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 We ponder Nin’s unpublished erotic story “Montparnasse,” which is unlike anything in Delta of Venus or Little Birds and try to reason why she wrote the story in the first place.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.
Episode six of The Anaïs Nin Podcast features an interview with Brazilian poet Marina Ferrer, whose understanding of Anaïs Nin’s writing is so profound that I feel she has taught me a new way, a clearer way, to approach Nin’s most neglected work—her fiction. If I, who have been studying Nin for a quarter century, feel this way, I am certain you will too.
“Keep your mind open,” Ferrer advises new Nin readers. “You have to approach her without prejudice. Avoid the expectation that you are going to be told a story like Harry Potter. You have to be willing to work psychologically. Accept Anaïs as she comes—don’t impose what you think literature is on her writing or you are going to be fighting her all the way to the end of the book.”
Listen as Ferrer likens Nin’s characters to a blueprint of the psyche and asserts that we all have “cities of the interior” in which several versions of ourselves live, each beckoned to the surface by different external circumstances. Reading Nin, then, raises our own self-awareness, which is perhaps the greatest gift an author can give readers.
Run time: 15 minutes.
You can order Nin’s iconic collection of fiction, Cities of the Interior, by clicking here.
Marina Ferrer’s essay and poetry will be included in A Café in Space, Vol. 13, which can be pre-ordered here.
NOTICE: WE ARE NO LONGER TAKING QUESTIONS. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE PARTICIPATED–YOUR QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED ON OUR NEXT PODCAST. STAY TUNED TO OUR BLOG FOR DETAILS.
Imagine you had the chance to ask Anaïs Nin any question you’d like. What would it be? Would it be about a book? A lover? Somewhere she lived? Her double life? Incest? Her writing philosophy? Her family? Her upcoming diary?
And what if you had the chance to actually ask the question and get an answer from Nin experts who will use their extensive knowledge and resources to provide an in-depth and accurate response?
And what if your question and answer would appear on our next Anaïs Nin podcast?
I would say that’s a unique opportunity.
The podcast will be hosted by Paul Herron and Anaín Bjorkquist (of Sex Love Joy fame). Air date will be posted here and on Twitter soon.
This afternoon 4 women writers–Sas Colby, Tristine Rainer, Barbara Kraft (author of Anais Nin: The Last Days) and Valerie Harms will discuss Anais Nin’s influence on their writing careers.
The event will be from 2-4 PM at the West Hollywood Library, 625 N. San Vincente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. It is free, as is parking. RSVP 323-848-6823.
More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/773179896103587/
When Volume 4 of Gunther Stuhlmann’s ANAIS: An International Journal appeared in February 1986, Anaïs Nin’s husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, aka Ian Hugo, had recently died suddenly in his New York apartment. Long the “silent” partner of Nin, the “East Coast” husband and banker-turned-artist whose experimental films are still revered today, Guiler is the main focus of this issue, with a remembrance by Nin’s brother Joaquin, excerpts from interviews and studies, his own thoughts on the arts of engraving and making movies as well as recollections of growing up in Puerto Rico and Scotland under extreme conditions, which influenced his life and art.
Also included in this issue is critical correspondence between Anais Nin and Henry Miller at the dawn of their relationship, most of which is focused on their respective writing efforts. These letters make it clear how much one influenced the other’s work, from Miller’s unadulterated criticism of Nin’s use of the English language to Nin’s efforts to keep Miller focused on the essentials in light of his tendency to go off on tangents and to exhaust every thought running through his over-active mind. We are given tangible examples of how Miller’s commentary on Nin’s fiction actually found its way into the finished products.
There is a study on Otto Rank by Nin scholar Sharon Spencer, whose hypothesis that Nin and Rank were lovers was spot on, and a look at Nin’s friend Caresse Crosby and her famed house, Hampton Manor, which attracted the likes of Nin, Miller, and Salvador Dali, among many other artists in the early 1940s.
To preview and/or order volume 4 of ANAIS: An International Journal, click here.
To preview and/or order ANAIS volume 3, click here.
For volume 2, click here.
For volume 1, click here.
To view other new Nin-related publications, click here.
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!
Books rarely remain as relevant as Anaïs Nin’s The Novel of the Future, which was originally published in 1968. America then was in many ways the same as today—absence of imagination and poetics in its literature, increasing hostility to art, national hardness and callousness, and violence in place of imagination. Nin’s aim in her work was to provide a connection with the unconscious and, as Jung once put it, “proceed from the dream outward,” resulting in what she called “psychological truth” in fiction.
When Nin met resistance and outright hostility to her novels in the 1940s, instead of acquiescing to her critics by making them more “realistic,” with sequential plots, crisply defined characters, beginnings, middles and ends, she published two documents explaining the value and purpose of her work. The first was Realism and Reality (1946), and the next was On Writing (1947), both published by Alicat Bookshop.
She also embarked on a lecture tour to bring her thoughts directly to her audiences, and this was a pattern she followed for the rest of her life—to get people thinking about tapping the vast unconscious and converting subterranean dreams into literature. In this sense, she was in accord with the surrealists.
Once the Diary of Anaïs Nin (1966) made her famous, she felt at liberty to incorporate the Alicat chapbooks and expand on the thoughts laid out in them in one book—and the result was The Novel of the Future. There are few publications which so clearly and deeply explore the creative process—and now The Novel of the Future is available as a digital book, as well it should be since most of Nin’s fiction is digitally available.
With chapters entitled “Proceed from the Dream Outward,” “Abstraction,” “Writing Fiction,” “Genesis,” “Diary Versus Fiction,” and “Novel of the Future,” Nin provides a blueprint for young writers seeking to rebel against the deadness of modern American fiction and produce psychological truth in their work.
“This book is dedicated to sensitive Americans,” Nin says. “May they create a sensitive America.”
To preview or purchase The Novel of the Future, click here.
Beginning with the novel This Hunger, which was later incorporated into Ladders to Fire, Anaïs Nin expressed herself through three key female characters: Lillian, Djuna, and Sabina.
These female characters (as well as certain male characters, such as Jay) appear throughout the five novels in the Cities of the Interior collection: Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur. While all three female characters appear in Nin’s earlier fiction (see Benjamin Franklin V’s Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary), they were redefined and reintroduced in Ladders to Fire. As Nin sought acceptance in New York’s harsh literary climate in the 1940s, she ran into criticism about the lack of realism and plot in her stories, and her characters were declared “nebulous.” Nin’s response to this broad misunderstanding of her work was expressed in two works about her theories on writing fiction: Realism and Reality (1946) and On Writing (1947), both of which were, in part, incorporated into The Novel of the Future (1968).
In this reading, held in Washington, D.C. (the date is uncertain, but it is most likely pre-1966), Nin reads passages from Ladders to Fire and A Spy in the House of Love that serve as introductions to her female characters. Nin also mentions that each of them appear in the “party section” of Ladders to Fire.
Note how Nin never skips a beat (except for a giggle) when someone apparently trips over some furniture while she is reading.
To listen to the nine minute sound clip, click here. (Recording courtesy of The Anais Nin Trust)
For information on each of the novels from Cities of the Interior, see the links below:
In the late 1920s, Anaïs Nin discovered English novelist D. H. Lawrence, whose intuitive approach to writing about sex she found astounding. She was amazed at how he, a man, was able to accurately express a woman’s feelings, and how he wrote from the entire being, including the unconscious. Lawrence, in the end, would have more to do with how Nin developed her own writing than any other, including Proust or Miller. Ironically, Nin’s love of Lawrence spurred her to declare she would “go another [way], the woman’s way” in her writing at the conclusion of an iconic discussion with Miller and Durrell in 1937 (Diary 2 231-233).
Nin wrote an essay about Lawrence in 1930 entitled “The Mystic of Sex.” At the urging of a friend, she submitted it to Canadian Forum, which accepted and published it under a pseudonym. In Early Diary 4, Nin says: “Let me think only of praise of ‘my’ Lawrence coming out in print, under a remote name, not my own yet—Melisendra. Who is Melisendra? Looking in from the outside, only at the writing, as people will, what image will they see? What new me will they create, and I, like a dutiful actress, live out?” (327). So, Anaïs Nin was finally in print for the first time, and yet she dared not share her name, perhaps due to fear of scandal (Lawrence was considered a pornographer, a pervert, by many at the time).
Nin was going through a personal turmoil during this period, having suffered a devastating unfulfilled relationship with writer John Erskine, growing discontent within her marriage, frustration with her role as hostess to her husband’s wealthy and stuffy clients, and a growing sense of sensuality that both envigorated and tortured her. Lawrence’s writing was a sort of literary fuel for the fire. She threw her passion into her study of Lawrence and began to accumulate notes on his fiction. After unsuccessfully submitting several short fiction pieces to Paris publisher Edward Titus, she blurted out to him that she was writing a book about Lawrence. He immediately expressed interest and asked her to show him her work—the problem was that she only had a scattered pile of notes. In an amazing thirteen days, she assembled and rewrote her notes and presented Titus with the manuscript of D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, a title intended to reflect the fact that Nin was no academic. This was a courageous act, perhaps a bit impulsive, for a young woman to write a book about one of the most controversial authors of the time. The finished book contained a deep understanding of Lawrence’s work, and it also revealed Nin’s own thinking about writing, the sensuality and psychology of it.
Many critics, even to this day, have declared D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study the best criticism of Lawrence ever written—indeed, Lawrence’s wife Frieda told Nin she considered it the best.
Broken up into chapters based on Lawrence’s background, philosophy, and religion; his views on women, death, and primitivism; his poetry and major titles including Women in Love and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Nin concisely provides the reader with the essence of his writing and the intentions behind it. She reveals how he revolutionized modern writing by writing across the entire spectrum of the human being. She states:
When the realization came to the moderns of the importance of vitality and warmth, they willed the warmth with their minds. But Lawrence, with the terrible flair of the genius, sensed that a mere mental conjuring of the elemental was a perversion.
So here are his people struggling to achieve complete life and a sincere understanding of the gods in the center of our bodies.
Imprisoned in our flesh lives the body’s own genie, which Lawrence set out to liberate. He found that the body had its own dreams, and that by listening attentively to these dreams, by surrendering to them, the genie can be evoked and made apparent and potent.
In her chapter entitled “Woman,” Nin expresses what is now considered to be a feminist point of view, not only on her part, but on Lawrence’s as well. She says:
The woman for whom the phallic worship is only half of creative divinity is the builder-artist. Lawrence was not meddling with that builder-artist direction taken by women, but with the woman within the builder-artist. Woman pure and simple—or neither pure nor simple.
She quotes Lawrence as saying:
“[W]omen are not fools…they have their own logic. A woman may spend years living up to a masculine pattern. But in the end the strange and terrible logic of emotion will work out the smashing of the pattern, if it has not been emotionally satisfactory.”
She concludes with:
He confides in the intuition. He battles for the clairvoyance of it, through many chaotic pages. And this is purely a feminine battle. His moments of blind reactions strike a response in women.
Having touched the fundamental sources of woman’s attitude and impulses, the rest would naturally follow. It is not the first time that artists and poets have come closer to the woman than other men have. But it is the first time that a man has so wholly and completely expressed woman accurately.
D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study can be purchased for $3.99 on Amazon.com by clicking here.
To see digital Nin titles , visit our continually updated Anaïs Nin e-bookstore by clicking here.
After Anaïs Nin self-published the revised Winter of Artifice (1942) and Under a Glass Bell and Other Stories (1944), she was faced with a formidable dilemma: to begin writing new material—the two previous publications were largely written before 1939, the year Nin fled Paris for New York because of the war, and they were both described as ethereal and dreamlike, neither of which interested the big publishers.
In New York, Nin’s life was in upheaval as she tried in vain to adjust to the indifference her work received and the arid climate in which she did not feel creative. Her personal life, too, was in tatters, and she often confessed to her unpublished diary that she was suicidal. Her relationship with Henry Miller was finished, bitterly, and Gonzalo Moré, her lover of some seven years, was weighing Nin down with his shiftlessness, his suffocating dependency, and the burden presented by his neurotic wife, Helba Huara. Because of these glaring and harsh realities, Nin, for the first time, was forced to face the true nature of her situation and those to whom she’d allied herself. She said often that she created those in her life by seeing them through the eyes of a dreamer, a mystic, which filtered out everything except what she found endearing, beautiful, miraculous.
At first, Nin’s forced awakening put her in unfamiliar territory—the real world, reality, unfiltered, undistilled, in all its ugliness and toxicity. She foundered, not able to find the footing, the philosophy, on which to create her new fiction. On a vacation at the beach house of her friend, Irina Alexander, where Nin went to recuperate from her severe bouts of depression, she was to find the symbol of her new direction:
July 23, 1943
The image which has supported, inspired me, upheld me, put me to shame, is strangely that of the woman Captain Soviet Valentina Orlikova with whom Irina had a friendship. Her photograph gave me the same shock I felt when I first saw it in a magazine cover and heard about her life. A shock of admiration, of love, of identification.
She is born February 22.
La vie frappe. Il faut y faire face, recevoir le coup, et continuer… [Life beats you down. One must face it, receive the blow, and continue…] Every day Valentina faces death, separation from her husband and child, the great tragedy of war, greater catastrophes, universal tragedies. Il y a une self-indulgence dans la souffrance. [There is self-indulgence in suffering.]
Nin became inspired to emulate this “woman of action,” and she found herself buying a coat she would call “Harper’s Bazaar elegance,” rather than her now old and somewhat tattered (but exotically unique) clothing from her Paris years.
Sept. 21, 1943
Symbolically, I fell I love with a Coat—a coat that represents the great change in me. It is not the coat of fire-fish or peacock, but of the woman captain. It is a very beautiful, masculine-material, tailored coat, fitted, with a velvet collar
and cuffs. It is expensive, aristocratic, simple, very pure, for action—and far from mirages or Byzance or the dream! I shall wear it a long time. It is enduring, of good quality. I chose it boldly, in an expensive shop. Then I hesitated because of the high price. But Hugo then insisted I should make him feel like a man of power able to get such a coat for his wife, and when I saw it was a symbol for him too then I yielded. The coat for a new life…
Armed with new inspiration came the excitement of designing an entirely new philosophy of writing, that of selflessness, like the woman captain’s. The seeds just begin to sprout in the following passage:
Sept. 14, 1943
I cannot begin a work casually. Have a concept of something big. Cannot begin—select, eliminate. Feel whatever I do will have to be all encompassing.
What happens if I leave myself out? Then everyone will be restored to his natural value, not mythical, not romantic, not enlarged—not symbolic.
With me absent and only the other characters present, I shall be in a human world, purely of feeling, which is my link with all the world. Irina [Alexander, Nin’s friend] said she always understood my emotions, not my interpretations or analysis of these emotions. Possibly if I eliminated myself as representing the legend, the vision, the far reaching and the cosmic, I might get into direct contact with the natural aspect of human beings. It is only in relation to me that they become “poetized” or translated into a dream. […] No one will see the poetic Gonzalo—only the fêtard [reveler] and the masochist, the adventurer and the masochist. It will be a diminished world. A natural world, not an intensified one. Me absent, passion and intensity will be removed, [as well as] the mirror reflecting people’s potential selves. It might be a way into the human. While I am there it will be mystical and mythical.
It might be good to begin writing about characters as unrelated to me. For example, I see […] the impossible woman, my mother, the extension of her. In a state of destructive revolution—the black anima.
If I disappeared as a character and became merely the vision—if I disappeared as an ego and used myself as the chemical which brought certain elements to light, I might accomplish the objective work of human dimensions which might relate me to the present. For the dream and the myth situate one in the past or the future but not in the present. They cause tragedy and not happiness. They destroy life in favor of the eternal.
These early thoughts laid the groundwork for Nin’s greatest volume of fiction, the novels which would make up the Cities of the Interior series, beginning with This Hunger, which would be published in 1945.
Stay tuned for other posts examining the development of Nin’s writing philosophy.