A Spy in the House of Love republished

A new ebook edition of Anaïs Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love has been published, which includes an introduction from Anaïs Nin, character descriptions, a publishing history, and a chronology of the author’s life and work.

SpyInTheHouseA Spy in the House of Love is one of Nin’s most famous titles, the fourth installment in the “continuous novel,” entitled Cities of the Interior. Nin chronicles the life of Sabina, who is married and has relationships with five very different men, each reflecting a different facet of herself. Sabina’s selves are at war with each other, and she seeks unity, which is the theme of the novel. It is written in beautiful prose and is considered to be a true gem of the English language.

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To order or preview A Spy in the House of Love, click here.

New Anais Nin E-publications Hit the Market

This past year has been a busy one when it comes to new Anais Nin-related publications, and we want to make it simple for you to keep up to date. Here is a list of the latest Nin titles available at the Kindle store or app, beginning with the most recent:

ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 4, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann, originally published in 1986. This issue is dedicated to the memory of Nin’s husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, his life and his art, with contributions from art critics, Nin’s brother Joaquin, and Guiler himself. Also included are important letters between Henry Miller and Anais Nin regarding their respective writing efforts, which shed light on the degree of influence each had on the other. Studies of Otto Rank, Nin’s friend Caresse Crosby, ancient Japanese poetry, and Nin’s writing round out the issue. For more on this title, click here.

The Authoritative Edition of The Four-Chambered Heart. The third novel of the Cities of the Interior series comes with an introduction by Anais Nin, character descriptions, publishing history and author chronology. For more on this title, click here.

The Authoritative Edition of Children of the Albatross. The second novel in the series entitled Cities of the Interior. The introduction is culled from Nin’s own words, and also included are character descriptions, publishing history, and a chronology of Nin’s life and work. For more on this title, click here.

The Authoritative Edition of Ladders to Fire. Anais Nin’s first full-length novel comes with the original prologue, character descriptions, publishing history, and a chronology of Nin’s life and work. For more on this title, click here.

ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 3, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Originally published in 1985; available digitally for the first time. With excerpts from Anais Nin’s diary, the work of Anna Kavan and Julieta Campos; articles by Otto Rank, Philip Jason, Tristine Rainer, et al. For more on this title, click here.

The Novel of the Future. Contains the whole of Anais Nin’s writing theory, beginning with “proceed from the dream outward…” Available as an ebook for the first time.

The Quotable Anais Nin, 365 quotations with citations. A quote for each day of the year, cited with book title and page number—the only such book completely devoted to Anais Nin.

Anais Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts by Benjamin Franklin V. A complete guide to all of Anais Nin’s fictional characters—with descriptions and sources—as well as an index to all quotations from the previously unpublished diaries.

ANAIS: An International Journal, vol. 2, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. Originally published in 1984; available digitally for the first time. With excerpts from Anais Nin’s diary and articles by Nin scholars Philip K. Jason, Suzette A. Henke, as well as Harry T. Moore.

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947. After a seventeen year wait, finally the sequel to Nin’s unexpurgated diaries is here. An inspiring and cathartic journey through the many relationships and works of art in 1940s New York. Details about Nin’s connections with Gore Vidal, Henry Miller, Gonzalo Moré, and Rupert Pole.

A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal,  vol. 11, edited by Paul Herron. Excerpts from Anais Nin’s 1950s diaries; the controversy over Alfred Perlès’s My Friend Henry Miller; articles by Kim Krizan, Jean Owen, John Tytell et al.

Stay tuned–more titles are in the works!

Anais Nin Myth of the Day #16

Myth #16: Anais Nin didn’t have a sense of humor.

Fact: In his 1969 interview with Nin, Duane Schneider asked: “Do you have a sense of humor?” Nin was surprised by the question, but said: “I think the Diary is humorous; I think Collages is humorous… I don’t think I have what is called humor in the American sense. I have playfulness, and fantasy. But my humor is quieter; it’s more like the Japanese. I don’t like farce, broad humor” (A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5, p. 111).

What follows are some examples of Nin’s brand of humor:

In her published Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4, Nin describes a party shortly after the release of her Ladders to Fire, when one of the partygoers noticed smoke pouring into the room. Nin says:

