of its provenance, and the variety of books is extremely wide. Practically every book Nin wrote, or took part in, is represented by the collection. Many out of print and rare editions are still available. Books are priced based on their importance, their rareness, and their condition. One of the most unique categories is that of foreign publications, especially the erotica, not because of the language, but because of the erotic images on the covers. A dozen of these books make for a wonderful and sexily artistic display, regardless of the language.
To visit The Anaïs Nin Trust online bookstore, click here.
To see a post on the LA Times Festival of Books, 2010, click here.
How does one sort through hundreds of websites to find elusive Anais Nin titles? We’ve compiled a concise list to help you out.
To purchase a book that was once a part of Rupert Pole’s and Anais Nin’s personal collection at their Silver Lake house in Los Angeles, including rare and out of print titles, click here.
To find and purchase any title Swallow Press published (virtually all of Nin’s fiction and other titles as well), click here.
In the past year, several Nin titles have been made available as ebooks. To search the ever-growing list, click here.
To find the print versions of Nin’s (both original and unexpurgated) diaries, click here.
To locate Nin’s erotica, click here.
To examine or order print versions of A Cafe in Space, the only current Anais Nin literary journal, click here.
Sky Blue Press has the only print version of the original The Winter of Artifice, a facsimile of the Obelisk Press edition that was, according to Nin herself, banned in America. There are still copies of this limited printing left. To find out about the book, or to order, click here.
A complete list of all of Nin’s fictional characters is collected in Anais Nin Character Dictionary. To learn about this title, click here.
Are we missing anything? If so, leave a comment and we’ll attempt to answer all questions.
Since there are now several titles by Anais Nin available as e-books, primarily on Kindle, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a handy guide with links to each book. The sequence of the list and associated comments are presented with two groups of readers in mind: those already familiar with Anais Nin, and those whose experience with the author is just now dawning.
We will update this list when new titles, or more details, become available (last update: August 21, 2012).
We hope this list proves useful; feel free to comment.
The Portable Anais Nin (Sky Blue Press) The best place to start. A comprehensive anthology of Nin’s most important work, rendered in their entirety, and a record of her growth as a writer. An excellent read for both newcomers (who wish to sample Nin’s writing) and the experienced (who, with this title, can witness Nin’s relationships between life, her diary, her fiction, and her philosophy). $9.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
NEW Anais Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (Sky Blue Press) One of the persisting mysteries about Anais Nin is the circumstances of her death: she ended her published diaries a few years beforehand and left little information behind. Even the biographies are sketchy on this topic. Barbara Kraft, a student and friend of Nin, spent a good part of Nin’s final 2 years supporting her emotionally and has written a powerful memoir about the incredible spirit of her mentor and her refusal to surrender her life. She also records the great love and compassion of Nin’s “west coast husband,” Rupert Pole. $6.99. To order, click here.
NEW Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939 by Britt Arenander. This unique book depicts Nin’s life from the perspective of her surroundings during the most important era in her life—her Paris years, from 1924 to 1939, when she met Henry Miller and came into her own as a writer and as a sensual woman. This book gives us a vivid picture of Nin’s turbulent life in the 1920s and 1930s. Britt Arenander allows us to follow in Nin’s and Miller’s footsteps. She has brilliantly woven text and photographs into a tapestry of the Paris that Nin and Miller came to love so much. For more information, click here. To order, click here.
Delta of Venus (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Anais Nin’s bestselling collection of erotica, which set the standard by which all erotica is measured. While Nin claimed to write this with “tongue in cheek,” there is little doubt about its liteary and poetic value. Recommended to everyone. $9.29. To order, click here.
Little Birds (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) The sequel to Delta of Venus that retains the high literary quality of feminine erotica. Recommended to everyone, especially those who have read Delta of Venus. $9.99. To order, click here.
