Anaïs Nin (1903 - 1977)
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Anais was born in Neuilly, just outside Paris. She spent her childhood in various
parts of Europe until, when she was eleven, her father, Spanish composer Joaquin Nin,
abandoned his family and left for America; in the same year, her French-Danish mother,
Rosa Culmell, took Anais and her two sons to New York where Anais began to write
her journals. In 1923 she married Hugo Guiler.
She remained in America for 12 years before returning to Paris, where for a while she
lived in a houseboat on the Seine. Having worked from the age of fifteen as a model and
dancer, then as a teacher and lecturer, she later became a practising psychoanalyst
under Otto Rank. In Paris she and Hugo supported various avant-garde artists, among them
Henry Miller with whom Anais started a hot affair and exchanged hundreds of letters.
Anais moved back to New York just before the outbreak of World War II. She divided her life
between New York and Los Angeles, between Hugo and Rupert, a much younger lover and friend.
From being a cult figure of the early feminist movement, Anais later rose to international
prominence with her writing. She is best known for her diaries but also produced a
number of novels and a prose poem in surrealistic style. Characterized by the use of powerful and, at times,
disquieting imagery, her work reveals great sensitivity and perception.
In 1973 she received an honorary doctorate from Philadelphia College of Art.
She was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974.
House of Incest (1936)
The Winter of Artifice (1939)
Ladders to Fire (1946)
Children of the Albatross (1947)
The Four-Chambered Heart (1950)
A magical Canal boat on the Seine becomes the ideal, secluded 'cell'
in which Djuna and the chaotic Rango, a cafe guitarist, conduct their
intense and passionate affair. He is undisciplined and wild, like nature
itself, and an echo of the spirit that Djuna has repressed. But in the
background is rango's invalid wife, who gradually encroaches on their
passion. Can it survive her manipulations, or is their love
'moored to the port of despair'?
- Anais Nin here explore her recurrent theme: the fragmentation of self
in the search for love.
A Spy in the House of Love (1954)
Seduction of the Minotaur(1961)
Under a Glass Bell (1948)
In Collages Anais Nin reveals the kaleidoscopic patterns
of life with the vividness of dreams. Set against the
continually changing backgrounds of Vienna, Mexico, California, and
New York, we encounter, among others, the girl Raven who
becomes interchangeable with her petbird; the old life-guard
who prefers to live, and die, with seals rather than with
his garrulous family and the artist, frustrated by his
scientific daughter's inability to comprehend the beauty
of disarray. Exploring the fragmentary nature of the world,
Anais Nin creates images with words as magnificiently colourful
and evocative as any combination of materials on canvas.
The book abounds in magical descriptions of a highly original and sensuous nature.
The best of collages fall apart; these will not. -Henry Miller
The early Diary 1914 - 1931
The Journal of Anais Nin 1931 - 1974
Henry and June, 1931 - 1932 (1986) - this was made into a film
a chronicle of her passionate involvement with Henry Miller
and his wife June Mansfield
Incest: From "A Journal of Love", 1932 - 1934 (1992)
Letters to a friend in Australia (1992)
Fire: From "A Journal of Love", 1934 - 1937 (1995)
Covering the period from
December 1934 to March 1937, Fire is a passionate, intensely written
record of several of Nin's most significant love
relationships. From analyst turned lover Otto Rank, Nin moves blithely
to Henry Miller, all the while keeping Hugh
Guiler, her banker husband, at arms length. The diary serves not only
as a score card, but, constantly torn between
passion and the mind, as space where Nin can be her true self,
exploring the myriad avenues of her deceptions.
As in her fiction, reading Nin's "unexpurgated" life is like
taking a trip inside the mind of a brilliant madwoman. At once dizzying
and depressing, Fire is a masterpiece of expressionism.
A Literate Passion (1987)
Other resources on Anais Nin on the net
Thinking of Anais Nin - a site with personal
recollections of Anais Nin by people who knew her, incl. stories and photographs
more quotations can be found at
a new video that shows Nin at work, at home, and talking with and about her influences
see a Henry Miller Page
by Christopher D. Ritter who also created
Bohemian Ink - a collection of resources on experimental writers
Christopher also has a collection of resources on
Antonin Artaud with whom Anais was involved
Pip Christmass is doing a PhD
on "The Erotic Writing of Anais Nin" and is looking at questions like Can Nin's erotic
journal-writing have any relevance for contemporary feminism? Is there
such a thing as "feminist erotica", and does Nin's erotica fall into this
category? How important is 'political correctness' in any feminist
assessment of Nin's writing?
Pip would like to hear from anyone who wants to discuss this aspect
of Anais Nin's work. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
an extensive list of quotes
from Anais Nin's first four volumes of diaries and from a collection of
her lectures and interviews.
thank you to Jill who created this page with
passages from Anais Nin's Journals
find out about
A Book of Mirrors, an anthology which is a collection of reactions to her life and work.
Paul Herron who edited and published this book also made some information about the
book available online: you will find quotations, a table of contents, photographs and
illustrations as well as ordering information.
If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever,
then I will never know happiness.
For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation.
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Last Modified: 14 July 1998 Anja Beckmann