Archive for January, 2009

Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts

January 30, 2009


Benjamin Franklin V, arguably the world’s foremost Nin scholar, has been in the business of sorting out the facts of Anaïs Nin’s bibliography for decades. Not only did he co-establish the first true Nin periodical (Under the Sign of Pisces), he has compiled Nin’s works thoroughly and edited a book of Nin’s contemporaries’ memories of Nin (Recollections of Anaïs Nin by her Contemporaries). He also spearheaded and introduced the recently published uncut Obelisk Press version of The Winter of Artifice. Now, Franklin has given all Nin readers and scholars an invaluable gift: a complete list of descriptions and bibliographic sources for each and every character Nin use in her published fiction, more than 800 of them, from Abelard to Zora, with Djuna, Jay, Lillian, and Sabina in between. Anaïs Nin Character Dictionary and Index to Diary Excerpts also includes an index of every person, place, or title mentioned in every diary excerpt to appear outside the published diaries before they were printed, and this includes diaries that remain unpublished to this day.


This book will be released the same day as Volume 6 of A Café in Space, Anaïs Nin’s 106th birthday, Feb. 21, 2009.

Nin conference?

January 30, 2009

There has not been a conference dedicated to Anais Nin since the centennial conference in Santa Barbara in 2003. Sometimes Nin is included within the context of other conferences, such as the bi-annual Durrell conference, but rarely has there been a gathering unique to Nin herself. Before 2003, the last Nin major gathering was in 1994 at Long Island University, which was well attended by Nin scholars, family members, and friends from around the world. Last year’s Anais at 105 (organized and hosted by Steven Reigns) evening at UCLA is proof that interest is still there–the 300 seat auditorium was overflowing and dozens had to be turned away.

I, and others such as Ruth Charnock (see our guestbook), would like to gather opinions and feedback from potential speakers and organizers. Obviously, there needs to be a venue (such as a university), and there needs to be an infrastructure through which this could be accomplished. Perhaps this blog could be such a platform for organization–I am open to any and all suggestions. Please feel free to leave comments or to e-mail me at mailto:

Anaïs Nin: Feminist or not?

January 26, 2009

Was Anaïs Nin’s writing feminist in nature? There is a dichotomy in responses. In her article “Feminist Smut (?)” (A Café in Space Vol. 6) scholar Angela Carter makes the statement that one of the works most vilified by feminists—the erotica—is actually feminist. Carter sees the erotica as a writing out of the struggles women had with sexual identity and expression in a patriarchal world. In the same issue, Sarah Burghauser writes that her perception of Nin was swayed by the attacks from feminists who claimed not only was Nin insincere and essentialist, she used the Women’s Movement to “sell books.” Bruce Watson, in his article “Claiming Ownership—Issues in Nin criticism,” takes note of the backlash of feminists directly after the release of Diary I, but he also explains how others have attempted to equate Nin’s style of diary writing to a form of feminist expression, an argument that has taken hold as time goes on.


When the diaries came out during the late sixties and early seventies, at the height of the Women’s Movement, women divided themselves into two distinct camps: those who believed that while Nin was not a typical “bra-burner,” she was a leader in the establishing women as distinct figures with unique gifts and the need for freedom of expression; on the other side were those who felt Nin had betrayed the Women’s Movement by being “too feminine,” i.e., using her womanly charms to attract men, using men to achieve her success.


There was a misconception from the onset: when the original Diary came out in 1966, readers assumed that Nin accomplished everything alone, that there was no man supporting her, that she was a feminine pioneer, especially in the light of the fact she wrote the diary in the 1930s when few women ventured from the kitchen into the world of art, literature, or making a living. When these readers discovered that Nin in fact had a husband who was her financial backbone, not to mention an anchor who gave her the safety net she seemed to be living without, they felt betrayed. “Fraud,” they cried. Some of them attacked Nin at lectures, in print, and in the media, echoes of which resound to this day. The irony is this: had these very readers read editor Gunther Stuhlmann’s introduction, they would have known that Nin indeed was married, and that it was her husband’s wish to not be mentioned in the Diary. So, did Nin mislead her readership in this way? Not if you read the disclaimer.


In this sense, part of the argument against Nin’s feminism doesn’t hold water, but this only one minor aspect of the dispute. There are many other points to argue, but under no circumstances did Nin enter the confrontational or militant, anti-male sector of feminism. Women could not become stronger or freer by acting like men, Nin argued, and using man’s weapons—aggression, intolerance, brutishness—was counterproductive. Despite the rationality of this stance, it seemed to create the strongest resentment of Nin by feminists.


