Authors: Anaïs Nin

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French memoirist

Author Works

Nonfiction:

D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, 1932

Realism and Reality, 1946

On Writing, 1947

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1931-1934, 1966

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1934-1939, 1967

The Novel of the Future, 1968

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1939-1944, 1969

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1944-1947, 1971

Paris Revisited, 1972

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1947-1955, 1974

A Photographic Supplement to the Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1974

A Woman Speaks: The Lectures, Seminars, and Interviews of Anaïs Nin, 1975

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1955-1966, 1976

In Favor of the Sensitive Man, and Other Essays, 1976

Linotte: The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1914-1920, 1978

The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1966-1974, 1980

The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin: Volume Two, 1920-1923, 1982

The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin: Volume Three, 1923-1927, 1983

The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin: Volume Four, 1927-1931, 1985

Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1986

A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953, 1987

Long Fiction:

House of Incest, 1936

Winter of Artifice, 1939

Winter of Artifice: Three Novelettes, 1945 (contains Winter of Artifice, “Stella,” and “The Voice”)

This Hunger, 1945

Cities of the Interior: A Continuous Novel, 1959 (contains Ladders to Fire, 1946; Children of the Albatross, 1947; The Four-Chambered Heart, 1950; A Spy in the House of Love, 1954; Solar Barque, 1958)

Seduction of the Minotaur, 1961

Collages, 1964

Short Fiction:

Under a Glass Bell, and Other Stories, 1944

Delta of Venus: Erotica, 1977

Waste of Timelessness, and Other Early Stories, 1977

Little Birds: Erotica, 1979

Biography

Inexorably self-scrutinizing, constantly searching for the truths within rather than the reality without, Anaïs Nin is best remembered and most admired for her voluminous diaries. She was also a writer of fiction (short stories, novels, and erotica), but she has received the most critical acclaim for her remarkable achievement in recording, from the age of eleven, her own life.{$I[AN]9810000820}{$I[A]Nin, Anaïs}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Nin, Anaïs}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Nin, Anaïs}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Nin, Anaïs}{$I[tim]1903;Nin, Anaïs}

Anaïs Nin

(Christian Du Bois Larson)

Nin was born in Paris on February 21, 1903. Her Cuban father, Joaquin Nin, was a concert pianist and composer; her French-Danish mother, Rosa Culmell-Nin, was a singer. When Nin was young, her father deserted the family. This abandonment was probably the central traumatic event in her diverse life, which included work as a writer, a model, and a dancer as well as sudden fame and success at the age of sixty-three.

Following the dissolution of the family, Nin’s mother moved to New York City with her daughter and two sons. After briefly attending a public school in New York, Nin withdrew and educated herself at home and in libraries. At about age twenty-one, she married Hugh Guiler, known as an engraver and filmmaker under the name of Ian Hugo, in Havana, Cuba. She returned to Paris soon after that, but not much is known about her life from then until 1930, except that she was constantly writing with obsessive self-absorption in her diary, which she had begun as a letter to her father after her separation from him. She also began a series of novellas, and in 1932 her first and only notable work of what may loosely be called literary criticism was published. D. H. Lawrence explains less about Lawrence than about Nin’s reasons for feeling such compatibility with this controversial writer.

Another writer who influenced her greatly, more as a lifelong friend and source of inspiration than as a guide or critic, was Henry Miller. In Paris, they belonged to a coterie of young, avant-garde, literary and artistic unknowns who supported one another, establishing a press and publishing a magazine of their own work.

During the early 1930’s, the other important, indeed consuming, association in Nin’s life, as reflected in her writings, was with the psychiatrist Otto Rank. In 1934 she left Paris for New York and practiced lay analysis with Rank for a short time.

She returned to France in 1936, the year in which her first, and possibly best, work, House of Incest, was published. This book was strongly influenced by psychoanalysis, Surrealism, D. H. Lawrence, and her own diary. She called it the seed of all of her work. Returning to New York in 1939, Nin established her own printing press in Greenwich Village, where she printed Winter of Artifice, with engravings by her husband, and Under a Glass Bell, and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction. Of these pieces, “Birth” is generally conceded to be the best; it recounts the agony of giving birth after prolonged labor to a stillborn, premature girl.