Under a Glass Bell and Other Stories (Sky Blue Press) This collection of Anais Nin’s short stories contains some of her finest writing. Originally self-published, this book was the one that first put Nin on the literary map. Recommended for all, especially newcomers who wish to experience Nin’s concept of distilling life events into concise fiction. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
House of Incest (Sky Blue Press) Anais Nin’s first work of fiction, often compared to surrealism in the French style, which bends and expands the English language into the mystical realm. Major scholars today conclude that House of Incest is Nin’s best book. $3.99. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 2 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt–Vol. 1 not yet available) This diary follows Nin’s life in Paris from 1934 until 1939, citing her associations with Henry Miller, Otto Rank, Gonzalo More, Antonin Artaud, and her experiences in Louveciennes, Paris, New York, and Fez. This book is recommended for new readers for its literary significance, and experienced readers because each name, place, date, etc., can be electronically searched. $14.82. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 3(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) When war forced Anais Nin from France, she called it “the end of our romantic life,” but it was the beginning of a torturous transition to New York and its impersonal harshness. Out of her element, Nin struggled to resume her life as an artist, and because of indifference to her work, she purchased her own printing press and painstakingly published it herself. Vol. 3 follows Nin’s relationships with Gonzalo More, Henry Miller, Richard Wright, and Luise Rainer, and how they were influenced by a new time and setting. $14.27. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) This diary chronicles Nin’s life in New York from 1944 to 1947. Key passages include Gore Vidal, Edmund Wilson, Maya Deren, and an array of young homosexual men with whom she associated. Recommended to newcomers because of the reflection of the terrible time Nin had adjusting to American life and the total rejection of her work. An electronically searchable text makes it valuable to all. $9.99. To order, click here.
The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 5 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Covering the years 1947 to 1955, this volume follows Nin’s life “on the trapeze,” alternating between New York and California. A truly tranformative time in Nin’s life as her California experiences brought her many new and fascinating personages, including Jean Varda, James Herlihy, Louis and Bebe Barron, Renate Druks, et al. Recommended to newcomers who wish to see how it was possible Nin could mask her double life, not only to her readers, but to her friends and loved ones. Searchable text is a plus for all readers. $12.57. To order, click here.
Fire: From “A Journal of Love”: The Unexpurgated Diary 1934-1937 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Culled from Anais Nin’s unedited diary, this volume contains intimate details of Nin’s relationships with her husband Hugh Guiler, Henry Miller, Gonzalo More, and Otto Rank. Recommended for anyone interested in Nin’s growing sense of womanhood during her Paris years. $9.99. To order, click here.
The Winter of Artifice, the original Paris edition (Sky Blue Press) This title was out of print for 70 years because of censorship laws and Nin’s subsequent decision to cut an entire story (“Djuna,” the fictionalized Henry and June tale, which was originally edited by Miller himself), and to heavily edit the remaining two. This is recommended to all for its literary value, which had been lost to readers for decades. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Ladders to Fire (Sky Blue Press) The first novel of the collection Nin would later entitle Cities of the Interior, Ladders to Fire introduces the reader to Nin’s key characters: Djuna, Lillian, Sabina, and Jay, all in part based on real people, including Nin, as she placed different aspects of herself within the composite female characters. A must-read for all readers, new and otherwise, because it lays the groundwork for the following titles. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Children of the Albatross (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s second novel in the Cities of the Interior collection, divided into two parts, the first examining Nin’s relationship with the “transparent children” described in Diary 4, one of whom is based on Rupert Pole. The second part reveals the psychological truth behind Nin’s female characters’ relationships with Jay, fashioned after Henry Miller. We suggest reading all the Cities titles in order, for that is what Nin intended. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