Judging from the arguments made by scholars and feminists, pro and con, the controversy of Nin’s feminist philosophy, or whether she even had one, will continue until the world gets to the point where her vision of sharing what we have to offer as men and women, equal in each other’s eyes, becomes a reality. Are we drawing closer?


Anais Nin’s appearance: yet another facet of her persona

January 18, 2009
Mario Grut. All rights reserved.

Photo: Mario Grut. All rights reserved.

As British scholar Ruth Charnock notes in the upcoming Vol. 6 of A Cafe in Space (due out Feb. 21, 2009), as well as American scholar Sarah Burghauser in Vol. 5, Anais Nin’s appearance had much to do with her public persona. Charnock recalls Evelyn Hinz’s comments that when Nin appeared at lectures, she seemed to come from between the pages of her diary, that the audience felt they were witnessing not only the author of the famed diaries, but the woman who appears in them even though they were written decades earlier. Nin commented on her appearance from time to time in the diary, noting lines about the eyes, the weakness of the neck, but she also noted that her body retained its youth–her breasts were firm, her legs slim and beautiful. At the age of 70 she recorded the fact that she still was desired, that she still inspired love letters. Nin did resort to cosmetic surgery before it became popular to do so…she had a nose alteration early and a facelift much later. But Charnock notes that there is a certain grotesqueness in the older woman’s youthful body, a body that can play tricks on the mind of the observer. Indeed, the photograph accompanying Charnock’s article is of Nin in the 1960s, wearing a miniskirt and go-go boots…a striking contrast with her face. The photograph here was taken in 1960, when Nin was 57, by famed Swedish photographer Mario Grut. The photograph gained notoriety with its unforgiving harshness, leaving little illusion about the fact Anais Nin was in fact not ageless, but starkly human.

Newly discovered letters to/from Anais Nin and her father

January 15, 2009

There has long been speculation on whether Anais Nin in fact had an incestuous affair with her father, in spite of her graphic accounts in her diary (the unexpurgated Incest). Some claim the affair was fabricated, that it was a psychological experiment in which Nin wrote out her desires instead of acting upon them. Others claim Anais was lured into the relationship, and it has been said that it was the other way around. Deirdre Bair mentions in her biography of Nin that all correspondence between the two during this time was destroyed, but recently a sorted, dated collection of letters between Nin and her father have surfaced. Nin did not destroy the letters, as Bair claims, but instead kept a very complete collection in a folder. We have begun to transcribe and translate the letters…the first group appears in Vol. 6 of A Cafe in Space. Do the letters finally answer the question of incest once and for all, or do they simply raise more questions? Each reader has to make his or her own conclusion, which is usual in the world of Anais Nin.


One of the many letters to Anais Nin from her father

Henry and June – the movie

January 13, 2009

Link to the original trailer for Henry and June, the movie. This trailer did not appear in most theatres.

Anais Nin’s doctored copy of The Winter of Artifice

January 12, 2009
Image of the rediscovered The Winter of Artifice
This copy of the original Obelisk Press (Paris, 1939) edition of ‘The Winter of Artifice‘ was literally cut up by Anais Nin in New York after fleeing Paris at the onset of war. Because the Obelisk Press version was banned in America, Nin had no choice but to cut out the parts of the book the censors found intolerable. That meant the story “Djuna,” which was the fictionalized version of Henry and June, was totally cut out, and good portions of the other 2 stories (“Lillith,” which became the story “Winter of Artifice,” and “The Voice”) were heavily edited of all offensive passages. The result was the Gemor Press version of Winter of Artifice (1942), which was privately published in America. Not until 2007, when Sky Blue Press brought out a facsimile of the Obelisk Press edition, has the original version been in print.


Magnus Toren discusses Henry Miller

January 12, 2009

Bebe Barron on Anais Nin

January 8, 2009

Electronic music pioneer Bebe Barron talks about her friend and mentor Anais Nin.  Video by Ian MacKinnon and Steven Reigns.

Welcome to Sky Blue Press’s Blog

January 8, 2009

Hello, everyone. Welcome to our new blog. We are looking for comments, questions, feedback, and information concerning Anais Nin and her circle, as well as other authors we feature here at Sky Blue Press.

Paul Herron, Editor