The idea of The Portable Anaïs Nin came from Gunther Stuhlmann, who was Nin’s literary agent and co-editor of her Diary of Anaïs Nin. At the time, which was in the mid-1990s, he felt that too much attention was being given by biographers and critics to the sordid side of her love life, and not enough to her work. Complicating all of this was the release of her unexpurgated diary Incest, which covered not only adult-onset incest with her father, but also the fact that she’d had a long, horrifying abortion of a late-term child, both of which she wrote about graphically. This combination of biographies and unexpurgated diaries naturally turned attention to the “verboten” aspects of Nin’s life rather than her literary achievements.
Stuhlmann proposed an anthology that would “introduce a new generation of readers to the writer Anaïs Nin rather than to the ‘personality’ which has been distorted and denigrated in recent years… I visualize a handy volume which creates an overall view of the many facets of Nin’s work and ideas by drawing on her actual writing.” In short, he wished to return the attention to the art, and through the art, the artist.
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems of Nin publication is the way they were presented originally. Nin not only had the need to write about her life, even early in her career, she longed to share the diaries with her readers. For obvious reasons (the fact that the nature of her life meant multiple deceptions and lies to her significant partners), she could not possibly have published the diaries as they were. Her first attempt to express what she’d written in secret was through her fiction, which was mainly a veiled version of her life and its principle personages. This she found unsatisfactory, and the critics agreed. While there is plenty of psychological truth in the fiction (which in itself makes it valuable), it was still smoke and mirrors, illusion, and vague.
Nin struggled for years to find a way to publish her diaries, and it was only late in life that she came up with the only possible solution: to offer extremely expurgated versions of them, versions that would not hurt those still living. Her husband, Hugh Guiler, asked to not be mentioned, which added another complication, because she could only recount her life without mention of the husband who financially and emotionally supported her (this omission was ammunition for attack by feminists, who were attracted to her in the first place because the diaries made it appear she’d live an independent life). So, seven volumes of heavily edited diaries appeared on the market, and it was left to readers to “read between the lines” to figure out that Henry Miller and her own father were among her many lovers. When the unexpurgated diaries came out posthumously (beginning with Henry and June in 1986), several of Nin’s friends, fans, and associates felt betrayed. The revelations are many, and some of them are stunning. I remember being invited to a get-together of some women who’d thought they knew Anaïs Nin until the unexpurgated diaries came out. Some of them refused to believe that their Anaïs was capable of such atrocities, especially incest. One of them said, “I think Gunther Stuhlmann and Rupert Pole concocted those passages themselves just to make money.” No one seemed to disagree.
This fractured approach to Nin publications eventually led to the point where the world seemed to turn against what was once the champion of self-discovery, the lover of life, the one who refused to despair, the one whom an entire generation admired for daring to seek and tell the truth. Reviewers of the biographies and the unexpurgated diaries didn’t bother to review the books—instead, they laid judgment on the author’s life. Lost in all of this was the work.
Gunther Stuhlmann’s proposal for The Portable Anaïs Nin was rejected by certain publishers who by that time had formed some harsh opinions about Nin, and it was placed in a folder and filed away in a drawer. After Stuhlmann’s untimely death in 2002, his wife, Barbara, discovered the proposal while sorting through the massive amount of documents he’d left behind. She sent it to me. There were only a couple yellowed pages in the folder, but the idea was as fresh and as important as it had ever been. I contacted Benjamin Franklin V, who is the world’s foremost Nin scholar and bibliographer, and he was overjoyed with the idea of a new anthology. After months of painstaking work of selecting, introducing, and annotating selections from the entire spectrum of Nin’s writing, Stuhlmann’s vision was realized. The Portable Anaïs Nin was first released as an ebook, and now it is finally available in print.
It is, as Stuhlmann envisioned, “an open invitation to an engaging literary adventure trip, which could, and should, gain an entirely new audience for Anaïs Nin’s work.”
To order a print copy of The Portable Anais Nin, click here.
To order a digital version of The Portable Anais Nin, click here.
To see our complete list of available Anais Nin ebooks, click here.
To order books from Anais Nin’s and Rupert Pole’s Silver Lake Collection, click here.
On the surface, the match between writer Anaïs Nin and publisher Alan Swallow seemed perfect. Both were passionate about their work, neither of them trusted the world of big-time publishers, and both had struggled long and hard to achieve what they had. In fact, Swallow predicted the collaboration would be a “good wedding of work and publisher.”
