Volume 4 of ANAIS: An International Journal released on Kindle

When Volume 4 of Gunther Stuhlmann’s ANAIS: An International Journal appeared in February 1986, Anaïs Nin’s husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, aka Ian Hugo, had recently died suddenly in his New York apartment. Long the “silent” partner of Nin, the “East Coast” husband and banker-turned-artist whose experimental films are still revered today, Guiler is the main focus of this issue, with a remembrance by Nin’s brother Joaquin, excerpts from interviews and studies, his own thoughts on the arts of engraving and making movies as well as recollections of growing up in Puerto Rico and Scotland under extreme conditions, which influenced his life and art.

"Ian Hugo" from a photomontage by Val Telberg

“Ian Hugo” from a photomontage by Val Telberg

Also included in this issue is critical correspondence between Anais Nin and Henry Miller at the dawn of their relationship, most of which is focused on their respective writing efforts. These letters make it clear how much one influenced the other’s work, from Miller’s unadulterated criticism of Nin’s use of the English language to Nin’s efforts to keep Miller focused on the essentials in light of his tendency to go off on tangents and to exhaust every thought running through his over-active mind. We are given tangible examples of how Miller’s commentary on Nin’s fiction actually found its way into the finished products.

There is a study on Otto Rank by Nin scholar Sharon Spencer, whose hypothesis that Nin and Rank were lovers was spot on, and a look at Nin’s friend Caresse Crosby and her famed house, Hampton Manor, which attracted the likes of Nin, Miller, and Salvador Dali, among many other artists in the early 1940s.

To preview and/or order volume 4 of ANAIS: An International Journal, click here.

To preview and/or order ANAIS volume 3, click here.

For volume 2, click here.

For volume 1, click here.

To view other new Nin-related publications, click here.

The Great “Scandal” of My Friend Henry Miller by Alfred Perles

 

Henry Miller and Alfred Perlès, Big Sur, 1954. (Photography: Wynn Bullock)

Henry Miller and Alfred Perlès, Big Sur, 1954.
(Photography: Wynn Bullock)

In 1955 a little-known controversy between Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Miller’s old Paris friend Alfred Perlès erupted over revelations in Perlès’ book-in-progress, My Friend Henry Miller, that Nin and Miller were lovers in Paris during the 1930s. Nin, who was terrified that somehow her husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, would read the book and discover that for nearly a decade his wife and Miller conducted an affair under his nose, a discovery which, as Nin put it, would cause him considerable pain.

 

Perlès innocently sent a letter to Nin mentioning the book, thinking that Nin and Guiler had divorced, a story that Reginald Pole (father of Nin’s California lover, Rupert Pole) had told Miller during a recent visit. Miller and Perlès, then, felt no harm would be done by the mention of the Nin-Miller affair. The fact was the Nin had told Rupert and his family that she’d divorced Guiler, which allowed her to marry Rupert (bigamously) in March of 1955.

 

Nin not only was forced to endanger her relationship with Pole by admitting she never divorced Guiler, but she also had to somehow convince Perlès and his publisher that her name needed to be removed from My Friend Henry Miller—which, at this point, was already at proof stage.

 

A series of letters between the principal characters appears in Volume 11 of A Café in Space, and not only do they shed light on this long-forgotten dispute, but they also detail the lasting effect it had on the book, Perlès and Miller, who never forgave Nin for—in his opinion—ruining the book his old friend had written about him.

To order Volume 11 of A Café in Space, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Cafe-Space-Anais-Literary-Journal-ebook/dp/B00IFQKEZ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1392574282&sr=1-1&keywords=cafe+in+space+11  or download and use the Kindle app on your iPad, iPhone, etc.

 

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin Released as Ebook

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947 has just been released by Sky Blue Press as an ebook. It is currently available on Amazon.com and will be published on other platforms, including iPad, in the coming days.

Anais Nin, Provincetown, 1941. Photo: Jose Alemany

Anais Nin, Provincetown, 1941. Photo: Jose Alemany

This is the first entirely new work by Anais Nin to be released since 1996, when Nearer the Moon, the unexpurgated diary covering 1937-1939, was published by Harcourt. Mirages picks up where Moon left off–with Nin fleeing Paris just before the war and landing in New York, where perhaps the most turbulent phase of her life was about to begin.

