"House of Incest is a strange and challenging work that demands the full attention of the reader. It is not so much a story of people (although it certainly is that) as it is a visit into the hellish nightmare of the narrator's experience from which she emerges satisfactorily. But, however one approaches the work, House of Incest is Nin's best work of fiction and one that contains most of her basic themes, images and patterns that she would use in her later work."
Benjamin Franklin V and Duane Schneider
With an introduction by Allison Pease, this new edition of House of Incest is a lyrical journey into the subconscious mind of one of the most celebrated feminist writers of the twentieth-century.
Originally published in 1936, House of Incest is Anaïs Nin’s first work of fiction. Based on Nin’s dreams, the novel is a surrealistic look within the narrator’s subconscious as she attempts to distance herself from a series of all-consuming and often taboo desires she cannot bear to let go. The incest Nin depicts is a metaphor—a selfish love wherein a woman can appreciate only qualities in a lover that are similar to her own. Through a descriptive exploration of romances and attractions between women, between a sister and her beloved brother, and with a Christ-like man, Nin’s narrator discovers what she thinks is truth: that a woman’s most perfect love is of herself. At first, this self-love seems ideal because it is attainable without fear and risk of heartbreak. But in time, the narrator’s chosen isolation and self-possessed anguish give way to a visceral nightmare from which she is unable to wake.
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. More info →
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Mirages opens at the dawn of World War II, when Anaïs Nin fled Paris, where she lived for fifteen years with her husband, banker Hugh Guiler, and ends in 1947 when she meets the man who would be “the One,” the lover who would satisfy her insatiable hunger for connection. In the middle looms a period Nin describes as “hell,” during which she experiences a kind of erotic madness, a delirium that fuels her search for love.
Anaïs Nin made her reputation through publication of her edited diaries and the carefully constructed persona they presented. It was not until decades later, when the diaries were published in their unexpurgated form, that the world began to learn the full details of Nin’s fascinating life and the emotional and literary high-wire acts she committed both in documenting it and in defying the mores of 1950s America.
Although Anaïs Nin found in her diaries a profound mode of self-creation and confession, she could not reveal this intimate record of her own experiences during her lifetime. Instead, she turned to fiction, where her stories and novels became artistic “distillations” of her secret diaries.
Although Under a Glass Bell is now considered one of Anaïs Nin’s finest collections of stories, it was initially deemed unpublishable. Refusing to give up on her vision, in 1944 Nin founded her own press and brought out the first edition, illustrated with striking black-and-white engravings by her husband, Hugh Guiler. Shortly thereafter, it caught the attention of literary critic Edmund Wilson, who reviewed the collection in the New Yorker.
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