On March 7, the program Lust Letters: Answering Desire With Words was held at Coagula Curatorial in Los Angeles, which included artwork and readings. Among the performers was Barbara Kraft, who read from her memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, a book that chronicals Kraft’s friendship with Nin during her final two years of life. A synopsis of the reading is as follows:
Barbara Kraft closed the evening with an account of author Anais Nin’s final days, implicitly lassoing together the writings of Aarested with the creative process of Nin modeled by Youd.
Kraft, who formerly worked as a journalist and now runs her own boutique public relations firm, recalled meeting Nin on February 8, 1974 in the author’s Silverlake glass house. Kraft said she was mesmerized by her.
“[Nin] was tall, wearing a floor-length Indian gown…She was poetry in body,” said Kraft, who read an excerpt from her e-book “Anais Nin: The Last Days – A Memoir.”
Kraft described Nin as her teacher during the acclaimed writer’s final years.
“The tutorial relationship turned into an intimacy,” said Kraft, who said that as Nin died of cancer, her body weakened and her pain intensified.
“At one point, I literally got in bed with her, at her request, to hold her,” said Kraft.
Kraft’s diary from her meetings with Nin were compiled and published in “The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini.” Publication ended her marriage, and Kraft’s “whole life came crashing down,” she said.
“If you want to change your life, you pay a price,” Kraft added.
To read the entire review of the event by Matt Hamilton, click here.
Anais Nin: The Last Days is available as an e-book and can be ordered here.
To read an excerpt from Anais Nin: The Last Days on Huffington Post, click here.
Have we solved the mystery of who wrote the popular poem attributed to Anais Nin, known as “Risk”?
I can say this: Since posting this mystery a few years ago, nowhere has its source been found in any of Anais Nin’s oeuvre. So how did it come to be attributed to her?
That remains a mystery.
However, Elizabeth Appell has come forward with a compelling case that may hold the answer of who, if not Anais, actually wrote the poem:
What I’m about to tell you is going to seem strange and maybe even impossible, but it is the truth. I wrote the quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful that the risk it took to blossom.”
I wrote it in 1979. I was Director of Public Relations for John F. Kennedy University in Orinda. One of my responsibilities was to write, edit, and publish the class schedule which included events, news, and class information for the up-coming quarter. The target market for the university was and still is, adults going back to school. Every quarter I came up with a theme meant to inspire and motivate.
I believe it was January when I started on the spring schedule. Up against a deadline, I quickly jotted down the line, and shared it by my colleague, Jerry Skibbins, Vice President of Development. He liked it so we ran with it. Consequently it went out to thousands of households in the East Bay. We also published a poster and put it on BART trains. This was a very wide distribution. As far as I know, attribution was given to the artists who illustrated the designs, but I never thought to attribute myself regarding the poem. My name appeared only as “Editor.”
Another wrinkle: at the time I was using my nickname, “Lassie” as well as my first husband’s last name, Benton. I was known as Lassie Benton. Since then I gave up the nickname to use my given name, Elizabeth, and remarried Allen Appell, hence Elizabeth Appell.
From the beginning the school got a huge response from the poem. I started seeing it woven into tapestries, and then printed on posters, cards and in books. At first the attribution was “Lassie Benton.” One afternoon I attended a calligraphy show at the San Francisco Library. There was the poem, but now the attribution was “Anonymous.” Sometime in the 80’s I found a card using the poem. I bought because it was attributed to Anais Nin. I wrote to the publisher of the card, but received no response. I just let it go.
Recently I gave a reading in Nevada City, California as a part of a women’s writing salon. The woman who read before me began her piece with the poem. I smiled. “What do you know, it still lives.” She was shocked when I told her I’d written it. She suggested I Google the poem to see that always it is attributed to Anais Nin. I did. I am astounded at how it has proliferated the internet, almost always attributed to Anais Nin.
I say almost because I found a life coach in Arizona who uses the poem on her home page. There it is attributed to “Lassie Benton.” She tells me her web page went up in 2006, but she can’t remember where she found the poem.
Yesterday two of my friends brought me copies of their newly published books. Yes, in both books, up front, there it is. The poem. And of course it’s attributed to Anais Nin. That pushed me over to take action.
I wrote the poem in 1979. I am the author of the poem. I’m extremely honored to have written something that has touched so many people.