By the time Nin wrote to Swallow in 1961 about becoming her publisher, she and her agent, Gunther Stuhlmann, had vainly struggled for years to find an American publisher for her body work, and Nin was on the brink of giving up [see Anaïs Nin and Gunther Stuhlmann, "The Incubation of Fame: Early correspondence," A Café in Space, Vol. 3, pp. 100-126]. Swallow was a self-made man, a tireless optimist and a workaholic who, in the early years, ran his operation out of his Denver garage. He’d made a success by the sweat of his brow and by giving everything he had—to his health’s detriment—to his business. He was an inspiration to many, a folk hero to small publishers far and wide, and was completely devoted to his authors.
When Alan Swallow was presented with the chance to become Anaïs Nin’s publisher, he jumped at it, plunging in with enthusiasm and bold plans to revamp the presentation of Nin’s fiction. In recently found correspondence included in Volume 4 of A Cafe in Space, just released on Kindle, we witness the birth of the form in which the fiction exists today as Swallow took up the many bits and pieces that had been haphazardly published over the years into a cohesive collection. He did, however, unknowingly step into a longstanding situation with high innate entropy—years of failure, starts and stops, and bad business habits—against which he fought mightily. He had to plead for information, tried to keep up with Nin’s bicoastal habits, and had run-ins with Gunther Stuhlmann concerning the logistics of existing catalogues versus new publications, money, costs, storage, and all the other details of taking over a huge responsibility with a highly disorganized and fractured structure. Swallow’s letters indicate his ability to think on the run, to cover all the bases, and they also reflect incredible honesty and a remarkable willingness to comply with demands that taxed him greatly, especially those of the monetary kind. There is little doubt he put his author first, even when it hurt, a fact that was not lost with Nin and Stuhlmann.
The relationship between Nin, Stuhlmann, and Swallow, however cordial it usually was, was not void of controversy. Swallow’s letter of December 2, 1964 to Nin leaves little doubt he’d felt betrayed by both Nin and Stuhlmann when Swallow was bypassed as a potential publisher of Letters to Anaïs Nin by Henry Miller (who had just won his obscenity trials, clearing the way for the publication of his Tropics and other books the USA) in favor of the mainstream publisher Putnam:
And then I find that the letters are sold, and by this time the whole idea of cooperation and a joint imprint was forgotten. Perhaps they object at Putnam (which, by the way, has become a despicable publisher); perhaps it was just more convenient to make the arrangements that way. Neither you nor Gunther ever told me; I never heard another word about the idea.
Now then, next step: undoubtedly the letters will sell and will bring attention. The name of H. Miller is now magic. Even the corner shoeshine boy, if he would publish this, would sell it! But once it is ready to go, then it has to be “big time” or whatever the conception is. I want to register right now this notion: I do not want it held up in any way that the sales of the H. Miller letters will indicate what a big time outfit can do that a small time one can’t—first, because anyone can sell that book, not because of its value (which I think it undoubtedly has, although I’ve seen none of the work) but because of the name; so it is no test. I, too, could sell thousands and thousands of that book and more quickly than I will sell, note, thousands and thousands of your former books. Second, because the ice has already broken, just as I predicted it would. Too late, in one sense, but just right for Putnam to grab onto it. In fact, a part of the success they will have with that book will be due to my work—and I don’t mind saying that I resent it like the devil…
Alan Swallow died only weeks after the release of what would become Nin’s vehicle to fame: the Diary, in which at least he was named co-publisher with Harcourt. Swallow Press continues to publish Nin’s fiction today in association with Ohio University Press.
To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.
To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.
Gunther Stuhlmann (1927-2002) is one of the main topics in Volume 3 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, which is now available on Amazon’s Kindle.
In 1957, Stuhlmann, then a young up-and-coming literary agent in New York, wrote a letter to Nin, whom he had met some years prior. Thus began a partnership and accompanying correspondence that was to last for the rest of Nin’s life. Volume 3 highlights their early letters to each other, which reveal that Nin’s writing career was in ruins. By the time Stuhlmann took Nin on as a client, she had very little to show for decades of work, self-publication, and relentless self-promotion. Reacting to constant rejection and failure, at one point she confided to Stuhlmann that she was entertaining the idea of “giving it all up.”
But Stuhlmann, a man known for tenacity and in-your-face business tactics, was only getting started with her. His patience with the free-wheeling Nin—who was wont to make bad decisions and trust the wrong people only to be repeatedly bailed out by her husband, Hugh Guiler—was remarkable. His was a monumental job: to re-mold Nin into a disciplined and logical businesswoman. Stuhlmann’s belief in her work was deep—he saw potential whereas most New York literary types saw badly crafted, narcissistic surrealism. As an ex-patriot European, Stuhlmann’s vision was not narrowed by 1950s American ideas of what books ought to be—realistic, easy-to-read, chronologically ordered plots, familiar characters, etc. Nin, as we all know, was anything but.