Cities of the Interior collected five of Nin’s novels published between 1946 and 1958; they depict the inner lives of Nin’s women characters. (All of her main characters are women.) By that time, Nin was a legendary celebrity, a cult figure, but with the publication in 1966 of the first volume of her diary, she became internationally known. She embarked on a strenuous and well-received lecture tour, speaking mainly at colleges and universities, especially those with women’s studies and creative writing programs. In 1975 a collection of her work during this period was published under the title A Woman Speaks and was edited by Evelyn J. Hinz. A special kind of recognition that Nin cherished came with the granting of honorary degrees from Philadelphia College of Art in 1973 and from Dartmouth College in 1974.

The seventh and final volume of Nin’s diary was published in 1980, edited by Gunther Struhlmann. In it, Nin recounts reconciling the public person she had become with the private one she had always been and records her travels to the Far East, Bali, and Mexico. Nin ended her diary series with reflections on Bali, but in an epilogue, her editor included a few of her thoughts recorded in the part of her diary titled “The Book of Pain.” Here, clearly and unmistakably, are revealed the courage, humor, stamina, and unremitting candor of this unique woman writer. Nin died of cancer in Los Angeles on January 14, 1977.

BibliographyBair, Deirdre. Anaïs Nin: A Biography. New York: Putnam, 1995. A massive biography by a scholar steeped in the literature of the period and author of biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. Supplements but does not supersede Fitch’s shorter but also livelier biography.Evans, Oliver. Anaïs Nin. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968. A solid and widely admired first study of Nin’s work. The only major weakness is the limited examination of the diaries, most of which were not yet published.Fitch, Noel Riley. Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993. As the subtitle suggests, Fitch is concerned with tracing Nin’s erotic relationships and close friendships with male and female writers. A biographer of Sylvia Beach and an expert on Paris, Fitch writes with verve and expertise.Franklin, Benjamin V., and Duane Schneider. Anaïs Nin: An Introduction. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1979. A well-balanced study of Nin’s work, better than most, that carefully and separately examines her fiction, six volumes of diaries, and her critical and nonfiction work. This study attempts to redress critical neglect of the author and gives her due recognition for her literary achievements.Hinz, Evelyn J., ed. A Woman Speaks: The Lectures, Seminars, and Interviews of Anaïs Nin. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1975. This collection of thirty-eight recorded tapes by Nin from 1966 to 1973 chronicles her interviews, conversations, commencement addresses, and lectures. Provides an interesting look at Nin’s public persona.Jason, Philip K., ed. The Critical Response to Anaïs Nin. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. A selection of essays examining Nin’s works. Includes bibliographical references and an index.Knapp, Bettina L. Anaïs Nin. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1978. An appreciative examination of Nin’s work that explores the psychological depths of her diaries and fiction. Complemented by a chronology.Lawrence, Charles. “Her Life Was Her Masterpiece.” The Ottawa Citizen, July 27, 1998, p. D3. Discusses Nin’s creation of an elaborate set of lies in order to maintain relationships with two men at the same time; focuses primarily on her relationship with one of her husbands, Rupert Pole; reports the results of an interview with Pole about his relationship with Nin.Nin, Anaïs, A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. Edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987. A highly interesting, readable, and fascinating account of the passionate friendship and literary romance that flowered for more than two decades between two great writers, Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. The excellent biographical notes describe the major individuals mentioned in their correspondence.Pierpont, Claudia Roth. Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Evocative interpretive essays on the life paths and works of twelve women, including Nin, connecting the circumstances of their lives with the shapes, styles, subjects, and situations of their art.Pierpont, Claudia Roth. “Sex, Lies, and Thirty-five Thousand Pages.” The New Yorker 69 (March 1, 1993): 74-80. Discusses the publication of the second volume of Nin’s Diary; notes that the diaries show that Nin’s deceptions gained her a long list of lovers, allowed her to present her unintelligible writing style as a form of surrealism, won her undeserved public acclaim as a pioneer of “female writing,” and provided a saintly gloss on her manipulative character.Scholar, Nancy. Anaïs Nin. Boston: Twayne, 1984. A good critical introduction to Nin. The first chapter offers an overview of her life, and succeeding chapters examine the diaries, short stories, prose pieces, and novels. Scholar believes Nin’s diaries hold the key to understanding the artist and her work. Supplemented by a useful chronology and a select bibliography.
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