“The lead female characters begin small and damaged and eventually emerge at the other side more complete people at the expense of the men in their paths. But Nin accomplishes this with such delicacy and style that one would swear there was no other way.”
“Winter of Artifice corrects the notion that Nin was an eccentric one-off; rather, her work has to be considered in artistic and even philosophical traditions of modernism…, literary confession, and memoir.… The moment is right to consider her work in the context of other experimental writers of her time and also from our present vantage point.”
Laura Frost, from the introduction
Swallow Press first published Winter of Artifice in 1945, following two vastly different versions from other presses. The book opens with a film star, Stella, studying her own, but alien, image on the screen. It ends in the Manhattan office of a psychoanalyst — the Voice — who, as he counsels patients suffering from the maladies of modern life, reveals himself as equally susceptible to them. The middle, title story explores one of Nin’s most controversial themes, that of a woman’s sexual relationship with her father. Elliptical, fragmented prose; unconventional structure; surrealistic psychic landscapes — Nin forged these elements into a style that engaged with the artistic concerns of her time but still registers as strikingly contemporary.
This reissue, accompanied by a new introduction by Laura Frost and the original engravings by Nin’s husband Ian Hugo, presents an important opportunity to consider anew the work of an author who laid the groundwork for later writers. Swallow Press’s Winter of Artifice represents a literary artist coming into her own, with the formal experimentation, thematic daring, and psychological intrigue that became her hallmarks.
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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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.
“Some voyages have their inception in the blueprint of a dream, some in the urgency of contradicting a dream. Lillian’s recurrent dream of a ship that could not reach the water, that sailed laboriously, pushed by her with great effort, through city streets, had determined her course toward the sea, as if she would give this ship, once and for all, its proper sea bed…. With her first swallow of air she inhaled a drug of forgetfulness well known to adventurers.”
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.
In The Novel of the Future, Anaïs Nin explores the act of creation — in film, art, and dance as well as literature — to chart a new direction for the young artist struggling against what she perceived as the sterility, formlessness, and spiritual bankruptcy afflicting much of mid-twentieth-century fiction.