Because of their oppositely aligned personalities and tactics, Nin and Stuhlmann were often at odds with each other. On April 23, 1959, Nin wrote Stuhlmann from Paris and informed him of a deal she’d struck up with her friend Jean Fanchette, who edited the bilingual journal Two Cities, to which Nin contributed. He agreed to translate Nin’s work and to sell it to French publishers, none of which Stuhlmann, Nin’s official agent, knew:
Fanchette sold Spy to Stock by showing partly translated M.S. He understood you were to take over contract, and I have just written him to remind him that all contractual matters are to be sent to you. If it does not reach you soon and if you are in personal contact with anyone there you might refer to it. I gave Jean your address—the agreement was you would let him free to work as a friend. I also told Fanchette you would consider his novel—to be coming out soon—to see if you would care to be his agent—OK?
Stuhlmann, who had just extricated Nin from a messy relationship with the publisher Neville Spearman, reacted angrily to this latest bit of news:
I don’t see any reason why you should not authorize [Fanchette] as your translator for the Spy but I firmly believe that we ought to conduct all business discussion as to terms and contracts etc. through our office and subject to your and our scrutiny so that we do not get into another situation which would be embarrassing for all of us. It was no mean trick to solve the Spearman entanglement and I am somewhat weary of getting into a similar situation in France.
In the end, Fanchette never completed the translation of Spy in the House of Love, nor any other Nin title, and this delayed her publication in France for years.
The series of letters ends just before Nin found her true American publisher, Alan Swallow, and sets up the three-way correspondence between Nin, Swallow, and Stuhlmann, which is the centerpiece of Volume 4. The letters allow readers to discover the nuts and bolts, and sweat and tears, of Anaïs Nin’s ascendance to literary stardom, and the role that the man behind the scenes, Gunther Stuhlmann, played.
To order the Kindle edition of Vol. 3, click here.
To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 3, click here.
To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.
To order books from the Nin house in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.
The inaugural issue of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, which celebrated Nin’s 100th birthday, is now available on Kindle. This is the story of how it came to be.
After Gunther Stuhlmann, who edited the amazing 19 annual issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, died in 2002, there was suddenly a severe vacuum in Nin studies. Stuhlmann had planned a special centennial issue of ANAIS for 2003, and even began gathering material for it when he became seriously ill and had to abandon the project. After encouragement from several Nin and Miller scholars, this editor decided to create a new Nin journal that would pick up where ANAIS left off. Because Nin described Richard Centing’s and Benjamin Franklin V’s Under the Sign of Pisces as “a café in space” in which the literary community could gather, we were inspired to so name the new journal.
In February of 2003, I traveled to France with the intention of visiting famous Nin sites, especially her birthplace in Neuilly-sur-Seine and the house in Louveciennes, which Henry Miller called “the laboratory of the soul.” I was fortunate enough to find the Neuilly house newly refurbished, probably looking much as it did when Nin was born there. But the most amazing stroke of luck was being invited to the Nin house in Louveciennes by its new owner, actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, with a group of distinguished guests, one of them a famous actress from the Comédie-Française. After having spent more than a decade wishing for the chance to enter this fabled house, after watching it
decay to the point where it was being considered for demolition, to be inside the house on Nin’s 100th birthday, toasting her with a group of people Nin would have admired, was nothing short of miraculous. Of course, I took dozens of photos and recorded each moment of the day, and wrote it up for A Café in Space. (Click here to see a previous post on the Louveciennes visit.) On top of this, I met Claudine Brelet, who was a close friend of Lawrence Durrell, and she took us on a nostalgic tour of Montparnasse. She agreed to write an article about the special places that Durrell and Miller frequented, through which readers can experience the tour themselves.
I was able to contact some of the contributors to the never-to-be-finished issue of ANAIS, including veteran scholars such as Franklin, Lynette Felber, Phil Jason, and others, all of whom agreed to partake in the first issue of A Café in Space. Furthermore, after attending a centennial Nin conference in California early in 2003, and after hearing talks given by author Janet Fitch and Kazuko Sugisaki, Nin’s Japanese translator, I was able to collect article versions of the talks for the new journal. Fitch’s talk, titled “No Women Writers,” describes how she discovered Nin after her a junior high school substitute teacher declared that there were no important women writers. “He challenged the class to think of a single one… And then a girl in the front row raised her hand, I can still see her, her frizzy ash-blonde hair, her plump arm, waving, and she asked, What about Anaïs Nin? …And I ripped off a note which I passed up the row… WHO IS ANAÏS NIN?” The girl “corrected the spelling and sent it back, saying, ‘Read the Diaries, they’re incredible!’” The rest is history, and Fitch says that Nin’s influence is present in her famous novel White Oleander.