Library Journal said in its recent review:

This fifth in a series of unexpurgated diary volumes by American novelist and short story and erotica writer Nin ( House of Incest; Delta of Venus ) covers a period longer than any other volume to date. The majority of entries take place in New York after Nin flees her beloved Paris in 1939. Although married to Hugh “Hugo” Guiler, Nin (1903-77) continues an affair with writer Henry Miller and also engages in trysts with numerous other lovers–demonstrating why the details of her personal life are often considered as racy and intriguing as her fiction. Many of these lovers resemble the effeminate, artistic types that appear in Nin’s short story collections (e.g., Little Birds), who are loved passionately and then dropped abruptly. This volume not only solves the mystery of the repeated story arc but also reveals the reasons why Nin and Miller separated.

VERDICT Nin’s life was steeped in secrecy, lies, passion, longing, and introspection, perhaps the most so during this period. Of the unexpurgated diary volumes thus far, this one benefits the most from full disclosure, illustrating the greater extents of Nin’s fragility and ferocity and revealing dimensions of the writer that deeply enrich the reading of her work. Recommended for readers of Nin, biography, women writers, and romance.

Mirages is available both in print (Swallow Press/Sky Blue Press) and ebook (Sky Blue Press) formats.

The Winter of Artifice: Anais Nin’s banned book

One of the reasons that Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller, and Lawrence Durrell turned to Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press to publish their books in the 1930s was because Kahane wasn’t afraid to publish what no others would touch. Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, which debuted in 1934, was banned from all English-speaking countries for decades and was the centerpiece of the American “pornography” trials of the 1960s.

Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press, 1930s

What is little known is that Anaïs Nin’s original version of The Winter of Artifice (1939) was also, according to Nin herself, banned in the U.S. On more than one occasion she refers to the few copies that were smuggled into this country as having somehow eluded the censors. When Nin decided to publish an American version of the book, she omitted an entire novella (“Djuna,” her fictionalized version of the Anaïs-Henry-June love triangle) and several passages from the remaining two novellas (“Lilith” and “The Voice”) to avoid scrutiny.

In one of the passages in “Djuna,” the protagonist reveals her feelings for Hans, the character based on (or, more accurately, is) Miller:

While he lay over me with his unabatable attentiveness I knew he was watching the alterations of my face, listening to the cries I uttered, and the final deeper, savage tones. I closed my eyes before this watchfulness of his and sank into a blind, moist drunkenness. I felt myself caught in the immense jaws of his desire, felt myself dissolving, ripping open to his descent. I felt myself yielding up to his dark hunger. An immense jaw closing upon my feelings, my feelings smouldering, rising from me like smoke from a black mass. Take me, take me, take my gifts and my moods and my body, take all you want.

I am being fucked by a cannibal.

It is all that is human in me that he devours. He eats me as if my love for him were something he wanted to possess inside his body, at the very core of his body, like fuel. He eats me as if my faith in him were a food he needed for daily sustenance.

He is not concerned to know whether I can live or breathe within the dark cavern of his whale-like being, within the whale-belly of his ego.

Miller himself heavily edited “Djuna,” and much of his editing found its way into the final version of the story. (For more on this subject, click here.)

Another passage omitted from the same novella focuses on Djuna’s relationship with Johanna (June Miller):

Johanna’s eyes were like the forest. The darkness of the forest, the watchfulness behind an ambush. Fear. I journeyed into the darkness of it. I walked from the place where my dress had fallen, carrying my breasts like gifts in my half-opened hands; I carried them to her as if expecting to be thrust by her mortally.

Johanna loosened her hair and said: “You are so extraordinarily white.” With a strange weight, like a sadness, she spoke. It was not the white substance of me, but my significance, the whiteness of my newness to life, which Johanna seemed to sigh for. “You are so white, so white and smooth.” And there were deep shadows in her eyes, shadows of one old with life; shadows in her neck, in her arms, and on her knees, violet shadows.

