In Silver Lake, California, there is a home where Anais Nin lived that is a mythical as any, including her famous house in Louveciennes, France. It was a home that her lover, Rupert Pole, had dreamed of from the day he and Anais came to California in 1947. Rupert wanted roots, stability, and yet his was a free and soaring spirit, and both of these aspects attracted Anais Nin, the married writer with whom Pole fell in love. Nin was someone with, as she put it, “portable roots,” someone who both longed for the sense of “home” and yet needed to live without boundaries, perhaps explaining her many moves from many homes, all of which were given her personal touch, a touch that was constantly in flux, as was she.
Rupert stubbornly saved his money for years and years, and when it came time to create a permanent home (as permanent as a home could be when living with Anais), he called upon his half-brother, Eric Wright, son of Lloyd Wright, and grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright, both of whom were important figures in 20th century architecture. Eric created a home that is symbolic of both Rupert’s and Anais’s worldview—a place that is firmly planted on a hillside north of Los Angeles and, because of its glass wall facing west, gives one the feeling of floating in the sky and the mountains. Truly, the house contains elements of both the rootedness of a home and the sense of freedom and openess.
I am no expert on the details of the art of making a house, but I am keenly aware of how my senses react when in one, and being in the Silver Lake house gives me the feeling of both comfort and adventure simultaneously, a perpetual flowing of the senses, a feeling of being somewhere otherworldly, and it brings out the romantic in me.
While the Silver Lake house has many elements that make it instantly recoginizable as a “Wright” house, it also has a strong feel of the orient. And in spite of its relatively small size, with its ingeniously placed and disguised nooks, it can contain a seeming universe of treasures, as it once did when it was occupied by Rupert and Anais. It is an incredibly rich space.
Rupert, who called it the “house of the century” in a letter to Anais, expressed his feelings about it when construction was nearing completion. He said that “the beauty of this house is really the beautiful relationship of its occupants. Eric doesn’t know it—but our house is really designed for love…”
To hear an interview with Eric Lloyd Wright, click here.
To visit Eric’s web site, click here.
To hear Eric speak about Anais Nin at the anais @ 105 event (2008), click here.
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.
From 1947 until her death thirty years later, Anaïs Nin lived what she called the “trapeze life,” swinging from Hugh Guiler, her husband in New York City, to Rupert Pole, her lover and then husband (although not legal since she never divorced Guiler) in Los Angeles. By the time the letters that appear in A Café in Space, Vol. 5 were written, Nin had lived her double life for more than a decade and was well rehearsed in the sort of deception she needed to maintain it.
Pole was under the impression that Nin was working for Eve magazine for $100 a week in New York and for twice that when she was “assigned” to Paris. In fact, while Nin had written for Eve, she was never an employee. Her trips to New York had little to do with the magazine business—they had to do with Hugh Guiler. Her Paris trips were gratis, thanks to Guiler’s bank position, and they were put up in the posh Crillon Hotel at the bank’s expense.
During 1960, Rupert Pole was in the middle of the construction of the fabled Silver Lake house, designed by his half-brother, Eric Wright. Being on a teacher’s salary, he naturally felt that it was necessary for Nin to “work” in New York and Paris to help pay for the place, so, while he detested being apart from her, he accepted the situation. Of course, most of the money Nin brought to Pole was Guiler’s, since Guiler believed he was supporting her during her “healing” trips to California.
Pole sometimes became suspicious of Nin’s trips, questioning the logic of some of her scenarios, and she struggled to keep him at ease. Her letters were at once tender and gentle, and yet she laid out what she was about to do in no uncertain terms, always coming up with the right things to say in order to justify her actions. She used whatever worked, and she never gave quarter. (Her letters to Guiler, incidentally, were in much the same vein—tender, newsy, placating, even loving—but they relentlessly supported her choices.)
Following are a couple samples of the Nin-Pole correspondence from A Café in Space, Vol. 5, which has just been released on Kindle. Pole is in California, taking care of his ailing cocker Tavi (the same dog that accompanied Nin and Pole on their first cr0ss-country trip in 1947) while Nin was in Paris.