The Four-Chambered Heart (Sky Blue Press) Third in the Cities collection, this novel uses the Seine and a houseboat as a symbolic stage on which three characters–Djuna, Rango, and Zora–are gripped in a life-and-death battle of jealousy, possessiveness, raging passion, and disillusion. Based on Nin’s relationship with Gonzalo More and his wife Helba. Recommended for its solid characters, incredible tension, and searing climax. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Spy in the House of Love (Sky Blue Press) One of Nin’s most popular titles, this novel, 4th in the Cities series, examines Sabina, the character based on both Nin and June Miller. A fractured being, Sabina sees each shard of her character reflected in her five lovers. Recommended to all because it best characterizes Nin’s life in the 1940s, which was one of desperation and despair. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Seduction of the Minotaur (Sky Blue Press) The last in the Cities series, this novel concentrates on Lillian’s battle with the “minotaur,” a demonic force which has tormented her, only to find, after seeking relief from others in exotic places (in this case, a lush Mexico), that the demon lives within her. Recommended because of its authenticity, symbolism, and direct language. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Collages (Sky Blue Press) Nin’s last work of fiction, written shortly before the release of her diaries, Collages is a collection of interwoven short stories that are based on experiences of Nin’s friends, such as Jean Varda and Renate Druks. It is perhaps Nin’s only book in which she is not the central character. Recommended for its fairy-tale atmosphere, and especially for its humor, a characteristic for which Nin was rarely credited. $4.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
Stella (Sky Blue Press) A lesser-known work written by Anais Nin in 1945, is an examination of self-discovery and self-worth. The title character is loosely based on actress Luise Rainer, who is faced with the contrast between her love affair with a public that adores her for her film roles, and her personal inability to find human love. Critic Oliver Evans says Stella “remains one of [Nin’s] most thoroughly realized performances.” Recommended for anyone who does not own either The Portable Anais Nin or Swallow’s Winter of Artifice. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (Sky Blue Press). Anais Nin’s first published book is an examination of her first literary muse, the controversial English novelist, D. H. Lawrence. Assembled from notes in only 13 days, this study is regarded by critics as the best introduction to Lawrence to this day. Recommended for anyone interested in Lawrence, or in Nin’s masterful critical insights. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To purchase this title, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 7 (Sky Blue Press) This issue contains a close look at Nin’s marriage with Hugh Guiler, including a shocking letter he wrote offering her divorce; an interview with Deirdre Bair; John Ferrone’s tale of how Nin almost never published her erotica; an unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, and examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 6 (Sky Blue Press) The highlight of this issue is the publication of the recently found letters between Nin and her father, Joaquin Nin, at the time of their incestuous relationship. The letters reveal a crafty and relentless pursuit of the 30 year old Anais by her father. The journal is filled with articles about Nin and Henry Miller, as well as examinations of Nin’s writing by well-known Nin scholars and newcomers alike. Recommended for anyone wishing to discover details of Nin’s life and work found nowhere else. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 1: special centennial issue (Sky Blue Press) The inaugural issue, which contains a previously unpublished excerpt from Nin’s 1940s diary, has contributions by Janet Fitch, Philip Jason, Benjamin Franklin V, Lynette Felber, Kazuko Sugisaki, Toyoko Yamamoto, Yuko Yaguchi, among others. Included is a journey to Louveciennes and Neuilly to visit Nin’s homes (with photos) and a tour of Montparnasse with Claudine Brelet, close friend of Lawrence Durrell. Recommended for all. $3.99. For more information on this title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 2This issue contains a substantial excerpt from Nin’s 1943 diary which illustrates her relationship with several Haitians in New York, and one in particular, Albert Mangones, represented the sort of atmosphere and culture Nin sorely missed. The results were torrid and, in the end, heartbreaking. Articles by several noted Nin scholars and an excerpt from Maria Chekhov’s memoirs are included, as well as a tour of Henry Miller’s Paris hotels. Recommended for all. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 3 contains early correspondence (1957-61) between Anais Nin and the man who was instrumental in her ulitmate literary success, her agent Gunther Stuhlmann. The letters give the readers a look at the long, hard climb, the many failures, and the degree of frustration Nin endured on the way up. Also included are contributions from three of the leading Lawrence Durrell scholars in the world about the “3rd Musketeer” and how his literature is regarded today. Recommended for both Nin and Durrell fans. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 4. The highlight of this issue is two important series of correspondence: the first is between Rupert Pole and editor John Ferrone, which reveals the intense wrangling that was involved during the editing of Anais Nin’s first unexpurgated diary, Henry and June; the second involves Nin, agent Gunther Stuhlmann, and publisher Alan Swallow in a dramatic look at Nin’s rise to fame, culminating in the release of her Diary. Recommended for those interested in what lies behind some of Nin’s most important works. For information on the title, click here. To order, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5. This special issue, entitled “In Her Own Words,” focuses on a wide range of Anais Nin’s writing, much of it experimental and unpublished. Examples of her critical writing, fiction treatments, and a long lost interview from 1969 are included, as well as her correspondence with Rupert Pole during her trips to New York, where she was living with Hugh Guiler. To purchase, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 8. This issue’s centerpiece is correspondence between Anais Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler during the final months she was alive. Dying in Los Angeles with her lover Rupert Pole at her side, she sought “absolution” from Guiler and emotional freedom. Even more remarkable is the early correspondence between Pole and Guiler just after Nin’s death. Also included is a look at Nin’s “father-in-law,” Reginald Pole, the Shakespearean actor and Rupert’s father. For more information on this title, click here. To purchase, click here.
A Cafe in Space, Vol. 9 contains several excerpts from Anais Nin’s unpublished 1950s diary in which she describes the “trapeze life” swinging back and forth across the country from her husband in New York to her lover in Los Angeles, and how difficult it was to keep her men in the dark about each other. Critical articles on Nin’s writing and how her persona was carefully crafted, on two of her contemporaries, Lawrence Durrell and Antonin Artaud, as well as creative pieces by two of Nin’s former students, along with reviews of two important publications on Henry Miller and by Anais Nin, complete this issue. For more information, click here. To order, click here.
NOTE: We do NOT recommend the title White Stains because it apparently contains no work from Anais Nin, despite her name being placed on the title page.
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.
Although 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.
If there is any consensus about reading Anaïs Nin, it is that one sees aspects of one’s self in the work—whether it be fiction or the diary. Nin’s work is a mirror of sorts, and sometimes a distorted one. This is what makes Nin’s writing “personal,” and therefore “universal,” and is also a reason why there are so many disagreements about its meaning. A reader with a feminist point of view will see the feminism, and another will see something else entirely, and we haven’t even gotten into gender differences.
And about the erotica: one reason it has seen so little serious academic criticism is that it is generally believed that she knocked these stories off in her spare time with little thought or care at a buck a page for a collector, and then, near the end of her life, “sold out” by having them published. In his article “Claiming Ownership: Issues in Nin criticism—the diary vs. the fiction” (from A Café in Space, Vol. 6), Bruce Watson notes that “In his review of Nin criticism, Anaïs Nin and Her Critics, [Philip K.] Jason gives the Erotica a scant page of attention, prefaced by the dunning statement that: ‘Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979) add little to Nin’s stature, even though they sold amazingly well…’ Jason’s tart commentary on Nin’s Erotica seems the stock critique of the seasoned academic when faced with popular literature; he seems to distrust it for the very fact that it is popular.”
However, today there is a growing trend to look critically at the erotica and to write about it. In fact, there are three articles that address Nin’s erotica in the current A Café in Space.
In her article “A ‘Clanging Cymbal—The Story of Anaїs Nin’s Reception,” Sarah Burghauser points out that “We […] know, and understand why some folks have a problem with [Nin]: but they oftentimes can’t see beyond their own ideas of what a woman writer should be and what sort of work she should produce.” Burghauser illustrates this idea with critic Edmund Miller’s take on Nin’s erotica: “[Miller argues] that Nin’s erotica does not work well as either fiction or erotica, saying, ‘Their [the stories] tendency to thwart arousal is partly a consequence of the loose plotting, but may have derived in part as well from a feminine misunderstanding of what works to arouse men.’ In this passage, Miller is complaining not only on the book collector’s behalf (as per his protest to poetry) but also on his own.”