While this passages may seem tame compared to today’s erotic literature, they were far ahead of their time, especially when we consider that the author was a woman.

In 2007, the only in-print edition of the original The Winter of Artifice was published as a facsimile of the original. It was a project that took two years to complete after careful restoration of the font and cover.

Click here order The Winter of Artifice 1939 edition for $9.99. Good till Oct. 6, 2012.

You can also click here to order the ebook version for $4.99

Revisiting 1930s Paris With GPS Technology

It wasn’t long after discovering Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller some 20 years ago that I developed a hunger to follow in their footsteps in Paris. I recall writing down some of the addresses of Nin’s and Miller’s haunts and homes, names of famous Montparnassian cafés, and in particular the fabled house in Louveciennes. Back then, I had only Michelin maps and travel guides (the names of which I patched together as “Fodommerbaum”) to help me piece together some sort of plan. Nothing, though, prepared me for the actual act of walking the streets to seek out the remnants and echoes of what once existed.

La Belle Aurore in the late 1930s, quai des Tuileries

The very first site I wanted to see was the quai where Nin moored her houseboat, La Belle Aurore. I only had old photographs to help me figure out exactly where it was. I stood holding the photo on Pont Royal, straining to match the 60 year old image with the current scene, and I had to guess. I stood at my declared spot and tried to feel the magic of knowing that once upon a time, an old, leaky barge sat in these waters, that Nin and her lover Gonzalo walked down the same staircase I did to board it. Was I right? Was this the spot?

I was only able to discover this past week that I was indeed pretty close, and I was able to do so sitting in front of my computer screen, thanks to today’s GPS technology. While editing and formatting Britt Arenander’s Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, I began to toy with the idea of making what was mainly a photo-book with a nice, concise synopsis of Nin’s and Miller’s Paris years into something more: an interactive travel guide using GPS technology, something than can not only be read, but used. Once I began seeking out the more than 40 specific locations listed in the book on Google Maps, I began to see that not only can one visit these locations virtually, but one can also navigate between them and create virtual walking tours. Had I had access to something like this twenty years ago, my first Paris visit would have been very different. For example, one of Henry Miller’s apartments was on Avenue Anatole France in Clichy, and it was the setting for the famous battle between Miller and his wife June over the fact that Miller and Nin were lovers, a final cataclysmic explosion that resulted in divorce. How could any self-described aficionado not visit this place and reconstruct that scene? The sad fact is that I spent half a precious day trying to find the place only to come up empty. How was I to know that there are two Avenues Anatole France, one in Paris and one in Clichy, to the north? It is only now that I can walk that street and look up at the art-deco building where emotions ran amok that day in 1932, thanks to Google’s “street view” option. In fact, I decided one day to do what Miller himself did on a regular basis: walk from his favorite restaurant at Place Clicy, the Wepler, to his apartment, simply by using the navigation tools. The same was true in Montparnasse and all the other locations.

Steps leading down to quai Tuileries, where Nin’s houseboat was moored. The iron rings use to moor the boats are still on the wall. This image is taken from Google Maps’ Street View. Click to enlarge.

So, what I did was to mark each location and then to present some background of its significance, using facts from Arenander’s book and vintage photographs. (There are other options as well, such as including links that allows the viewer to delve further into its history, including sound and video clips, and this is something I aim on enhancing the map with often. To see an example, go to our intactive sample map and click on La Gare chemin de fer de petite ceinture.) I thought that if one were planning a trip to Paris and wanted to “practice” identifying historic locations beforehand, one could do so easily. Also, since many travelers bring smart devices along on their trips, one could use an iPad, say, or an iPhone to map out their walks as they were actually doing them. What a remarkable way to enhance a trip, especially when time is at a premium. And if one is unable to make such a trip, it is still possible to revisit the traces of the past at home. After all, I was finally able to use the street view navigation to scope out Nin’s houseboat location and finally pinpoint the spot by comparing it with the old photos. Not only that, but I discovered the old iron rings that once moored the houseboats are still affixed to the walls! (Go to the sample interactive map by clicking here and you can visit quai de Tuileries yourself.)