Letter from Rupert (Spring 1960, Los Angeles)
Quel jours! After wrote you from beach took Tavi to McWherter’s today (Monday after school) hoping he could help but fearing he’d want to put him to sleep. He’s having same thing with his mother so was very sympathetic—”Tiger” he called, but Tavi so limp and listless and not like a tiger at all—but Mac gave him another kind of injection (to “feed” the brain) and said lots of cockers have lived through strokes!! Said I could give him a little water after—thank god as the ice bit was really getting me down—also he can have a little ice cream to keep up his strength—so I tore down to get some only to find he didn’t like it—but he does seem little better today and is functioning normally (I take him out and hold him up to wee wee). School is not difficult—I’m just as glad to have him in the car where he can’t hurt himself.
Hurried home to fix things Reginald liked (he called yesterday night late to say he had to talk to me) then called him to find he was feeling much better and thought he’d go down to Dorothy’s and wait for her to come home!!!
Sooooo threw out the last of the suki yaki vegetables in ice box (which had gone bad) and settled down to eggs, carrots, and the chipped beef which Tavi can’t eat.
To relax decided to go to the Bergman “Brink of Life.” Wow what a mistake—why didn’t you tell me!!! Labor pains, abortions, death—went through it all with them as Bergman’s actors always force you to do—how did he get those scenes?? And that was the actress on the operating table, not someone dubbed in. Even the second film (French) was hardly the relaxing kind—the hero—a wonderful man with liquid eyes and a mustache like Gil’s—guillotined before the camera at end just after he finds his love!!!!!!
But all this—loveless marriages—children with no father—love aborted by the guillotine—only makes me realize more and more and more how very wonderful our love is—and how very precious.
That damn insurance thing you always send—always starts me thinking what life would be like without you—and each time I realize it would be completely lifeless—it would be no life at all—much worse than Tavi’s life now—where he is at least spared pain—and thought—and of course he long ago stopped worrying about love…
But not his master—take good care of the master’s love—and return it soon—unchanged.
Letter to Rupert (Spring 1960, Paris)
Your letter about Tavi upset me so much I was sad all day. Just before I left I whispered in his ear that he should wait for me and keep well. I had an intuition, and I wrote you about it—I was at Grazilla’s and seeing her dog I worried about Tavi—I know what he means to us, yet darling, old age is so cruel it is better to not be alive—and the Tavi we knew lately was not the real Tavi. He has had much love and care—more than any dog I know. You know, he often wobbled to one side—he must have had a slight stroke before—I hate to think of Tavi being ill when I am not there to console you, to greet you when you come home. I hope perhaps it was a false alarm—and he may be all well now—I thought of you all day. Got your letter in the morning.
At 5 o’clock the English Book Shop started its autograph party. All sorts of people came—old friends—new ones—writer, poets, Sylvia Beach, Harold Norse, Mellquist, an art critic who gave me introduction to biggest Swedish newspaper, etc. A Negro singer like Josephine Premice—painters, etc. We stayed until 9 o’clock. I was dead and hungry—then 8 of us went to dinner—small place. Fanchette got drunk and talked a lot of nonsense. 2 girls from Vienna who couldn’t talk at all, then on to Deux Magots where I dumped them at midnight—too many people. I returned wishing to be in my little home with you—realizing more than ever I am made for intimate life—not public life. I’m tense and not happy with most people. I need the tropical warmth of my Acapulco marriage, life “a deux.”
I hope I get another letter before I leave Saturday—The French never heard of Madrebon Roche [a drug]! I thought I could buy it cheaper here. It must have another name. I can get LSD from Jean Fanchette who is working at psychiatric hospital—perhaps.
Te quiero chiquito—love to Tavi…tell him to wait for me.
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.
