Findings ’round about Anais Nin

December 27, 2008

posted by Caroline Picard

Her first introduction of Anais Nin came from the author’s place on bookshelves that belonged to the naughty girls at boarding school. While Camille had never read Nin, she gathered from their prominent positions that the books had a certain and specific power; tidy and passive aggressive totems of rebellion, they sat side by side, dustless, in a single row with text aligned, in an otherwise clean room–these books waited, anticipating the nun’s inevitable footsteps. For each day the same nun came and looked through each girls’ room to ensure the beds had been neatly made, the floor tidied, the counter top’s mess put away. And each day the nun wrote remarks on the adjoining door-chart, pointing various issues that could be improved, i.e. Fold clothes in hamper.

The old woman never mentioned the naughty girl’s collection of books.

And, as it turned out, it was Camille, the unknown freshman, who eventually stole them, though everyone blamed it on the nun.

Findings ’round about Anais Nin

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if you go here you can listen to some of her interviews, including one with Studs Terkel, Bookbeat and, among others, Northwestern.

  1. Interview w/ Studs on January 1972, Northwestern University (follow link above to listen)”A musical intro is interrupted with Nin reading from her fourth Diary. This passage could have been written today as she talks about technology and how it has a potential to create greater distances, not bridge them.

    “‘We have reached a hastier and superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the allusions which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing right next to us. It is a dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephone, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater, and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.'”

    “Terkel talks about the young’s attraction to her work. Nin talks about her relationship with them, about Edmund Wilson not remaining open as he aged and how all of her other artist friends have remained open. Nin talks about Under a Glass Bell ‘This book which seems to be all fantasy and actually every one of those stories is based on a real persons, on a real situation, they begin in reality and take their roots in reality….then I embroider on that.’ They discuss Nin’s houseboat, the story and themes of displacement. They discuss DH Lawrence and his relationship with feminism. Nin quotes him and says how she is not as harsh on Lawrence as others. Terkel prompts Nin to read a passage about woman and her conflicts to find her own language and discove her own feelings. Nin mentions her personal issue from growing up, ‘I had a sense of guilt about creating and being successful before my brothers were.’ Nin is pleased the diary gives her a way to examine her own growth, ‘The mystery of growth was always terribly interesting to me as a child.’

    “Nin remains steadfast in her appreciate of men and what they had given her, “I used man’s knowledge and that is why I am grateful for him, whether it was psychology…I took what was useful and left the rest. I learned from them, I learned freedom from Miller and converted it into feminine terms. I don’t think we need to let certain things stand in the way, we need to convert them.” Nin then discusses her feelings on analysis, “analysis is only for when we get troubled.” They talk about the press and Nin reads a passage about Gonzalo. Terkel is familiar with Nin’s work and seems charmed with her. He is highly familiar with her writings and prompts her numerous times to read passages. His analysis of the work is astute and Nin even comments on his reading of her work, “You seem compassionate in your reading of these characters.” One of Nin’s final comments, “I do not like dogma and will not wage war on man.” The end the interview discussing how the conversation could easily continue and they discuss the origins and pronunciation of her name.” that text was posted and written originally for the aforementioned blog, www.anaisnin.com; you can read more about her life there.

  2. anais-nin-1

Biographical Options

Born Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmel, she was born in France on February 21st, 2003 and died on January 14th, 1977. “Anais Nin was born in France. Her father was the composer Joaquin Nin, who grew up in Spain but was born in and returned to Cuba. Her mother, Rosa Culmell y Vigaraud, was of Cuban, French, and Danish ancestry. Anais Nin moved to the United States in 1914 after her father deserted the family. In the United States she attended Catholic schools, dropped out of school, worked as a model and dancer, and returned to Europe in 1923.” To read more about her bio, go to: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/anaisnin/a/anais_nin.htm

Excerpts of Letters Between Nin and Henry Miller

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these were gleaned from http://www.anais-nin.de/henry.html

where you can also buy the book.

Anais on March 2, 1932
The woman will sit eternally in the tall black armchair. I will be the one woman you will never have … excessive living weighs down the imagination: we will not live, we will only write and talk to swell the sails.
(LP p.16)

Henry on March 4, 1932
Three minutes after you have gone. No, I can’t restrain it. I tell you what you already know – I love you. It is this I destroyed over and over again. At Dijon I wrote you long passionate letters – if you had remained in Switzerland I would have sent them – but how could I send them to Louveciennes?
Anais, I can’t say much now – I am in a fever. I could scarcely talk to you because I was continually on he point of getting up and throuwing my arms around you.
(LP p.16)

Henry on March 10, 1932, after they had becomelovers
You make me tremendously happy to hold me undivided – to let me be the artist, as it were, and yet not forgo the man, the animal, the hungry, insatiable lover. No woman has ever granted me all the privileges I need – and you, why you sing out so blithely, so boldly, with a laugh even – yes, you invite me to go ahead, be myself, benture anything. I adore you for that. That is where you are truly regal, a woman extraordinary. What a woman you are! I laugh to myself now when I think of you. I have no fear of your femaleness.
(LP p.22)

Henry on March 21, 1932
Anais, I don’t know how to tell you what I feel. I live in perpetual expectancy. You come and the time slips away in a dream. It is only when you go that I realize completely your presence. And then it is too late. You numb me. […] This is a little drunken, Anais. I am saying to myself “here is the first woman with whom I can be absolutely sincere.” I remember your saying -“you could fool me. I wouldn’t know it.” When I walk along the boulevards and think of that. I can’t fool you – and yet I would like to. I mean that I can never be absolutely loyal – it’s not in me. I love women, or life, too much – which it is, I don’t know. But laugh, Anais, I love to hear you laugh. You are the only woman who has a sense of gaiety, a wise tolerance – no more, you seem to urge me to betray you. I love you for that. […]
I don’t know what to expect of you, butit is something in the way of a miracle. I am going to demand everything of you – even the impossible, because you encourage it. You are really strong. I even like your deceit, your treachery. It seems aristocratic to me.
(LP p.32,33)

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3 Responses to “Findings ’round about Anais Nin”

  1. Paul Herron Says:

    Nice blog, nice post. To see more about Anais Nin’s heritage, visit us at http://www.skybluepress.com/blog.html. We’re looking forward to you dropping in.


  2. I think much is noted about her naughtyness, but I lover her as an artist! In her diaries Anais delved into her interior metaphorically and literally. I just posted some great pictures of her Paris Apartment during the 1920s …http://yolidesigns.wordpress.com

  3. Ute Beck Says:

    I love June!!! She was the biggest looser between Miller and Nin! wow! I like her!


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