I have created a short walking tour which is based on an event that took place in March of 1932, chronicled in Anaïs Nin’s Lost World. Henry Miller had met Anaïs at Chez les Vikings and had a passionate conversation with her. After she left, he wrote his first love letter to her, saying, “I tell you what you already know—I love you.” After writing that letter, he walked home to Hôtel Central, where he and Nin had their first sexual encounter a few days later. Now, we can virtually walk that same path, just for the hell of it.

To take the walking tour, click here.

To order Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939

In 1995, Britt Arenander’s book Anaïs Nins Förlorade Värld (Anaïs Nin’s Lost World) was released in Sweden. Gunther Stuhlmann, Anaïs Nin’s literary agent, sent me a copy as a gift, and it was always a book, despite my inability to read Swedish, that I admired.

Louveciennes in 1900. The woman to the left was Anais Nin’s landlady, Mme. Leboeuf.

The author, who had recently moved to France, made the pilgrimage to Louveciennes to see Anaïs Nin’s legendary “laboratory of the soul,” the 200 year old house where she met Henry Miller in 1931. It then dawned on her to see if the apartment building where Miller and his friend Alfred Perlès lived still stood in Clichy, and it did. This series of events triggered her quest to research and rediscover each Paris address ever mentioned by Nin or Miller, and the result was a wonderful book filled with both vintage and recent photographs of these storied locations. In between was the synopsis of the life that Nin, Miller, and many of their cohorts lived in the 1930s, interlaced with the history of Paris, Montparnasse, and Louveciennes. I had always hoped that one day the book would be published in English.

Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when Britt Arenander contacted me recently with the idea of doing just that, and it was a project I was more than happy to undertake.

In her introduction, the author clearly states her inspiration: “A lost world, of which the outlines still remain, was what I wished to recreate, by help of photographic jigsaw puzzle pieces. But my hope is also that it might be an intimate guide to Paris outside the main tourist routes.”

We have taken this idea and enhanced the original book with updated information, a well-planned table of contents complete with links to not only each photograph, some of which, as the one to the left, are at least 100 years old, but also to street maps of several of the chief Nin/Miller haunts. The last new touch is an interactive map that one can view with their ebook device or computer that offers background information, vintage photos, and current street views of such places as Nin’s Louveciennes house, the location of her houseboats, the hotel where Nin and Miller began their affair, the brothel where Nin and her husband Hugh Guiler witnessed a “show,” and on and on.

All of this, I believe achieves Britt Arenander’s quest to offer an intimate guide to Paris that is definitely out of the ordinary. The reader will be able wander through Anaïs Nin’s lost world visually, literarily, virtually, and if in Paris, truly.

The book can be ordered with Kindle and with any Apple product (iPad, iPhone, etc.) after downloading the Kindle app.

To see a sample or to purchase Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

To view a sample interactive map drawn from the book, click here.

Visit our Anaïs Nin e-bookstore here.

Anaïs Nin: Typical Wife or Master of Illusion?

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.

Alan Swallow: Anais Nin’s publisher

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.

Alan Swallow, publisher

Alan Swallow, publisher

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 order the Kindle edition of Vol. 4, click here
To see the table of contents and/or order a print version of Vol. 4, click here.

Volume 4  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

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. 

Anais Nin and Henry Miller collections for sale

Recently a private collector in Manhattan decided to part with his massive collections of Anais Nin and Henry Miller books, which includes rare and first editions, some of them signed, and many of which simply cannot be found elsewhere. The collections have been catalogued by Clouds Hill Books in New York, and we are posting them here. A representative of the bookstore tells me that while the collections can be purchased in their entireties (asking price is $12,500 for the Nin collection and $17,500 for the Miller), they will also consider selling particular titles, or groups thereof, separately. If you are interested in knowing more about these collections, Clouds Hill Books can be reached by calling 212-414-4432 or by e-mailing them at cloudshill@cloudshillbooks.com.

Clouds Hill Books tells me that they soon will be offering substantial D. H. Lawrence and Lawrence Durrell catalogues, both from the same collector. We will post them when they are available.