For the past 40 years, Anaïs Nin has been discovered by an ever-growing number of countries around the world via translations of her work. While her work has long been available in Sweden, France, Japan, and Spain, newcomers include China, Latvia, South Korea, Romania, and Brazil, to name a few.
One of the most remarkable attributes of many of these foreign titles is the cover art, which is often unique and creatively provocative. This alone make the books desirable and collectible. The examples below illustrate this point quite well.
As mentioned in a previous post, there is one repository in the world where all of these titles are housed, and that is in Anaïs Nin’s and Rupert Pole’s home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. The Anaïs Nin Trust decided last year to keep one copy of every edition and to make all the rest publicly available, and the titles below are included. In some cases, there are only a few copies remaining, and the prices are very competitive. Not only do you get a unique book, but you also are guaranteed certification of its provenance—all of these books were part of the private collection at Silver Lake.
To see the availability of each title (there are very few left, usually less than 5), click on the icon, which will take you to the Trust site, where, if you wish, you may place an order.
Proceeds for the sales go to support the Trust’s activities in preserving and promoting the legacy of Anaïs Nin, which is its mission.
We will post more titles here in the coming weeks.
CLICK ON THE ICON TO CHECK AVAILABILITY AND/OR TO PURCHASE
For other posts on the Silver Lake collection, click here.
Too see all Nin titles available as digital books, visit our Anais Nin e-bookstore.
After Rupert Pole and Anaïs Nin moved into their magnificent Silver Lake home, which was designed by Pole’s half-brother Eric Lloyd Wright, one of the most important features was storage space. While the house is not large, there are numerous shelves, file cabinets, closets, and other spaces with hundreds of books, most of them by Nin. Many of the titles were sent by the publishing companies as a courtesy, while others were already a part of Nin’s personal collection.
After Nin died in 1977, Pole carried on the work of editing, promoting, and collaborating with other editors. As a result, 4 early diaries, 4 unexpurgated diaries, 2 volumes of erotica, among other books, were published during the next 20 years. Pole continued building the massive collection, even to the point of adding a library to the house.
When Pole died in 2006, decisions eventually had to be made about the Nin-Pole collection. Since Anaïs Nin and Rupert Pole both worked hard to get Nin’s books into the hands of others, it was proposed to apply the philosophy to the collection: while at least one copy of each edition would remain in the house, the others would be offered to the public. The campaign began in April 2010 at the LA Times Festival of Books, where the Anaïs Nin tent was well attended, but it didn’t end when the festival did, because all of the titles can be purchased at The Anaïs Nin Trust web site.
Each book is embossed with certification of its provenance, and the variety of books is extremely wide. Practically every book Nin wrote, or took part in, is represented by the collection. Many out of print and rare editions are still available. Books are priced based on their importance, their rareness, and their condition. One of the most unique categories is that of foreign publications, especially the erotica, not because of the language, but because of the erotic images on the covers. A dozen of these books make for a wonderful and sexily artistic display, regardless of the language.
To visit The Anaïs Nin Trust online bookstore, click here.
To see a post on the LA Times Festival of Books, 2010, click here.
Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal will be released after Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday, February 21, 2011.
This issue contains letters from Anaïs Nin, Hugh Guiler, and Rupert Pole, between 1975 and the end of 1977. Never seen before, these letters shed light on two very important considerations near and just after Nin’s death: first, the degree to which Nin’s marriage with Guiler had deteriorated; second, the amazing alliance Pole and Guiler forged after Nin’s death. Guiler’s very first letter begins:
Dear Rupert: As we are going to be communicating with each other from now on I think it is well that I do what I can to make things as easy as possible for us both, and I want to start by being quite frank with you.
And then he reveals that he had been aware of the “special relationship” that Pole and Nin had “for more than ten years.” In what could have been a bitter exchange, Guiler instead reached out to Pole, and the two men developed mutual sympathy and ultimately respect. Volume 8 contains the first two letters between Pole and Guiler and subsequent correspondence as well.