“I telephoned the fire department. But the man who answered heard my French accent, and the gaiety in my voice, and believed it was a student hoax. I called out to Kendall: ‘You talk to him. He does not believe there is a fire because of my accent.’ We were laughing, uncontrollably, because we could not really believe the fire, because it seemed so absurd, because Jimmy stood there with his manuscripts, and because he said: ‘Oh, Anaïs, this is a publicity stunt, of course. On the occasion of Ladders to Fire, we set fire to the house and we will have to come down a ladder.’ We opened the windows. The house was only two floors high and we would fall on the grass and bushes, if the ladders to fire did not arrive soon. We heard the sirens. A huge fireman opened Jimmy’s door, ready to rescue us. How do you rescue people taken with uncontrollable laughter? ‘It was a publicity stunt,’ we said. He thought it was the champagne. There was a lot of noise around. Neighbors had come to watch. Two engines were standing there. And the climax came when the fireman said: ‘No danger. It was the lady downstairs, who left a cake in the oven, and that made all the smoke’” (Diary 4, pp. 171-172)

In a letter to Rupert Pole, dated Nov. 20, 1961, Nin, who was in New York, had their dog, Piccolo, “write” an addendum:

“Dear Rupert—there is a serious shortage of dog psychiatrists. Nobody understands I only pee at the United Nations just to be polite and international, I pee on the 57th St. corner of Tiffany’s just to be fashionable, but I reserve my fullest pee for my temporary home, to assert my temporary ownership, and each time the old German elevator man comes out and grumbles. It’s true I’m not paying any rent—but he should know dog psychology. Cold rainy day—Anaïs tells me you had the same. She hangs on that phone—I don’t feel I own her whole heart! But she brought me a leftover meal from her dinner with rich cousins. Love Piccolo” (A Cafe in Space, Vol. 5, p. 89).

In the novel Collages, which, in her dedication, she calls her “humorous book,” Nin describes a scene with her characters Renate and Bruce, based on her friends Renate Druks and Paul Mathiesen:

“And then one day at Christmas, the terrified animals ran down from the mountains. Renate saw them running before she heard the sound of crackling wood or saw the flames leaping from hill to hill, across roads, exploding the dry brush, driving people and animals down the canyons and pursuing them satanically down to the very edge of the sea. The fire attacked houses and cars, lit bonfires above the trees, thundered like burning oil wells.

Planes dived and dropped chemicals. Huge tractors cut wide gashes through the forest to cut off the spreading fire. Firefighters climbed up with hoses, and vanished into the smoke.

Somewhere, a firebug rejoiced in the spectacle.

Around Renate’s house there was no brush, so she hoped to escape the flames. She wrapped herself in a wet blanket and stood on the roof watering it down. But she could feel the heat approaching, and watch its capricious somersaults, unexpected twists and devouring rages.

Bruce helped her for a while and then climbed down. She was still holding the hose and soaking the house when she looked down and saw what first appeared to be the portrait of Bruce walking. The large, life size painting was moving away from the house and two feet showed below the frame, two feet in shoes just below the naked feet of the painting.

The first thing he had asked of her was to stop painting animals and women and to paint a portrait of him. He had shown her the long hairs which grew on his ear lobes and said: ‘You know that I am Pan, and I want you to paint me as Pan.’ He had posed nude, in the red-gold afternoon sun of Mexico, always showing the same half-smile, the pleasure loving, non-human smile of Pan. He loved the painting, admired it every day. It was the god of the household. When they traveled, it was he who had packed it lovingly. He would say: ‘If any injury came to this painting, it would damage me, something fatal would happen to Pan.’

And so today this was Bruce rescuing Bruce, or Bruce rescuing Pan in himself. At first the painting turned its luminous face to her, but as he proceeded down the hill she saw him behind the painting in dungarees and a thick white sweater. She saw a group of firefighters below; she saw the expression on their faces as the painting walked towards them, as they saw first of all a naked Pan with faunish ears, a walking painting with feet, and then the apparition of the same figure dressed in everyday costume upholding its twin, duplicate half-smile, duplicate hands; and they looked startled and puzzled, as if it were superfluous to rescue a mere reproduction of an original.

So Bruce saved Pan, and Renate saved the house but the fire seemed to have finally consumed their relationship” (Collages, pp. 27-28).

Nin’s relationship with her Peruvian lover, Gonzalo Moré, while fiery and chaotic, was also one in which humor thrived in their conversations. In the unpublished diaries from the 1940s, there are several examples of their discourse:

During a romantic tryst:

“Gonzalo unfastening my new panties with the garters attached and saying: ‘It looks like a pulpo (octopus)—how many pulpos do I have to unfasten?’”

A lazy conversation on a summer evening in New York:

“I said to Gonzalo how strange it is that the spermatozoa sometimes lingers in the womb before fecundating the egg. Gonzalo said: Yes, it’s slumming!'”

I said to Gonzalo: “Janet saw a hermaphrodite, half of her body a man’s, half a woman.” “And the sex,” said Gonzalo, “was it a banana split?”

He talked to me for a whole evening about the activity of the microbes. Coming home we saw lovers sitting in Washington Square. Gonzalo said: “I wonder what makes people fall in love!”

“Don’t tell me it’s microbes,” I said.