Also, Nin scholar and friend Marion Fay is offering up her own personal collection of Nin materials, which includes personal correspondence, books, and other items of interest. If, after viewing the catalogue, you are interested in any of the items, you may contact Fay at marionf5@earthlink.net.

To view each collection, click the appropriate icon below:

henry-miller-catalogue_page_01

Click this icon for the Miller catalogue

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Click this icon for the Nin catalogue

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Click this icon for Fay's Nin collection

I should mention that we are doing this gratis, out of respect of those who have enough interest, passion, and devotion to put together such substantial collections by these iconic authors.

Also, don’t forget that the Anais Nin Trust has offered every title from Nin’s LA house to the public: visit the Anaïs Nin Trust bookstore.

To see all available digital titles by Anaïs Nin, visit our Nin e-bookstore.

Anais Nin’s Artistic Associations: Lawrence Durrell

When Anaïs Nin met Lawrence Durrell in Paris in 1937, she was instantly drawn to his young, ardent mind, as was Henry Miller, who’d been corresponding with him beforehand. Durrell, a young Englishman by way of India and Greece, was an aspiring writer who was heavily influenced by Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, the scandalous novel that Nin helped get published in 1934.

The young Lawrence Durrell

The young Lawrence Durrell

Shortly after meeting and realizing their affinities, they dubbed themselves the “three musketeers,” and out of Miller’s Villa Seurat apartment, they wrote and published three titles under the moniker “Villa Seurat Series”—Nin’s The Winter of Artifice, Miller’s Max and the White Phagocytes, and Durrell’s The Black Book, all published by Obelisk Press.

War separated the musketeers, each going in his/her own direction (Nin to New York, Durrell to Greece and eventually Egypt, Miller to Greece with Durrell and then New York). Each went on to have successful writing careers, although none of them happened overnight. While all three wrote in what might be loosely considered a post-modernist style, each had a significantly different approach to writing: Miller’s works were often carried by his use of explosive language, Nin’s were increasingly introspective and psychological in nature, and Durrell’s were multi-layered texts heavy in symbolism.

Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, consisting of four novels (the first of which, Justine, came out in 1957) about the same events occurring in wartime Alexandria, but told from different perspectives, was his tour de force. The Quartet is still the main topic of discussion among today’s Durrell scholars, three of whom contribute their vast knowledge to A Café in Space, Vol. 3 (2005), just released on Kindle:

Richard Pine, director of the Durrell School of Corfu, writes about the three musketeers in his “The End of Our Romantic Life: The psychic hinterland of Nin, Durrell, and Miller.” In a comparison of how each of their lives affected their literature, he states: “…all three recognized the inevitability not only of writing their lives, but of writing them as both fact and fiction. From this descends the concept of the dual self or of multiple selves, of the reader-as-writer and of the fictional character as a real self.” In correlation with these observations, Pine also examines the role Otto Rank, the psychologist who penned Art and Artist, had in influencing the writing of the three authors.

Nabila Marzouk, professor at Fayoum in Egypt, compares the approach to literary homosexuality in Durrell’s work and that of Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist. After examining homosexuality in Durrell’s Quartet and Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley, she observes: “Durrell represents homosexuality as a positive, enriching experience, whereas “Mahfouz’s characters are flesh and blood who are not meant to be taken for more than they are… [Alley character] Kirsha is a mere pervert who delights in his pleasures of the flesh.” She also adds that there is no word in Arabic for “homosexual,” and the one that comes the closest means “sexual abnormality.”

James Clawson, a young American Durrell scholar, writes about the Mediterranean as it appears in Durrell’s work. He notes: “This ‘Sea in the Middle of Durrell’s World’ is more than canvas backdrop. Just as Alexandria uses its inhabitants as flora and precipitates among them various conflicts, so too does the Mediterranean provide an ‘invisible constant’ to influence the peoples around it. For this reason, Durrell’s Mediterranean has by likened to Poe’s Virginia and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”

Also included in Volume 3 are reviews of Durrell scholar Michael Haag’s Alexandria: City of Memory, Pine’s Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape, and Lawrence Durrell and the Greek World, edited by Anna Lillios.

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.

Volume 3  joins Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 6, and Volume 7 on Kindle.

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.

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