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Anais Nin (1903 - 1977)

Lifespan: 1903 - 1977

Related: Henry & June (1990) - Philip Kaufman - Obelisk Press - Henry Miller - erotic fiction

I think that natural truths will cease to be spat at us like insults, that aesthetics will once more be linked with ethics, and that people will become aware that in casting out aesthetics that they also cast out a respect for human life, a respect for creation, a respect for spiritual values. Aesthetics was an expression of man's need to be in love with his world. The cult of ugliness is a regression. It destroys our appetite, our love for our world. --The Novel of the Future (1969) - Anas Nin

Henry & June (1990) - Philip Kaufman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In 1990 Philip Kaufman made the film based on Anas Nin's novel Henry & June from The Journal of Love The Unexpurgated Diary of Anas Nin, 1931-1932. It starred Maria de Medeiros as Nin, Fred Ward as Henry Miller, and Uma Thurman as June. The film became famous as the first film given the NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.


Anas Nin (February 21, 1903 - January 14, 1977) was a French-born author of Catalan, Cuban, and Danish descent who became famous for her published diaries, which span more than sixty years, beginning when she was eleven years old and ending shortly before her death, as well as for her erotica. Before her, erotica written by women was virtually (vide, e.g. Kate Chopin) unheard of.

Anas Nin was born in Neuilly, France. After her parents separated, her mother moved Anas and her two brothers to New York City. While still a teenager, Nin abandoned formal schooling and began working as a model.

Nin began to pursue her interest in writing, where her first published work was a critical evaluation of D. H. Lawrence called "D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study." She also explored the field of psychotherapy, studying under the likes of Otto Rank, a disciple of Sigmund Freud.

Nin appeared in the Kenneth Anger film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) and in the Maya Deren film Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946).

She often cited authors Djuna Barnes and D. H. Lawrence as inspirations.

The Diaries
Anas Nin is perhaps most famous as a diarist. Her diaries, which span several decades, are fascinating for many reasons. Nin was acquainted, often quite intimately, with a number of prominent authors, artists, and psychoanalysts, among other famous figures. Her diaries portray these persons in an unusual depth of analysis and frankness of description. Moreover, as a female author describing a primarily masculine constellation of celebrities, Nin's diaries have acquired importance as a counterbalancing perspective.

Erotic writings
Anas Nin is hailed by many critics as one of the finest examples of writers of female erotica. She was one of the first women to really explore the realm of erotic writing, and certainly the first prominent woman in modern Europe to write erotica. Before her, erotica written by women was virtually unheard of, except for a few writers such as Kate Chopin. Nin, faced with a desperate need for money, wrote the stories in Delta of Venus for a dollar a page in the 1940s.

She considered the characters in her erotica to be extreme caricature and never intended for the erotica to be published. Her writing was scandalously explicit for the time. In her unexpurgated diaries, she wrote about her incestuous relationship with her father.

Nin was a friend, and in some cases lover, of many leading literary figures, including Henry Miller, Antonin Artaud, Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, James Agee, and Lawrence Durrell. Her passionate love affair and friendship with Miller strongly influenced her as both a woman and an author. An apocryphal rumour abounds that Nin was bisexual, promulgated by the Kaufman film, Henry & June, although this rumour is false. As described in her diaries, she had a sexual dream about June, but this dream was all that ever occurred between the two women. Later diary entries inform us that Nin did experiment with a lesbian lover, but found the encounter unsatisfying. [Dec 2006]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anais_Nin

Anäis Nin's Erotica: Written for the Male Voyeur?

In the 1960s and 1970s an explosion of supposedly "feminist" erotica flooded the (American) literary marketplace. Texts such as Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and Lisa Alther's Kinflicks were promoted as the first novels exploring the so-called "sexual revolution" from a female/feminist perspective. Although Anais Nin's erotica differs from the types of novels produced by Jong and Alther in a number of important ways, each were initially claimed as pioneering works emerging from the 1960s women's liberation movement. Recently, a number of critics have begun to assess the relevance of these texts for contemporary feminism (Wicker, 1994). How heavily do texts which proclaim to be feminist and erotic rely on male pornographic conventions, and to what extent do they give women a voice as well as a body in their erotic scenarios? The stories comprising Anais Nin's two volumes of erotica were compiled in the 1940s but not published until the late 1970s. The blurb for the Pocket Books edition of Delta of Venus (1977) announces that "[f]ifty years ago, Anais Nin created the female language for sexuality ... Delta of Venus reveals Anais Nin as a woman - and a writer - ahead of her time." Apart from making an essentialist link between writing and biology, this quote suggests that Anais Nin had virtually invented a new genre of women's erotica. The implication is that Nin's project should be admired by feminists everywhere for openly exploring women's sexuality. However, many feminists are extremely hostile to erotica, arguing that it represents the middle ground between two equally offensive genres: romance and pornography, both of which tend to construct female sexuality as inherently passive and submissive. --Pip Christmass , httphttp://www.chloe.uwa.edu.au/outskirts/archive/volume2/christmass, accessed March 2003

Delta of Venus - Anais Nin

  1. Delta of Venus - Anais Nin [Amazon.com]
    Yes, it's graphic. I disagree with the idea that "pornography" cannot be an art. I prefer to think of good erotic literature as just that: an art form often attempted but rarely achieved in the purest sense of the word. "Penthouse Forum" is porn - "Delta of Venus" (as well as "Little Birds" and "Spy In The House of Love") is the best example of literary erotica, the combinations of love and the mystery of orgasm and sensuality. - Laura G. Carter for amazon.com

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