Elizabeth kindly produced the 1979 brochure on which the poem is printed, as seen above. Judge for yourselves, folks, but it seems that this mystery may be solved.
***Get the 2013 issue of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal with excerpts from Nin’s the soon-to-be-published Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947 on Gore Vidal: click here for print version; click here for ebook version.
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.
Anaïs Nin was never afraid of new ways to disseminate her work, working in several different media, much of it ahead of its time. Her words were on the page, read at spoken word events, recorded on vinyl, made into film, and were accompanied by electronic music.
In Volume 10 of A Café in Space, yet another platform for Nin’s work has appeared: comic book (or graphic novel, or manga). Joel Enos, a frequent contributor to A Café in Space and who works in the graphics media, decided to put Nin’s famous story “Under a Glass Bell” into comic book form, using the artwork of the talented Fiona Meng to visualize Nin’s ethereal Jeanne and her two brothers, who, according to critic Oliver Evans, are living out a life of psychological incest in their house. The siblings’ isolation from the world is represented by the glass bell, which, as Nin says, “covered the entire house.”
The prospects of such a representation of Nin’s fiction are tantalizing indeed, and I hope we will see more in the future. Below are some frames from A Café in Space, which can be ordered both in print and digital format.
Below, Jeanne has rushed from disturbing images she sees in the “room of mirrors” to her sleeping brother:
Under a Glass Bell (the ebook) can be ordered by clicking here.
Did Gore Vidal lie about his relationship with Anaïs Nin?
According to Kim Krizan’s article in A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Volume 10, the answer is yes. Is this speculation, theory, mere speculation, or fact substantiated with proof?
Anyone who has read The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4 (1944-47) knows that Nin had a close friendship with the young budding novelist, but since her sex life and even love affairs of the heart were all but completely edited out, the reader is left to guess about the true nature of the relationship with Vidal.
We do know that Vidal publicly lashed out at Nin with a scathing review of volume 4 of the diary, which made the claim that she invented most of the passages concerning him; he also satirized Nin brutally in his novels, perhaps most notably Myra Breckinridge. His campaign of character assassination continued in his Palimpsest: A Memoir, in which he said that Nin’s biographer (Deirdre Bair) falsely claimed that Vidal proposed marriage to Nin, who was 23 years older than he: “Needless to say, I never wanted to marry anyone, certainly not someone who was to me, in my ageist youth, a very old woman.”
Bair got her much of her information from the unpublished 1940s diary of Anaïs Nin, which provides the details of Nin’s erotic life that was cut from the published diary. In it, Nin clearly states that on more than one occasion, Vidal did propose a marriage in which each would be free to pursue sexual encounters on the outside. While Nin had hoped Vidal’s homosexuality could be “cured” with analysis and maturity (a common notion in the 1940s), Vidal told her, as quoted in the diary, “You see, if I could have loved a woman, it would be you. Now I know my homosexuality is incurable.”
But all this is Nin’s side of the story. Vidal’s side is already clear: Nin was a fabricator, an inventor, a liar.
So, how does Kim Krizan prove that it was Vidal who was the actual fabricator? By going to the UCLA special collections department which houses the Nin papers. In this vast mountain of documents, she unearthed a blockbuster letter from Vidal to Nin written in 1947. In it, he states that he would “never have a satisfying homosexual relationship,” and that while he was “attracted to youth, to beauty,” he was, separately, attracted “unphysically” to Nin and enjoyed the “spiritual emotional rapport” they had. “I need that more than the other.” He goes on to propose selling his house in Guatemala, and then “we can get a small place near Antibes or wherever there are interesting people and cheap living.” He envisions a “tranquil if not complete” life with Nin, one in which she would be “free of America, Hugo (her husband), all the mess.”
But there was one big obstacle to this proposal, and that was Rupert Pole.
Duane Schneider, one of the preeminent Anais Nin scholars of the 20th century and co-author of Anais Nin: An Introduction (1979), has passed away. He once owned his own hand-operated press and published several documents, including An Interview With Anais Nin in 1970, which was reprinted in A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5 (2008). What follows is an obituary written by his widow, Crystal Gips.
Duane B. Schneider of Yarmouth Port MA died Wednesday, December 26, 2012, at The Terraces Orleans after a long bout with Lewy Body, a degenerative neurological disease. He was 75.
