Henry and June, the Movie

On this day in 1990, Henry and June, the first NC-17 movie, premiered. The only reason I wanted to see it was because of the rating—I had to know what it meant. I knew it was the new X, so there had to be sex, and lots of it. I could tell from the trailer that it wasn’t the American formula of sex and violence, which I abhor (think Basic Instinct), and that it was set in Paris in the 1930s, which intrigued me, so off we went.

hjmovieWhen the film began, I must have missed the part that said it was based on the diary of Anaïs Nin, so I thought that Nin and Henry Miller were fictional characters. The theatre was mostly empty—I was later to find out that the NC-17 rating killed any chance for a wide audience. I feel that the rating was uncalled for, that there was nothing in the film that didn’t cry out “R”—but I suppose it was because of the so-called “lesbian scene,” during which Nin asks two female prostitutes to make love while she watched (and most of that scene was left to the imagination). Henry and June would never be rated NC-17 today, and I imagine the rating still keeps many from seeing it, which is a shame, in my opinion.

The film, I thought, was a bit over-acted, and it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the sexiest of films—and yet it “got” me. I felt the same way I did when I saw the first Star Wars film—like a kid on an adventure. Only this adventure was of the mind, of sensuality, of freedom, of daring, risk-taking, creativity, and joy. It was a rebellion against the status quo.

And then, when the final credits rolled, I discovered that not only were Nin and Miller real people, they wrote about everything I’d just seen. On the way home, we stopped at the used book store and I bought Diary 1 and Tropic of Cancer.

Little did I know that my curiosity about a sexy movie would shape the rest of my life and career.

To order Henry and June, the movie, click here.

To see the full trailer of the movie, click here.

This blog post is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations and The Portable Anaïs Nin.

Anais Nin Myth #21: All of Anais Nin’s erotica has been published

Myth: Delta of Venus and Little Birds contains all of Anais Nin’s erotica.

Fact: In spite of editor John Ferrone‘s insistence that the only Nin erotica that did not get published were “scraps” that ended up on the cutting room floor, an important collection of unpublished erotica existed. In fact, Ferrone himself knew of it by 1985, as his correspondence to Nin literary executor Rupert Pole proves.

An auction house approached Harcourt, for whom Ferrone worked, wanting biographical information about Nin since they were about to auction off a book called Auletris by “A. Nin,” which was one of only five copies produced by Press of the Sunken Eye in 1950. Auletris was divided into two “books”: “Life in Provincetown,” none of which had ever been seen before, and an uncut version of “Marcel,” which appears in abbreviated form in Delta of Venus. Upon reading the text, Nin was verified as its author.

For some reason unknown to me, neither Ferrone nor Pole pursued this book any further, and no one mentioned it again until I discovered the correspondence earlier this year. Upon reading Auletris, I recognized its importance and literary value and realized that it needs to be published. Therefore, Sky Blue Press will release it in October 2016.

To learn more about Auletris, read our recent post.

To hear an 11-minute history of Auletris, click here.

For a reliable source of Anais Nin quotations, get THE QUOTABLE ANAIS NIN: 365 Quotations with Citations.

Podcast 20: Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica Part 1

Listen to how Anaïs Nin’s erotica collection was lost during the 1940s and has only resurfaced today under the title Auletris.

Auletris is virtually unknown to Nin scholars and readers alike. Originally written for Barnett Ruder in the early 1940s, it was sold to a California collector in the 1940s, and five copies were typed up and sold under the table in 1950. Amazingly, its existence became known in 1985 when a copy was being auctioned—but it was never published, and the public never knew about it.

Unknown to all, a copy of this mysterious book was housed at a major university library, and after much detective work, it was located, transcribed, and will be published in October by Sky Blue Press.

This is nothing short of a major literary event. Be among the first to learn about the details of this find.

Run time: 11 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

This podcast is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations

Detail of cover, from a card in Nin's collection

Detail of erotic postcard from the private collection of Anais Nin.

Auletris: Long Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auletris will be published by Sky Blue Press this autumn.

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

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

Podcast 19: Anaïs Nin’s Family with Gayle Nin Rosenkrantz

Gayle Nin Rosenkrantz was the daughter of Thorvald Nin, the middle child of the Nin family, between his big sister Anaïs and little brother Joaquín. She was born in Latin America during the 1930s and has vivid memories of not only her aunt, uncle and father, but also of her grandparents, Joaquín Nin y Castellanos and Rosa Culmell. Listen as she, like no one else can, describes the family dynamics, how Aunt Anaïs kept them at arm’s length to keep her bigamy secret, a humorous account of her grandfather calling her and her brother “savages” after they met him in Cuba in 1939, and her stories about her father and uncle, many of which are entirely unknown until now. If you are interested in Anaïs Nin, this podcast is a must-listen, for it contains some real treasures from one of the only descendants of the original Nin family.

Run time: 41 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To learn more about the Nin family, click here.

This podcast is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin, which contains 365 cited quotations.

Opening track: Joaquin Nin “Suite Espanole II

Closing track: Joaquin Nin-Culmell: “Ball pla i l’esquerrana

 

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Thorvald, Rosa, Joaquin, Juan Manen, Anais Nin ca. 1920

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Barbara Kraft reads from Henry Miller: The Last Days

Barbara Kraft, author of a new memoir on Henry Miller, recently gave a reading at a Santa Monica library, which was video recorded and is now ready to be viewed.

