The rescue of Anaïs Nin reveals her most naive face | Culture


When he finished writing the 16 stories that make up The lost timelessness that Lumen has just published for the first time in Spanish, Nin was 26 years old and had not yet met the middle-aged, bohemian American writer, with whom she would be tangled for a decade. Henry Miller’s bedmate and patron, thanks to the fortune of her husband, Hugh Guiler, the French of Cuban origin, raised between Paris and New York, was instrumental in the creation of Tropic of Cancer Y Tropic of Capricorn. So much so that not only did he pay for the edition of the first of these books and paid for the author’s expenses so that he could dedicate himself to writing, but, as has been proven, his notes on Miller’s wife, June – with whom the writer also had a case-, ended up incorporated into his novel.

The writer Anaïs Nin around 1928 dressed in a flamenco dress.
The writer Anaïs Nin around 1928 dressed in a flamenco dress.Anaïs Nin Trust

That legendary idyll that started in Paris in 1931 went down in the history of literature and made Nin a banner of a liberated, adulterous and bigame woman. The latter became known later when the obituaries in Los Angeles Times Y The New York Times, when referring to their widower, they gave different names (Hugh Guiler and Rupert Pole), and both turned out to be correct. It was 1977 when Nin died at the age of 73, claimed as an icon by the feminists of the Second Wave and turned, at last, into a literary star after 40 years on the margins.

Anaïs Nin’s intense life and her work are inextricably linked. Of the nine books that he printed while alive, four were self-published and critics, led by Edmund Wilson, only praised the stories collected in A bell jar in the late 1940s. Fame came to her in the late 1960s with the publication of a purged edition of part of her diaries, a work that Nin began to write as a child on the long journey that He took her from Paris to New York, when her father abandoned the family.

The writer Anaïs Nin with her husband, Hugo Giller, in Havana.  Anaïs Nin.
The writer Anaïs Nin with her husband, Hugo Giller, in Havana. Anaïs Nin.

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Nin was open to polyamory long before that word emerged and snatched a generation away, and perhaps partly because of her hectic and unconventional love life her repeated return to the bookstore news table always arouses the interest of new and young readers. . Proof of this has been the comic published this year and signed by Léonie Bischoff, Anaïs Nin in a sea of ​​lies (Garbuix Books), that vindicates its figure. “In countries where Nin’s work has always been sold, sales have increased in recent years,” Tree Wright, a decade-long literary agent for The Anaïs Nin Trust, notes by email. “Probably the television adaptation of Fire birds it has helped to introduce it to a new audience. But the truth is that his writing has an echo and is perceived as very current, even though so much time has passed since his death ”.

Nin’s rejected tales

For those who have already read the works of Nin, the tales of The lost timelessness They discover a little-known facet of an author whose fame has not been without posthumous setbacks and falls from grace. With a certain dreamlike and psychoanalytic air and an unmistakable atmosphere of the roaring twenties and surreal sensibility, the new stories do not contain the marked sexual tone that Nin would later develop. There are artistic drives, attraction, flamenco dancers and writers, seductive young women who are not yet fully aware of their power. These stories were written between 1928 and 1931, when the author lived in Paris with her husband, the poet-banker Guiler, and were rejected by all the publications and publishers to which she sent them.

In the seventies Nin published The lost timelessness in a short run that she did not commercialize and with a prologue in which she recognized that, although the stories did not show her fully developed style, they helped to understand her evolution as a writer, and that could be valuable and inspiring. The late Gunther Stuhlmann, friend, agent, editor, and scholar of the author’s work, in his notes to the 1993 US first commercial edition (included in the Spanish edition) highlights the “irony and early signs of feminism” that appear in these early texts.

The posthumous recovery of Nin’s writings has been successful and controversial, almost in equal measure. Erotic stories came first Delta of Venus, a book that turned her into a best seller and whose publication was authorized by the writer the same year of her death. Nin had expressed her hesitations about those writings that had resolved her support and that of her lovers (in addition to Henry Miller, the Peruvian Marxist poet Gonzalo Moré) in the 1940s in the New York West Village. The commission for the sex stories came through a bibliographer and collector who contacted Miller and claimed to represent an alleged millionaire from Oklahoma with a fondness for erotic literature. A group of writers and poets soon joined this venture, which Nin defined as “a snobbish literary brothel”, and which decades later was discovered to feed a web underground erotic literature, without any millionaire in between.

The writer Anaïs Nin with Rupert Pole in California in the sixties.
The writer Anaïs Nin with Rupert Pole in California in the sixties.Anaïs Nin Trust

After the posthumous success of Delta of Venus the publication arrived in the nineties and without restrictions of the newspapers that dealt with his relationship with the Miller marriage (Henry y June was titled that volume that was taken to the cinema) and Incest, the personal writings that spoke of the relationship he established with his father in the 1930s and whose publication his brother, the composer Joaquín Nin, tried to prevent. As the British feminist and scholar of the work of Anaïs Nin, Sady Doyle points out, it was then that “her writing on sex was condemned, while that of her lover Miller was revered and that of her friend Gore Vidal respected”.

Then, in the mid-1990s, the biography of Deirdre Bair appeared, drawing a monstrous profile of the writer and putting her success on hold. Now Nin has come back strong. The literary agent Tree Wright confirms the renewed pull. “In the last ten years, translation contracts have been launched in many countries. There are agreements with Spain, France, Germany, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Brazil and Portugal, among others. In 2019, translations into Arabic, Estonian and Hebrew were added; in 2020 to Japanese and Korean, and in 2021 to Thai ”, he clarifies.

“Like many great experimentalists, he wrote for a world that did not yet exist and thus helped to illuminate it,” emphasizes Doyle. “He built a modern art form that has found its place in this century of internet communication, full of personal confessions.” The rise of the first person, diaries and memoirs, and the questioning of implicit roles in gender have a notable precursor in Nin. Undoubtedly, his early or late writing will continue to be talked about.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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