Mr. Schneider is survived by his wife Crystal Gips of Yarmouth Port MA; son Jeffrey Schneider, his wife Felicia Jevitt, and their daughter Morgan and son Jeremy of Mason OH; son Eric Schneider and his daughters Laura and Sara of Cincinnati; daughter Lisa Schneider of New Marshfield, OH; daughter Emily Strickland, her husband Wayne, and their daughters Sandy and Rachel of Guysville, OH; and his sister Dona Browne of Farmington Hills, MI. His former wife, JoAnne Dodd of Athens, OH, also survives him.
Mr. Schneider was born November 15, 1937, in South Bend, IN and grew up there. He was the son of William and Lillian (Pitchford) Schneider. After graduating from high school, he attended Elmhurst College outside Chicago, where he intended to prepare to be a minister. With a change of heart, he transferred to Miami of Ohio, majored in English and was named an undergraduate fellow. He also won the undergraduate prize for the study of Greek. He began graduate school at University of California Berkeley, married his high school friend JoAnne Bennett, and completed a master’s degree in English at Kent State in Ohio in 1960. Mr. Schneider earned a Ph. D. in English in 1965 from the University of Colorado where he was an English instructor for 5 years in the College of Engineering.
In the same year, Mr. Schneider joined the faculty of the English Department at Ohio University. In the late 1970s he served as chair of the English Department’s graduate programs, and then in 1981 was elected Chair of the Faculty Senate. After two years in that role, he returned to the English Department as Chair, and then in 1985 became the Director of the Ohio University Press. Under his leadership at the Press, it flourished and rose to new levels of publishing and sales. One of the scholarly highlights of his career was his deep friendship with the feminist writer Anais Nin, which grew out of his writing of a book, with his colleague Ben Franklin V, about her and her writings including the well known Diaries of Anais Nin. Duane was also the founding president in 1985 of the Thomas Wolfe Society, an international literary society that still flourishes today.
Duane entered early retirement from Ohio University in 1995, and continued teaching fall term each year at Ohio through 2007, for a total of 47 years as a professor. Duane also taught one summer at University of Montana, and part time at California State University Northridge, The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, and The New School in NYC. He was Emeritus Professor of English at Ohio University. He and Crystal lived in Athens, Los Angeles, Albany NY, Saint Simons Island GA, and Long Beach CA, before moving three years ago to Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod.
Mr. Schneider operated his own publishing firm, Croissant & Co., in the 1970s. He published the short works of such people as Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Nin, and others, all printed on a hand press he operated himself.
Mr. Schneider was an active Unitarian during his adult life. He served as president of the Athens Unitarian Fellowship in the mid 70s during the building of the fellowship hall, and he was recently a member of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable.
The family will hold a private burial in Athens. Memorial services will follow at a later date in Athens and on Cape Cod.
Duane and his wife are ever so grateful to HopeHealth for its wonderful Hospice care and especially to nurses Deborah and Melanie, social worker Julie, and nurse assistant Ann Marie for their love and kindness along with fine professional care.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. Schneider’s honor may be made to the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, P.O. Box 285, Barnstable MA 02630, or to HopeHealth, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Barbara Kraft’s new memoir, Anais Nin: The Last Days is getting a lot of press lately, including a substantial excerpt on Huffington Post.
To read the excerpt, go to Huffington Post by clicking here.
To order the book, click here.
When Anaïs Nin met the 20 year old Gore Vidal in 1945, she found in him a kindred soul, one who understood her and her writing, which was something she rarely experienced. She was initially swept off her feet by his dymanic, self-assured, and elegant demeanor, and the emotional bond between them sprang forth very quickly. They grew to love each other, but since Vidal was homosexual, it was a torn love, one that could not be fulfilled physically. Nin and Vidal supported and inspired each other’s work, and Vidal, who worked as an editor for Dutton, was able to arrange Nin’s first contract with an American publisher.
Gore Vidal quite famously derided Nin in his work and in his comments after they had split, and Nin was not kind to Vidal’s work, characterizing it as pedestrian and beneath his capabilities. Was the vitriol a true reflection of their feelings for each other, or was it a result of the great pain of not being able to be true lovers? That is a question that begs to be examined.
