A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 6 is on Kindle

CafeInSpace_Cover2009-out2.inddToday, Vol. 6 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal was released on Amazon’s Kindle. Vol. 6 (2009) contains the remarkable letters between Anaïs Nin and her father, composer Joaquín Nin, during the time just before and after the first nine days of their incestuous relationship in the south of France. Also included are essays by several prominent Nin scholars, such as Tristine Rainer and Sarah Burghauser, analysis of Henry Miller’s writing, feminist literary theory, poetry, and reviews of Nin-related events.

For more information about the contents of the journal, and/or to order the print version, click here.

To order Vol. 6 of A Cafe in Space on Kindle, click here.

Anais Nin Literary Journal On Kindle

Volume 7 (2010) of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (the only current Nin journal anywhere) has just been made available on Kindle. In this issue are some amazing articles and excerpts from Nin’s unpublished diary, not to mention an interview with Nin biographer Deirdre Bair and John Ferrone’s account of the birth of Delta of Venus. Eventually, we hope to have Vols. 1 through 6 published as e-books as well.

cafeinspace_2010coverOur aim is to make the journal easy to obtain no matter where one is, and to make the price one that is easy on the pocketbook ($3.99). There’s nothing like the print version in one’s hands, but the quality, photographs, and extra bells and whistles, such as an interactive table of contents, are all there in the e-book. We hope you will support our efforts!

To visit the Amazon.com location for A Café in Space, Vol. 7, click here.

To see a description of the contents of Vol. 7, click here.

Our other Nin titles on Kindle are: The Portable Anais NinHouse of Incest, Collages, 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 more to follow.

Review of An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin

“ANAÏS: An Erotic Evening with Anaïs Nin” ; Written and Directed by Michael Phillips; Starring Sonia Maslovskaya

From now until Oct. 16 at the Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For directions and ticket information, click here. For futher details about the play itself from its official web site, click here.

Guest review by Sarah B. Burghauser

“ANAÏS: An Erotic Evening with Anaïs Nin” is a fictional imagining of what might have happened during one summer weekend in 1954, which Nin apparently does not document in her Diary: writer and director of ANAÏS, Michael Phillips, imagines that Nin (played by Sonia Maslovskaya, the lone actor in this one-woman show) is called to visit June Mansfield Miller in an Arizona psychiatric hospital. While there, she attempts to seduce the doctor under whose care June recovers from her suicide attempt, and communicates with Henry Miller from across a great distance as if he were standing right before her. The three other characters in the play (June, Henry, and the doctor), rather than being physically present on stage, are conjured in the imagination of the audience through Phillips’ writing and through the gaze and gestures of Maslovskaya.

Sonia Maslovskaya as Anais Nin

Sonia Maslovskaya as Anais Nin

It is shocking—and even a bit disturbing—the weight this one weekend has in Phillips’ overall impressions of Nin’s life. What is fact and what is fabrication already stands as a contentious matter in Nin scholarship. While the show makes explicit from the start the fictional nature of this story, making work that directly addresses this theme is audacious (and perhaps also a little refreshing) despite the presumptuousness toward which creative work on Nin often tends. Biographical accuracy notwithstanding, because Nin is a lover of theater and all things dramatic, a play seems a fitting form for this comment regarding fact/fiction to take.

Of course, we can never know whether Nin herself would have found this show to be amusing, flattering, insulting, or what have you. We can only imagine—and imagination is the key ingredient in this show—whether or not these representations of Nin do justice to her fearless and utterly unapologetic way of living.

Red light illuminates a corner of the stage where a chair, small wooden desk, and glass of water wait at the beginning of the show. The Sherry Theater in North Hollywood, being a small space, lends itself to a feeling of intimacy—the audience seems to huddle in the seats, which are so close to the stage we could all but extend our desirous hand for the player to touch.

But while the physical space of the theater evokes intimacy—a sense which stems from close proximity, a magnified need to reach out, to touch and to be touched—the show itself cannot sustain this intimacy and instead vacillates between fostering a feeling of connectivity (or at least the possibility of connectivity) and isolation. Throughout the show Nin fidgets inside the confines of an invisible encasement—the encasement of her past, her memory, her desire—without the ability to connect with actual people (arguably, aside from the audience).

On one hand, the absence of other bodies on stage seems to make space for audience members to fit themselves into the narrative of the show and into Nin’s world. On the other hand, because of her encasement, the audience watches Nin struggle and perform a kind of insanity, attempting to make contact with other people in vain. This futility is characteristic of so many critics’ and fans’ attempts to connect with Nin through her writing.

I use the word “insanity” here very deliberately not just because the play is set in a psychiatric hospital. While we are told Nin is called there to visit June, a resident of the hospital after her attempted suicide, watching Nin bounce around the confines of the stage, literally talking to herself for forty-five minutes straight, throughout the course of the show the audience is taught that it is not June, but rather it is Nin herself who is crazy. Nin chats with the invisible doctor as if in casual confession as she recalls her past exploits with June and Henry, and laments the insufferable complicity and indecision of her husband, Hugo.

One cannot ignore the problem of setting this show—about a woman artist who has been so vehemently indicted for being a calculating, mind-game-playing, femme fatale, a snake—in a nut house. That this is a one-woman show, wherein Nin stews in her own memories so deeply she hallucinates Henry’s presence, only highlights this glaringly misguided (and some might argue downright offensive) choice, which is sure to drive feminists—at least this feminist—mad. The unintentional misogyny in this aspect of the play exists in the unexamined cultural and historical mores about women writers, what it means to be a “good woman,” and how we define “insanity”; a male writer who goes mad is labeled “tortured genius,” while a woman writer who goes mad is “hysterical.” Furthermore, at the time this weekend supposedly went missing in 1954, Nin would have been 51 years old and—even after her plastic surgery—did not bear the taut-muscles and wrinkle-free fresh-face of Maslovskaya, who played her.

In a post-show interview, Phillips talks about wanting to avoid the common perception of Nin’s life as glamorous by setting the play in an ambient café reminiscent of those in which she spent hours arguing, dreaming, and philosophizing with Henry, Lawrence Durrell, et al. So rather than glamorizing Nin’s life in attempt to avoid a cliché, instead, Phillips frames her as completely off her rocker. And why the cast of one? Phillips expresses his desire to let Nin “speak for herself,” something critics/fans/adversaries don’t normally do. Ironically, it is not Nin speaking at all, but Phillips, a further reiteration of the impossibility of knowing a Truth about Nin and a boon to the critical argument that Nin’s work is “in the eye of the beholder.” In fact, in the show, Nin’s character observes that June does not exist at all, that she only exists in other people’s love for her. Over the course of the show, however, it becomes apparent that this is the very argument Phillips makes about Nin: he positions Nin as June—as insane, as seductive, as heedless—and puts her before a desirous audience in order to make her shudder alive.

It is a risky business making creative work based on Anaïs Nin’s life and writing; an artist who broaches Nin’s life with a creative lens is sure to meet harsh reactions from Nin lovers and critics not necessarily because the work is “good” or “bad,” but rather because Nin herself is the subject with whom critics and lovers contend. The complexities and subtext of this show stem almost exclusively from the choice to have a cast of one, namely in the tendency this show has to seduce the audience into a feeling of intimacy, only to remind us—sometimes gently, sometimes coldly—that Nin can never be truly touched. Within this play, between intimacy and repulsion, is the most accurate reflection of Nin I could imagine. ANAÏS is a valiant attempt even as it requires, at best, a suspension of belief, and at worst, an agreement to suspend your misogyny sensor.

Vol. 7 of A Cafe in Space is Here!

cafeinspace_2010coverA Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 7, is a reality. Today we received shipment of the newest—and in some ways one of the best—issue of the only current Anaïs Nin publication in print. Its 150 pages contain Anaïs Nin’s previously unpublished diary excerpts, an intimate look at Hugh Guiler’s feelings about his marriage to Nin, an interview with Deirdre Bair, John Ferrone’s tale of how Delta of Venus was almost not published, and several articles and creative pieces from some of the most established and newest stars of Nin study.

We encourage you to order your copy now—we have sold more advance copies than ever before, and the supply is limited.

 

 

 

Table of Contents
Kim Krizan: Hugh’s Stand—Revelations of a letter from Hugh Guiler to Anaïs Nin

Paul Herron: Leaping Ahead of Reality—Hugh Guiler’s diary

Deirdre Bair: The Making of Anaïs Nin: A Biography—Paul Herron interviews Deirdre Bair

Anaïs Nin: L’Homme Fatal—From the unpublished diary

John Ferrone: The Making of Delta of Venus

Angela Meyer: Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus—Feminine identity through pleasure: a mini analysis

Dawn Kaczmar: Irigaray and Nin Through the Looking Glass—Mimetic re-appropriation of the masculine discourse

Adrian Haidu: A Masculine Perspective of Woman—(Considered as a perspective)

Joel Enos: Flow and Moments of Arrest—Anaïs Nin’s boat imagery

Cari Lynn Vaughn: A Literary Love Triangle—Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin and D.H. Lawrence

Tristine Rainer: Les Mots Flottants—Anaïs Nin’s Diary 2

Sarah Burghauser: Ouroboros and Disorientation—Profile of a Nin lover

Laura Marello: Anaïs Nin and Her Contemporaries—Ahead of their time

Daisy Aldan: Three poems from the end

Marc Widershien: Four poems from Maine

Sharanya Manivannan: Possession

Connie Baechler: Overlay

Reviews and other items of interest: Reviews of The Mistress Cycle, The Heretics, and Ferlinghetti: A City Light; internet links

Vol. 7 of A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Journal debuts Feb. 21

In Volume 7 of A Café in Space, which is due Feb. 21 and is ready for ordering now, we examine Anaïs Nin’s husband Hugh Guiler, separating myth from fact. Was he the unsuspecting cuckold many have been led to believe he was, or is there another side to the story? Recently discovered correspondence and diary passages shed light on the Nin-Guiler marriage from his point of view, in the form of recently recovered correspondence between Guiler and his wife as well as extensive excerpts from a diary he kept during perhaps the most critical point in their relationship—when Nin took her first swing on the bicoastal “trapeze” with Rupert Pole.

 

cafeinspace_2010coverAlso included is an excerpt from the unpublished diary of Anaïs Nin from 1944-5 which gives us a glimpse of the emotional upheaval she experienced since her arrival in New York in 1939—in the midst of an unraveling marriage and a surge in creativity, she continued her search for the one man who could save her from her demons, but in the end found strength and resolve within herself in an inspiring story of psychological decimation and rebirth.

 

A Café in Space is the only current comprehensive source of serious critical study of Anaïs Nin’s contributions to literature. In Volume 7, Tristine Rainer, who has studied Nin’s work since befriending her nearly forty years ago, allows us to newly appreciate The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 2 by illustrating that Nin’s emotional sense of time can be compared with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. John Ferrone, a former editor at Harcourt, reveals that if it had been Anaïs Nin’s decision alone, Delta of Venus never would have been published; he then gives his first-hand account of how the book ended up outselling all her other titles combined and its implications in her literary résumé. Academy Award nominee Kim Krizan uncovers a shocking letter from Hugh Guiler that will forever change your impressions of Anaïs Nin’s beleaguered husband. Several young Nin scholars share their important work in Volume 7, especially in the area of reading Nin through the lens of feminist theory.

 

Finally, Nin biographer Deirdre Bair speaks about issues relating to Anaïs Nin: A Biography, describing in detail how the book came to be, and also responds to criticism it received by some of Nin’s most important supporters, including Rupert Pole and Gunther Stuhlmann.

 

In this editor’s opinion, this could be the most poignant issue yet of A Café in Space.

Interpreting Anaïs Nin’s Erotica: do we see it as we are?

Image courtesy of Bonni Reid

Image courtesy of Bonni Reid

If there is any consensus about reading Anaïs Nin, it is that one sees aspects of one’s self in the work—whether it be fiction or the diary. Nin’s work is a mirror of sorts, and sometimes a distorted one. This is what makes Nin’s writing “personal,” and therefore “universal,” and is also a reason why there are so many disagreements about its meaning. A reader with a feminist point of view will see the feminism, and another will see something else entirely, and we haven’t even gotten into gender differences.

And about the erotica: one reason it has seen so little serious academic criticism is that it is generally believed that she knocked these stories off in her spare time with little thought or care at a buck a page for a collector, and then, near the end of her life, “sold out” by having them published. In his article “Claiming Ownership: Issues in Nin criticism—the diary vs. the fiction” (from A Café in Space, Vol. 6), Bruce Watson notes that “In his review of Nin criticism, Anaïs Nin and Her Critics, [Philip K.] Jason gives the Erotica a scant page of attention, prefaced by the dunning statement that: ‘Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979) add little to Nin’s stature, even though they sold amazingly well…’ Jason’s tart commentary on Nin’s Erotica seems the stock critique of the seasoned academic when faced with popular literature; he seems to distrust it for the very fact that it is popular.”

However, today there is a growing trend to look critically at the erotica and to write about it. In fact, there are three articles that address Nin’s erotica in the current A Café in Space.

 

In her article “A ‘Clanging Cymbal—The Story of Anaїs Nin’s Reception,” Sarah Burghauser points out that “We […] know, and understand why some folks have a problem with [Nin]: but they oftentimes can’t see beyond their own ideas of what a woman writer should be and what sort of work she should produce.” Burghauser illustrates this idea with critic Edmund Miller’s take on Nin’s erotica: “[Miller argues] that Nin’s erotica does not work well as either fiction or erotica, saying, ‘Their [the stories] tendency to thwart arousal is partly a consequence of the loose plotting, but may have derived in part as well from a feminine misunderstanding of what works to arouse men.’ In this passage, Miller is complaining not only on the book collector’s behalf (as per his protest to poetry) but also on his own.”

 

One could claim that Edmund Miller is misinterpreting the erotica, but it could be that he is merely viewing it through his own prism—this is one of the reasons that criticizing Nin’s erotica specifically, and Nin’s work generally, has rarely been a unifying endeavor. If there are a dozen Nin readers, there will be nearly a dozen interpretations. The good news is that the erotica is finally getting the attention it deserves: as valued fiction, as groundbreaking women’s writing, and as a form of feminism, all valid considerations, and all debatable.