After the conference, we took a drive up to Oakland, CA to visit with Nin’s last surviving family member, her brother Joaquín Nin-Culmell, who, although he’d suffered a stroke shortly beforehand, was incredibly lucid, welcoming, and enthusiastic. He took us on a journey back to his childhood, explaining how cruel and selfish his father was, how Anaïs was protective of her brothers, how the family was instructed by the mother to speak only French in the household in order to keep alive their native language after coming to America. He showed us photographs and artifacts from the past, but the sight of his piano sitting silent in his living room was haunting—since his stroke, he neither played nor listened to music again. Less than a year later, he was gone. How fortunate it was to catch him on that day, a clear, warm, sunny day, the aura of which shined through Joaquín’s face. Not having originally planned to, I ended up writing up the occasion (“An Afternoon With Joaquín Nin-Culmell”) for A Café in Space.
But what about Anaïs Nin herself? What would she contribute to A Café in Space? Serendipity once again played a role in this: I was given a portion of Nin’s unpublished 1940s diaries, and in it I found passages that epitomized Nin’s first years in America after fleeing war in Europe. Disillusioned and disconnected to anything vital, she was drowning in depression and despair when she met a young and somewhat naïve young man from Iowa, who’d arrived in New York to seek artistic freedom. His youthful zeal and exuberance were exactly what Nin was lacking in her life, and thus began a torrid affair. The entire experience Nin summed up in one word: “Mirage,” a word which could be applied to her entire existence in New York.
After reading about Nin’s affair with the young John Dudley, I couldn’t help but wonder if a photo of him didn’t exist somewhere. Nin’s descriptions were vivid, but one likes to have a real image with which to compare them. Only weeks before the publication of Vol. 1, I was in Massachusetts gathering up boxes of back issues of ANAIS: An International Journal, which I’d volunteered to distribute. I opened a desk drawer (with permission) and discovered a pile of photographs that had, I imagined, been set aside for future issues of ANAIS. Among them was a young blond man standing, smiling, in front of what looked like a plantation house. Was the house Hampton Manor, where the affair occurred? Was the young, vivacious man John Dudley? I collected this and several other photos, and after some research, I discovered that yes, these were indeed of Dudley. I had barely enough time to submit them before publication.
Looking back on all this, I can say that nearly everything in the first issue of A Café in Space was the result of bonne chance.
To see further information and/or to order a print version of Vol. 1, click here.
A Café in Space, Vol. 1, 2003, the Kindle version, can be ordered here.
We are only a few weeks away from the release of a new collection, The Portable Anaïs Nin, which will appear on Kindle in the coming weeks. It will be the first full-length anthology of Nin’s writing since Phil Jason’s The Anaïs Nin Reader (1973).
Editor and compiler Benjamin Franklin V notes in his introduction, “Since [the publication of The Anaïs Nin Reader]…the number of Nin titles has approximately doubled, with eleven new volumes of the diary and two books of erotica being most important. Now, the time seems right for another sampling of Nin’s work, not only because of the existence of this new material or because almost forty years have passed since the publication of Jason’s book, but also to encourage a reconsideration of Nin’s writing, which no longer attracts the dedicated readership it did in 1973.” Another consideration is that The Portable Anaïs Nin will appear in conjunction with several new Nin titles on Kindle, acting as a sort of guidebook to her work, helping to gain the new audience Franklin envisions.
Franklin’s philosophy is to include entire passages of Nin’s work in The Portable Anaïs Nin, including titles of fiction such as House of Incest. Soon, we will post the table of contents here, and will provide regular updates on the book’s progress.
In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, where we are about to do something along the lines of what was done to promote Marguerite Young’s Miss MacIntosh, My Darling: Nin and several others read the entire 1200 pages on the New York radio station WBAI over the course of a year. In this light, I feel Anaïs would approve of our tweeting her House of Incest, 140 characters at a time, to celebrate The Portable Anaïs Nin.
Our Nin titles on Kindle are: Collages, The Winter of Artifice, Under a Glass Bell, Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur, and The Four-Chambered Heart, with more to follow.
Anaïs Nin began writing the stories collected in Under a Glass Bell in Paris during the mid to late 1930s and finished in New York after she fled France because of the war. When she could not find a publisher for her original collection of eight short stories, she resorted to self-publishing (with engravings by her husband Hugh Guiler) with her Gemor Press in 1944, hoping that she would win the interest of a commercial firm. It received the notice of critic Edmund Wilson, who favorably reviewed the book for The New Yorker.