Kraft not only speaks of her close relationship with the literary titan during his final two years, but also reminisces about her friendship with Anais Nin during the years just before her death–a relationship that was independent of that with Miller. Kraft’s gift to Miller and Nin fans are her two beautifully written memoirs:

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Each book is the perfect companion for the other.

To watch the video, click here. (Run time: 49 minutes)

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Sky Blue Press and Swallow Press team up for a new Anaïs Nin diary

Sky Blue Press has just signed a deal with Swallow/Ohio University Press to co-publish Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947-1955. This partnership is a continuation of the one formed for the publication of the previous diary, Mirages (2013), which was the first Nin diary published since 1996.

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Mirages begins when World War II forced Nin and her husband from Paris, and, as the title suggests, her post-Paris life isa series of failed attempts at both literary acceptance and romance. After a seven-year crossing of what Nin called a “desert,” she finally meets the man she feels will be the “One” for her, the young out-of-work actor from California, Rupert Pole.

Trapeze deals with the life Nin has chosen for herself—the double life, living part time with her husband Hugh Guiler in New York, and part time with Pole in Los Angeles. It is a brutally honest look at what seems to be an impossible arrangement, the maintaining of two lives, two men, two homes, and the lengths to which Nin went to keep her most audacious secret yet. What kept her from choosing one man over the other? Did she find true happiness? What sort of physical and psychological toll did this lifestyle have on her and her two men? And how did she handle the complete collapse of her writing career in the austere 1950s America? All of these questions will finally be answered.

Trapeze will be released in Spring 2017 in both print and ebook formats.

Podcast 17: Barbara Kraft Interviews Henry Miller

At about 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon, June 7, 1980, rebel author Henry Miller died in the arms of his caretaker in Pacific Palisades, California, which marked the end of an amazing era, one that saw literature turned upside down, saw the draconian obscenity laws of the US taken apart after long court battles. Few had heard of Miller before his Tropic of Cancer was finally published after a nearly 30-year wait, but he rose to instant stardom in the twilight of his life.

Henry Miller

Henry Miller

Miller moved into a seemingly bourgeois neighborhood, 444 Ocampo Drive, Pacific Palisades during the 1960s, but what went on there was anything but bourgeois. A constant parade of people came and went, some staying for a while, others coming on a regular basis to cook for Miller and to make conversation. One of these cooks was Barbara Kraft, who became an intimate friend during the last two years of Miller’s life. She has just published a memoir, Henry Miller: The Last Days, which chronicles her experiences with Miller and his entourage.

To commemorate Miller’s 88th birthday, Kraft recorded what would be the last substantial interview of his life. In it he speaks about his philosophy on life, writing, women and men, religion, politics, sex, love, marriage and spirituality. He mentions his hero Blaise Cendrars, his Paris companion Alfred Perlès, his meeting with Emma Goldman, Stroker publisher Irving Stettner, and, of course, Anaïs Nin.

The interview was broadcast on December 26, 1979 on KCRW, and to commemorate the passing of a literary legend, we are presenting it in its entirety for our podcast.

Run time: 1 hour

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

To order Barbara Kraft’s memoir Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

Podcast 16: Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller with Barbara Kraft

In 1974, Barbara Kraft sent Anaïs Nin, who was offering to mentor writers, a submission that was accepted. Just after Kraft met the famous diarist, Nin discovered she had cancer and began a two-year descent into pain and suffering, but Kraft and Nin forged a deep friendship that helped Nin transcend the illness. Nin’s relentless spirit in the face of death is the subject of Kraft’s first memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days (2011, Sky Blue Press).

FrontCoverEbookSoon after Nin died in early 1977, Kraft attended a talk by Henry Miller and was so impressed that she wrote “An Open Letter to Henry Miller,” which was broadcast on a local NPR station. When Miller heard a recording of the “Letter,” he immediately sought Kraft out, and he eventually asked her to be one of sixteen rotating cooks who would not only cook dinner for him, but engage in conversation. She accepted, and soon she was conversing with the Tropic of Cancer writer on a regular basis about life, art, religion, sex, philosophy and, of course, writing. Kraft became more than a cook, though—she also was Miller’s confidante and, in the end, the one responsible for making sure he didn’t die alone in the chaotic house in Pacific Palisades, all of which is included in her latest book Henry Miller: The Last Days (2016, Sky Blue Press).

Listen as Kraft reflects upon these two intimate, but very different, friendships and how she captures the essence of both Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller.

Run time: 29 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

For more on Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

For more on Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Henry Miller: The Last Days

Barbara Kraft’s new memoir, Henry Miller: The Last Days is available in print now and will be published in digital format May 20, 2016.

FrontCoverEbookKraft met Henry Miller in 1977, only months after her friend—and Miller’s former lover—Anaïs Nin died. Kraft was so impressed by Miller that she reread virtually all of his work and broadcast an “open letter” to Miller on an NPR station. When Miller heard a recording of the show, he invited Kraft to become one of his sixteen rotating cooks.

(Click here to hear Kraft and Miller discussing the arrangement.)

Kraft returned on a regular basis to the Miller household and struck up an intimate friendship with the famous author, recording daily events and conversations in her diary. The operations of the household were anything but normal—they were largely carried out by various individual who came and went, and the person in charge of them was a serious drug addict. It was largely due to Kraft’s intervention that Miller didn’t die of malnutrition and, in the end, didn’t die alone.

To see details of Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

To see details of Anais Nin: The Last Days, click here.

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