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.
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.
In The Novel of the Future, Anaïs Nin explores the act of creation—in literature, film, art, and dance—to arrive at a new synthesis for the young artist struggling against the sterility, formlessness, and spiritual bankruptcy afflicting much of modern fiction.
Under a Glass Bell is one of Nin’s finest collections of stories. First published in 1944, it attracted the attention of Edmond Wilson, who reviewed the collection in The New Yorker. It was in these stories that Nin’s artistic and emotional vision took shape.
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.
“Collages began with an image which had haunted me. A friend, Renate, had told me about her trip to Vienna where she was born, and of her childhood relationships to statues. She told me stories of her childhood, her relationship to her father, her first love.I begin the novel with:Vienna was the city of statues. They were as numerous as the people who walked the streets.
In 1932, two years after D. H. Lawrence’s death, a young woman wrote a book about him and presented it to a Paris publisher. She recorded the event in her diary: “It will not be published and out by tomorrow, which is what a writer would like when the book is hot out of the oven, when it is alive within oneself. He gave it to his assistant to revise.” The woman was Anaïs Nin.Nin examined Lawrence’s poetry, novels, essays, and travel writing.
An excerpt from Seduction of the Minotaur: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.She
Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: “The Sealed Room” focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; “The Café” brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin’s readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story.
After struggling with her own press and printing her own works, Anaïs Nin succeeded in getting Ladders to Fire accepted and published in 1946. This recognition marked a milestone in her life and career. Admitted into the fellowship of American novelists, she maintained the individuality of her literary style.
The Four-Chambered Heart, Anaïs Nin’s 1950 novel, recounts the real-life affair she conducted with café guitarist Gonzalo Moré in 1936. Nin and Moré rented a house-boat on the Seine, and under the pervading influence of the boat’s watchman and Moré’s wife Helba, developed a relationship. Moré; named the boat Nanankepichu, meaning not really a home. In the novel, which Nin drew from her experiences on the boat, the characters are clearly based.