The first commercial firm to republish the collection was Editions Poetry London in 1947. Because the original edition consisted of only 65 pages, Nin added another short story, “The All-Seeing,” as well as The House of Incest (her famous 1936 prose poem) and the two novellas from her self-published (Gemor Press in 1942) Winter of Artifice: “The Voice” and “Winter of Artifice.” In 1948, Nin’s then friend and supporter Gore Vidal used his clout to encourage his publisher, Dutton, to publish Under a Glass Bell as well as other Nin fiction. The Dutton edition consisted of the original eight stories, “The All-Seeing,” and four new short stories: “The Child Born out of the Fog,” “The Eye’s Journey,” “Hedja,” and “Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth.” Also included were the two novellas from Winter of Artifice.
In 1957, the collection was republished as a facsimile of the Dutton edition minus the Winter of Artifice novellas by the Anaïs Nin Press. Swallow Press republished the collection of thirteen short stories in the 1960s, but in 1995 the order of the stories was changed, leading to a bit of controversy. In his introduction to the 1995 edition of Under a Glass Bell, Gunther Stuhlmann explains that his rationale for reordering the stories “chronologically” (meaning that since Nin used diary passages as source material, Stuhlmann sequenced the stories in the order of the events that inspired them), his rationale being that Nin’s growth as a writer would then be reflected in this new order.
Benjamin Franklin V, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on Nin bibliography, argued that reorganizing the stories violated Anaïs Nin’s literary intentions in his 1997 article “Noli Me Tangere” (“Touch Me Not”). In his article, Franklin quotes Nin herself from her introduction to the original edition as saying that “Everything is related and interactive,” and therefore the order of the stories was a significant ingredient in the collection’s content—reading the stories in order results in a more enriching experience, and reordering them robs the reader of this effect. Franklin went as far as proposing that the new Swallow Press edition be allowed to go out of print and the original order be re-established in subsequent editions. However, the current Swallow Press edition retains the order that Gunther Stuhlmann had placed them.
When it came time to place Under a Glass Bell on Kindle, an issue that had to be addressed was in what order to place the stories. Sky Blue Press decided to use Nin’s original placement, feeling that her intentions should be honored. So, Under a Glass Bell has come full circle after a 65 year odyssey.
An interesting set of facts compiled by Franklin is below—citations of diary sources that inspired the stories of the collection. (This list was created to illustrate that the current Swallow Press order is not exactly chronological.)
“Houseboat”: Diary II, 119 (September 1936), 126 (September 1936), 127 (September 1936), 129 (October 1936), 168 (February 1937), 176 (February 1937), 303 (Summer 1938), 318 (January 1939).
“The Mouse”: Diary II, 179 (March 1937), 186 (March 1937), 206-08 (Summer 1937), 316 (January 1939).
“Under a Glass Bell”: Diary I, 167-70 (January 1933), 171-73 (January 1933); II, 61 (October 1935).
“The Mohican”: Diary II, 85 (June 1936), 99-101 (August 1936), 134 (October 1936), 165 (February 1937), 257-58 (October 1937), 311 (October 1938).
“Je suis le plus malade des surrealistes”: Diary I, 187 (March 1933), 229 (June 1933), 230-34 (June 1933), 245-46 (August 1933); II, 188-91 (March 1937).
“Ragtime”: Diary II, 104-06 (August 1936).
“The Labyrinth”: Linotte, 3-14 (25 July-12 August 1914).
“Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth”: Diary II, 71-81 (April 1936), 184 (March 1937).
“The All-Seeing”: Diary II, 192 (March 1937), 275-77 (November 1937), 288-89 (January 1938), 295 (March 1938), 315 (October 1938).
“The Eye’s Journey”: Diary II, 162-63 (January 1937).
“The Child Born out of the Fog”: Diary IV, 141 (April 1946).
“Hejda”: Diary III, 225-28 (Winter 1942), 233-35 (Winter 1942), 303-04 (January 1944); IV, 33 (December 1944).
“Birth”: Diary I, 337-49 (June and August 1934).
(Details of book history from Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts by Benjamin Franklin V)
(List from Studies in Short Fiction Fall, 1997)
To see or order Under a Glass Bell on Kindle, click here.
Sky Blue Press has also put the original Obelisk Press edition of The Winter of Artifice on Kindle.
When Anaïs Nin republished her House of Incest in 1958, she incorporated the surrealistic photomontages of the artist Val Telberg. The collaboration became well-known, as all subsequent editions of the book contained his work, including Nin’s own image within the photomontages.
