Podcast 33: Understanding the Art of Anaïs Nin: Incest

I am currently at work on a book of correspondence between Anaïs Nin and her father, Joaquín Nin, written between 1933 and 1940, titled Father Letters, and a friend of mine who was reading a draft suggested I revisit a post I did three years ago on the topic of incest as related to Nin and her work. So I did, and I was inspired to create a podcast about it.

As many of you know, Anaïs was abandoned by her father when she was ten years old and spent much of her childhood yearning for him. The circumstances under which he left the family were horrific—he was engaged in an affair with one of his piano students, at the time barely sixteen years old (and an occasional playmate of Anaïs), and his jealousy-fueled battles with his wife Rosa led to true domestic violence, even to the point where Anaïs screamed at her father to stop beating her mother because she was afraid he was going to kill her. He not only beat his wife, but his children as well, leading them up to a dark, cramped attic where he spanked them while his wife was sobbing on the stairway, having been locked out.

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Joaquin Nin, ca. 1930

This unimaginable cruelty and physical abuse left a permanent scar on the young Anaïs, and yet the idea that she was suddenly without a father traumatized her even more. She began her diary as a desperate plea to lure him back—but she would not see him for another decade, in a brief meeting in Paris that ended in rage and further estrangement. Then, in 1933, Joaquín expressed a desire to reunite with his now-thirty-year-old daughter, and she accepted his request. For several months, the two engaged in an incestuous affair, something Anaïs wrote about graphically and yet eloquently in her diary. The affair, which ended bitterly, was also an inspiration for some of Anaïs’s most important art (obliquely in The House of Incest, fictionally in The Winter of Artifice), and it flavored much of what she wrote from that point on. It also heavily influenced her choice of men and the types of relationships she had with them.

In order to truly understand the art of Anaïs Nin, one must deal with a taboo that many find distasteful, immoral, or entirely sad. The ending of Father Letters is truly tragic. But the incest must be dealt with, and that is the subject of the latest Anaïs Nin Podcast. Father Letters will answer many questions about this topic, but in the meantime, here is my take on it.

Run time: 13:30
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Anaïs Nin Podcast 30: Gonzalo Moré and Helba Huara

To kick off the celebration of the 15th and final issue of A Café in Space, California artist and historian Eduardo Pineda discusses his two articles, “The Dreaming Tiger—On Gonzalo Moré” and “La Gitana—On Helba Huara,” which reveal the secrets and long-lost memories of Nin’s Peruvian lover Gonzalo Moré and his wife, the dancer Helba Huara.

Helba Huara and Anaïs Nin, 1936. Photo: Emile Savitry

Helba Huara and Anais Nin, 1936. Photo: Emile Savitry

As anyone who has read Nin’s 1930s and 1940s diaries knows, Nin met Gonzalo Moré at a party and was swept off her feet by his astounding presence, his Latin passion, and his utter bohemianism. When Nin visited Moré at his Paris apartment, she was shocked to find that he and his wife Helba were living in utter squalor. Once Nin and Moré commenced their decade-long love affair, she felt compelled to help him and Helba escape their sickly existence by giving them money for a new apartment, for food and medicine—Helba, at this time, had just fallen into a mélange of illnesses that incapacitated her and ended her once-celebrated dance career. While Huara was grateful for Nin’s financial support, she resented her presence in her husband’s live, and almost immediately a hate-infested relationship developed between the three of them. For ten years, it was a war between carnal passion and almost insane jealousy and hatred, a war in which the dark side eventually ultimately destroyed the Nin-Moré relationship in 1946. But before it ended, Nin and Moré founded the Gemor Press in New York to not only print Nin’s books, but also to provide Moré with a source of income. While the press produced several true works of art, Moré’s lack of discipline and Helba’s increasing demands on him for constant care rendered him unable to fulfill his duties as a printer.

Ironically, Moré came from a prominent Peruvian family and was due a significant inheritance. In order to save their relationship, Nin offered to send Moré back to Peru to get his inheritance, but his pride would not let him go—he was horrified by the idea of how his family would react to his sorry state of affairs and never went back.

Once the affair ended—and it ended bitterly—there were few entries in Nin’s diaries about Moré and Huara, and we, the readers, like Nin, lose track of them. There was confusion about how Moré and Huara left the country, when, and what happened next. Even the death date attributed to Moré in the published diaries (1966) turns out to be off by seven years.

But now, the lack of information and the mysteries have been in great part solved by Pineda’s dogged detective work, which has taken over twenty years. We find out how Moré and Huara met each other, how they had a daughter who Nin believed was Moré’s niece, and the incredible success Huara had as a performer of Peruvian indigenous dances, even to the point where she and Moré (who accompanied Huara on piano) appeared in New York City during the 1920s. We also discover that Huara was about to be awarded a national U.S. tour just as she fell ill, and how her plans for a return to dance many years later were tragically ended with an accident.

Listen as Eduardo Pineda reveals these details of the lives of these two once-famed but now enigmatic artists.

Run time: 50 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

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To order Volume 15 of A Café in Space, click here.

Podcast 29: Anaïs Nin’s Lost World with Britt Arenander

Swedish author Britt Arenander discusses the new English language version of her Anaïs Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, which is in now in print. Lost World contains more than 50 photographs, many of them vintage, of Anaïs Nin’s and Henry Miller’s favorite haunts and living quarters in and around Paris during the most interesting period of their lives. Included is a concise but thorough guide through the streets of Paris.

