A Swallow Press Book

Ladders to Fire

By Anaïs Nin
Introduction by Benjamin Franklin V
Foreword by Gunther Stuhlmann

“I have to begin where everything begins, in the blindness and in the shadows. I have to begin the story of women’s development where all things begin: in nature, at the roots. It is necessary to return to the origin of the confusion, which is woman’s struggle to understand her own nature.”
— From the prologue to the first edition

“Anaïs Nin writes sensitively, with psychological training as well as insight…. She has a subcutaneous interest in her characters and Lawrence’s sixth sense.”

Times Literary Supplement

Anaïs Nin’s Ladders to Fire interweaves the stories of several women, each emotionally inhibited in her own way: through self-doubt, fear, guilt, moral drift, and distrust. The novel follows their inner struggles to overcome these barriers to happiness and wholeness. The author’s own experiences, as recorded in her famous diaries, supplied the raw material for her fiction. It was her intuitive, experimental, and always original style that transformed one into the other. Nin herself memorably claimed that “it was the fiction writer who edited the diary.”

Ladders to Fire is the first book of Nin’s continuous novel, Cities of the Interior, which also includes Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur. These loosely interlinked stories develop the characters and themes established in the first volume, leading slowly toward a resolution of inner turmoil and conflict.

This Swallow Press reissue of Ladders to Fire includes a new introduction by Nin scholar Benjamin Franklin V, as well as Gunther Stuhlmann’s classic foreword to the 1995 edition.


Anaïs Nin (1903–1977) is an iconic literary figure and one of the most notable experimental writers of the twentieth century. As one of the first women to explore female erotica, Nin revealed the inner desires of her characters in a way that made her works a touchstone for later feminist writers. Swallow Press is the premier US publisher of books by and about Nin.

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Paperback

978-0-8040-1155-6
Retail price: $16.95, T.
Release date: Oct. 2014
190 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:World except United Kingdom