Val Telberg was born in Moscow in 1910 to Finnish parents and was brought up in China. He moved to New York in 1938 and was introduced to surrealism while working as a photographer, thus sparking his interest in photomontage.
A remembrance of Telberg and Nin’s association by Gunther Stuhlmann appeared in Volume 14 of his ANAIS: An International Journal (1996):
IN THE SUMMER OF 1958, while travelling in Europe, Anais Nin sent an enthusiastic note to her friend Vladimir Telberg von Teleheim, the Russian-born artist-photographer who had been experimenting for some time with photographic images to enhance a planned re-issue of her House of Incest, which had been out of print for almost a decade. “Dear Val;” she wrote on stationery from the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, “I love the photomontages, the selection, the cover—perfect I feel… It’s wonderful how you have welded the images and the texts. They are poetic in their own terms, in their own language. The feeling of a floating world is so powerful.”
Their project had been part of Anais Nin’s determined effort in the late 1950s to republish and distribute once again her own books. She had discovered that a new offset process enabled a Chicago printer, Edward Brothers, to reproduce at reasonable cost the pages of her own hand-set and hand-printed 1947 Gemor Press edition of House of Incest (and those of other titles) directly from the original. Val Telberg, who then made his living on Sixth Avenue in New York as a dealer in maps, atlases, and scholarly books on Eastern Europe and Asia, was an experienced bookman. But it was Telberg the artist, who had studied at the Art Students League, the experimental filmmaker and inventive photographer, whom Anais Nin invited to collaborate with her. “I like so much what you are doing,” she had written to him initially, after seeing some of the images he had begun to create in the 1940s. She had given him a free reign and set no deadline. “When your dummy is ready, your cover photo, etc., then you can send it to me.”
WHEN THE FIRST 1,000 paperbound copies of the re-born House of Incest finally appeared, they featured, in front and back, one of Telberg’s subtly imagined montages, which seemed a perfect summary visualization of Anais Nin’s poetic text: A partly obscured female head and partial, nude body, with arms raised, appeared to rise into a sea of shimmering clouds overspreading the shadowy outlines of roofs and, in the left bottom corner, the light-framed silhouette of what might be an ornamental bedstead or the fragment of a metal fence. (“Ghosts of past defeats flaunting forgotten wounds and imagined dreams,” reads one of Telberg’s worknotes, “…and the sudden burst from under water up to sky.”) Of the hundreds of prints composed by Telberg on his light table by manipulating layers of negatives of photos taken of people and objects in the “real” world, only nine appeared in the finished book. Some of these “unreal,” dreamlike, spatial compositions incorporated floating images of the real Anais Nin, and one of the photomontages reveals a partial view of the artist’s face with one dark-rimmed demonic eye, enmeshed in a cubist swirl of hands and hair juxtaposed against the massive slice of a brick wall.
Val Telberg missed some of these celebratory events, and the first copies of the new House if Incest became available only a few days after his death, at the age of eighty-five, in April 1995.
Myth #11: Anaïs Nin deceived her readers by not including her husband in the original published diaries.
Fact: During the years after the publication of The Diary of Anaïs Nin, there were those, particularly amongst the feminists, who charged that Nin deceived her reading public by implying that she was able to live on her own as an artist and make her way in the world during a time when few women did. Instead, they said, she had the safety net of a businessman husband who financed her life and work. While they were correct in the assertion that such a husband did exist, they were wrong in their accusation that Nin kept this a secret.
Perhaps they should have read the introduction to Volume One of The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1931-1934.
It was made clear that Anaïs Nin was married and that her husband chose to not be included in the text. On page xi of introduction, Gunther Stuhlmann states:
In preparing this volume for publication, Miss Nin, and the editor, still faced certain personal and legal considerations inherent in the nature of the diary. Several persons, when faced with the question of whether they wanted to remain in the diary “as is”—since Miss Nin did not want to change the essential nature of her presentation—chose to be deleted altogether from the manuscript (including her husband and some members of her family)… Miss Nin’s truth, as we have seen, is psychological.
So, because of Hugh Guiler’s wish to not be included, Nin obviously could not bring attention in the diary itself to his presence, and in the promotion of the diaries, she also was obligated to not mention him for the same reason. This was mistaken for deception.