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Hotel Orphila, immortalized by August Strindberg

As Arenander says, the book was a labor of love and required a great deal of detective work to retrace Nin’s steps as she visited the places described in the 1920s and 1930s diaries. Astoundingly, most of them still exist, and some retain the ambience that Nin and Miller enjoyed some 85 years ago.

And there are surprises: Nin, shortly after moving to Paris in the 1920s, unwittingly inhabited a room at Hotel Orphila, which the writer August Strindberg made famous in the late 1800s. The brothel Nin mentions in Henry and June is still located at 32 rue Blondel and is still a brothel. The lawn furniture Arenander photographed in the yard of the famed Louveciennes house was there as early as 1910, evidenced by a rare photograph of the owner reclining on the same chaise that was photographed 80 years later. The street where Henry Miller and Alfred Perlès lived in Clichy was immortalized in a post card from 1932—which includes their apartment building.

Arenander also dispels the myth about why Nin was denied entrance to her former Louveciennes home in 1971, as revealed by a conversation with the owner, the reputed Monsieur Auzépy, the very man who allowed the house to lay empty and crumbling for decades.

LostWorld-Front-Cover

Run time: 20 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order the print version of Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

To order the digital version of Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

New Anaïs Nin Podcast and A Café in Space

We are celebrating Anaïs Nin’s 114th birthday with two major events: First, the publication of the 14th volume of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, and the 24th episode of The Anaïs Nin Podcast.

The theme of this year’s A Café in Space is twofold: erotica and Nin’s relationship with her parents. Scholars from India and England look at Nin’s childhood and how it affected her life: Kastoori Barua’s essay uses popular theory to explain how Nin’s life choices were influenced by the unusual relationship she had with both parents, while Jean Owen explores adult-onset incest, using Nin and Kathryn Harrison as examples. Casandra Lim uses Freud’s theory of Oedipus to explains Nin’s relationships. The erotica aspect comes from the recent release of Nin’s long-lost collection Auletris: Erotica, and we present the introduction to the book as well as a lengthy excerpt. Erotica writer Lana Fox then uses Auletris as inspiration for her short story “L’Étalion.”

Also included is never-before-published correspondence between Anaïs Nin, Joaquin Nin-Culmell and Eduardo Sanchez regarding contentious character descriptions of family members in the first volume of The Diary of Anaïs Nin, some of which is explosive.

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Nin scholars Simon Dubois Boucheraud and Jessica Gilbey also provide article to volume 14, while David Green treats us to his experiences in Durrell country in France. There is an excerpt from and a review of Kazim Ali’s new book Anaïs Nin: An Unprofessional Study and a tribute to John Ferrone from Tristine Rainer.

Short fiction, poetry and art are from Danica Davidson, Katie Doherty, Kennedy Gammage, Harry Kiakis, Steven Reigns, Chrissie Sepe, Colette Standish, David Wilde and Changming Yuan.

At $15, and with this caliber of work, it’s a steal.

Podcast 24 concentrates on the history and future of Anaïs Nin’s diary publication. As you may know, we are fast approaching the May 2017 release of the sixth unexpurgated diary, Trapeze, which covers the beginning of Nin’s double life with husband Hugh Guiler and lover Rupert Pole on opposite ends of the country. We talk about the misconceptions behind the original series (the controversy surrounding the “missing husband”), the development of the early diary series, and a look at the rocky unexpurgated series, one which has reached incredible heights with Henry and June, and horrible lows after Incest was published in 1992, setting up the collapse of Nin’s popularity. I talk about the editing of both Mirages and Trapeze, and the two future diaries, about which few know at this point.

Coming in at 20 minutes, I guarantee it’s worth the listen.

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.
To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order volume 14 of A Café in Space, click here.
It is also available as a digital edition.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 10: Journaling as Healing with Diana Raab

Popular writer, poet and blogger Diana Raab discusses how Anaïs Nin and she have lived parallel lives, both beginning diaries at age ten after losing a loved one (Nin’s father abandoned the family for a young woman, Raab lost her grandmother to suicide). Both women kept diaries their entire lives, and both found them key tools for the creation of a world in which they could not only survive, but thrive.

Diana Raab

Diana Raab

Raab discovered Nin in her early teens, and then re-discovered her on a much deeper level some 25 years later around the time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Raab was inspired to win an MFA and to turn her writing into art, resulting in a memoir (Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal, 2007), two poetry collections (Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You, 2008 and Lust, 2014) and several books on how writing can heal.

A strong advocate of journaling, Raab candidly discusses Nin’s influence on her work and art, and she reveals an upcoming event (January 29, 2016 at Antioch University in Santa Barbara) called “The Allure of Anaïs Nin,” featuring five speakers, three of whom knew Nin personally.

Run time: 14 minutes

To listen to the podcast on iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

Diana Raab can be found at www.dianaraab.com.

This podcast is sponsored by Sky Blue Press, publisher of a new print edition of The Quotable Anaïs Nin. QuotableANsmall

 

 

Paul Herron dishes on Anais Nin with Rose Caraway

Rose Caraway

Rose Caraway

Erotic writer/blogger/podcaster Rose Caraway (found on Twitter as @RoseCaraway) recently had me as a guest on The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotic Podcast, and we discuss Anais Nin’s erotica (with an excerpt from a previously unknown erotic story), her use of language, sexuality, fiction, diary, and writing style. We take a sneak peek at the upcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1947-1955, which chronicles Nin’s perilous double life with two husbands. We ponder Nin’s unpublished erotic storyMontparnasse,” which is unlike anything in Delta of Venus or Little Birds and try to reason why she wrote the story in the first place. Was it just an example of bad writing, or was it the result of something her anonymous collector had said? Find out here. Run time: just over an hour.

To listen to the podcast in iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.