After one of their many quarrels:

“I said: ‘Last night I was enmerdé (bored stiff), and I was looking for you in the rain, and I was out for a fight, in fact all ready to throw lightning around and you must have felt it and you ran, off to the movies. You escaped a big scene!’

‘What was it,’ said Gonzalo, laughing.

‘I wrote about it and so it’s all in a book, and you’re safe.’

‘Estoy contento,’ he said. And slept with his hand on my leg.”

From a Spanish newspaper Nin and Moré read together:

“A man has to deliver a coffin. He takes it on the bus as soon as the deliveries are paralyzed after the Spanish revolution. There is no room in the crowded bus. He is sent up to the top. It is raining hard. He is getting soaked. He decides to get into the coffin and cover himself. More people come to sit on the top of the bus. They sit with their backs against the coffin. The man inside of the coffin listens to their conversation, gets bored, lifts the top of the coffin, sits up and says: ‘Is it still raining?’ The people threw themselves off the bus with fright, broke their legs.”

In the 1940s diary, Nin describes going to the staid home of Virginia Admiral:

“At Virginia’s house Hugo said: ‘It looks like the House of Crime and Punishment.’ I answered: ‘But it’s the House of Punishment without Crime.’”

A conversation with Robert Duncan in the 1940s diary:

“Wrote an article on astrology to order. Was nervous about it, being told it might be for Vogue. Wrote it lightly but Robert and Hugo thought it was not light enough. Robert took it up to make it humorous. I was sad…not to be able to be flippant.

I said: ‘I can’t flip!’

Robert said: ‘You must flip! Start on me if you wish. Make fun of me.’”

Special thanks goes to Rebecca (@anaisnin on Twitter) for inspiring this post.

The Characters of Anaïs Nin’s Collages: Jean Tinguely

Anaïs Nin’s last novel, Collages, is populated with several characters taken from real life. We are beginning a series of posts based on these personages, and we begin with the Swiss “kinetic artist” Jean Tinguely. In Collages, some of Nin’s characters attend Tinguely’s exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Anaïs Nin met Jean Tinguely in 1960, just before his “Homage to New York,” perhaps better known as “The Machine that Destroys Itself” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In her Diary, she says:

Billy Kluver, a young Swedish scientist who worked for Bell Laboratories, and his wife drove me to their home in New Jersey. There I met Jean Tinguely and hear about his motion sculptures. They were constructed of objects from the junk yards of Paris where Tinguely loves to live. Their activities are animated by cast-off electric motors. The ultimate effect is one of chaos, humor, perversity… It is a mockery of the machine. The one which is designed to make bottles, breaks them… Some of the machines look so threatening and dangerous that when he dragged them through the streets of Paris to the gallery he was arrested on suspicion of possessing death-dealing instruments. For Americans, who believe in and admire the efficiency of machines, these machines which fell apart, jumped, exploded, shook with Dadaist humor, produced a startling shock and often gave them a feeling of sacrilege. (Diary 6 284-5).

Tinguely’s philosophy was expressed in a manifesto entitled “For Statics,” which was printed onto 150,000 fliers that were released from an airplane over Düsseldorf, Germany before an exhibition:

Everything moves continuously. Immobility does not exist. Don’t be subject to the influence of out-of-date concepts. Forget hours, seconds, and minutes. Accept instability. Live in time. Be static—with movement. For a static of the present moment. Resist the anxious wish to fix the instantaneous, to kill that which is living. Stop insisting on “value” which cannot but break down. Be free, live. Stop painting time. Stop evoking movement and gesture. You are movement and gesture. Stop building cathedrals and pyramids which are doomed to fall into ruin. Live in the present; live once more in Time and by Time—for a wonderful and absolute reality.

(After reading this manifesto, one has to wonder what Tinguely would have thought about the “machine that destroyed itself” in the Gulf of Mexico, and how America is about to drown in the very oil that sustains it.)

Nin continues in her diary:

Billy Kluver was taking Tinguely to the New Jersey dumps. They brought back balloons, bassinets, baby carriages, bicycle wheels, an old piano. Billy was working day and night at the wiring. They were preparing “The Machine that Destroys Itself” for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (Diary 6 284).

Jean Tinguely and The Machine that Destroys Itself

Jean Tinguely and The Machine that Destroys Itself

Nin closes Collages with a detailed account of the event, an excerpt of which follows:

The whole structure rattled erratically, in counter-rhythms, steaming senselessly, all motions in reverse, each interfering with another, negating it, inverted activity, bending and twisting and tearing at itself, introverted activity ending sometimes in a deadlock so that the fire was allowed to spread more quickly. The ladder trembled, lost a few rungs, fell. The balloon at the very tip of the structure, a huge orange balloon, gasped and burst. The chemicals smoked green, orange and blue. The paper with the names of artists unrolled again, a few more names were added, and then it swallowed them all again, finally catching fire. It seemed at times like an infernal factory in which every operation had gone mad, in which the levers and buttons did the opposite of what they were designed to do, all the mechanisms reversed. The fire devoured one more note of the piano, and only three notes were left playing. Then two. Then one which would not die.