In the winter of 1958/9, Anaïs Nin wrote: “When Larry Durrell wrote to me in Paris to look up Jean Fanchette, and I did, I did not know that he was giving me a link with France. I sat waiting at the Deux Magots, and there came a young and beautiful Negro, slim, not tall, delicate features like those of the Haitians, small straight nose, soft, warm eyes and a sensuous mouth. He was a student of medicine. He published a small newspaper for medical students. He had just received a prize for his poetry. He was full of charm, with a balance between earth and poetry. He had written a critique of Durrell, and Durrell had spent much time with him in Paris” (Diary 6 190). Fanchette, a Mauritian, was in the process of creating the bilingual (French and English) literary journal Two Cities. He told Nin that he’d already garnered promises from Durrell, Henry Miller, George Sykes, Richard Aldington and others for contributions. The meeting would not only shape the future of the publication, but it also resulted in a roller-coaster friendship between Nin and Fanchette, punctuated by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Inspired by Fanchette’s praise of her work, Nin readily agreed to help Two Cities get off the ground. The inaugural issue came out only months later, April 15, 1959, and Nin was not only a contributor, but the “American Editor,” one of the dozen editors listed on the title page.
At the time, Henry Miller, according to his then wife Eve, was “dissolving,” cut off from his source of inspiration: Paris. In a letter to Nin, she wrote, “Henry needs France. This hunk of veritable Paradise [Big Sur, California] in which he’s put down taproots is insidious for him, and he refuses to recognize it… He is another person in Europe. How long can an artist feed on himself? The stimulus is there, not here” (Diary 6 178). Miller’s decision to write for Two Cities and to revisit France was vigorously encouraged by Eve, who confided that part of her insistence was based on her own growing annoyance with the “inertia” of life with him in Big Sur: “I doubt he has ever asked me once, in these entire seven years together, what my hopes and dreams might include!” (Diary 6 178) The trip and the article did come to fruition, but the marriage, like all of Miller’s marriages, was doomed. Some time after Eve and Henry Miller were divorced, Eve committed suicide. There is debate whether the years spent with Miller had contributed to this tragedy.
Nin said, “I helped the magazine. I was grateful for Fanchette’s understanding. I count him as my best friend in France. The magic link. It was strange that at the time I felt bad to be returning to the same old constellation, Miller-Durrell. It seemed like regression.
But then I realized it was not a return to Miller and Durrell, but to France and to Fanchette. The present asserted itself” (Diary 6 180).
What also enticed Nin was Fanchette’s comments about her work: “The gift of Anaïs Nin is to name and define the alchemy of body and soul, to explore the roots of obscure instincts, define them” (Diary 6 180). Statements like this were sustenance to a writer who’d been denied for decades by the publishers and critics, and she, out of a mix of desperation and gratitude, gravitated to those who fed her including Fanchette. Her feelings are described in a letter from Nin to French agent Marguerite Rebois: “Jean feels something will happen [with my work] after Two Cities appears because he is writing an article on l’Art d’Anaïs Nin. This is to me a symbolic link with France. As you know, the reason I have been so obsessed with getting published in France is that I was afraid that my failure in America would influence all of Europe, and it has. I have been made to feel that I belong there, not here, and want to return there gradually” (Diary 6 175-6).
Fanchette went a few steps further in ingratiating Nin—he not only flattered her by asking her to help with Two Cities, but also offered to present her novel Spy in the House of Love to his publisher in Paris, and, if it were accepted, would translate it into French. In return, Nin began to dispatch letters to her literary friends, encouraging them to contribute to Two Cities. In a letter to Durrell, she said: “This month I gave my energy to Two Cities, which will be good for all of us. I want to thank you for introducing me to Jean Fanchette. His friendship is a delight” (Diary 6 182).
By the time Two Cities came out, it had morphed into a partial “hommage à Lawrence Durrell,” with Miller’s article, “The Durrell of the Black Book days” leading off, followed by Alfred Perlès’s “Enter Jupiter Jr,” Frederic J. Temple’s “Contstruire un mur de pierre sèche,” Richard Aldington’s “A note on Lawrence Durrell,” and Edwin Mullins’ “On Mountolive: Durrell answers a few questions.” The rest of the issue contained articles not associated with Durrell, including Nin’s “The writer and the symbols,” and Fanchette’s “Pour une préface,” the article Nin mentioned to Rebois, which lauded House of Incest (1936) and Solar Barque (1958, later incorporated into Seduction of the Minotaur), and much of what written in between. He proclaimed Spy in the House of Love her best novel. Undoubtedly, Fanchette won Nin’s allegiance with this article, but there was already trouble brewing.
Nin’s unconditional acceptance of Fanchette’s offer to promote not only Spy but her other titles to French publishers rankled her young agent, Gunther Stuhlmann, who was trying to organize Nin’s work into a cohesive package to be presented in a consistent manner. His approach ran counter to Nin’s, who had historically (and mostly unsuccessfully) used friends and contacts to get her work out. In a letter dated April 29, 1959, Stuhlmann, who’d usually handled Nin with kid gloves, blasted her: “At this point, we can’t just give [Fanchette] carte blanche with the other books—he was only involved with Spy as I recall… I firmly believe we ought to conduct all business discussion as to terms and contracts etc. through our office and subject to your and our scrutiny so that we go not get into [a] situation which would be embarrassing to all of us” (A Café in Space Vol. 3 110).