Nin’s illness and subsequent death was the backdrop for this group of letters, and her illness was something she never publicly discussed or wrote about, except in her unpublished diaries, The Book of Music and The Book of Pain. Now, one of Nin’s friends during the last two or three years of her life, Barbara Kraft, has written a memoir entitled Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, from which the preface and first chapter are included as an introduction to this difficult and mostly unknown period.
Most of us are aware of the effect Nin’s father’s abandonment had on Nin’s love life, of the psychological need to re-conquer him through other men, and finally by trysting with her father himself. But there were other ramifications as well, which Kim Krizan highlights in her article, “Anaïs Style.” Nin is known to have dressed exotically, to have created her own outfits, to always have stood out from the crowd no matter her age. Where did this fascination—and even obsession—come from? Krizan insightfully makes a connection between the scars left by Nin’s father’s abandonment—and perhaps just as importantly, his exclamation of “How ugly you are” when she was ill as a little girl—and her need to dress beautifully, to “de-uglify” herself. Using quotations from the childhood diary, Krizan makes her case that Anaïs Nin’s lifelong fascination with style was actually an act of self-healing.
Tristine Rainer, a friend of Nin’s, was also close to another Nin friend, Renate Druks, the heroine of Nin’s final novel, Collages. In a sometimes humorous and sometimes distressing film treatment, Rainer uses Druks’ own commentary to tell the saga of her torrid affair with a young and tragic sports hero, Ronnie Knox, in her “The Bohemian and the Football Player.”
Also in this issue are criticisms of Nin’s writing by Nin scholars Joel Enos and Sonya Blades; a critique of the relationship between Nin and Maya Deren by Japanese scholar Satoshi Kanazawa; an analysis of Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Henry and June for his movie of the same title by Anita Jarczok; a recollection of Rupert Pole’s father, Reginald Pole, by Harry Kiakis (followed by the editor’s research on the once-famous Shakespearian actor); the introduction to The Portable Anaïs Nin by Benjamin Franklin V; photography, art, fiction, poetry, and reviews.
A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 8 will be released in a limited edition, so be sure to reserve your copy now. You may order in three ways: by credit card; with PayPal; or by snail mail. Price is, as always, $15.00.
Reginald Pole, who was Rupert Pole’s father, referred to Anaïs Nin as his “daughter-in-law,” since he, like Rupert, believed that Anaïs and Rupert were legally married (when they married in 1955, Nin was married to Hugh Guiler, her first and only legal husband). Nin mentions Reginald in some extended passages in her Diary 5, passages that contrast his apparent genius for the stage and his dark, self-destructive personality. In A Café in Space, Vol. 8, which has just been released, Reginald Pole is highlighted in two different articles, one a personal recollection by Harry Kiakis, who was an acquaintance of the then elderly Reginald, and another which includes passages from Nin’s published and unpublished diaries and excerpts from a memoir by Reginald’s great love, Beatrice Wood, about their personal relationships with him.
All three writers witnessed Reginald’s quirky habits, his dozens of bottles of medicine surrounding him in darkened, musty hotel rooms, his penchant for wandering the streets late at night and sleeping until noon, his always-declining health which prompted Nin to consider him a manifestation of death, his clinging ways, his manipulativeness.
And yet, Reginald Pole, born in England, was once a heralded Shakespearian actor, a director, a writer, a playwright, working with John Barrymore and Boris Karloff and garnering rave reviews in the early part of the 20th century and the respect of the best in the stage business. His uncle was William Poel (a misspelling of his name that stuck), who revolutionized how Shakespeare was represented on the stage. Exposure to his uncle and an education at Cambridge, where, with Rupert Brooke, he founded the Marlowe Society, led Reginald to the stage quite naturally.
After a long but spotty career, Reginald died in the 1960s after a mostly agonizing physical life, torn by loneliness and ill health. Much of his work on the stage is largely forgotten, never having been recorded, and most of what is written about him centers on his formidable idiosyncrasies. Through excerpts from a long-lost essay by Reginald entitled “The Essence of Drama,” which was published by the English review Service, we can perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of his great mind. He begins:
“The theatre is the playground of the human soul. Upon its stage all dreams of beauty that are expressible in terms of the physical brain of man may be brought into visible realization. It is the focusing point wherein can be merged the experiences of varied units of consciousness. Here is the true round table where the thoughts of the world’s great Art Templars are pooled. Here is the synthesis of all emotional forces that seek their freedom in the world of Art. For the Theatre is the congenial host of all the arts. None is unwelcome, for each here has its field. And to obtain the fullest power of life each art must welcome the service of its fellows.”
He criticized European and American theatre:
“America has reflected the best, and at times the worst, of Europe. As yet there is nothing new. That is to come. In the West the soil is fertile, and waits but for the grain… Modern Europe is not at all behind the Athenians. But the enormous output of theatrical trade and commerce tends to blind the issue. Yet the theatres and motion-picture houses, which make convenient sitting rooms for our tired and jaded neighbors, have no more in connection with the art of the theatre than the same neighbors’ photograph-albums have with the art of Rembrandt, or the clothes they wear with Byzantine tapestries. We must take them for granted, we who love the theatre, and pursue our own course free and unafraid. For that which we follow has the power that shakes the world.”
He concludes with:
“‘Art and Religion mutually condition each other,’ wrote Wagner; “these two form but one single organism.’ Every true artist knows this in his soul. The mission of Art, as that of Life itself, is to regenerate, or to fulfill, the Life of Man. Only with such aim is the greatest in art achieved. Only with such aim shall the Theatre fulfill itself, that man may be one with Nature, likest God.”
Beatrice Wood noted in a letter to Nin after Reginald’s death, “I, like you, sensed his heights and wish he could have stayed there…”
To see more or to order Vol. 8, click here.
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:
“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.
Myth #15: Rupert Pole “romanticized” the story of his first meeting of Anaïs Nin.
After Anaïs Nin’s death in 1977, Rupert Pole loved to tell the story of how he met her, the great love of his life, for the first time. In early 1947, they had both been invited to the same party, and they happened to get into the same elevator on their way up. He said one of the first things he and Anaïs noticed were each other’s ink-stained hands, which became the basis for their conversation that night—they both worked at print shops. It has been said in at least one Nin study that there was no basis for his description, that Nin’s version of the evening was quite different than Pole’s, that she never mentioned having ink on her hands, nor on his, in any of her writings. The conclusion was that Pole invented these details in a “romanticized” and “charming” version of the story.
However, in one of Anaïs Nin’s final unpublished diaries, she recalls the meeting:
There was a party at the Chelsea Hotel, the old fashioned Hotel writers loved. I wore a black taffeta long skirt and a blouse. I entered the elevator. A very tall, very slender young man lowered his head to see the other passengers. I suddenly became aware of large eyes, brown, green, gold, eyes the color of Venice. His eyelashes were dark and very thick. His eyebrows very hairy. He had a long slender neck. This whole design of his neck and shoulders was of extreme stylization and yet he looked sturdy. We happened to sit on a couch. And then it was we noticed each other’s hands: ink stained only as printers get stained. We talked about printing. He was an actor, and between jobs he helped his friend to print Xmas cards. And I was printing my own books. He appeared to me the ideal figure for Paul in the Children of the Albatross.
While this memory was recorded late in Nin’s life, it matches Pole’s version of the story closely, disproving the argument of romanticized embellishment.
Although the LA Time Festival of Books isn’t until this weekend (Sat 4/24 and Sun 4/25; 10-6 and 10-5 respectively), sales of popular, rare, out of print, foreign, and one-of-a-kind editions from the Nin house in Silver Lake are already available and selling.
Anyone looking for that title one can no longer find (and with the special provenance of having been in Anaïs Nin’s and Rupert Pole’s personal library) can seize this chance either by attending the Festival of Books in Los Angeles or by perusing the list of titles in the new online store and beating the rush.
Nin fans, collectors, and scholars alike can benefit from this opportunity. Spread the word.