The Fire Chief interfered with the exhibition, out of fear of a catastrophe, and began to extinguish the fire. Tinguely then had to “help” his machine collapse by kicking and tugging at it. The crowd was angered by the interference and heckled the fireman.

Click here to see a video of an interview with Tinguely before the event, and a part of the event itself. It is fascinating to read Nin’s account and then to see what actually occurred—it gives us a glimpse into her writing process. One could watch the destruction and walk away bemused, or one could turn it into poetry.

Click here to read Tinguely’s thoughts on the 1960 exhibition.

Jean Tinguely died in 1991 in Bern, Switzerland.

Collages has been published as an e-book on Kindle. It will join several other Nin titles on Kindle: 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 others to follow. 

Anais Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love

One of Anaïs Nin’s most recognizable titles, A Spy in the House of Love, comes closer to the psychological truth of Nin’s tormented life during the 1940s, a life of conflicting passions and identities, and sexual adventures, than any other publication, including her Diary.

spycoverSabina, the lead character in this novel, is sometimes considered a composite of Nin and June Miller, Henry Miller’s wife—or she could be looked upon as a certain facet of Nin’s personality that was mirrored by the mysterious bohemian June, with whom Nin became emotionally involved in the early 1930s. It can be said that June helped “awaken” Nin to her own subterranean longings for sexual power and freedom, which she first lived out with the voracious and lusty Henry, who “taught her things,” some of which she’d only imagined were possible, and others she never dreamt of.

As Nin’s sexual identity developed, honed by Miller’s tutelage, she began to realize that it, like her persona, was multi-dimensional, and she began to experiment with other men, psychoanalyst Otto Rank and the Peruvian Gonzalo Moré among them. By the time she’d returned to New York at the onset of World War II, partly inspired by her sense of rootlessness and her sexually stifled marriage, she began to seek love and security in increasingly younger and more diverse men. Seeking the one man with whom she could feel secure and be loved completely was a tumultuous journey, leaving Nin feeling at times desperately alone and even suicidal.

A Spy in the House of Love does in a concise, distilled sense what Anaïs Nin was unable to do in any other form—to reveal the torn, fragmented, conflicted life she was experiencing at the time, the fragments mirrored by five very different men: Alan, Sabina’s stolid husband (based on Nin’s husband Hugh Guiler); Philip, an exuberant and sexually charged Viennese singer (based on Edward Graeff, with whom Nin had a sporadic but prolonged affair); Mambo, an exotic black islander (inspired by Albert Mangones, a Haitian with whom Nin had a torrid sexual relationship); John, a wartime rear gunner who’d been grounded (based on the young ex-soldier John Paanecker, whom Nin met on a hellish, lonely holiday in East Hampton, Long Island); and Jay, a painter with whom Sabina had an affair some years earlier in Paris (based on Henry Miller).

Sabina despairs at only being able to live out a piece of herself with each man, and yearns for unity—which is exactly what Nin was vainly seeking—and a man who could love all parts of her. Like Nin, Sabina, in spite of her very complicated life which required monumental lies and deception to maintain, finds the resolve and strength to not give up, to continue the struggle.

The prose in A Spy in the House of Love alternates wonderfully between realism and surrealism, and is always verbally economic and poetic. Consider this passage, which describes Sabina and Philip escaping a nightclub to make love:

“They fled from the eyes of the world, the singer’s prophetic, harsh, ovarian prologues. Down the rusty bars of ladders to the undergrounds of the night propitious to the first man and woman at the beginning of the world, where there were no words by which to possess each other, no music for serenades, no presents to court with, no tournaments to impress and force a yielding, no secondary instruments, no adornments, necklaces, crowns to subdue, but only one ritual, a joyous, joyous, joyous, joyous impaling of woman on man’s sensual mast.”

A Spy in the House of Love was first published in 1954 by the British Book Centre and was republished by Avon Publications in 1957; Bantam Books in 1968; Penguin in 1973; Swallow Press, who has the current print edition in the USA; and Sky Blue Press, 2010, in a Kindle edition, the first time this title has been made available in digital form. It was Nin’s first commercially successful novel, the Avon edition having sold over 100,000 copies during the 1950s, more than a half decade before the Diary was published. 

A Spy in the House of Love joins The Winter of Artifice and Under a Glass Bell on Kindle, with more titles to come.