In an undated letter some weeks later, Nin wrote to Stuhlmann complaining of Fanchette’s refusal to publish some of Nin’s friends’ articles, which caused her great embarrassment: “It is so discouraging that I offered to resign. Then he threatens me with loss of his friendship!” (A Café in Space Vol. 3 112). In spite of this, Nin continued supporting Two Cities, even asking Stuhlmann to find an American distributor, which he reluctantly agreed to do (although was not successful). In the meantime, Fanchette’s failure to so much as return the articles Nin had solicited from her friends was causing rifts between them and her, and she was losing patience. In the fall of 1959, she wrote to Fanchette, telling him she could no longer continue as American Editor of Two Cities, but that she would send along good writing when it came along. She continued, “I begged him to send me the material he did not want to use. I explained I was losing friends and creating enemies for Two Cities. No answer” (Diary 6 205).
By the fall of 1961, more than two years after Fanchette’s agreement to translate Spy in the House of Love, the result was what she termed “rough,” which frustrated Nin since she was trying to market the novel in Europe as a source for a movie script. (Despite years of trying, Spy was never made into a film). Around the same time, she reported a drunken Fanchette shouting to her in Paris: “I met you too late. You could have been my first mistress, the mistress one never forgets!” (Diary 6 293).
Two Cities continued to be published until 1964, with Nin friends such as Daisy Aldan taking turns at editorship. Two Cities ETC (Paris) released a limited edition of Letters to Jean Fanchette1958-1963 by Lawrence Durrell. Subsequent Fanchette publications included his poetry volumes Identité provisoire in 1965, Je m’appelle sommeil and La visitation de l’oiseau pluvier in 1977, as well as essays and a novel. His poetry was anthologized by Stock shortly after his death in 1992, under the title L’Ile Equinoxe, a new edition of which has recently been released by Editions Philippe Rey, Paris, with a preface by J.M.G. Le Clézio, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 2008.
While the relationship between Nin and Fanchette had ended on a sour note, she reminisced in her diary more than a decade later: “The Diary has one blessed function. When a friendship breaks, the good is erased. Only the disappointment is engraved in the memory. In the Diary, I found the friendship with Jean Fanchette intact, in its period of honeymoon” (Diary 7 312).
[Qualifying statement: One of the most consistent questions regarding diary content--especially Nin's--is whether it should be considered fact. Nin said that her truth was "pyschological" and not literal. Her comments and portraits of characters appearing in her diary are, in part, her creations, something she readily admits. Therefore, when Nin describes a personage, it must be remembered that it is her version--she rarely wrote with the idea of pleasing those populating her diary. This blog is largely based on the diary and therefore anything that is repeated therefrom must be regarded through the lens of how the diary came to be--part of Nin's intimate thought process, a tool for her survival in a world she often felt unfit for habitation.]
Daisy Aldan, longtime friend and collaborator with Anaïs Nin, wrote this moving poem in Anaïs’s memory after she’d succumbed to a long battle with cancer in 1977. This poem is taken from Aldan’s volume Collected Poems of Daisy Aldan. The poem, read by Aldan at a memorial for Nin in 1977, was also included in ANAIS: An International Journal, Vol. 10, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann, and in Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors, edited by Paul Herron. Aldan remarked, “I was with her a few days before she died, and for this I am grateful. Although in great pain, although she knew she was dying, she was noble, with thoughts of others—of helping particular young writer friends. The dignity and beauty emanating from her startled me, and I experienced a kind of illumination around her as she lay in bed. Among her last words to me were that she was trying to establish a ‘a circle of good’ in the midst of much ugliness in the life of our time. She was a remarkable human being” ANAIS: An International Journal, Vol. 10, 77.
d. January 14, 1977 at
in the obscurity of the room
illumination: you and phosphorescent death
usurped by the wizard
our hands meeting
your embrace took me with you
a moment into the source of dream
where you were returning
phosphor / ash to gold
from the Sea
prepares to explode
a coiled-in moment
prepares for sunburst
you awake into radiance
but you advance
as wings of light
move in the expanse
Unique as compassion.
in the air we breathe
we meet the light
you begin to shed
We had not dreamed that gone
you would be accessible
in the place
of intangible light
as new dimension
you had to become bone/
cross: And that flame bore you beyond
the gravity of ground: joined
you to the light.
Daisy Aldan, all rights reserved