One could claim that Edmund Miller is misinterpreting the erotica, but it could be that he is merely viewing it through his own prism—this is one of the reasons that criticizing Nin’s erotica specifically, and Nin’s work generally, has rarely been a unifying endeavor. If there are a dozen Nin readers, there will be nearly a dozen interpretations. The good news is that the erotica is finally getting the attention it deserves: as valued fiction, as groundbreaking women’s writing, and as a form of feminism, all valid considerations, and all debatable.
Myth #5: Anaïs Nin’s erotica disqualifies her as any sort of feminist.
In the February issue of Glamour, there is an article entitled “6 Crazy Sex Requests Women Just Like You Have Heard.” One of the requests, reported by a 32-year-old woman was, “My husband asked, ‘Can we do it, but can it just be all about me?’ It gets better: He said I could keep the TV on so I wouldn’t miss The Office” (Glamour, p. 100). On the Smoking Gun website, there is a “Contract of Wifely Expectations” in which a man lists requirements his wife must fulfill, which, it could be argued, are repressive to say the least. Both these articles reveal that for some men, patriarchy is alive and well.
As shown in the article “Feminist Smut(?)—A study of Anaïs Nin’s erotica,” by Angela Carter in A Café in Space, Vol. 6, patriarchy is a thread running through Anaïs Nin’s erotica (Delta of Venus and Little Birds). For example, Carter uses a story from Little Birds to illustrate that Nin wrote of women’s struggle for sexual liberation in a time of patriarchal mores:
When read in the context of feminist criticism, “Hilda and Rango” is in many ways one of Nin’s more troubling stories. The reader sees the story’s protagonist struggle because her sexual actions are not socially acceptable for women. As the story unfolds, Hilda becomes more and more sexually passive in order to please a male lover who subscribes to conventional gender roles. When the story ends as Hilda submits passively to a dominant male lover, it is easy to assume, mistakenly, that Nin is sustaining gendered traditionalism. (A Café in Space, Vol. 6, p.97)
The story is based on actual events between Nin and Gonzalo More, the Peruvian who swept her off her feet in Paris in the late 30s. Despite his apparent bohemianism, More was very traditional in that he felt women should be submissive and allow the man to “have his way.” Before meeting More, Nin had been sexually awakened in her relationship with Henry Miller, who allowed her to be bold and daring. “Hilda and Rango” parallels this duality: the natural desire to be sexually adventurous and the social pressure to be passive.
Nin writes that when Hilda makes an advance on Rango, he suddenly “pushed her away as if she had wounded him” and tells her that she “made the gesture of a whore.”
The story ends with Hilda submitting completely to Rango, denying her own sexuality in favor of his. Carter goes on to say:
Her will was her desire to initiate sex and Rango drove it out of her. He now rules her sexuality by denying it and forcing her to lay almost corpse-like while he teases her. In the last candlelit moment, he leads their intercourse like the demon she first saw in him. Sadly, this moment when Hilda’s idealized dream of passivity comes true is instead Rango’s moment, “his desire, his hour” (Little Birds 120). The moment that should have fulfilled the passive Hilda’s dream is not her moment at all. By leaving Hilda’s sexuality completely out of the story’s conclusion, Nin provokes the reader to question what happened to her desire, her hour. (A Café in Space, Vol. 6, p. 102)
Carter shows us that Nin indeed used her erotica to highlight the suppression of female sexuality. While Nin was never a second wave feminist in the true sense of the term, her erotica could be viewed as feminist since it expresses the struggle of women to be sexually liberated in the early 1940s, long before second wave feminism took root.
Do you have an Anaïs Nin myth you would like addressed? Let us know by e-mailing us.