Below are Nin’s first comments about Vidal in her soon-to-be-released unexpurgated 1940s diary:
November 19, 1945
Kimon Friar asked me to go to his lecture on love. At the Y.M.H.A. I was in a sad mood, so I dressed as Mary Stuart, who had her head cut off by a jealous Queen Elizabeth, in a tight black dress with long sleeves half covering the hand, a heart shaped black hat edged with pearls, and a white veil. Kimon lectured at the head of a long table. At the foot of the table one chair was empty, and I took it (Hugo had to sit behind me). Next to me sat a handsome Lieutenant, who, after I had leaned across him to speak to Maya Deren, spoke to me. “Are you French? I am a descendent of troubadour Vidal.” … He is luminous and manly. He is … not nebulous, but clear and bright. He talks, is active, is alert and poised. [H]e has [a] tall and slender body, … clear skin, and [a] full, sensual mouth. He is twenty years old. He is one of the editors at Dutton, and his own novel is appearing in the spring. He knows Under a Glass Bell and had guessed who I was. He asked when he might visit me. I said I would be home that evening or on Tuesday evening. He said he would come on Tuesday as he was not free that evening. But after a moment, he said: “I’d like to come this evening if you don’t mind.”
So four hours after meeting him, he walked into my studio. … His voice is rich and warm; he is intuitive. There is too much to tell.
When Gore Vidal says he will be the President of the United States, I believe him. He walks in easily, not dream-fogged, not unreal, not bemused … His eyes are … clear, open, hazel. They are French eyes. His face is square … He came Sunday afternoon. Then this evening we sat at the Number One bar and talked. His father is a millionaire. His grandfather was Senator Gore. His mother left them when he was ten to marry someone else. “She is Latin looking, vivacious, handsome, her hair and eyes like yours,” he said, “beloved of many.”
The boy-man is lonely. He rejects homosexual advances. He says: “In the army, I live like a monk.” He is writing his novel. He is clear minded, but emotionally confused and vulnerable. …
Will his French troubadour lineage stir in his memory some recognition of Anaïs, whose name comes from a little Greek town in the south of France? I feel yes, unconsciously. He has the courage to say: “May I come?” He telephones, he can command a taxi. Will he dare? I feel the bond, less than with Bill, but one that suits my present self better, for I am returning to my aristocracy and my pleasures, and leaving my bohemianism behind.
Gore talks about his childhood: “When my mother left me I became objective…I live detached from my present life…at home our relationships are casual…my father married a young model…I like casual relationships…When you are involved you get hurt. I do not want to be involved ever…”
Mutely … Gore’s sudden softness envelops me.
December 5, 1945
Gore is a lieutenant at Mitchell Field. He comes in on weekends, and Sunday he came to see me. We had a fine talk, lightly serious, gracefully sad. He read me from Richard II. “Why was he killed?” I asked. “Because he was weak. I am not weak,” said Gore.
No, he is not weak, but he might need Joan of Arc to place him on his throne. I told him his arthritic hand was due to a psychic cramp for writing about an ordinary hero when he himself is no ordinary young man. I teased him, touched upon his depression. His handwriting is chaotic and unstable. He took me to dinner.
Today he called me up: “This is troubadour Vidal.” His voice is lovely, musical …
December 10, 1945
Gore came, and we slid easily into a sincere, warm talk …
He takes me to dinner at the Lafayette. All the society mothers look for him, for their cocktails and dances. The debutantes write him letters: “Why are you so detached?” As we walk, I take his arm. This gesture has infinite repercussions upon the long distance range of his being. When I relinquish it, a moment later he extends it back and says: “Mon bras?”
… [He] is … adequate, answers all I say, and holds his ground. When we return home (he came at four and left at midnight), he makes me laugh with the most amazingly well-acted pastiches of Roosevelt, Churchill, a southern senator, a petitioner at the House of Commons, etc. … [N]ow, I abandon my writing, my need of the doctor, to write about him because I enjoy his presence. I enjoy being allowed into his secret self. His very far apart, clear hazel eyes open into mine: “I give you the true Vidal, a supreme gift.” Leaving, he says: “I’ll come on Wednesday. Don’t let anyone else come. Send Hugo away.”
For digital Anais Nin titles, visit our Anais Nin e-bookstore