The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1931-1934by Anais Nin, Denise Gray (Foreword by)
After decades of producing fiction that was rejected by mainstream readership and reviewers for being self-centered, exotic in prose, filled with psychological theory, and coterie in style, Anais finally found acceptance by integrating all of the above in this published version of her diary. Timing is everything. The world of the 1930s-50s simply was not ready for her. The Aquarian generation of the 1960s was. When originally published this volume did not have a number in the title because no one thought it would sell enough to warrant a second volume. To the surprise of many, it would become the first in seven volumes - and then over 20 years later the unexpurgated versions of her diaries would be published, revealing that Anais was at the time having an affair with Henry Miller. Eventually this material would be fashioned into the movie "Henry and June". It would also pave the way for the re-issue of many of Anais Nin's long since out-of-print earlier fiction.
Anais Nin began a letter to her father, on the ship that carried her, her mother and brothers, away from him, away from Europe and to New York City. The letter was never sent (her mother did not think it appropriate), but instead developed into a diary she would continue to keep for decades. In this volume we meet Anais Nin living just outside of Paris with her husband, banker Hugh Guiler (who is barely visible in the diary, a point of contention for many who did not know that this was at his request). She has just published her study of DH Lawrence and is about to meet Henry Miller and his fascinating wife June (Nin's descriptions of June are among the most beautiful portions of her work). Her father soon reenters her life. This is a very exciting time in her life!
But what have I listed above? Nothing but a pile of facts. Facts are often boring, and seldom poetic - two accusations rarely leveled against Anais Nin. It was only after submerging myself in the history of this volume that I came to realize this: the linear history of this diary does not really matter; the accusations that Anais Nin lied about her life are immaterial. Anais Nin had a beautiful way with words and she was a master of crafting an image, of creating a persona. She was not truly the person she portrays in this volume. But this is a beautiful and unique piece of literature that paved the way for many future artists, particularly female writers (Alice Walker has praised her work as profoundly liberating, and I can't help but think Maya Angelou took a cue from Anais Nin's concept of the continuous autobiographical novel). I have come to believe that it is not the possibility that she lied about her life that has upset so many people (some of whom refer to this as a "liary"), but that a woman should have such control over her own portrayal all the while defying so many of society's conventions.
Anais Nin may not have truly been the woman she portrays in this or future volumes, but it is the woman she wanted to believe she was - wanted the world to believe she was. I find that quite revealing, as revealing as any diary should be.
- Ishi Press
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.83(d)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews